“Do not think that you’ll leave as the person you arrived. The same happened to those before you. As they departed, they all left their minds behind in Bodrum.
So said “The Fisherman of Halicarnassus,” Cevat Sakir Kabaagaçh, a man happily forced into exile here in the early 20th century. Luckily for him, he was exiled in heaven!
On my final morning at the Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay, I stood on the balcony of my room staring at the vast azure landscape, willing it to leave an imprint on my brain. I couldn’t get enough of it! This place is impossibly beautiful and no words or photograph does the landscape justice. The location of the hotel is faultless.
A speedy half an hour from Bodrum’s international airport, Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay appears in the distance like a glistening white fortress tucked into the hill with uninterrupted views from every angle. The construction of the hotel is such that every room and public space looks out to sea so there isn’t a bad view in the house.
I floated around the hotel heady from the sweet scent of the bright pink bougainvillea that grows abundantly all over the hotel’s grounds, spanning the walls outside the rooms and lining the romantic pathway all the way down to the private beach.
Sunlight pours through the glass panels that make up the main face of the hotels’s atrium wall creating an ethereal calm as you go from place to place and lifts spirits whether you want it to or not!
Now this is a lift I wouldn’t mind getting stuck in.
My suggested ideal day at Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay would go something like this….
Leave blinds open in your room so you are gently woken by the sunlight streaming in through the shuttered doors. Rise early-ish and head down to the beach where you will most likely be one of the only people down there. If you’re a beach buff, you will love having the sea to yourself. The crystal clear water lies so still that I felt I was interrupting something as I jumped in for my morning dip!
The good news is that the majority of guests are here for serious chill out time and don’t surface until at least 10am so enjoy the calm and have a nose at the the seriously impressive boats that are moored ahead (this is well known to be one of Roman Abromavich’s favourite spots).
With hunger imminent, the breakfast buffet at Olives serves up a delicious variety of fresh fruit (try the local watermelon) and traditional Turkish fare.
Days here are spent like an Ottoman king or queen. By the pool, take a dip in one of the three pools and delight in the pool side accoutrements that are handed out, like the syringes of fresh juice! Yum. On the beach (whether it be the adult only Silent Beach or busier Central beach) – keep cool with the water spritzers and fresh fruit that are welcomingly distributed.
Barbarossa is the place to be for lunch, located next to the beach, sit and enjoy the gentle sea breeze (literally translates into Red Beard, Barbarossa is a Bodrum naval hero). Try the restaurant’s speciality, the Çökertme kebab, their twist on this local dish. Allow it to blow any kebab qualms to the water. This kebab is made of sliced perfectly tender beef piled high with a deliciously creamy garlic yoghurt and ribbons of crispy potato. Mop up juices with Turkish bread (the Turks make seriously good bread). The bellinis here the perfect way to welcome in the afternoon.
The adult only Sundeck is the most fabulous siesta spot. Take the craggy beach path down and you will find it hidden next to the hotel’s marina. Enjoy feeling like a member of the international jet set whilst sipping on a fresh juice or cocktail, and doze off in the sun with the sound of the DJ’s chilled out beats humming in your ear.
The Barbaros Bay spa is a haven for spa fans. 5,500 sq feet of holistic healing, be sure to try a traditional hammam treatment in the beautiful hammam and the extraordinary watsu therapy by Deniz Susever, the hotel’s resident therapist and healer. One hour of watsu therapy equals six hours of sleep due to the endorphins produced during the therapy, so if you need to catch up on any zzzz’s, this is the only place to head!
One of the hotel’s evening dining options is the Asian fusion restaurant, Saigon, that serves a delightful array of innovative sushi creations and interesting flavours. I particularly enjoyed the signature sushi rolls (deep fried crispy rolls – naughty!) and signature lychee martini.
The Italian La Luce is the other evening option. Headed up by Alessandro, he has created a truly authentic Italian space inspired by his own Calabrian heritage. My carpaccio and bredoza supper was perfectly accompanied by a sumptuously light Sicilian White wine. Bellissimo!
For a night cap, discover Wieland’s Wonderland in the Blue Bar where Herr Wieland is conjuring up crazy cocktail combinations from home-made barrel oak infusions to Turkish tea extravaganzas. I was impressed by the Hendrick’s Negroni.
Sailors who take to the Bodrum waters are known as Blue Voyagers but I think even land dwellers could be labelled as this – the nature here is so hypnotisingly blue, one can’t help but allow themselves to drown in it. As Cevat Sakir said before me, as I departed I certainly left part of my mind in Bodrum….I think I will just have to go back and find it again.
Top 5 Other Things to do while staying at Kempinski a Hotel Barbaros Bay
1. Take a day’s excursion with the hotel’s charming concierge, Ahmet, who will take you on a local tour of the neighbouring fishing villages.
2. Invest in a pair of leather Bodrum sandals.
3. Go for lunch at Memedof for incredible seafood and Turkish mezze.
4. Visit the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, in Bodrum, followed by a trip to the castle to find out more about the area’s fascinating history.
5. Try the stuffed mussels and lokam on the streets of Bodrum – some of the finest street food you will ever taste!