Sailing into the St Tropez of Turkey
Magnificent Bodrum Castle surrounded by boats at sunset

Exploring the Turkish Riviera

You won’t find Brigitte Bardot’s getaway hidden nearby and Matisse never painted any sun-drenched, mysterious pictures here. But, it could be only a matter of time before Sean Combs raps, ‘Have you ever been to Bodrum?’. For the Bodrum Peninsula in the south-west of Turkey is starting to look like a serious rival to St Tropez in terms of its beach clubs, food scene and moored megayachts

Blue skies and boats lined up at Yalıkavak Marina

The A-listers and A-list style

The Turkish Riviera has been quietly emerging as a hotspot for celebrities, models, upper-class bohemians and the monied elite. Bodrum’s jet setting in-crowd includes Beyoncé, Kate Moss, Tom Hanks and Nicole Kidman, all of whom have fallen for the charms of the Turquoise Coast. Travel light then stock up at the new Palmarina (also known as Yalıkavak Marina) waterfront development, which sees gleaming stores dedicated to international brands such as Lacoste, Missoni, Orlebar Brown and Vilebrequin.

Yachts lined up in a row

The mega-yachts

Head to the promenade and bask in the gleam of super-yachts and super-tans. Palmarina opened in 2012 as Turkey’s first harbour for mega-yachts with 620 berths, and since then some of the world’s most wealthy people have moored their vessels here (Bill Gates and Roman Abramovich are rumoured to be among them). Taking to the water is one of the best ways to unwind, and the peninsula offers plenty of secret bays to drop anchor and swim in warm, clear, blue waters. There are plenty of yacht charter companies ready to assist in arranging time on board traditional Turkish wooden sailing gulets, as well as state-of-the-art pleasure launches with hot tubs and Champagne. Alternatively, just ask the Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum concierge to book the resort’s popular all-day gulet tour, which includes lunch.

Lounges and an indoor pool at The Spa Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum

The luxury

While the buzzing town of Bodrum itself is on the south of the synonymous peninsula, the bolthole of Turkbuku is on the northerly shores and provides a more discreet luxury. At its heart is a glistening marina, populated with yachts that jostle together gently in the sun, and fringed with ritzy bars and boutiques. A short walk from the village, Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum sets the gold standard for luxury. Nestled on the sides of nearby green hills, thick with pine and olive trees, the landscaped terraces look down on the Aegean Sea. Along with eight restaurants and bars, a world-class spa and two sandy beaches, the hotel has five new suites and villas overlooking Paradise Bay.

The 15th-century castle grounds at Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum

The history

Just like its French counterpart, with its preserved 16th-century citadel, Bodrum is rich on history with the jewel in the crown being the town’s 15th-century castle. Built by the Knights of St John it was later taken over by the Ottomans, when it was transformed into a mosque and a minaret added. Today it is home to the Museum of Underwater Archaeology, a fascinating opportunity to view shipwrecks raised from the depths, along with their salt-corroded treasures, from silver coins to Islamic glassware. There is a delightful Mediterranean garden in the castle grounds as well. Bodrum is also known for the Mausoleum of Mausolus in Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, although it sits in ruins now.

Illuminated Bodrum Balıkçısı restaurant overlooking Blue Beach at night

The food scene

While St Tropez excels in Provencal cuisine, Bodrum dazzles with its fresh Turkish mezze and seafood, at times presented in fine-dining settings, at others in wonderful seaside or rural settings. The resort’s own Bodrum Balıkçısı is a simple, authentic and traditional Turkish restaurant, nestled above Blue Beach and specialising in fresh, seasonal produce. Another highlight is Limon Cafe, perched on a meadow hillside someway off the road, with mismatched tables and chairs dotted throughout the long grass and flowers. It is a perfect place to watch the sun go down over a sliver of sea in the distance and, after dark, lanterns and candles are lit. Try stuffed courgette flowers, kebabs with smoked aubergine and fish wrapped in chard leaves, followed by Aunt Semra’s lemon parfait. It’s the kind of place Impressionist painters would have loved.

Mandarin Oriental Bodrum
Come Stay with Us
Mandarin Oriental Bodrum

Göltürkbükü Mahallesi 314. Sokak No. 12/1, 48400 , Bodrum Muğla 48400, Turkey

+90 252 311 18 88

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