Already the riviera of choice for the jet set, the Turquoise Coast is about to get even better, says Laura Fowler.
On the waterside deck at Bodrum's Macakizi Hotel last summer, you wouldn't have guessed that there was a pandemic raging. Every socially distanced daybed and cabana was occupied, bodies sun-tanning like it was the 1980s: music, sunshine, happy hubbub. Only the masked waiters flitting between them were a sign that this place had not escaped the crisis entirely.
For most of the world, the past year has been disastrous for travel. Not so in Turkey, whose Turquoise Coast became the Mediterranean riviera of choice in 2020, for all those travelers who would usually seek sunshine on Balearic beaches, Spanish costas and French promenades. As the borders of other holiday destinations flapped open and closed in the winds of the pandemic, Turkey's coast with its low infection rates remained steadfastly open for Warless in an extended season that kept the party going until October.
"The crowd who would usually be in St Tropez and Ibiza were coming here instead," says Sahir Erozan, owner of the Macakizi, Bodrum’s glamorous bolt-hole where the blessed and beautiful - Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Poppy Delevingne - go to party. "Once people returned in July, we were busier than ever. Every room was full." And this year the Turquoise Coast's newfound status as Mediterranean summer scenester is set to strengthen. Turkey's tourism minister, Mehmet Ersoy, has said that the country would not require vaccination passports from international travelers - which mean, it may be possible to go there as soon as the UK ban on non-essential travel is lifted as early as May 17.
"Not to jinx it, but it’s looking good,” says Erozan. “We have a lot of demand.” He puts this down to the clients they gained last year spreading the word about what the Macakizi and this coast of the gods, whose temples still remain along its shores, has to offer. Despite the uncertainty that lies ahead, his cautious optimism is understandable, by last autumn his hotel had exceeded its targets and had 80 per cent new business -a mix of first-time holidaymakers and digital nomads on extended workations, tapping away on laptops in the buzzing open-air lounge, beside Russian oligarchs and models sipping muddy Turkish coffee. “It was like WeWork here some days," he says. “One couple from London stayed from June until October.”
It was the same story throughout the region. Once business picked up midsummer, the peninsula's hotels extended their seasons and had record autumn bookings. Nearby Amanruya also had a strong season and even improved on the previous summer, with guests seeking out stand-alone pavilions with private pools for space to themselves. The Mandarin Oriental Bodrum reported arise in extended stars and guests arriving by private jet, with families requesting more spacious suites and villas. The party-hearty, Bodrum EDITION was effusively upbeat. “We were able to exceed our own expectations of the summer beyond our wildest dreams,” says Marc Matar, the hotel's general manager, who describes how they revamped their beach club and upped their al fresco offerings in terms of wellness and activities and socially distanced outdoor dining, making the place "very attractive to those craving escape from busy congested cities and grim pandemic reality".
Joining the peninsula's luxury offering this summer is Bodrum Loft, on the coast near the fishing village of Torba. The 36-villa resort has all the space and privacy of a villa holiday, but with the added advantages of a hotel - from the landscaped gardens, pools and beach club, the smart restaurants and spa, right down to room service. It's perfect for big friends/family get-togethers.
The Macakizi crew have tapped into this desire for exclusive takeovers too. On April 15 it will open its 10-suite Macakizi Villa, a vast party pad which floats above clouds of bougainvillea in Paradise Bay and comes with its quill spa, gym, private beach deck and cabanas, plus Michelin-star-winning chef, Carlo Bernardini, who can also teach guests how to cook his Aegean-style dishes with an Italian twist.
The new opening comes alongside the brand's other recent launch, for a stylish bubble holiday at sea: the Macakizi Halas 71. Its long, low form and black funnel cuts an unusual silhouette among the gulets and Mangustas and increasingly super superyachts anchoring along the coast.
A former passenger ferry from Istanbul, it was made in Glasgow in 1914 and used in the First World War by British troops before it made its way to Gallipoli: then, in the 1980s, restored and turned into a boutique hotel on the water, hosting Prince Charles and Princess Margaret in its mahogany-paneled cabins. Last year it was spruced up and rebranded.
It is the ultimate multi-gen Blue Voyager: slow and steady, with deep-pile carpets for grandpa, canoes for the kids. 12 en suite cabins, a sauna and a deck big enough to hold a party for 150. The hotel has added its signature touches: east-west beats, decks and sound system; a champagne bar on deck, a cognac bar below. What a joy to rediscover travelling, face-mask free! Watching the pine-forested coast slide by, past ancient . ruins and sleepy fishing villages, hopping to shore for lazy taverna lunches. No wonder nobody wants to leave this corner of heaven. "We are not going to be free of Covid this summer either,” says the Macakizi’s Erozan, "but people felt safe and comfortable here - it's all open air and outdoor living - and I think that will be important in deciding where to travel.”
The Turquoise Coast may have become last summer's riviera of choice by default, but now that so many have tasted the fruits of Turkey's land and sea, they seem bound to return this year, after a winter of uncertainty, to embrace its light and heat once more.
Boutique stay on the Turquoise Coast
Turkbuku village is Turkey’s St Tropez, with an upmarket beach scene liberally sprinkled with supermodels. Macakizi Hotel is its grand doyenne, a hedonists’ hideaway with 74 suites that are artfully understated. The palm-studded pool is captivating by day and even better by night, when there’s seafood by Aret Sahakyan, one of the country’s star chefs, and a sexy vibe courtesy of Turkey’s hippest DJs. If you need further distraction, the hotel’s motorboat can whizz you to the Bodrum peninsula’s quietest coves.
LIFE IS EASY AT MAÇAKIZI
The good times keep rolling at Bodrum’s legendary hotel – and now the revelry is a little more socially distanced with the arrival of a sleek new yatch and villa by the sea. by Jemima Sissons
Yachts passing Türkbükü Bay, near the Maçakizi hotel in Bodrum, Turkey. Opposite: The Halas 71’s upper deck.
Above: The 175-foot Halas 71, anchored in Cennet Koyu in front of Villa Maçakizi. IT WAS THE WITCHING hour when we first arrived at Maçakizi, on the Turkish Riviera. The air smelled of jasmine and the sky had turned into an inky black cloak studded with stars. But the scene on Türkbükü Bay, just a few steps in the sand from the hotel, was hardly subdued. Disco-lit superyachts bobbed in tune with the thumps of electronic music blasting from their onboard DJs. A trio of women in diaphanous dresses made their way inside the hotel from a long night at the beach bar, sweeping like lovely ghosts past creeping bougainvillea and geometric glass sculptures by Turkish artist Sema Topaloğlu.
Having just arrived from London, my husband and I sat observing it all quietly from a table in the lounge when, suddenly, we had company. An English chap plonked himself at our table, ordered a tequila and soda ("Rum makes you fat. Tequila makes you high”, he informed the waiter), and began regaling us with his love affair for the hotel. “We are all one family here,” he proclaimed jovially, between slurps.
I had long heard the stories about Maçakizi—the supermodels and royalty, the parties that last until morning (sometimes the afternoon)—but to see it in action was another story. The hotel is less a place to stay than it is a lifestyle, where guests are welcomed by the charismatic owner Sahir Erozan and his amiable Australian sidekick, general manager Andrew Jacobs. The next day, at the beach club, a group of Americans were deep in discussion about the minimum length of yacht required for a family of four plus staff (73 feet, apparently). At breakfast, an English couple worked from laptops at their table; they’d, been staying there since June, with no plans to leave before the hotel closed for the season in November. By the beach bar, no matter the hour, a group of Givenchy-clad men could be found smoking Cohibas. Even with COVID-19, the spectacle couldn't be stifled: Colorful masks and bespoke hand sanitizer in chic bottles were the latest must-have accessories. I had not come to talk boats or smoke cigars, though. I had come to see the newest additions to the Maçakizi family: A 12-suite pleasure yacht and an exclusive-use villa. That afternoon, we set sail on the 175-foot Halas 71. Gliding from Cennet koyu (Paradise Bay) to Çatalada (Fork Island), past mega-mansions and superyachts, the vessel was majestic, if not exactly in the same style as the glistening white snowboats we passed along the way. Commissioned in 1912 by the Bosphorus Steam Navigation Company and built in 1914 in Glasgow, Scotland, the ship was, like many back then, repurposed by the British navy for use in World War I. After the defeat at Gallipoli, it operated in Istanbul as a steam ferry, transporting traders and tourists across the Bosphorus. In 1984, it was again converted, this time into a luxury yacht, media tycoon Haldun Simavi, who, with his wife, Çiğdem, entertained an impressive roster of guests on board—Princess Margaret, Prince Charles, John Malkovich, and Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Today the Halas 71 is owned by Turkish textile magnate Caroline Koç and managed by Erozan and his team. The boat is available for charter for a few hours or up to a few weeks for visits to the sunken ruins of Simena in Kekova and stunning seaside towns like Bozburun and Göcek. Elevating it to Maçakizi's lavish standards to sailboards, waterskis, and wakeboards, and, coming this season, a dance floor for more of those famous all-night parties.
I wasn't disappointed to find there was so DJ spinning on the upper deck when we boarded that afternoon. There was, however, a perfect breeze and the rhythmic sound of gentle waves lapping against the bow. Our suite, named for Princess Margaret, was decorated with dune-soft silk carpeting, Haremlique linens with toile bed covers, and taupe-and-cream linen curtains. Next door in the library we found Turkish history books and leather-bound Voltaire, and along the corridor below, a Cognac bar and infrared sauna. Everything was wrapped in mahogany paneling, and maritime artworks lined the walls. Above: The entrance to Villa Maçakizi, Below: The private estate’s lounge overlooking the pool.
In the evening, we dined on risotto with bocek, the local spiny lobster, the handiwork of Venetian native Carlo Bernardini, who oversees catering on the yacht and at Villa Maçakizi. The entrée was served alongside locally made buffalo mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, and a selection of excellent local wines. There is a movement of dynamic young winemakers in the Urla region, the Tuscany of Turkey, and Bernardini’s intimate knowledge of its biggest stars served us well. The Porta Caeli Ament reminded me of a Bordeaux, and the Kavaklidere Pendore Öküzgözü was rich with dark-red fruits; both paired nicely with fresh focaccia and pistachio baklava drizzled with honey.
Over the next several days we sailed the Aegean Sea without hurry. We dove into the dark waters to swim laps around the yacht, catching glimpses of its hulking anchor, one of a few remnants left from the vessel’s former life. One afternoon,we cruised past a horizon of humpback rocks to the twinkling village of Gümüşlük, where we shopped for jewelry and ceramics at an open-air market and snacked on a local delicacy, midye dolma (mussels stuffed with a spicy pilaf). On the way to Palm Tree Bay, our mooring spot for the night, we watched the Greek islands of Leros and Patmos light up as the sun went down.
A few days later, I was sunbathing on the upper deck when one of my Maçakizi flip-flops took flight, urged by a sudden gust of wind. I watched as it journeyed gracefully across the bay before landing just short of a beautiful white estate, perched above a private boardwalk lined with sun loungers. It was not a hotel, as I had initially thought, but Villa Maçakizi, Erozan’s new exclusive-use rental property. (Turns out that, in its previous life, the estate was a boutique hotel, known as Il Riccio Beach House.)
Offering ten rooms, a spa with a hammam, a fitness center, a swimming pool, and a private beach, the villa has already attracted a loyal following among the publicity-shy and COVID- wary. All the rooms—soon to be updated with Maçakizi-worthy makeovers—have their own balcony or terrace overlooking the pool. The vast grounds provide plenty to do too: There's a garden filled with olive trees, lavender, and freesia (a perfect place for alfresco yoga or a cocktail); cabanas on the edge of the sea; and, of course, a DJ booth for all-night parties. Guests can also arrange private fishing tours, boat charters, cooking classes, horseback riding, and scuba diving at nearby shipwrecks. A tour of the villa had been on our afternoon itinerary, but a last-minute buyout by a Middle Eastern royal family had thwarted our plans—though the views from the Halas 71, from which we could just make out the glistening pool, were enough to convince us to book our own stay next season. We arrived back at the hotel as aperitivo hour was kicking off. The Halas 71 had just slipped into the marina when the nightly symphony of competing DJs started up. Guests emerged from their rooms—women dressed in flowing caftans and dripping with carats, men with their top four buttons proudly undone—and we all marveled for a minute as the sun went down. The music got louder, prompting pods of guests to dance, and, as I sipped a tequila and soda, for one brief moment of unmitigated joie de vivre, I understood what that English chap had meant. Maçakizi is a club, and once you're part of it, you want to stay forever. Yacht from $189,000 per week; villa from $23,000 per night; hotel rooms from $650 per night; macakizi.com
Above: Villa Maçakizi's swimming pool. Opposite: A quiet corner on the hotel's always- hopping waterside deck.
Everything to dream about
In the 1970s Mick Jagger, Rudolf Nureyev and their pals flocked to the sleepy fishing village of Türkbükü on the west coast of Turkey, lured by a boho B&B run by flamboyant host Ayla Emiroğlu. Thirty years later, her son Sahir Erozan had loftier visions, transforming the modest guesthouse into Maçakizi - 74 rooms spread across four bougainvillaea-bright terraces on a sweeping site overlooking a beryl-blue bay. Today the whitewashed hangout is a magnet for Istanbul’s soigné night-owls and well-heeled Euros - you can see why the buzzing peninsula is often labelled the St Tropez of Turkey. Breakfast (pillow-soft sesame pide slathered with honeycomb) is taken late. By midday, rows of beach beds are strewn with Hermés sarongs and everyone seems to know each other. Stealth yachts and teak sailboats anchor for the night so their inhabitants can come ashore to feast on chef Aret Sahakyan’s deft cooking: creamy calamari carbonara and delicate lamb manti (dumplings). It could be just another frou-frou designer resort. Yet Maçakizi is unlike anywhere else, because it has identity, personality and a twinkle in its eye. This is all to do with the wonderfully charismatic Erozan, who flits between his many friends (Kate Moss is a regular), Cohiba clenched between his teeth, vodka on the rocks clinking. The white and taupe bedrooms are lovely but most of the action takes place outside: the beach deck, the breezy restaurant, the waterside bar for Bellinis. It has all the signatures you would expect from a cool independent hotel: a boutique stocking local designers (the Mae Zae bashed-gold earrings are hard to resist), a Bodyism gym and its own wonderful boat, Halas 71, a converted 1914 steam liner. Yet more than that, Maçakızı is simply a club you want to be part of. Doubles from about £425; macakizi.com
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Turkbuku village is home to Turkey's most glamorous beachscene, and this boutique resort is where the interiors are paleand the action is interesting, especially when celebrities suchas Mick Jagger and Kate Moss check in. The bougainvillea-festooned suites are an ode to stealth wealth, with designerfurnishings by Rifat Ozbek and paintings by local artisans. The palm shaded pool is laid-back, food is by Aret Sahakyan, one of the country's star chefs, and the hotel has its own boatthat is perfect for exploring deserted coves and enjoying on-deck wine-tasting workshops.
Details Doubles from £330, half-board (macakizi.com). Fly to Bodrum
HOTELS ARE GOING THE EXTRA MILE
Hotels looking for ways to meet guests’ distancing needs are thinking beyond the hotel and offering guests new and creative ways of travelling, revamping old modes of transport.
From rails to sails; Bodrum2s jewel of a boutique hotel the Macakizi (macakizi.com) has taken over a spiffed-up 1940s motor watch that harks back to the Ottoman era and has hosted British royals and American presidents. Halas 71 can accommodate up to 23 guests on a bespoke Blue Cruise along the Turquoise Coast of Turkey- on the safe list for holidays this summer- whose seaside treasures remain eternally open.
A Turkish idyll –
by land and sea Mediterranean beach mavens know: Bodrum is a forever place. And Maçakizi – the funky, singular hotel with a diehard fan club spanning the globe that’s been a summer happy place for artists, designers and bourgeois bohémiens of various stripes and nationalities since opening in 1977 – is its forever address. This summer, owner Sahir Erozan adds twin passions: Halas 71, a 10-cabin vintage motor yacht that will ply the Turkish-Aegean coast to Alaçati and back on overnight excursions (think wine tastings and deserted-beach lunches); and Villa Maçakizi, a new 10-room estate, lost in an artful tangle of oleander bougainvillea (and perfect for buyouts) just 10 minutes’ speedboat ride from the hotel. macakizi.com; Villa Maçakizi from €24,786 per night (max 23 people); Halas 71, POA.
In this continuing series for Forbes, I talk to a range of experts and insiders working in the travel industry about their plans for reopening across the sector. I find out more about the new practicalities which are now necessary, and the leaders’ thoughts for the road ahead – from heightened cleaning protocols – a new ‘essential’ in a post-covid world – to the acceleration of advanced technology to aid seamless travel experiences.
Having already opened its doors to Ikos Olivia in Halkidiki, Greece, on 1 July, Ikos Resorts is one brand taking the lead when it comes to health and safety measures. With resorts also found on Cos and Corfu, and a new property, Ikos Andalusia in Spain, slated to open on 1 September 2020, it has announced its detailed ‘Infinite Care Protocol’, which covers everything from increased outdoor activities and advanced ‘touch-less’ services to new disinfecting technology..
“Physical distancing will be actively encouraged and a range of measures will offer a contact-less guest journey, from the moment guests check in all the way through to the end of their holiday,” says Ikos Resorts. “We’ve upgraded the Ikos Resorts Mobile app, allowing for digital services and limiting face-to-face interactions. Guests will able to enjoy 24-hour room service, fully contactless, make digital restaurant and spa bookings, view the resort’s à la carte menus, which are all curated by Michelin starred chefs, and the hundreds of wines selected by the Ikos Sommelier, fully zero touch.”.
Also embracing new technologies to reassure its customers is Airport Dimensions, one of the fastest-growing global lounge operators. With a network of over 24 airport lounges across Europe, the US and the Middle East, Airport Dimensions is part of Collinson, the founder of Priority Pass, the world’s largest lounge access program used by 20m frequent travellers..
The company’s lounges, branded as The Club in the US and Club Aspire in the UK, are now gearing up to re-open, with new measures and practices being put in place to meet the changed needs of customers..
“It’s imperative that we provide spaces where travellers can feel confident that they are in a comfortable and safe environment,” says Errol McGlothan, managing director at Airport Dimensions. “This includes additional safety measures, such as increased hygiene practices, enforcing social distancing, and temperature checks for employees. .
“The current crisis has also accelerated the use of technology and demand for access to services from the traveller’s phone,” he continues. “Developments such as that from e-commerce platform Grab, which allows customers to pre-order food from their phone and then collect it en-route, or have it delivered to the gate, will make ‘grab and go’ even more convenient. Similarly, Inflyter, which gives passengers the option to pre-order duty free, will also make airport shopping easier and quicker. These sorts of technologies, until very recently, were seen as ‘nice-to-haves’ but are now regarded as essential provisions for passengers and can help provide smooth, contactless travel.”.
Foreseeing that lounge use will be even more in demand in the future, due to the fact that these spaces can provide an element of sanctuary away from busy terminals, Errol also reveals that Airport Dimensions is looking to invest in further technological innovations, as well as continuing its expansion plans. The company is due to open eight new lounges in the coming year, reaching into the Middle East and Asia-Pacific..
“There’s a continued high demand for lounges, and lounge experiences, and we are continually looking to innovate,” he says. “We want to move beyond the traditional lounge concept with the introduction of sleep pods, for instance. These will be particularly welcomed by travellers looking for more privacy and space away from others. We are also looking into other options, such as gaming offerings and holistic spas to address increased wellness needs.”.
Having garnered praise for its swift ‘track and trace’ procedures early on in the pandemic, resulting in keeping infection rates low, and with one of the lowest death rates in the world, Singapore is embracing technology in the fight against Covid-19. As well as being the first country to deploy a national coronavirus-tracing app, it is currently looking at introducing the latest wearable contact-tracing tech, called Trace Together tokens..
Another of the country’s recent initiatives is SG Clean, a certification programme to rally businesses in the tourism and lifestyle sectors to uphold excellent sanitation standards and hygiene practices..
Chief executive officer of the Singapore Tourism Board, Keith Tan, comments: “Singapore already has a reputation as a safe and clean destination with a world-class public healthcare system. SG Clean, our national mark of excellence for safety and hygiene, adds to this. It certifies businesses that adhere to rigorous standards of safe management and provides added reassurance for visitors. .
“We know that travellers want that assurance, from the time they board the plane to the point of arrival and throughout their stay,” he says. “Hence the new measures taken by our airlines, hotels and MICE venue partners will all contribute to instilling more confidence in travelling again.”.
Keith continues: “Maintaining Changi’s reputation as a key hub and transit point for travellers is important. In this regard, Changi Airport Group has rolled out a suite of initiatives. These include the setting up of new Transit Holding Areas (THAs) in Terminal 1 and 3 to facilitate transit travel through Changi Airport. The THAs, which offer amenities such as snooze and play areas, are deep cleaned and disinfected regularly. Temperature taking is also conducted at the entrances.”.
Focusing on virtual experiences, so that travellers can experience an element of Singapore from their homes, has been key over the past few months, says Keith, to ensure the destination keeps “top-of-mind among our future visitors”..
“We are not rushing to re-open, as we want our visitors to have peace of mind when they are here,” he adds. “As such, our borders will also re-open gradually with necessary safeguards, balancing health considerations and the needs of our economy and people. Travel to Singapore has restarted on a limited scale through ‘green lane’ arrangements, focusing on transit passengers as well as essential business and official travel that support our economic recovery, critical services and global supply chains. We will progressively put in place such ‘green lane’ arrangements with more countries and regions, and adjust measures for inbound travellers according to risk of importation..
“Singapore Airlines has also resumed flights to several destinations in June and July, including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Christchurch and Melbourne. The airline will be flying to 27 cities in these two months. This is the first step towards gradually restarting air travel, and adjustments will be made as the Covid-19 situation evolves in Singapore and around the world.”.
Looking towards the future, the Singapore Tourism Board says it will continue working with tourism companies to help employ safety measures – such as the SafeEntry digital check-in system, which requires visitors to scan their identification to facilitate contract tracing; and the TraceTogether app which supports Singapore’s efforts to fight the spread of Covid-19..
“We will also be reviewing our longer-term tourism strategies to ensure that they are resilient and meaningful in a post-Covid world. At the same time, we will continue with our long-term plans for our famous shopping belt Orchard Road, the Mandai nature precinct, Jurong Lake District and the rejuvenation of our Integrated Resorts (Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa). Investment in tourism will continue, to ensure a strong pipeline of leisure and business offerings that appeal to various interests.”.
Plans afoot for the future in Singapore include the inaugural edition of Art SG, the Singapore art fair, taking place at 5-7 November 2021 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre. Set to be the leading art fair in Southeast Asia, it aims to showcase the most visionary and exciting contemporary art from the region and globally. .
Next year will also see the opening of Pan Pacific Orchard, the group’s first zero-waste hotel. The property, located along Singapore’s famed Orchard Road, will have four levels of soaring gardens that will redefine vertical sky-rise architecture..
In 2021/2022, Jurong Bird Park will be relocated from its current premises to the Mandai Nature Reserve. Its new location will be home to around 3,500 birds across 400 species. Once opened, visitors will be able to immerse themselves in multiple landscapes and vegetation, to see the birds in their natural habitats. The birds will fly freely in nine large walk-in aviaries, and will include colourful birds of paradise, orange beaked hornbills and vocal parrots, among many others. The Bird Park is part of the regeneration of Mandai, currently being transformed into an integrated wildlife and nature precinct. Within the next two-three years, Mandai will also see the creation of new public spaces – including green landscaped decks and boardwalks – as well as the opening of a brand-new park, ‘Rainforest Park’, which will focus on Southeast Asian biodiversity..
Opening slowly with proper protocols in place is also key for the andBeyond group, the luxury experiential travel company. Nicole Robinson, andBeyond’s CMO comments: “Tourism re-opening for local travel is one thing, international movement is harder to predict – there are so many variables ranging from international air availability and pricing, visa requirements and quarantine protocols to implementation of health and safety protocols. What we’re hearing from our key markets is that travellers will travel locally first and then start to branch out as the situation around the world stabilizes.”.
“When that happens, we believe that travellers are more likely to be interested in exploring and interpreting nature and looking for more meaningful, purposeful travel experiences. Our vision of luxury has always been aligned with one of transformational travel – where we strive to provide an experience that goes beyond expectations, where guests leave with a transformed view of how they can leave their world a better place. I think the luxury travel experience will morph into one that is more purposeful, where making a positive impact and giving back in meaningful ways will form basic tenets of what guests seek in a luxury travel adventure.”.
Having recently opened its new property, Ruby Lissi in Vienna, hotel brand Ruby Hotels says that its innovative 'Lean Luxury' model will put them in good stead for a post-Corona world..
Michael Struck, CEO and founder of Ruby Hotels says: “There is no question that the Covid-19 pandemic will change travel as we know it. As it becomes increasingly clear that social distancing is here to stay, hotels with a high degree of automation and intelligent use of technology are predicted to come out in front. Ruby Hotels' 'Lean Luxury' model makes use of just that, providing travellers with a safe, luxurious and unique hotel experience at an affordable price point.” .
He continues: “Thanks to proprietary technical innovations, we plan, build and organise ourselves differently from conventional hotels. We design and structure our properties in a very modular way, centralising and automating processes behind the scenes wherever possible. This means that we can run our hotels on lower staff levels than many of our peers. Plus, we can give our guests the option: how much interaction do you want? The human touch is important to us all. But in times like these, it is good to have the option to minimise social contact..
“For example, a self-check-in system makes use of tablets to reduce check-in time to under one minute, while check-out is eliminated altogether (the guest simply receives an invoice via email at the end of their stay). Further, Ruby Hotels’ galley kitchens and vending machines supply guests with all of their needs, in complete privacy. Large open bars, movie lounges, private yoga rooms and rooftop chill-out spaces replace traditional spa and gym facilities, allowing guests to relax and unwind in a safer way.”.
As COMO Hotels and Resorts start to reopen, CEO Olivier Jolivet, has identified that there will be an increase in travellers looking for smaller, more boutique places to stay, perhaps with large suites or private villas. “Luxury is to do with space and intimacy – in this new era, this is more pertinent than ever,” he says. “I also predict there will be a stronger emphasis on people wanting a wellbeing offering.”.
He continues: “As each COMO destination approaches its reopening, we continue to adjust measures to remain in line with government guidelines, including social distancing and temperature monitoring. Looking ahead, we are focussing on developing our lifestyle component by investing into new trends, new businesses and new destinations. We are also in the process of launching COMO Card, a membership programme with access to the world of COMO from hospitality and wellness to sport and fashion.”.
Echoing the importance that space will bring for future travellers is Sahir Erozan, owner of Macakizi, the iconic luxury hotel located in Bodrum in Turkey. He foresees that travellers will be more cautious and conscious in the immediate future and will look for those special places where they can escape the crowds..
“We think travellers will be more selective and thoughtful about how they travel and where they stay. Travel will be about quality over quantity, we expect that people will be taking longer trips to reduce any risks of travelling and minimise time in airports and on planes. With safety the new buzzword, people will be looking for hotels with amped up, super-cleaning regimes, and strict regulations in place, so they can feel immediately at ease.”.
From implementing Covid-19 testing kits to temperature checks upon arrival; extensive sanitisation to digital information, such as using QR codes for menus – Sahir reveals that the resort has already put in place a raft of new initiatives..
“We want Macakizi to be known as a safe haven, full of small yet significantly thoughtful details to ensure our guests continue to feel at home with us. One of the benefits of staying at Macakizi is its unique layout,” he continues. “There are lots of open air spaces, with no corridors or enclosed areas. Integrated with the surrounding nature and beachfront, the core design of the hotel is all about open spaces, offering plenty of areas for guests to enjoy their own privacy.
Having the last word, Sahir says: “The reset button has been pressed, this is a chance for the tourism industry to rebuild for the better. People will always have an innate desire to discover the world, enjoy beautiful food and authentic experiences. Although the pandemic has been a crisis, one of the positives arising from it is that it has given people a new appreciation of travel.”
For our latest issue, a special edition with the theme of Under One Sky we asked our favourite globetrotters to open up their address books in support of the travel industry. The idea is to shine a light on businesses big and small - from Guyana to Panama; to pay it forward and bookmark for later the go-to destinations and experiences of the best-travelled people we know: tour operators, hoteliers, designers, adventurers, actors, chefs and more. These are our insiders' insider tips - in this case, their favourite small and secret hotels in the world.
For more global recommendations, plus love letters to travel from writers including Bernardine Evaristo, David Sedaris, and Sebastian Faulka, download the current issue of Condé Nast Traveller.
Recommended by lzak Senbahar, owner of smart New York City hotel The Mark
`Macakizi in Bodrum. It is in a beautiful bay with the bluest, clearest water. The landscaping is mesmerising. The food from chef Aret Sahakyan is so good that once I stayed for 14 days and never left the hotel for a single meal. The outdoor breakfast area, with dramatic views of the sea and the islands and the huge buffet spread, is something you look forward to every morning.'
Hikayesi 1977 yılında başlayan Bodrum'un ikonik oteli Maçakızı, lüks ve rafine bir tatil deneyimi vadediyor.
Deniz, güneş ve huzur veren doğa... Geçen yıllara ve değişen seyahat trendlerine rağmen Bodrum, hem yaydığı pozitif enerji hem doğası hem de farklı tatil seçenekleriyle favori yaz rotası olma özelliğini koruyor. Bodrum denince akla gelen ilk yer olan Maçakızı ise tıpkı üzerine kurulu olduğu muazzam bölge gibi müdavimlere sahip bir yer. Bodrum’un ikonik otelinin hikayesi 1977’de, Göltürkbükü henüz sadece birkaç ev ile sokak kedilerinin olduğu küçük bir sahil kasabasıyken, Ayla Emiroğlu tarafından Bodrum’un güzelliğini başkalarıyla paylaşmak için küçük bir butik otel olarak kurulmasıyla başlıyor. 0 günkü bohem ve sofistike ruhunu hl koruyan, begonviller içinde, yeşille çevrelenmiş bir alanda konumlanan Maçakızı, yaşamdan keyif almayı bilen, iyi yemek yemeyi, doğayı, sanatı seven insanlar için açıldığı günden beri buluşma noktası. Lüks anlayışı, şef Aret Sahakyan’ın mutfağından çıkan Akdeniz lezzetleri, servis kalitesi ve profesyonel ekibiyle Maçakızı, bu yaz pandemiye karşı tüm önlemlerini de aldı. Hem Maçakızı Hotel hem Villa Maçakızı’nda yeni kurallar uygulanmaya başlandı. Her yer düzenli olarak dezenfekte edilirken, sağlık prosedürleri ve sosyal mesafe kuralları ciddi bir şekilde uygulanıyor. Otel yönetimi tarafından alınan her tedbir, tatil deneyiminizi daha huzurlu kılacak nitelikte.
Bodrum denince akla gelen lokasyonlar arasında yer alan Maçakızı’nın sahibi Sahir Erozan ile bir araya gelerek, kendi gustosu, turizm ve otelciliğe dair keyifli bir sohbet gerçekleştirdik.
Tüm dünyada için zor geçen bir kış mevsiminin ardından yepyeni bir yaz sezonuna giriş yapıyoruz. Ülkeler arası sınırların kapalı olduğu bu dönemde lokal değerler her zamankinden daha çok önem taşıyor. Hiç şüphesiz Bodrum da en çok ilgi gören tatil beldeleri arasında. Sizce Bodrum’u bu kadar özel yapan nedir?
Bodrum’un sakin, güzel doğası, samimi ve sıcak Ege atmosferi, birbirinden güzel koylarının yanı sıra, Antik Çağ’a dayanan 7000 yıllık bir tarihi de var. Leleg, Karia, Pers, Helen, Bizans ve Osmanlı gibi birçok uygarlık ve kültüre ev sahipliği yapmış olan Bodrum, belki de bu yüzden herkesi çeken bir şeyler barındırıyor içinde
Bodrum’un geçmişine baktığımızda tarih boyunca her zaman popüler bir tatil beldesi olmuştur. Her dönem de farklı bölgeleri öne çıkmıştır. Barlar Sokağı ve Halikarnas efsanesinden Güm-bet’e, Türkbükü’nden Yalıkavak Marina’ya... Sizce bu değişimi tetikleyen ne oluyor?
Bodrum’da yerleşim yarımadanın değişik bölgelerine yayıldıkça Türkbükü, Yalıkavak gibi farklı koylar ön plana çıkmaya başladı. Bodrum merkezinde kıyı sahilinden denize girmek zor olduğu için oteller ve mekanlar bu koylarda açılmaya başladı.
Sizin için Bodrum’un yerlisi diyebiliriz. Bu yaz turistlere gerçek bir Bodrum deneyimi yaşamaları adına bilinen popüler lokasyon-lar dışında nerelere gitmesini önerirsiniz?
Tekneyle Bodrum’un eşsiz güzellikteki sakin koylarına.
Yurtdışına baktığımız zaman St.Tropez, Capri, Ibiza gibi lokasyonlarda çoğu otel, restoran ve gece kulüplerinin kuruluşu çok eski yıllara dayanıyor. Bodrum’da ise Maça Kızı gibi köklü mekanların sayısı bir elin parmağını geçmeyecek kadar az. Buranın en eski mekanlarından biri olarak sizce neden bu kadar çabuk tüketiyoruz? Ya da mekanlar neden ayakta kalamıyor?
Bir mekanın kalıcı olabilmesi için bulunduğu yerin ruhunu, yaşam tarzını çok iyi anlıyor ve uyum sağlıyor olması gerekir. Yeni açılan mekanların birçoğu başka şehirlerden Bodrum’a geliyor. Bodrum’un atmosferini, ve ruhunu iyi kavrayamıyorlar. Her yerin sevilen, bilinen lokal işletmeleri ve buraların sadık takipçileri vardır. Her gittiğinizde size özel bir duygu ve keyif yaşatır. Bu tadı insanlara veremeyen mekanlar insanlarla güçlü bir bağ kuramıyor, dolayısıyla kalıcı olamıyor ve kısa sürede kapanıyorlar.
Biraz da Maça Kızı’ndan bahsedelim. Bodrum’daki 43. yılınızı devirmek üzeresiniz. Anneniz Ayla Emiroğlu’nun Bodrum çarşı içerisinde devraldığı küçük bir pansiyon ile başlayan macera nasıl bir yolculuk ile bugünlere geldi?
Annem’in Bodrum aşkı 70’lerde başladı. 1977’de Bodrum’un içinde ilk Maçakızı’nı açtığı zaman burası birkaç ev, araba ve sokak kedilerinin olduğu küçük bir kasabaydı. Annemin tutkusu, disiplini ve dokunduğu her şeyi bambaşka bir güzelliğe getirme yeteneğiyle Maçakızı bugünkü konumuna geldi. Bahçedeki çiçeklerle teker teker ilgilenir, mutfaktan çıkan her yemeği titizlikle teftiş ederdi. Maçakızı’na bohem ve sofistike ruhunu veren annem ve onun benzersiz kişiliğidir. Zamanla dönemin sanatçılarını, entellektüellerini çeken samimi ve keyifli bir ortam oluştu Maçakızı’nda. Ahmet Ertegün, Mick Jagger, Nureyev gibi isimleri ağırlardı annem. 2000 yılında ben de Washing-ton D.C.’deki 26 senelik kariyerimi geride bırakıp, annemle beraber Maçakızı’nın Göltürkbükü’ndeki yeni yerini kurmak üzere Türkiye’ye geldim. Son 20 senedir, otelde birçok yenilik ve geliştirme yaparak bugünün yaşantısına adapte etmekle uğraşıyorum; annemin yarattığı ruhu, abartısız lüks anlayışımızı ve kusursuz servis ilkelerimizi asla değiştirmeden.
Bölgenin ikonik lokasyonlarından biri haline gelen, yabancı turistlerin de favorilerinden Maça Kızı’nı nasıl tanımlarsınız? Öne çıkan ya da farklılık yaratan özellikleriniz sizce hangisi? Maçakızı dünyanın her yerinde güzellik arayan, yaşamdan zevk almayı bilen, iyi yemek yemeyi seven, doğayı, sanatı hayatının vazgeçilmez birer parçası haline getirmiş insanlar için bir buluşma noktası oldu. Annemin vizyonu, enerjisi ve eşsiz dokunuşuyla hayat bulan bohem-şık Maçakızı ruhu, abartısız lüks anlayışı ve her zaman en üst seviyede tutmaya çalıştığımız servis kalitemizle bizi bugünlere getirdi. Ekibimizin çoğu çok uzun zamandır bizimle ve Maçakızı’nda misafirlerimiz için bir ev sıcaklığında ağırlayabilmemizde büyük rol oynuyorlar. Birçok Türk ve yabancı müşterimiz her yaz gelir, ve burada bir aile buluşması hissi yaşatır bize.
Kurulduğu günden bu yana kalitesini hiç bozmadan hizmet veren mutfağınız da otel kadar ses getiriyor. Bu yaz için bizleri Maça Kızı mutfağında neler bekliyor?
Bu yıl şefimiz Aret Sahakyan yine “Yeni Akdeniz Mutfağı” diye tarif ettiği lezzetlerinden oluşan harika menüler hazırladı bize. Pandemi önlemlerimiz kapsamında restoranımızda birkaç değişiklik yaptık. Öğle yemeği ve brunch açık büfemiz artık büfe şeklinde değil, menümüz dahilinde masalara servis edilecek. En sevilen yemekleri-mizin hepsi menüye girdi, merak etmeyin. Akşam yemeklerimiz için de online rezervasyon sistemine geçtik. Her akşam hem favori Maçakızı klasiklerimiz, hem de şefin günlük değiştireceği başlangıçlar ve ana yemeklerimiz arasından seçim yapabileceksiniz.
Son zamanlarda sağlıklı yaşam konsepti oldukça yükselişte. Vejeteryanların sayısı oldukça artarken glütensiz ya da rafine şekersiz beslenenlerin sayısı da oldukça fazla. Birçok kişi de seyahat ederken bu alışkanlıklarından ödün vermek istemiyor. Bu doğrultu da mekanlar da artık menülerini çeşitlendirmeye başladı. Siz bu konuda ne düşünüyorsunuz?
Özellikle bu dönem sağlığın değerini daha da iyi anladık. İyi beslen-mek herkes için önemli ve Maçakızı’nda da her türlü beslenme şekline uygun opsiyonlarımız mevcut. Spor salonumuzun bir kısmını açık havaya taşıdık bu yaz, sosyal mesafeyi koruyarak bireysel ve küçük gruplar için derslerimiz yaz tatilinde formda kalmak isteyenler için devam edecek.
İçinde bulunduğumuz bu dönemde sizce eğlence bu yaz nasıl olacak? Sosyal mesafemizi koruyarak eğlenmek mümkün mü? İnsanlar haklı olarak eve kapanmaktan çok bunaldı. Ama bir süre daha dikkatli olmaya devam etmemiz gerekecek. Açık havada olmanın, güneşin ve denizin tadını çıkarmanın sosyal mesafeyi koruyarak da mümkün olduğunu düşünüyorum.
Son zamanlarda modadan gastronomiye, dekorasyondan turizme her alanda “yeni normal”lerimizi konuşuyoruz. Hiç şüphesiz turizm ise koronavirüs salgınından en çok etkilenen sektörler arasında. Sizce neler değişti ya da değişecek? Sektörden bağımsız olarak bu günlerin hepimiz için bir milat olacağını düşünüyorum. Tüm değerlerimizi, yaşam biçimimizi, tüketim alışkan-lıklarımızı gözden geçireceğimiz, yeni bir sayfa açacağımız bir süreçteyiz. Daha fazla, daha büyük ya da pahalı değil, daha kaliteliye yöneleceğiz. Bencillik ve bireysellikten uzaklaşıp, birlik olmayı, toplumsal fayda yaratmayı, doğaya karşı daha saygılı olmayı öğreneceğiz. Yüzümüzde hissettiğimiz ilk yaz güneşinin değerini daha iyi bilerek yaşayacağız. Sektör olarak da önlemlerimizi aldık, bu sezon ilk defa yeni normali deneyimleyeceğiz.
Maça Kızı olarak siz bu sürece uyum sağlamak adına nasıl önlemler aldınız?
Hem Maçakızı Otel hem Villa Maçakızı’nda bu yaz tüm önlemlerimizi aldık. Yeni prosedürlerimizi uygulamaya başladık. Her yer düzenli olarak dezenfekte ediliyor, otele giriş yapan tüm misafirlerimiz ve çalışanlarımızın ateşi ölçülüyor. El dezenfektanları, eldiven ve maskeler otelin tüm ortak alanlarında mevcut. Teması en aza indirgemek için tüm menülerimizi, bilgilendirme yazılarımızı, oda içi kitapçıklarımızı QR kodlarıyla dijital ortama taşıdık. Sahil ve restoran bölümlerimiz sosyal mesafe kurallarına uygun olarak yeniden düzenlendi. Restoranımız ve sahilimiz için online rezervasyon sistemine geçiş yaptık.
Kendiniz tatile çıkacak olsanız, gideceğiniz ve kalacağınız bir otelde nelere dikkat ederdiniz? Hijyen şu sıralar en önemli faktör.
Peki yabancı turistlerin şu sıralar azalacağını düşünürsek sizce bu durum sizi ya da genel olarak turizm sektörünü nasıl etkileyecek? İlk etapta kötü yönde etkileyecek tabii ama bu dönem atlatıldıktan sonra seyahat etme isteği daha da öne çıkacak diye düşünüyorum. İşletmecilik dışında iyi de bir koleksiyonersiniz. Sanat hayatınızın neresinde? Dedemden ve annemden dolayı sanat her zaman hayatımda oldu. Tüm dünyadaki fuarları ve bienalleri takip ediyorum. Ayrıca Türkiye’nin tanıtımına katkı sağlayan sanat etkinliklerini de desteklemeye çalışıyorum. Venedik Bienali ve Art Basel Miami dönemle-rinde organize ettiğim etkinliklerde sanatçıları ve koleksiyonerleri ağırlıyorum.
Özellikle takip ettiğiniz bir sanat türü ya da sanatçılar var mı?
Çağdaş sanatla ilgileniyorum. Çoğunlukla heykel, video sanatı ve tablo almayı seviyorum son dönemde. Türkiye’den ve yurtdışından birçok sanatçının işlerini takip ediyorum.
Son yıllarda sanat eserlerin otellerin olmazsa olmaz parçaları haline geldi. Birçok otelin kendine ait özel koleksiyonerleri bulunuyor. Maça Kızı’nın çeşitli alanlarında birçok farklı sanat eseri karşımıza çıkıyor. Dönem dönem farklı sanatçılarla çalışıp, otelde yeni işler sergilemeyi seviyorum. Sanatçıların mekandan ilham alarak otele özel bir eser yaratmaları bana heyecan veriyor. Maçakızı’nın lobisinde Haluk Akakçe’nın annemi ve Maçakızı’nı resmettiği çok sevdiğim bir eseri var. Elif Uras’ın uzun zaman geçirdiği ve çok sevdiği Bodrum’u yansıtan çeşme eseri de otelin bahçesinde yer alan, her önünden geçtiğimde enerjisiyle bana mutluluk veren bir iş. Maçakızı odalarında ise Suat Akdemir’in işleri yer alıyor. Maçakızı’nın sanatla iç içe dokusu annemle başlayan, benim de keyifle devam ettirdiğim bir durum. Kendi koleksiyonum için sanat alırken her zaman Maçakızı’nı da düşünürüm.
Röportaj Timur Can Ersoy
Bodrum’un eşsiz mavi koylarında açılan birbirinden güzel restoran ve plajlara her gün bir yenisi daha ekleniyor. Bu yazın en yeni ve klasikleşen Bodrum mekanlarından oluşan rehberimizle yaza davetiye çıkarıyoruz.
Maçakızı Beach- Bodrum’un vazgeçilmeyeni
Maçakızı Beach tüm koşullara uyarak bu yaz da sevenleriyle buluşuyor. Şezlongların arasındaki mesafeler bir buçuk metre mesafe bırakılarak yeniden düzenlenmiş ve online rezervasyon sistemine geçilmiş. Eğlencesi ise kaldığı yerden devam ediyor.
Yazı: Timur Can Ersoy
’74ESCAPE STORE & GALLERY MAÇAKIZI OTEL BODRUM
Yazla birlikte, herkes için zorlu geçen, daha önce benzeri görülmemiş bir dönemden birlik ve dayanışma duygusuyla çıkarken ’74Escape Store & Gallery bu sene Türkiye’nin yetenekli seramik sanatçılarını, zanaatkarlarını ve tasarımcılarını bir araya getirerek coğrafyamızdan çıkan birbirinden güzel tasarımları sergiliyor.
Mağaza, Temmuz 2020’de Bodrum Maçakızı Otel’de kapılarını açıyor. Akdeniz tarzından esinlenerek özenle seçilmiş ve hazırlanmış modern tasarımlardan oluşan koleksiyonlar, güneşi ve denizi anımsatan, neşeli kaçışların tuzlu hatıralarını saklayan seramiklerden, kıyafetlerden, aksesuarlardan ve dekoratif objelerden oluşan birer seçki.
Projeye katılan onlarca seramik sanatçısı ve marka var. Bunlardan bazıları; Ayşe Tanman, Mesut Öztürk, Metin Ertürk, Pınar Baklan, Anais Margaux, Aslı Filinta, Begum Khan, Dice Kayek, Gül Hürgel, Homemade Aromaterapi, Marche İstanbul, Mehry Mu, Misela, Nackiye, Ninon, Piece of White, Serena Uziyel.
Turkey's Bodrum peninsula is an absolute gem. Fringed by the crystal clear Aegean sea and peppered with authentic and pretty towns and villages, the Turquoise Coast it's known is inevitably and rightly getting more and more attention from wealthy vacationers around the world.
That has brought with it a glut of luxury resorts – Aman, Mandarin Oriental and a particularly ugly Hilton hotel all occupy prime spots up on pine-flecked hills over luminous blue bays. but it's the Turkish owned Macakizi that's the pick of the bunch. While not the most luxe (though high-end nonetheless), its more amenable price point (double rooms start from €425 ($475) in low season and €595 ($655), in high season including breakfast and dinner) and unassailable status as the best beach club in Bodrum make it the most compelling choice.
Set on the northern tip of gorgeous hay near the fashionable village of Türkbükü, Maçakizi climbs its way up a steep hill over four tiers from waterside dunking and bar to the open-air restaurant, pool and spa, and villas and suites. It's a triumph of planning and implementation. Gorgeously landscaped grounds bursting in color front magnolia and oleander-rich gardens hide a tangle of stone stairs and walkways snaking their way to the water's edge, connecting everything like arteries to a beating heart.
Among them sit 53 simple but comfortable rooms and 21 suites, many, but not all offering ocean views. Beds are big and comfy, doused in feather-soft covers and Rifal Özbek-designed cushions. My vast Bose TV sits unused on the wall as I prefer the views from my small private terrace. Bathrooms are travertine tiled with rainforest showers and Aqua di Parma toiletries.
Sensibly placed close to the rooms the airy breakfast pavilion alongside a quiet, deserted pool — conundrum quickly answered when compared to the waterfront setting. Below, a spa offering hammam and massage and a gym so buried behind plants it feels like working out in an airconditioned rainforest.
One tier down emerging from the green, and silver-leafed olive trees, the open-air a la carte restaurant is stylish but relaxed. It serves a mix of the Mediterranean and Turkish cuisine with a modern twist under the watchful eye of head chef Aref Sahakyan, who’s worked with the owner for more than 25 years.
Daily, fresh and flavorful breakfast and lunch buffets invite residents and day guests to drift in and out as hunger demands, keeping things buzzing but never too busy. Don't miss out on the manti, ground beef dumplings and daily octopus, which pair beautifully with a sizeable international wine list alongside excellent Turkish wines, in particular, those from the nearby Urla Winery. As darkness descends, soft lighting and candles add elegance and atmosphere. The service day and night in, in a word, faultless.
But it's the expanse of wooden boardwalks connecting warm waters to rows of cushioned day beds to a large central bar that are Macakizi's star attraction. Fanning out along the shore in an angular Aegean hug, they give well-heeled guests direct access to the water from their sun loungers while serving staff glide by silently behind white smiles and black Ray-Bans, topping up champagne glasses, delivering fresh towels to bathers emerging from the water, A live DJ curates a soundtrack to the entire show — well-chosen tunes that complement rather than intrude on the atmosphere.
Sahir Erozan, the Macakizi's owner and beating heart, is omnipresent. A hugely gregarious yet grounded character who named the resort in honor of his mother, - it translates as 'queen of spades' and was in turn the name of the artist retreat she set up in the 1970s - his spirit and personality seeps into every corner. He is a man who has no guests, no acquaintances - only very good friends who he greets more often than not by name. The Macakizi is all the richer for his presence, as his love of Turkey and enthusiasm for the good life lingers around him like the smoke from his ever present cigar.
Pack your most stylish swimsuit, your chicest shades and forget the rivieras you already know this summer, because you'll find the best party on the shores of the Turquoise Coast and the boardwalks of the Macakizi. But if the crowds and in-scene don't do it for you, the private Villa Macakizi is only a quick boat ride away sheltered in the cove of the aptly named Paradise Bay.
Fully serviced (including butlers), its ten rooms can host up to 20 people in complete luxury. There's a spa, huge pool, endless indoor-outdoor social areas - and those glorious trademark gardens that stand the Macakizi out from the crowd. It also has its own private jetty and waterfront scattered with loungers that take advantage of the idyllic setting.
“BODRUM WITH A VIEW” Edited By Christopher Silvester
When Sahir Erozan, owner of Bodrum’s Macakizi hotel, was seeking to convert an old seaside hotel near Bodrum into a chic private villa with 10 sumptuous sea-view suites, he chose the Rome-based architect Fabrizio Frezza to realise his vision.
The result is the glorious Villa Macakizi, a natural choice for weddings and landmark occasions, since it is a mere 35 minutes from Bodrum airport, can accommodate up to 400 guests for sit-down meals (with fine dining provided by Macakizi), and has all the facilities you would associate with a top-class hotel inside a private residence (spa, fitness centre, 24-hour butler service, etc).
With bougainvillea pouring over the edge of a flat roof that offers a magnificent view of Paradise Bay, as well as exotic gardens and terraces, it is the perfect party venue. While only 23 guests can stay at the Villa itself, your other guests can stay at Macakizi, which is only 10 minutes away by boat and 15 minutes by car. Prices start from €24,786 per night.
A spiky take on what’s hot for 2020
Originally conceived as a beach club, this Bodrum hotel will make you feel a part of the jet-set
Anyone forming their impression of Turkey's Mediterranean coast solely from the news reports of recent years might end up slightly terrified. But memories can be short. The sea is still a crystal-clear breathtaking blue, and the sun never stopped doing its daily dappled dance all over it. Everything's quite a bit cheaper too after US sanctions caused the Turkish currency to plunge in value. Suddenly there's a lot of people going to Turkey.
Not least in the upscale enclave around Bodrum, which looks like it's determined to have a bit of a moment. In common with other honeypots of holiday high fashion like Bali, Ibiza, or Goa, Bodrum's credentials were crystallized in a 1970s crucible of counterculture cool.
Not much more than a time-worn, overgrown village, the remnants of the ancient city of Halicarnassus, 50 years ago its slow-paced, off-grid allure attracted the attention of Turkey's wealthy Bohemian set. Ahmet Ertegun, the Turkish/American boss of Atlantic records, bought a rundown seafront property in Bodrum for $60,000 in the Seventies, his designer interior widow Mica, eventually sold in 2014 for €13 million.
His fellow pioneer was Ayla Emiroglu, an outlier for Istanbul's arty crowd, who converted a nearby property into a small hotel which she named Macakizi, the Queen of Spades. Bodrum was in with the in-crowd. Mick and Bianca were hanging out on the waterfront where women still washed their goats, and Rudolf Nureyev was dropping by for Sunday lunch, Ayla, nicknamed the Queen of Spades one night by a local Bodrum man became of the shape of her wild hairstyle, drew in Istanbul's rich and famous and mingled them with the musicians, writers, and artists of the day. Bodrum was on the map, and she was right there with it. The hotel relocated a few times until in 2000, in collaboration with her am Sahir, returned from a 20- year stint successfully operating nightclubs in the United States, Macakizi settled into its present position, 90 minutes north of Bodrum.
Originally conceived as a beach club, the current incarnation of Macakizi, nestled into a picture-perfect cove on the edge of the village of Golturkbuku, its 74 bougainvilleas, and oleander-festooned moms cascading down the hill behind, remains at the epicentre of Bodrum's ongoing evolution of opulence. Sahir runs the show now; the Queen of Spades has folded her hand in favour of the King of Clubs. On first name terms with A-listers across the globe, he is perhaps even more socially connected than his mother.
Recent years have seen luxury hotel brands slowly slide into Macakizi's slipstream and onto the surrounding coastline, adding style and substance to the concept of a Turkish Cote d'Azur. No matter how shiny and new, though, the corporate copycats simply can't dislodge this independent style-setter from a pole position that the queen bee created over forty years ago, and around which, everything has buzzed ever since.
To watch the day unfold at Macakizi, as it steadies itself from the night before and readies itself for the day ahead, is a trip to the theatre. Its beach club origins, where eating and drinking are very much to the fore, are evident from the cleverly conceived contemporary design, descending level by level from the expansive open-air breakfast pavilion to the Instagram-ready restaurant down the bayside sun decks and a seriously stylish, busy waterfront bar.
The rooms aren't especially glitzy, but somehow with innovative design and colourful landscaping, that doesn't seem to matter, because somehow it all works. The contemporary cutting edge of regular visitors like Kate Moss and Adam Clayton, sits seamlessly with Eastern Mediterranean glitterati that at times looks like it hasn't jetted far from the 1960s Jet-set, as it slowly smokes itself into oblivion.
Sahir himself has a cigar permanently glued to his lingers, in an image that should be screaming 'old fashioned plutocrat', but doesn't. On the contrary, this isn't so much a man whose linger is on the pulse; down this end of the Med, he is the pulse!
Every day, an overpowered powerboat pulls up and disgorges one of Turkey's wealthiest men for his lunchtime date. An impressively designed board-walk wraps around the waterfront, transforming the sea into a seductive saltwater swimming pool. The Mediterranean's east-meets-west of beautiful people is laid out three-deep in an oil-slicked siesta of silicon-supported sun worship. The catalogue of contradictions continues when high noon hits high society with the piercing notes of the call to prayer from the village mosque: a wake-up call that's met with bronzed bikini-clad puffs of nonchalance on cigarettes as thin as pipe cleaners. The Bodrum peninsula along this part of the turquoise coast, where the Aegean nestles up to the Mediterranean can be spectacularly beautiful. Slotting like a jigsaw into Greek islands so close you can almost touch them, their ancient intermingled histories deliver up culture, climate, and cuisine, as enchanting as any other corner of the Med.
Dining out in Turkey can be a revelation. The country that introduced agriculture into Ireland 6,000 years ago (according to 2010 academic findings also claiming the Turkish men who did so, fathered the nation!), can do delicious things with its bountiful produce, and there can be few better locations to savor Turkish cooking than in Macakizi's restaurant. The executive chef there, Aret Sahakyan, has been in place torn years and is regularly cited as the most accomplished exponent of Turkish gastronomy outside of Istanbul. The Turkish wine industry is also resurgent, with newly established ventures such as nearby Ude Winery producing wines of outstanding quality. After a trip out on Sahir’s yacht to visit Loft, the Macakizi branded development along the coast, which will offer short-term rentals when it opens next year, I Join him in a swim back to shore. It's the that time I've seen him without the cigar, although he could be doing breaststroke with it underwater.
GETTING THERE: Ryanair flies Dublin to Bodrum from €50 return, visit ryanair.com
WHERE TO STAY: Macakizi operates April to October, from €475 per night, including a three-course dinner
The afternoon sun slants low; hazy as a dream, and paints the water gold. Out in the stillness of the hay a group of girls and boys swim, heads slick as seals, their laughter skipping over the sea hike a song. It is known as the Turquoise Coast but here, where the Aegean meets the Mediterranean, the colour of the sea is capricious as the shifting sky.
The sea informs everything in Bodrum. This place only realty makes sense from the water. Turkey's jagged south-west does not lend itself to sweeping corniches its evergreen peninsulas stretching out into the inky waters towards the Greek islands a couple of miles away. Its seafaring people lived around its edges, in disconnected fishing villages which, even now on Bodrum's sleepier neighbours of Bozburun and Datça, are only accessible from the sea. Well-groomed Bodrum also keeps secrets: fragments of islands too small to name, hidden coves where you drop anchor to swim in lagoons or come ashore for lunch at beach restaurants Bodrum's stars aligned almost 100 years ago when a writer-an aristocrat from Istanbul called Cevat Sakir Kabaağaçli - was exiled here for three year, In a hut! On a beach! He fell in love, of course and stayed for three decades. The local sponge divers showed him the underwater treasures. As the Fisherman of Halicarnassus, he wrote about Homer's land of eternal blue with its submerged cities, its imprints of Greeks and Roman, of saints and apostles, of Antony and Cleopatra. His idea of the Blue Voyage brought all Istanbul society to Bodrum, to spend summers sailing gulets along the fragrant toast.
Well-groomed Bodrum still keeps secrets: fragments of islands too small to name, hidden coves where you drop anchor to come ashore for lunch.
In the 1970s Bodrum emerged as the most glamorous spot in Turkey. And now, in pale-mineral Göltürkbükü bay, the waterside decks shine with oiled limbs lying cheek by jowl like a backgammon board. Hard to believe that a couple of years ago Europeans and Americans had all but stopped holidaying on the Turkish Riviera. It hasn't taken long to recover. 'People have short memories when the offering is this good,’ says Sahir Erozan, the owner of the hotel Maçakızı, surveying all the buzz and beauty with a fiendish grin.
It’s true, Bodrum is back with a bang, booming like never before, all aflutter with sleek openings which have manicured great swathes of the peninsula into next-level hotels. Old favorites have been revived; Nicolas Sarkozy was among those holing up at reopened Amanruya last summer. The newly enlarged Yalıkavak Marina is now deep and glitzy enough to accommodate superyachts with Monets and Rothkos on board.
Among the newcomers is the Bodrum Edition, importing Ian Schrager’s trademark all-white minimalism and knock-out proportions along with the star chef Diego Munoz from Peru, soft sand on the beach where children splash about on paddleboards and Balearic house music. Its bar Discetto, has a giant peek disco ball. Across the water on the mainland, an altogether more grown-up crowd drink cocktails from copper cups at Kaplankaya’s Anhinga beach bar. Rising up from the shore into a scrub of pistachio and olive trees, Kaplankaya is not just a hotel, but an entire new town: a turbo-smart hideout on a wildly ambitious scale, with one modernist Six Senses hotel and destination spa, and three more hotels in the offing (Cheval Blanc is confirmed) plus a marina by Foster & Partners. Kaplankaya's creator, Burak Oymen, spent hot, happy summers here as a child in the 1980s, his parents part of that Turkish intelligentsia lured by the Fisherman's tales. Like Bodrum, Burak grew up and made his fortune; and with it bought a stretch of empty land. 'I wanted to recreate the Bodrum of my childhood,' he says. Such is the power of nostalgia. It started simply, he and his girl Tereza living in a beach hut, not in exile but in love. If they wanted civilization, they took their boat across the bay for lunch at Maçakızı, the trade winds in their sails.
Maçakızı has encapsulated the spirit of Bodrum since it was opened in 1975 by Sahir Erozan's mother. It is authentically Turkish yet completely international, pretty yet progressive, barefoot and sexy as hell. Whitewashed suites tumble down the hillside among oleander and palms; then deck after deck for eating and drinking and dancing, all the way to the sea. Sahir is invariably found in the thick of things telling stories. He throws the kind of parties that get out of hand. 'You know — you tell two girls, they tell 88 people.' Guests waft around, brown skinned and beautiful with absurdly tiny waists. Kate Moss, so the story goes, checked out of nearby detox retreat LiteCo early and came straight to Maçakızı.
The hotel owner is invariably found in the thick of things, telling stories. He throws the kind of parties that get out of hand. ‘You know – you tell two girls, they tell 88 people’
People dance here all hours of the day, ebbing and flowing with the rhythm of the tides. It looks artfully effortless, but don't be fooled: this is a slick operation. Sahir spends his winters travelling the world for inspiration and rebuilding - last year adding a new beach club and state-of-the-art outdoor kitchen.
'Good, simple food like my mama used to make,' insists Sahir, when the dishes arrive. His mother -whose picture is in every room- must be a sensation in the kitchen, because this is no down-home cooking; it is accomplished and worldly wise, joy after jewel-coloured joy. Chargrilled octopus, its fat tentacle curled into a question mark, suckers like trumpet keys, comes with lentil cream and coconut vinaigrette. There's sun choke and purslane, roasted aubergine and stuffed vine leaves, and heavenly salads with spice. Forget your plans. Lunch Lasts all afternoon. By the end of it I am three hours late and three too many sheets to the wind to drive wherever it was I was supposed to be going. What fool drives here, anyway? 'The important thing is never to stop at stop signs,’ says Sahir. 'Because if you do the person behind will crash into the back of you.’ Luckily, Sahir has a boat. Someone in Bodrum always has a boat.
Like the sponge divers of Bodrum past, restaurant owner Çağlar Bozçağa still swims for his supper. Even this morning, with a broken leg, he slipped off the plaster cast to free-dive 25 metres down and pluck urchins from the sea bed as though it were an underwater larder. Whatever he does not slice open and eat raw for lunch on his boat, he serves in his restaurant, Orfoz. It is found on an unlikely side street of Bodrum City, where bergamot trees planted by the Fisherman of Halicarnassus shade the whitewashed buildings, next to a statue of the cross-dressing singer Zeki Müren. Beneath the bougainvillea Çaglar is clattering around on crutches, balancing plates of meze and pouring homemade wine from bottles scribbled with 'Chardonnay' and 'Shiraz’ in marker pen. It all looks unassuming, but what he serves is a bold adventure in seafood. Grouper soup is followed by morsels of house-smoked eel; oysters grilled with Parmesan; stone crab and sea snails and huge clams in their shells, sweetness in saltwater. The grand finale is testing: mantis-shrimp ceviche. Çaglar is particularly delighted by these semi-opaque götügöz (ghosts), which he gleefully calls 'eyes on arse'. People who lustily slurp down oysters should try raw mantis-shrimp ceviche. I manage a head or an arse, I can't tell which; then sink a glass of biodynamic white in a rush. It is made in a tiny local vineyard called Neferiye. The hand-labelled bottles may hint at moonshine, but the wine is good, clean and sweet, as Çaglar points out, ‘They've been malting wine in Bodrum since 2000BC.’ Homegrown and home-cooked is not a trend here, but an eternal way of life. At the peninsula's quiet tip, Gümüşlük's sheltered shore is lined with rustic restaurant tables set literally in the water ( in-the-know Turks head for Mimoza, the best of them), so you can cool your toes while you eat what the fishing boats hauled in that morning. Hidden in the hills above, bohemian Limon is possibly the best sunset spot anywhere, a patched-together outdoor café with bright-painted sculptures among the mismatched vintage furniture, and festoon lighting strung tree to tree, serving seasonal dishes and mama's legendary mint lemonade. Nearby, grass-rootsy Adali Kafe opened in summer 2018: blue views on a cool hillside, where the family pour local Vin Bodrum and grow their own tomatoes. Turks, like Italians, can talk about tomatoes for hours. In Bodrum the pink ones are the sweetest; seek them out in the market, where the sellers tease with scoops of stardust, offering them up to my lips to taste and leaving the scent in my hair and on my skin. People still shop like this here. Testing the firmness of fruit and swapping cookery tips. Around the periphery, old men sit in the shade beneath strings of dried chilis, smoking like mad and drinking sweet black tea, and playing okey (rummikub with Turkish rules), the tiles rattling in their hands like pebbles in a jar.
Old and new swim together in Bodrum. As the muezzin calls at dawn, young things are swaying home, the night finally over. Out to sea, a gulet cuts across the water, its prow thrusting sharp as a sailfish. There's a softness to the early-morning light that's something close to nostalgia for this very moment, even as it happens. And it is easy to see how, despite all Bodrum's newfound glossiness, you can fall in love with the simple life here. Just as long as there is good food, to eat and good wine to drink, and someone has a boat.
WHERE TO STAY
One of the Mediterranean’s most blissful little seaside hotels. There are 74 fairly simple rooms (though you wouldn’t know it) among the tropical and Mediterranean greenery, bowers of bougainvillea framing sea views from every spot. It has a small but marvelous spa, a beach-rocking bar and the best restaurant in all Bodrum. In the pipeline for 2020: summer hotel residences, Maçakızı Lofts. macakizi.com. Doubles from about £450 half board.
Bodrum Peninsula, Turkey
Maçakızı is, in a word, hot. Its hip-hotel credentials have endured since its opening in the Seventies, when it established itself as a favorite summer escape for the super-chic. This glamorous ‘beach restaurant with rooms’ is made for a good time, with daybeds and a pavilion decked out with comfortable sofas scattered with Rıfat Özbek's Yastik cushions. Maçakızı is the epitome of understated good taste across a myriad of chilling spaces, from the utterly serene palm-shaded pool to the lower level beach, a vibrant expanse of canopied decking that is the place to while away the day, going directly from sun lounger to sea as a DJ spins soft disco classics. Delicious cocktails are served by well-dressed waiters, relaxed lunches roll into mellow evenings, and you can always find the owner, Sahir Erozan, holding court at the bar chatting to his loyal customers. With a fabulous restaurant conceived by Turkey's star chef, Aret Sahakyan, a gym, spa and Turkish bath to recover from the glut of indulgence, the chicest boutique and a yacht for rent, Maçakızı encapsulates the joyous spirit of a barefoot beach club at its best. Double, from £368 (macakizi.com)
Want to work out like an A-lister? Maybe in an outdoor studio by the ocean? With their ruthlessly effective personal training and high-luxe locations, it's no wonder many of Hollywood's elite blaze a trail to Bodyism. If you're interested in a full-body reset with a kick of sunshine, you'd do well to consider their new retreats in Kate Moss' favorite Bodrum hotel, Maçakızı.
Entirely bespoke, each retreat begins with a full-body analysis, encompassing sleep patterns, nutritional deficits and hormone imbalances. This information feeds into a programme based on functional strength and interval work, balanced with yoga and massage. Each session builds to the next so your body is efficiently and completely worked — a wonderful excuse to spend the rest of your time idling among the beautiful people on sundecks built out over the Aegean.
For those who are less interested in change, but who want to maintain their physique while dancing late under the stars with the supermodels who come ashore from their superyachts — no problem. "Some people come for transformation," says Nathalie Schyllert, the fearsomely talented former model and CEO who has taken over James Duigan's share of the Bodyism business. 'Some people come to Bodyism to balance the partying..." There's even a Bodyism-styled cocktail of vodka, mint and lime.
As well as Maçakızı, Bodyism has a second base a 20-minute helicopter hop along the turquoise coast. D-Maris Bay is a far larger hotel, with five private beaches and six restaurants (don't miss the "meat sushi" at the steakhouse Nusr-Et, as liked by the eponymous chefs 19 million Instagram followers).
As with Maçakızı, the Bodyism team will design a menu for you to work best with your regime and room service will deliver your pre- and post-workout supplements. Perhaps take your training session out on the hotel's 14-metre sailing yacht; maybe make your post-workout protein hit some black cod under the stars at the only outdoor Zuma. I mean, you owe it to yourself, right? From £2,400 for four nights. bodyism.com
At this little-known treasure it’ll be just you and beautiful Turkish models and actors you won’t recognize sunbathing and taking dips in the Aegean.
At this little-known treasure it’ll be just you and beautiful Turkish models and actors you won’t recognize sunbathing and taking dips in the Aegean. Macakizi.com
As the far end of the town of Türkbükü, an unmarked path meanders up into the hills to the Maçakızı a regal hotel and classic beach club (the name translates as Queen of Spades) on Bodrum’s most exclusive bay. Hidden behind a riot of bougainvillea, the terraced wooden decks meander down the hillside to the sea and have hosted a smart yacht set and innumerable Hollywood A-listers for almost 40 years. Revelers arrive early to snap up a seat at the bar, feed the incongruous flock of tame ducks, and sip a signature Dirtier Diva (rum, passion fruit, ginger, lime and chili). The restaurant has a terrific supper menu, including dishes such as pan-seared sea bass and roast rack of lamb with sun-dried-tomato-and-feta pesto and smashed potato. +90 252 311 2400 macakizi.com Dirtier Diva cocktail £14
Tucked away in a glittering corner of the Bodrum peninsula, Maçakızı does the chic-seaside-scene thing to a T. Yes it’s glamorous and sexy and fabulous. But it’s also very laidback, which means the charming staff couldn’t give a monkeys if you’re Kate Moss (a regular) or just an average Joe. The beach deck is the hotel’s heartbeat flop on a sun lounger, toes tickling the turquoise Aegean, and peer over your paperback as the bronzed and beautiful swan around clutching icy mojitos. Now put that book away and order a cocktail. Things get amped up at sundown as pit-stopping superyachts arrive to get their pre-dinner groove on (spot the DJ hidden in the hot-pink bougainvillea); the music and the drinks flow until the early hours. Snaffle up plates of ocean-fresh seabass in the restaurant (a foodie destination in itself), then float back up the hillside. Big, breezy bedrooms are spread around cottages with cooling stone floors and powder-white sofas: the perfect, head-clearing antidote to all the happens, down by the water.
HIT THE DECK – TURKEY
On the north side of Bodrum in the village of Türkbükü lies the Maçakızı hotel, nestled in the hills. Family run, it was founded in 1977 as a place of inspiration for artists and intellectuals. It’s also the perfect spot to get that first bit of spring sun in our cruise and swimwear.
Like Rick's Cafe, everybody—or so it would appear during summer's long, sun-drenched days and jasmine-scented nights—comes to the Macakizi. Here, in this once inconsequential Aegean port on Turkey's newly discovered southern coast, Sahir Erozan has created more than just another hotel or fashionable beach dub but rather a world of in own, splashed against the sparkling waters of the sea and embraced by a new international jet set of sophisticated travelers, from Manhattan red estate wizards and French media stars to the occasional Kennedy and the opulently tanned and white-bikinied beach princesses from Kazakhstan and Cairo.
Nor that for all high-finance or rich-guy frivolity here on the Turkish Riviera- Merchants hawk “Turkish" silver and dried apricots in the nearby seaside souks, and burly fishermen still sell unrecognizable sea creatures from wooden baskets. Where, too, I ask, are you ever going to find Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia at Sunday brunch on the sundeck overlooking Paul Allen's yacht, the Octopus? True story. But more about that later I'm getting ahead of myself.
Call them Luxury's New Lifestyle Nomads—those fiercely curious, competitively discerning travelers manage, before the rest of us, through some sort of carefully calibrated inner radar, to know where to and whom to know. I first met Sahir in Istanbul last January at his house on the Bosphorus. "You must one day come to the Macakizi,” he said with a fluid pronunciation that I still haven't mastered—properly pronounced it's Mah-tcha-kee-zeeh. “We’ll have fun.” I told him I had been there having sailed, thanks to the hospitality of good friends, on a particularly magnificent gulet from the port of Göcek out final stop in Bodrum, where we bunked for one night at his hotel. I said I had always hoped to return.
Bodrum is a port city on the southern coast of the Bodrum Peninsula. (Historians, take note: This is also the site of Halicarnassus and the Mausoleum of Maussollos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.) Here, about 45 minutes from the airport, on a winding, dusty road, is Türkbükü, a tiny fishing village with the chic, sophisticated scent of the Cote d'Azur. That, too, is the appeal of the hotel: As the rest of the world becomes bloated with bold-faced and brand names, the Macakizi has most defiantly not. At least not yet. "If we were really smart," an LA businessman confides to me over a lunch of grilled octopus and a Moet Ice with mint on the rocks, "you and I would scrape together a few bucks and invest now. This place has The New St.-Tropez written all over it."
In a feat of architecture masterminded high above the Aegean Sea, the Macakizi's 74 rooms and villas are cantilevered over a rocky hillside, past an open-air cocktail bar, lunch terrace and pool. It is, in fact, about 120 steps from the open-plan lobby, dining morn, gym and hammam to the water's edge, where Sahir has created his piece de resistance: a huge, U-shaped, tented wooden deck, where hot summer afternoons morph into cool, cashmere-sweatered nights. After dinner it’s the sounds overlapping waves, guests laughing in different languages and the low beat of lounge music into the wee hours.
Now about Ginsburg and Scalia: At 19, Sahir left Turkey for America to “get educated,” as his parents told him. An uncle taught at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore ("Not that I stood a chance of going there," he says), and as the family was keen on education and one of the more powerful newspapers in Turkey, Washington, D.C., seemed like a good stop. It was-- and wasn't. Sahir ended up not finishing college. "I was always kind of the black sheep of the family," he says. Instead he began a career as a sommelier, then as captain and waiter, eventually as a restaurateur. There were the fancy joints like Le Pavillon and Le Lion d'Or. Then he created his own, first Cold Med and then Cities in 1987.
Back in Turkey, Sahir’s mother has started the first beach club in Bodrum, in the mid-‘80s. In 2002, her son returned home and expanded on her original idea. Twelve years ago, they had opened the Macakizi in its current incarnation. It was, to be honest, a visit by Caroline Kenned and her husband Edwin Schlossberg, reported by gossip columnist Cindy Adams in the New York Post, that first got my attention. As far as Ruth and Antonin? Sahir says, “I don’t like to comment on famous people. It’s not nice.”
Nice is what this guy specializes in. To the max. His role is to life here a floating banquet of good friends and energy, fabulous food and Sternal summers. "My mother's now in her seventies, but I try to carry on in her original spirit, that same feeling that this is a living thing. Neither trendy modern nor old and classic. It's somewhere you feel at home.” Sahir says it's all about location. they places may have opened more recently (the new Amanruya is 20 minutes away), and more are to come (including a $200 million Mandarin Oriental scheduled for 2014). "I do think this is one of the most perfect locations on which you could build a hotel, a beach and a restaurant. It’s on a slope and the sun goes east to west, so you get light all day, breeze and waves but no choppy waters."
Life here is all about the sea and the sun, leisurely lunches of the grilled fob and endless muses and candlelit dinners by Ares Sahakyan, the Armenian Turk whom Sahir met years back in D.C. Not that there isn't plenty to do—seaside shopping for trinkets just down the hill in Türkbükü or perhaps a day at sea, maybe with Sahir himself or on his one-of-a-kind Ferretti 48 high-performance boat, designed as a prototype for a race in Monte Carlo. After all, Leros and that Greek island's best restaurant, Mylos Tavern, are only an hour away by boat. Just tell them Sahir sent you. They'll know what you mean. This year Sahir began a major renovation. "Everybody was com-plaining and yelling—'How can you charge this much for rooms with no TV or music?' What can I say? They all hated my hundred-dollar TVs. So I redid the rooms and replaced them," he says. When the hotel opens in April (it closes this season on November 1), Sahir will have completely redone every room, the gym and the pool, replacing the latter with an infinity pool fronted by an enormous aquarium.
This year Sahir began a major renovation. "Everybody was com-plaining and yelling—`How can you charge this much for rooms with no TV or music?' What can I say? They all hated my hundred-dollar TVs. So I redid the rooms and replaced them," he says. When the hotel opens in April (it closes this season on November 1), Sahir will have completely redone every room, the gym and the pool, replacing the latter with an infinity pool fronted by an enormous aquarium. He won't touch the original artwork by Suat Akdemir, but Turkish designer Rifat Ozbek will design new bed linens. "Even fish for the aquarium will be from these waters, not those silly bright-colored things from Hawaii," he says. "This is, after all, Turkey!"
On a peninsula with its share of opulent villas and over-the-top resorts, Maçakızı (pronounced mahcha-kiz-uh) is a standout, the sexiest hotel in all of Bodrum. That it’s hardly a traditional hotel is one reason; it feels more like the shoreside estate of some globe-trotting Turkish family blessed with considerable wealth but also the good sense to keep things simple. The property unfolds along a hillside studded with olive trees, tangerine groves, and bursts of bougainvillea. Eighty-one guest rooms are minimally but tastefully furnished and swathed in creamy white, punctuated by the bold abstract canvases of Turkish painter Suat Akdemir. Balconies offer knockout views of Türkbükü Harbor.
In July and August that harbor fills up with yachts and impossibly tall sailing ships, their masts piercing the sky like minarets. All day and night, launches to glide to and fro across alight at Maçakızı, whose beach club is a landmark in Türkbükü: a series of wooden decks over the water, strewn with white cushions and pillows, shaded by sailcloth canopies and twig-roofed pavilions. The water is clear and generally calm, sheltered within a semiprivate cove. Most guests spend their daylight hours -and much of the evening- at the beach. Every so often the muezzin’s call the prayer drifts across the water from the town mosque, a trebly counterpoint to the languid jazz playing at the bar.
Maçakızı is, in fact, owned by a globe-trotting Turkish family. Ayla Emiroğlu, who moved here from Istanbul in 1977, runs the hotel with her son Sahir Erozan, a former restaurateur who spent two decades in the power-dining rooms of Washington, D.C. At Maçakızı, the guest list alone is intriguing: Caroline Kennedy, Chelsea Clinton, Antonin Scalia, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg have all vacationed here, along with the requisite Turkish music and film stars. During the summer, paparazzi float in Zodiacs just offshore, training telephoto lenses on Maçakızı’s decks.
While it’s definitely a scene in high season, Erozan does his best to keep the atmosphere refined, the crowd just this side of raucous. Ant the food – served on a breezy terrace just above the beach – is fabulous, particularly the lunch buffet, with its tantalizing array of Turkish kebabs and meze: flaky spinach börek, stuffed peppers spiked with cloves, and a smoky patlıcan salatası (eggplant purée) that haunts me still.
So the heat and the maps put a damper on our explorations. By 3 p.m. we’d usually turn back, exhausted to Maçakızı, change into our swimsuits, and hit the decks. Here, people had more sense. None of them had broken a sweat. For the beautiful Maçakızians, sightseeing was limited to ogling their own cartoonish bodies: an all-day parade of gazelle-like women and the men who love them, or at least pay for their drinks. The women change bikinis after every dip in the water – seven, eight times in an afternoon, each swimsuit with a corresponding (and wholly ineffective) cover-up.