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The hidden beauty of Bodrum

Bodrum is a destination event professionals have long been aware of, with its beautiful landscapes, stunning beaches, luxurious hotels and a wealth of activities and places of interest to visit. Venture out of Bodrum and there are enchanting fishing villages, unspoilt by the modern age. However, the area has become a destination for the smart set – Yalikavak has developed a marina that is home to imposing yachts, designer shops, restaurants and bars that satisfy the jet-set visitor.

Keen to explore Bodrum and the surrounding area, BI WORLDWIDE’s EMEA Client Development Director, Georgina Welch recently visited, staying at the glamorous Mandarin Oriental resort, situated outside Bodrum towards Yalikavak, in Paradise Bay.

Georgina enlightens us about her wonderful two day visit hosted by The Mandarin Oriental and Turkish Airlines.

What makes Bodrum a perfect incentive location?

“Bodrum is a stunning location with amazing views across the coastline. The crystal-clear blue sea, blue skies, the Greek Islands in the distance, wonderful restaurants, places to visit and great activities for incentive groups make this the perfect destination. Direct flights from the UK have been an issue, as currently low cost airlines are the only way of getting there, however this will be changing next year. The indirect flights via Istanbul by Turkish Airlines work well, however do make the travelling time rather long. Of course, there is always the charter option, which we have utilised for some of our clients. If travelling from other European countries some direct flights are available with scheduled carriers.

“I was really looking forward to going for two reasons; The Mandarin Oriental is one of my favourite property brands and I wanted to explore the resort and the surrounding areas in Bodrum as we have noticed that we are looking at this destination increasingly for our clients.”

Did The Mandarin Oriental Hotel resort meet your expectations?

“On entering the resort we passed through a gate and drove down a long sweeping drive with trees and beautiful flowers guiding us to the courtyard entrance.

“The property is stunning; it completely exceeded my expectations. The resort is laid out over 30 acres of land and is located on the northern coast of the Bodrum Peninsula at Cennet Koyu (Paradise Bay), overlooking the sea.

“Considering the resort opened in July, the gardens are mature and the wonderful collaboration of exotic flowers and plants are a joy to see. Everything is immaculately clean and well looked after by the wonderful staff, under the guidance of Nejat Sarp, who has vast international experience and has worked for Mandarin Oriental group previously in Singapore. He takes enormous pride in being associated with the brand and the property in Bodrum in particular. He will also oversee the opening of Mandarin Oriental Istanbul in 2016, as he is the General Manager of the region.

“I stayed in a 72 sqm entry-level sea view guest room offering the latest technology (Bang and Olufson) with its own private terrace and a stunning sea view. Décor was ultra-modern, chic, and contemporary; the bathroom even had a TV hidden in the mirror! A deep marble bath, huge walk-in shower, separate loo and much more.

“During my very short visit I was shown the entire property. This took more than three hours as there are villas, suites and rooms dotted around the property, some of which need to be reached by buggy. The suites and villas have their own private pools, as do some of the rooms.”

What was the food like?

“On the first night, I joined the rest of the group for a late dinner at Assaggio, which is an Italian restaurant set on the main property. I enjoyed Italian cuisine served by friendly Turkish hosts. After dinner we went to Bar M2 by the seafront for a late night drink. It was a unique experience, overlooking the lights of Bodrum and the coast.

“After a luxurious night’s sleep in my gorgeous room, we met for breakfast at Sofra Restaurant for an international buffet, also offering local specialities.

“We had lunch at the Olive Garden, which is by the beach and serves Turkish specialities. The food was divine and the local wine was a pleasant surprise.

“For the final night, we went for dinner at the Blue Beach Bar and Club. The restaurant is situated just a couple of metres from the beach and the atmosphere is wonderful. We were taken there by our trusty buggy drivers, who assured me that in high season they have around 50 to take their guests around the resort.”

Is there a lot to do in the resort?

“The resort has its own spa set on three floors with eight treatment rooms, a VIP room, a couple’s suite and quiet room as well its own exclusive pools including a seawater pool, relaxation area and a steam room. There is also a fully equipped gym, with state of the art equipment, personal trainers, yoga classes, pilates, and water aerobics classes.

“There is an infinity swimming pool that spreads across four areas, two tennis courts and a basketball court. Wherever you want to go there is always a buggy close by!”

Did you go exploring outside of the resort?

“The owner of the resort has a private yacht in Paradise Bay- after lunch we were invited for a super exclusive tour around the bay – it was fantastic!

“Afterwards, I took a taxi into Yalikavak, which is a fishing village about 15 minutes from the resort with its own marina. I had heard a lot of positive reviews about its redevelopment and wanted to experience the place - it did not disappoint. The marina is beautifully well-kept and clean, and has been developed very tastefully, much of the walkways and areas have been built using marble. It has lots to offer, including amazing designer shops and a variety of bars and restaurants. Yalikavak has also retained its heritage, so the old town is fascinating and is where all the locals go.”

Is it easy to get to the resort?

“The resort can be reached by a 30-40 minute transfer from the airport.

“I flew back with Turkish Airlines via Istanbul as there are no direct flights from Bodrum to the UK with the airline. The staff at the check-in desks were very friendly and the flight service was impeccable. The in-flight service was excellent and this has undoubtedly contributed to Turkish Airlines winning The Best Airline in Europe award for three consecutive years.”

Final thoughts

“The resort is stylish, chic, luxurious, high-end, and perfect for exclusive incentives from small to medium sized groups. As tempting as it is to stay within the resort for your whole visit, there are a lot of activities you can do in the area and it would be a shame not to experience Bodrum itself and other areas of interest.”

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