Escape to the Med: Why Turkey’s the ideal retreat destination
Amy from PropertyTurkey.com explains why the Turkish south coast is the perfect retreat spot, for both retreat go-ers and owners looking to run their own retreat.
Turkey’s premier retreat areas
Over the past decade or so, Turkey has truly come into its own as a tourist destination. Thanks to a huge influx of overseas visitors, the country’s tourist areas are prosperous and resort hotels and luxury property developments (http://www.propertyturkey.com/real_estate/turkey/kalkan) are popping up all along the Mediterranean and the Aegean.
Entrepreneurs have capitalised on Turkey’s success, branching out into new kinds of tourism and now there are all kinds of diverse reasons people visit the country: for medical procedures, golf games, food tours – even business conferences.
The concept of retreats is still a new one in Turkey, but with tourism constantly on the rise and a fast-growing middle class, it’s only a matter of time before the industry enters the big time.
Let’s have a look at a few areas along the south coast where retreats are already enjoying success – and a few untapped gems ideal for future retreats.
Upmarket retreats for wealthy clientele
Bodrum’s superb infrastructure, laid-back vibe and established tourist reputation makes it an ideal luxury retreat location.
The peninsula has always been popular with holidaymakers and well-to-do Turks but in the last few years its reputation as a party town for the rich and famous has grown. A new marina in Yalikavak has attracted high-profile visitors like Bill Gates and Roman Abramovich, who have moored their mega yachts in the harbour. Jade Jagger, Sting, Beyonce and Tom Hanks have partied here.
There’s an established detox retreat here already, LifeCo, where Kate Moss likes to spend part of each year. Another upmarket retreat, Sianji, offers juice detoxes. Bodrum is also set to be the first international destination to welcome Canyon Ranch, a mainstay in the US wellness industry for almost four decades. Another sign of Bodrum’s cachet with the upmarket tourists the peninsula is attracting in greater numbers each year. However, the peninsula also has a large number of little bays, fishing villages and secluded coastlines where an exclusive retreat would work.
Classy Kalkan wouldn’t be out of place on the Amalfi Coast. With its cobbled streets, whitewashed villas draped in bougainvillea, pretty harbour and sleepy atmosphere, Kalkan is a favourite with people wishing to escape from the world.
Because it’s about an hour and a half from the nearest airport, it doesn’t attract package holidaymakers. This seclusion has allowed Kalkan to retain its unique charm.
In the last decade, a number of luxury homes have been built here. Property in Kalkan is renowned for its stylish, luxurious design and as such, those who visit here are usually in the upper income bracket.
Currently there are no retreat options in Kalkan, which represents a fantastic opportunity for anyone wishing to exploit a niche for a chic luxury retreat.
Laid back hippy retreats
Just a short drive from Kalkan, Kas is an emerald-green peninsula full of private homes tucked among the trees, looking out over the Mediterranean. Like Kalkan, there is no sandy beach. But homes have access to beach platforms, from which you can sun yourself, and dive into the clear waters.
Also upmarket, but with a laid-back hippy vibe, beautiful Kas is a tranquil spot where people come to relax and escape the tourist crowds. As you might expect for somewhere that is a rather Bohemian spot, there are a couple of yoga centres in Kas, and the Kas-Eflatun Art Camp, a retreat around ten kilometres outside the town.
Atmospheric spiritual retreats
Kayakoy is one of those breath-taking spots you won’t forget in a hurry. The valley is a short drive from Fethiye centre and the famous Oludeniz Beach, but a world away from the tourist crowds and hustle and bustle of the summer season. The lush green valley is a bucolic paradise, with just a handful of homesteads dotted here and there, a couple of quiet beaches and one or two restaurants good enough to bring people from over the hill.
The most striking aspect of Kayakoy, however, is its ghost village. There was once a Greek community living here, but in 1923 the Turkish government ordered them to leave for Greece, leaving the village free for Turks moving back from Greece. However, no one moved in, and the village remains empty today. You can wander around the UNESCO site, peering into the stone church, school and the abandoned homes.
There are no retreats in Kayakoy, but growing tourist interest in the area means the valley, steeped in atmosphere, would be an ideal retreat centre.
Sunny serenity retreat within reach of tourist crowds
Uzumlu means “grape” in Turkish, and this quaint little village has a number of wine producers. That and a bit of traditional farming is about all that goes on in Uzumlu, a pretty valley about twenty minutes drive inland from the bustling promenade of Calis, in Fethiye.
In the springtime the valley is dotted with cherry blossoms, and it’s still cool enough to walk in the hills, exploring hidden ruins, pretty streams and orange groves. During the summer months Uzumlu remains quiet, as the summer crowds tend to stick to the beaches.
Uzumlu is ideally placed for a retreat: land and properties are cheaper than in coastal locations, and while it’s quiet it’s close to the amenities of Calis and Fethiye town centre. The airport’s about an hour’s drive away. This part of the country enjoys a long summer season, with 300 days of sunshine each year, allowing potential retreats almost year-round potential.
Incredibly remote retreat among hills and sea
Stunningly beautiful Bozburun is firmly off the tourist map. The green peninsula is home to a number of sleepy villages where time seems to have stood still. Locals make a living from fishing and agriculture, producing almonds, honey, figs and citrus fruit.
Life on the peninsula is peaceful and slow, and there’s little in the way of tourist attractions: just citrus groves, scattered ruins in silent pine forests, clear blue waters and sleepy villages.
The peninsula has little in the way of tourism, thanks to the distance from Dalaman Airport, which is about two hours away. If you’re aiming for a retreat that really takes you away from the world, this stunningly beautiful location could be a fit.
A few retreats in Turkey:
LifeCo, Bodrum: World famous LifeCo was one of the first retreats in Turkey. The stylish detox centre in celeb-hangout-spot Turkbuku in Bodrum offers programmes to help cleanses you physically, mentally and spiritually. The upmarket centre is a favourite of Kate Moss.
Sianji Wellbeing Centre: Sianji offers juice fasts, detox packages, raw food and all sorts of treatments and health advice in its beautiful luxury resort in Bodrum.
Ecoclub Inlice: Catering to eco-tourists, Ecoclub Inlice is located just outside Gocek, on the Mediterranean coast. Spread over three acres the centre provides a peaceful, idyllic space for groups to practice their hobbies or ways of life.
Kas-Eflatun Art Camp: A few kilometres from Kas, this peaceful centre offers art workshops, yoga, meditation and colour therapy, as well as conventional tourist-style activities like hiking and tours of ruins.
Sundance Nature Village: Nestled in a private bay in Tekerova, this eco-friendly resort has an emphasis on living in harmony with nature. The huge grounds allow for plenty of space and peace for anyone wanting to take part in the centre’s holistic workshops.
Huzur Vadesi: Meaning “peaceful valley” in Turkish, this mountain-based centre on the Mediterranean coastline has been built around a restored farm cottage and offers nomadic yurts. Courses are available for those wanting to explore yoga, meditation and other avenues.
Juicy Mountain: The Celeb detox favourite run by Jason Vale is located near the marina town of Gocek, along the coastline from Fethiye. Vale’s tried-and-tested formula of juice, fitness programmes, sun and sea in a beautiful location has been hugely popular and he now has a number of centres around Europe.
Please contact www.propertyturkey.com if you’d like to explore the possibility of buying a luxury villa in Turkey as a base for your retreat, or perhaps building your ideal hideaway on a plot of land on the Mediterranean coastline.