23 June 2016
Bee Haywood, our Senior Brand Manager, and Victoria Hogg, one of our Sales and Service Managers, have just returned from the Mandarin Oriental Bodrum, here Bee tells us all about it…
Vicky and I have just returned from a couple of blissful days at the Mandarin Oriental Bodrum. Having never been to Turkey and knowing very little about this little corner of the Aegean Sea, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Unsurprisingly, it felt and looked a lot like parts of Greece (the site of modern Bodrum was originally Halicarnassus, an Ancient Greek city) both in terms of feel, architecture and landscape. June was a beautiful time to visit as the region was very green, which I imagine by September, after months of temperatures in the 30s and even creeping into the 40s, would not be so evident. We were whisked from the very modern and immaculate Milas–Bodrum Airport to the lovely Mandarin Oriental Bodrum in just 40 minutes, on a road that follows the coast, whetting our appetite to get into the extraordinary cobalt waters as soon as possible.
There has been an enormous investment at the resort and you really got that impression on arrival. The buildings are blended into a hill that descends down into the bay (Blue Beach) – this slope cleverly lends itself to ensuring that villas and rooms can be built one behind the other without anyone losing their view. The rooms are vast with their own garden (most with a private plunge pool), bathrooms with freestanding oval baths and all the mod cons you would expect from a 5 star hotel. There are also some huge villas for families and larger groups, with 4-6 bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, private pool and even their own fitness room, sauna and steam room. The Residences are all privately owned and are separated from the main hotel by gates and also benefit from their own beach, but the owners are allowed to use all the hotel amenities … and they really aren’t too shabby. The spa and gym really stand out – the enormous space is spread over three floors and is accessed by a lift from the main lobby. Once inside, there’s an indoor pool, extensive gym with every state-of-the-art machine you can think of, endless beauty/treatment rooms (my very spoiling Hammam took place in a dome shaped room, on a large heated marble slab) and there are separate serene gardens. There is also a Fitness Specialist who is able to give you an In-Body Analysis (I think Vicky is going to dine out on her 86 fitness score for some time!).
There are four main restaurants in the evening: Sofra serves Mediterranean fayre (this is also where guests have breakfast), Assaggio right on the sea offers Italian cuisine, Balikcisi the fish restaurant where the chef visits local markets each day to select the freshest seafood, and Kurochan for Japanese dishes (this is only open in high season so sadly we missed it). During the day, Blue Beach is perfectly placed, as you can hop off your sun lounger and go straight into the restaurant, and for those lazing round the pool, the Pool Bar and Restaurant serves salads and snacks, ideal for a light lunch. We also enjoyed a really fun mixology lesson at the Mandarin Bar, where we were taught to make a number of cocktails on the list, something we thought we were real naturals at (but perhaps that was inflated confidence from consuming all the drinks we made!).
The beach is another highlight – with staff bringing you iced coffees and chilled fruit juices throughout the day. Despite the high temperatures during the summer months, the sea breeze is constant so you can easily spend your whole day comfortably reading books, snoozing and dipping in and out of the sea. There is a fantastic aquatic centre with a huge range of water sports on offer too, from water skiing, jet skiing, scuba diving and fishing – and the nearby bays are well worth a visit either by car or boat.
Every member of staff is extremely attentive and friendly – with a real mix of nationalities but importantly a lot of locals from the area and Istanbul – they are very proud of the hotel and rightly so… it really was blissful.