Having known and enjoyed the south of Turkey for more than two decades, I was intrigued by the idea and invitation of the world-renowned Mandarin Oriental, with no doubt the best resort in the Bodrum area.
I arrive after some fun shopping in the town of Bodrum, where one shop after another invites and tempts the shopaholic, and some relaxing days on a traditional Turkish boat cruising in the crystal clear waters. My pick-up in a Mercedes limousine, arranged by the hotel, is a perfect arrival at the resort, and the view just blows my mind.
Greeted by a lovely young lady, who offers me delicious lemon water and a cold towel, I am taken to suite number 206. I mention the number as this suite has it all. Let me explain why.
As I enter, I find myself in a huge living room with the most amazing sea view and pool just a few steps away. The living room has a very modern dining table like a bar with high stools, but knowing that the designer of the resort was no less than the famous Italian Antonio Citterio, I am not really surprised by the exceptional detail and ideas that the suite features.
A large linen sofa is inviting, the coffee table in front offering fresh fruits and Turkish delights. A huge TV screen is ideal for movie addicts, but I long to step outside and dive into the scenery: azure blue sea, a few yachts (one of them measuring 115 metres) decorating the waters majestically and lush green nature wherever my eyes look from left to right.
The wooden deck around the pool affords me the luxury of lying and doing nothing but admiring the scene in front of me. I almost forget that there is more to discover inside!
Before I return indoors, I take a few steps into the garden and let my feet rest on the green grass, admiring the trees, bushes and flowers planted to the back and side of it. Privacy is important and high trees divide the gardens of the suites from each other.
Back inside, I note the wooden panels that decorate the walls, some sliding doors you wouldn’t notice if you were not paying attention to the small details of discreet handles with which you can easily divide all spaces.
I enjoy the great stylish u-shaped walk-in closet area, with perfectly arranged hangers, a beautiful leather cabinet with drawers and a safe deposit box of the new generation.
From the walk-in closet you can go either straight into your bedroom or continue into the bathroom, which is like no other. First the separate elegant toilet, followed by a large shower, which serves as a steam bath if you so wish, then on the long wall which ends the suite there is a small table for make-up purposes with a stool, two jade-coloured round sinks with enough space between them placed on a long board on top of a lower one where the amenities and slippers plus towels can be found.
All this is crowned by a large mirror that lights up from the sides but also contains a small TV in case you want to watch the latest news or favourite episode while brushing your teeth. Finally, at the end of the long wall, which extends from the back to the front of the suite to the terrace, is placed a white free-standing oval tub which invites you for a bubble bath with amazing views!
This long corridor-like bathroom is open but can be closed with a sliding door to the bedroom side if you wish and so can the side to the walk-in closet. You can be perfectly cocooned in your bedroom while the whole suite has something of a loft feeling with its high ceilings.
Wood is omnipresent, the floor, the walls, the cabinets, but the bed’s headboard is made of woven leather and the pearl white cushions and bed linens add to the luxurious feel once you slide yourself under the comforter to read your favourite book or watch a few minutes of TV before you float away into dreamland for a night of restful sleep.
On my tour through the resort I have the pleasure and opportunity of seeing different villas, two bedrooms and more. The Presidential villa is an impressive bullet-proof building with 12 bedrooms and almost 1000 square metres. There are two floors connected by a lift, and it can be closed up in certain areas, providing privacy and maximum security.
It is the only villa that can be reached directly by car and where check-in in the villa is made. Needless to say the kitchens provide the best in appliances (Gaggenau for Europe) and have separate access for private chefs and other personnel.
Asian inspirations are felt in the beautiful natural wooden tables with little bonsai trees on the terraces of some villas; one has an open fireplace next to the pool; lamps and chandeliers are square Asian shapes; and in the two storey villas I see beautiful features of hanging glass lamps which are lit by the power of the sun only.
These special villas have their own fitness area, steam bath, sauna, and private massage and treatment rooms. You really don’t have to leave the villa, as the pool is long enough to do some lengths there too. And the cosy sitting areas, stylish sun loungers and cabanas around the pool invite you to chill out and let the Aegean Sea fascinate you.
Down at sea level, a green grass strip divides the beach from the hill. Little huts bring shade to the guests, and the option of a private cabana is there too. Options are vast at Mandarin Oriental Bodrum, but you’ll never feel there is too much going on. Elegance, class and attention to your needs surround you. White towels on your sun beds, even made up as cushions for your comfort, are just standard.
The Blue Beach offers two restaurants, never crowded, where you can enjoy the freshest and tastiest salads for your lunch. I absolutely love the beetroot salad and the freshly baked bread that comes with olives on the side and a dip of olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar.
If you decide to take a walk it is easy to reach the pool and pool restaurant which is a great alternative for lunch. Here you can sample great salads as well, try Asian bites and opt for bread and pasta. Ciabatta, Angus beef burgers, classic spaghetti, mezze of the day and traditional Turkish mastic pudding are on the menu.
You’ll pass olive trees, hibiscus bushes and flowers, trees where cicadas sing and the evening restaurants which are all located to offer a sea view. Who would want to sit inside if you can breathe the wonderful Mediterranean air and dine under the stars?
The choice of restaurants is a good mix of flavours. Assagio for the Italian food lover (I have truffle pasta), the Turkish fish restaurant Bodrum Balikcisi with its catch of the day, and the Asian Kurochan offers delicious Japanese cuisine while you watch the food being prepared in the open kitchen.
But what would Mandarin Oriental be without a great spa? THE SPA at Mandarin Oriental is truly amazing. Water features everywhere, seven treatment stand-alone cabins in the middle of water, an open-air tea salon for after treatment relaxation overlooking the bay and peaceful nature, and a myriad of old olive trees here and there between jacuzzi and pool, with some loungers placed discretely in between and giving guests just the privacy needed after a treatment and the luxury of feeling yourself.
All over reigns harmony. Yoga, Pilates and meditation are taught by professional instructors to help you find stillness of the mind. I have the pleasure of a mani-pedicure by Bastien Gonzalez, the world famous salons which provide a totally different experience.
Bastien’s philosophy of treating hands, feet and nails made him famous and adored by his wealthy clients who flew him to New York or London just to get his treatment. A treatment that enhances the natural beauty of the nail, which ultimately looks best without any polish or shiny base coat. Your nails will shine in their soft natural colour and you don’t want to change that; here is where the addiction to Bastien comes from!
The treatments range from Ayurvedic healing massage to a Turkish Hamam experience you must indulge in. For the fitness lover there is a good chance you’ll find all you need, and if you need more than that, you’ll receive some very good and professional advice from a personal trainer.
For myself I get a perfect idea on how to avoid sitting down for long hours, very simple, but I would not have ever thought about it without the personal trainer’s advice during the comprehensive fitness/wellness assessment. Posture (we all need good posture, no matter what we do for a living) is assessed by an exercise physiologist and you learn simple movements to practice at home.
Back to the sea, the wonderful azure blue sea, that refreshes, enchants and gives us so much energy. Water sports are a good way to use that energy. The new Seabob, the world’s most technically advanced and powerful underwater scooter, a wakeboard or fly board or the classic water ski are available for enjoyment.
Should you long for a day out on a yacht, this is a great way to spend many hours away from the shore; in a bay or cruising, the experience is just so fabulous that it is hard to describe. Aboard a traditional gulet, a wooden boat, you can enjoy the picturesque Tavsan and Green Bay, hopping off at Karaada, Yildrim, Goktasi bays to finish your day at the unforgettable Camel Bay.
The overall holiday feeling that I experience at the resort leaves me with one idea: I want to come back to this beautiful place over and over again. The magic and serenity I find are incomparable to other places I have known. Be it the meticulously curated nature, glittering blue sea, architecture that melts into the hill or the appealing gardens which I call sophisticated natural beauty by blessed gardener’s hands, this landscape is a wonder.
The stress-relieving effect of Mandarin Oriental Bodrum stays with me long after I leave, and I can’t say how much I look forward to being in this paradise again, year after year.