172 � squaremeal.co.uk
TRAVEL the chef is from Japan and there is a wide
range of options, all of them good.
After a few days in town, I decided to
venture a bit further afield and check out
one of the bustling resorts in the popular
seaside destination of Belek. �is area,
45 minutes from the airport and city
centre, is considered part of Antalya. It's
a place particularly popular with sporty
retired Brits, active families and Germans
carrying around golf bags. I stayed at
the Cornelia Diamond Resort, and first
impressions were a resounding success. If
you're after character or charm this is not
the place for you, but if you like clean lines
and modern aesthetics you'll feel at home.
Besides, it's the facilities that people come
here for, not for the glam. Set on its own
27-hole golf course, the resort has seven
outdoor swimming pools and waterslides
all within a short distance of the sea.
My spacious room was connected to the
pool via a ladder on an outside wooden
deck. �e pool weaves its way around
the giant property and is scattered with
Jacuzzis; there's also an indoor pool and
a stunning private beach with loungers
and bar service. But for me, the highlight
was spending a half-day at the enormous
spa, taking in all 12 of the aromatherapy
saunas and steam rooms. For younger
guests, there's a kids' club in a building
shaped like a pirates' ship and a train that
can be boarded for a tour of the premises.
With nine à la carte restaurants and
24-hour room service, there is plenty of
variety, and a higher standard of food
than I expected. �e Tai Pen restaurant
offers fine Oriental cuisine with Turkish
fusion and an excellent teppanyaki grill.
I opted for spicy
with Turkish red
peppers and Wagyu
beef sautéed to
property is allinclusive
(including alcohol) and it felt
fantastic to never get the wallet out.
For those looking for a bit of culture,
there are approximately 300 historic
sites not far from Antalya, including the
ancient Greco-Roman city Aspendos,
the Byzantine church of St Nicholas and
the ruins of the ancient city of Patara.
Particularly worth seeing is Olympos,
founded in the 2nd century BC and
just nine miles north of the city. �e
incredible ruins here, just steps from the
sea, include an ancient acropolis.
Antalya also has breathtaking waterfalls
Thomas Cook Airlines flies daily to Antalya
from London Gatwick and four times a
week from London Stansted. Flights start at
around £90 return. Flight time is about four
WHEN TO GO
July and August are hot with average
temperatures approaching 35C. June and
September are ideal, and the water is still
warm enough to swim in come October.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Su, Antalya. Opt for a spacious seaview
suite overlooking the Mediterranean.
From £83 a night, B&B. sunishotels.com
Cornelia Diamond Resort, Belek. Pool
suites sleep up to three adults in two
spacious rooms with a shared deck.
£560 per night. corneliaresort.com
FIND OUT MORE
NEED TO KNOW
that are worth a look and hotels can
arrange a variety of tours. I opted for white
water rafting in Antalya's National Park -
a scenic wonder of a place called Beşkonak
two hours' drive from the city centre. A
rafting day trip costs £25, including lunch,
safety equipment and transport.
Stunning views, a fascinating history,
great food, clean beaches and a very
manageable price tag, all just four hours
from London, probably helps explain the
millions of visitors each year. But for me,
it's more than that; Antalya's rich past
is echoed in a present teeming with
natural beauty, a feeling of optimism and
a gentle nudge to slow things down.
Exactly what I need from a holiday.
THE HIGHLIGHT WAS A HALFDAY
AT THE ENORMOUS SPA, TAKING
IN ALL 12 OF THE AROMATHERAPY
SAUNAS AND STEAM ROOMS
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP: ANCIENT CITY OF
PATARA; THE DUDEN WATERFALLS; CRASSULA
SPA AT THE CORNELIA DIAMOND RESORT;
THE POOL AT THE CORNELIA DIAMOND
STRETCHES AROUND THE RESORT