EMMA FERGUSONis stirred, not shaken by the turquoise glory of Fethiye, home of Pegasus
Fethiye on Turkey’s south coast is most recently famous as a setting for Skyfall, the latest Bond movie.Located in the region of Lycia (wolf in Greek), it is an area steeped in ancient history, with breathtaking mountains and a coastline often referred to as the Turkish Riviera or turquoise coast. It is the destination of choice for Turkey and Europe’s yachting aristocracy, as well as an extremely pale Irish couple seeking a week’s rest and relaxation.
We stayed at the Club Hotel Letoonia, a relaxing, hassle-free retreat. This large resort hotel with three private beaches set on two kilometres of shoreline, is built in the Ottoman style with carved wooden shutters and romantic balconies trailing vibrant pink bougainvillea. Letoonia’s resort works on an all-inclusive basis, with not only all meals and drinks included (yes, drinks too), but also most activities and entertainment.
With a choice of buffet, snack bars and a la carte restaurants, there is something to suit even the fussiest eater, with breakfast, brunch, lunch, snacks, afternoon tea, dinner and evening snacks on offer. Freshly squeezed orange, carrot and tomato juice are served daily in the bar by the pool. The Moonlight buffet restaurant is a particularly beautiful setting for sampling the cuisine on offer.
Much of the fruit, vegetables, fish and cheese are sourced locally in the surrounding farms and the sea, which is evidenced by its freshness and quality. The variety of fare is also impressive, from fresh grilled whole fish to the traditional and delicious gozleme (wafer thin Turkish pancakes filled with cheese and spinach) and a delicious array of salads and dressings.
The a la carte restaurants need to be booked in advance, which incurs a small charge. They offer Asian food (including sushi), fish and Turkish menus. The fish restaurant is superb, romantic dining at its best. At 8pm nightly, Dolphin beach is transformed by the addition of candlelit tables along the shoreline, where we were served four courses of delicious fish dishes. Be warned: the portions are extremely large so it’s best to avoid afternoon tea if you’re booked in for the a la carte.
During the day, there are a host of sports and activities available, from chess to canoeing, not to mention a fully equipped fitness centre and three outdoor swimming pools with water slides.
For the less energetic guest (like myself), the spa is a haven of relaxation, with indulgent treatments available, as well as complimentary use of the indoor pool, sauna, jacuzzi, steam room and Turkish bath. We booked in for the traditional Turkish steam bath or hamam – essentially a full body scrub, followed by a wash with a huge amount of foam on a heated marble slab – followed by a Turkish massage.
When the sun goes down, the fun doesn’t stop. Every evening there is a packed entertainment programme, including theatre shows in the amphitheatre (again, with an impressive quality of production), beach-parties, firework displays, and live music performances. The resort has nine bars, including the Moonlight Disco for your fix of cheesy dance tunes, set against an authentic lighthouse with a 360-degree view of Fethiye Bay.
If you can bring yourself to leave, Letoonia is very close to some wonderful sights and there are a number of excursions. We took two day trips, the first being a 12-island boat trip on Letoonia’s private yacht. The yacht accommodates 12 people comfortably and sets out at 10am to visit nearby islands, stopping for swimming and snorkelling in crystal clear bays along the way. The trip is great value at €25 per head, including food and drinks.
We took another day trip by car to visit Saklikent, the blue lagoon and Tlos. First stop, the gorge of Saklikent, the largest canyon in Turkey and one of the largest in the world. You can walk through the freezing waters of the gorge and experience first-hand the magnificent water-sculpted limestone canyon walls. Remember to dress appropriately – you will get wet and it is surprisingly cold. Plastic shoes can be rented for walking through the gorge.
We then visited the spectacular Tlos, the city where mythological hero Bellerophon lived with his winged flying horse Pegasus. The oldest city in the Lycian region, Tlos dates to before 2000BC. On its slope are several sarcophagi and rock-cut tombs cut into the face of the hill. The influence of many cultures has resulted in an interesting collage of spectacular structures which are enchanting to walk around.
The attraction closest to Fethiye is the blue lagoon of Olu Deniz (meaning, rather grimly, Sea of the Dead). This stunning bay nestled below Mount Baba, is the place to paraglide. The beach is renowned as one of the most beautiful in Turkey, which isn’t surprising. The water is crystal clear which makes it ideal for a variety of water sports, and a very safe place for children to swim. There is a small entrance fee of 5tl (about €2) to enter the lagoon.
Fethiye itself is worth a visit, to buy a wide range of local produce, goods and souvenirs. The coloured glass lamps and Turkish Delight were our souvenir high points. And believe me, you will want to bring a little piece of Turkey home with you.
FETHIYE TRAVEL FACTS
Dalaman airport is the closest, with charter flights daily from 39 UK airports; charterflights.co.uk, tel: 0044-2087140010. Flights start from £195. British Airways (tel: 0044-844493 0787) also flies daily to Dalaman.
Club Hotel Letoonia and Letoonia Golf Resort are open from April 1st to November 10th. A week all-inclusive at the club and hotel, based on two adults sharing, costs from £812 in April/May (under 12s, add £203), and from £1,484 in July/August (under 12s, add £371), with prices decreasing in September/October. Children under two , free; letooniaresorts.com, tel: 0090-2424440280.
At the golf resort (30 minutes from Antalya airport; charter flights and British Airways fly daily), stay a week, full board for two adults, from £1,284 in July/August (under 12s from £228) and from £1,174 in September/October (under 12s from £206). thomson.co.uk, tel: 0044-8712314691.