Don’t go to Turkey. It’s dangerous. With umpteen terrorist attacks in the same number of months, people are scared off. Now is exactly the time for luxury family travel to Turkey.
What people don’t think about is that a) Turkey is a huge country and you might as well be in Greece on the Dalaman peninsula’s Mediterranean coast – Fethiye is 20 Minutes ferry to Rhodes, b) what unrest there is has been has generally been concentrated around the controversial political borders or capitals and 3) even in this day and age of terrorism you are statistically more likely to be run over by a bus than caught up in any sort of attack. Be clever, be informed and don’t miss out due to ignorance. Kalkan is alive and kicking, full of happy locals and tourists alike and is as safe as the next holiday destination.
We last went to the most charming village of Kalkan in the early 2000’s. No children, nothing commercial, only friendly, warm, hospitable people, building a destination in itself on the stunning, unspoilt, turquoise coast. A handful of hotels, simple but spotless, truly delicious authentic food served in traditional rooftop restaurants overlooking the bay – views to die for, amazing value and exoticism to take you away from the norms of the usual European summer destinations.
Fast forward nearly 20(!!!) years and little has changed. Yes, Kalkan has its huge following but despite its popularity it has retained its innocence, value and authentic feel. I’ve actually not been anywhere so overrun with Brits in a long time but somehow these Brits became friends. I don’t make friends easily. People here are in the know. They appreciate the differences and embrace them. They aren’t looking to for cheap alcohol and seedy clubs, they are after good food, stunning coastline and views, a plethora of great restaurants and now villas, hotels and apartments to suit every budget – with emphasis on budget at no expense to quality.
Now in 2017, beach clubs line the crystal clear turquoise seas, where water sports are abundant and not overpriced, a luxury gulet trip sets you back no more than £20 per person including sumptuous meals and genuine hospitality and diving is a pleasure.
The truth about Kalkan and the surrounding area is that you are never ripped off. Taxis still cost £2 for a journey into town. Locals are friendly and tourists even more so. No wonder the Facebook group Friends of Kalkan is so full of fans counting down the days, waiting to return or gushing about their favourite restaurant – foodies won’t be disappointed – the ‘Old Town’ is ram-packed full of places to enjoy every sort of cuisine but expect Turkish food to dominate – as it should. Steak is also huge here, as is fish. Nothing breaks the bank either – so refreshing to receive free starters; fresh olive bread, tangy, spicy tomato and pepper salsa. Turkish delight really is that too; mostly made in the village with love. Pomegranate and pear trees line the streets to town, chickens in one garden, a lone tortoise in another.
This year we travelled with Simpson Travel. A company that is multi-generational in ownership and management but as I found out from day one, is synonymous with quality and faultless service from your first phone-call enquiry through to the day you leave your chosen property.
Simpson know how to cater to discerning guests. They know how to get everything spot on. Not a hair out of place not even an annoyance at being so perfect, just a contentment that comes with exceeding every expectation in every way. Knowing what the customer needs and delivering effortlessly. Pre-departure emails, phone calls and every information is provided ready for an easy trip. Age appropriate car seats, every eventuality covered; making family travel a pleasure.
We ended up at Korsan Suites having read glowing reviews. Friends of my brother with young kids said it was their best holiday ever! Managed by Simpson, Korsan is owned by the warm, competent and very sharp couple that is Claire and Uluc. It’s listed on TripAdvisor as a speciality lodging so, the 8 luxury 2 floor suites aren’t impossible to book, just very nearly impossible and that’s more due to unnecessary worries about security.
Korsan Suites really is a boutique hotel with all the flexibility of a full kitchen and super luxury apartment, complete with stupendous views, outdoor jacuzzis and wraparound terraces big enough to make a difference!
Modern, two or three bedrooms and the same in bathrooms; beautifully simple but luxurious and kept spotlessly clean by the team that I challenge you not to fall in love with. These angels built a stair-gate just for us, pre-arrival, without batting an eyelid. People work hard here. They appreciate what it means to do a good job and the place shines. Guests return year after year.
Fresh Turkish breakfast of fruits, cheeses, olives, jams, honey and more is served daily by the pool in the shade on the canopies, fans humming in the background. Perfect eggs, omelettes and the most important – chocolate pancakes, piping hot, and perfectly cooked every single time. Not once did we receive a dish that was supposed to be served hot, cold. Not even lukewarm. Out of the kitchen and onto your table. It’s not rocket science but I know how difficult it is for the majority to get it right consistently and I don’t accept failure!
Behind the scenes staff aside, the one who makes this place run smoothly and efficiently without fail at Korsan is a man who I will sorely miss as will my children and possibly even my husband. Manager, and all round superhero, Memduh or Memo to us, really is a star. He will steal your heart. A geologist to start but a hospitality genius by accident.
He brightens your day, he makes superb frozen fresh fruit smoothies, addictive milkshakes to order, serves you lunch and breakfast with a smile and a chat. Words almost fail me and words are never my issue. Claire and Uluc, do not let him go anywhere. We found ourselves sitting in the shade of the bar just chatting to him. He exudes natural warmth, is a very special person and helps make Korsan Suites the dream that it is.
Food here is simple but tasty and great value. Children’s portions are half price and everything is freshly made by chef, steps away from the shady tables set amongst bougainvillea- lined terrace. They serve all meals here; there’s a BBQ and seafood night, as well as and a sumptuous Turkish welcome dinner too. Lunches consist of fresh salads, toasted sandwiches, pasta, mouth-watering chicken kebabs and many more simple but delicious choices.
Room service is also available free of charge but not once did we even want to make use of it. The boutique feel of Korsan Suites makes for a relaxed house-party feel which means that it’s a pleasure relaxing by the pool or chatting with the other guests at the bar. A leisurely coffee getting the lowdown on the local area from the lovely and super-knowledgeable resort rep Kirsti starts your day in a better mood! Thank-you also for doing our pre-arrival shop so that our fridge was well stocked with all our requests.
There’s loads to do for the active. Geological sights, a stunning gorge and mountain trips too. That’s before even venturing out to sea on a gulet cruise – an absolute must. Kirsti can tell you all you need to know. With our two little ones and only seven days, we chose to really relax.
Each day by the pool taking in the breathtaking view that never fails to make you smile with contentment. My five year old finally learnt to swim in the Korsan pool. He came home a fish! Playing with other guests or his brother.
Each evening we walked the 10 minutes to town. A leisurely stroll, taking in the view and the shops! Shopping here is fantastic. Leather goods, local produce and linens are a must. We hardly had the time to try out all the superb restaurants so we went with what we knew as a tried and tested formula. Korsan has two restaurants in town – Korsan Fish Terrace and Korsan Meze. Both are in the harbour. One with a wonderful roof terrace overlooking the bay – roof terraces are abundant in Kalkan, giving new meaning to dining with a view – the other right on the harbour. Suffice it to say that both have the same high standards as Korsan Suites.
Food is to die for, with plenty of choice, authenticity and great atmosphere to boot. They’ve been there since 1979 and going strong. For a post or pre dinner drink head to their outdoor ‘lounge’ KoCo.
Our Monarch flight came far too soon. That’s not a criticism of the airline, to the contrary, they are always on time and I find Monarch planes clean, their staff super-friendly and efficient and their pricing competitive. Don’t discount them as a great family option. Arriving home at Luton Airport – ideal for us as we are ‘north London’, parked in the new covered multi- storey car park minutes from the exit, again great for families- the last thing you want is to get on to a bus to a car park after a flight with young kids, we find ourselves back in London.
Overall, a very special experience. Korsan is amazing, Kalkan too and Simpson Travel are the people to make it happen for you. Don’t write Turkey off for family travel – it’s an absolute all round winner if you pick your destination wisely. A very special thank-you goes to Debbie and Handyman Ramazan Kirvak – a local Anglo-Turkish couple who run their villa and catering business but that do a sideline in childcare. Every day for five hours they brought us peace, quiet, home-cooked lunch for the kids in our apartment and a lot of credit goes to Ramazan for teaching Alexander to finally have the courage to swim. He was also amazing with our nearly two-year old. They too come highly recommended by a very hard to please mummy! Lastly, a recommendation for the very strong sun – this year we tested a product called SolRX. It’s meant for triathletes so one application lasts through swimming, sweating cycling and all round battering. As a fair-skinned family, sun protection is key. This product is amazing. Have a read and give it a try. It’s for professionals and offers supreme protection – especially for the kids!