Turkey – all inclusive holidays

Sunbeds on the pier at the Jasmin Beach Resort, Turkey

I guess some of you may wonder, how it feels to be on all inclusive holidays in a beautiful resort, located next to the warm sea.

We were wondering too, but every time we went through holiday catalogs, it was hard to decide where to go. At the same time we considered the prices to be a bit to high.

Six months after our wedding and we still didn’t go to our honeymoon. But one day, we received a phone call – “Listen, we bought a trip in June – all inclusive in Turkey, 5 star hotel, very attractive price… but we cannot go. Are you interested?”. Of course we were interested. Some more phone calls, a quick talk with boss about going on holiday, visit to the travel agency and we were almost ready. All we had to do was to wait until June…

Turkey – here we come!

Early morning flight from Poznan. Lots of excitement – holiday at last! Not to mention high standard resort in Turkey. We knew, that the hotel was undergoing some final construction works, and we’ve heard that it was opened just few days before our arrival. But we read on the internet that there was a great opening party just a day before our arrival, so we were quite calm.

A view at wing and clouds from airplane window
A view from airplane window

But we were quite surprised on the airport in Antalya, when resident, after kind and joyful greetings, said to us:
“You were suppose to go to Hotel Annabelle, right? Please, board the bus – Anabelle is closed and we’re moving all the guests to other hotels. We have 5 other, but it’s hard to tell to which one you’ll be assigned.”
But how do you mean closed?! Yesterday was a big party and dinner – guests described everything on the internet forum…
“Yes, there was an official dinner, but after it there was a breakdown – kitchen is not working, there are problems with electricity, and there are only 3 floors available for the guests, without neither elevators nor air conditioning, not all the bathrooms are finished and construction workers are still doing a lot of things across the whole resort… Whichever hotel you’ll end up – it will certainly be better than Anabella.”

Sun & fun in Jasmin

In the end, we were assigned to hotel Jasmin. Officially opened almost 10 years ago (that’s a relief…), so everything was working fine. First night was rough, because our windows were placed towards a construction site of another hotel (and the noise of the machines didn’t stop up until midnight), but after a short talk (and a small tip…) at the reception we were relocated to a new room with the sea view.

Although beautiful and only for hotel guests, the beach was quite rocky, but if someone didn’t like salty sea water – there were 4 pools to choose from. Water in the sea was quite warm (at least for us) with 21-22 °C, and in the pools even up to 26 °C, cloudless sky, so a perfect opportunity to get some sun tan. Sunbeds, bars with snacks and drinks – everything “for free” when showing all inclusive bracelet. For people that didn’t like the hotel kitchen, in 300 meters radius there were few other restaurants to choose.
A group of young people in orange t-shirts was responsible for guests and their children amusement. Each day there was a table standing by the main pool, with a schedule of attractions and different sort of animations – from aerobic by the poolside, through various team sports, ending with “childminder” with puppet theater and other entertainments for children, so their parents could have some time for themselves. Every evening in the amphitheater (although it’s a bit too big word baring in mind it’s real size) various shows have taken place, e.g. circus group show from Asia, few magicians showing amazing tricks or dance group, which was presenting a variety of dance styles from around the world. As a summary, every day ended with a disco for the guests that wanted to party a bit…

A group of acrobats performing human pyramid figure
Acrobatic show in Jasmin Beach Resort in Turkey

One could say that this would be a dream vacation for everyone tired with monotony of each work day!

And indeed it was for us – until the third day…
We got sunburns, everything was hurting and we looked kinda funny with the red skin. Swimming in the sea was soothing, and finally reading that book while lying in shade on a sunbed was very relaxing. But all of this just started to be boring, because how long can one lie and swim, swim and lie… Snacks and refreshing drinks in bars started repeating, so we visited them less often. But what could we do to spice up this easiness?

Optional excursions

Fortunately, there are optional excursions. In the hotel we got several proposals from the resident with prices starting at 20€. One could for example go rafting or do a safari trip, swim with dolphins or visit Cappadocia or Pamukkale (amazing natural limestone terraces, that are UNESCO World Heritage Site). Prices of trips to aforementioned places are between 30€ and 60€, depending on length of the trip. It’s worth getting to know the list of optional excursions before the holiday, so it’s easier to plan financial and schedule aspects. Example excursions with prices can be found on several travel agency websites (e.g. here or here).

Despite the fact that we wanted to see Pamukkale badly, we had to resign – the trip was 2 days long and was ending at the day of our return flight to Poland. Instead, we bought one-day sightseeing trip to Alanya with included dinner and a short cruise.
Funny thing is that later the same day the resident told us, that as a recompense for the relocation to another resort we are granted a free, one-day excursion to Alanya (ha!) and a dinner in one of the hotel restaurants – to choose from Japan, Italian or seafood cuisine. It wasn’t very hard to choose the restaurant, but if we knew earlier that we will have a free trip to Alanya… Fortunately, the plans of both trips were varying enough, so we could see more things. We could also try to change the excursion, but the schedule and availability would only left us with rafting and that wasn’t something we wanted to try at that moment.

Alanya

A small port city on Turkish Riviera, surrounded with mountains and hills, in which tourism is mostly related to excursion boat cruises, beaches and view points.

The first point of the trip to Alanya was showing the tourists “traditional” regional products – they took us to a big shopping center with only jewelry and leather articles. All the things were sparkling. Jackets and leather coats, fox/mink/chinchilla coats were just inviting you to wear them, especially in the cold, strongly air conditioned store. The prices though were really bone-chilling… But there was an option to negotiate and lower the price by at least 1/3 – bargaining in Turkey is part of shopping. Client doesn’t negotiate? Then it’s a bad client! Out of respect for the seller, one should always bargain for a while. It makes the seller satisfied and the client happy.

A view at Alanya port from Kale hill
A view at Alanya port

After the mall we went to see the view points – first one was a terrace in surrounding city Taurus Mountains, and the second one was on the famous Kale hill. From both of them we could see a beautiful panorama of port, beach and city. Additionaly, on Kalle hill we had lunch break and a moment for ourselves. We had a close-up view at Alanya symbolic Alanya Castle – Kalesi, that was built in XIII century by Seljuk Turks, and is still in a good condition. Outside the stronghold there are ruins of mosque, caravanserai (a roadside inn for caravans) and bazaar, and inside – remains of cisterns and byzantine church, but sadly we didn’t have time to see them. Suprisingly, during boat cruise we had the opportunity to see some of almost 150 towers, that were part of Kalesi fortress.

What would be Alanya sightseeing if we missed the famous Cleopatra Beach? According to the legend, on that very beach Cleopatra and Mark Antony met one day and he ordered to transport white sand all the way from Africa. The beach itself is beautiful, surrounded with mountains and hills, and the water is crystal clear – it was really shame we could only see it from the shore.

In the Cleopatra Beach area we also visited Damlataş Cave, called the Cave of Dripping Stones. Inside of it there’s a specific micro-climate, that supposedly can cure people with asthma or respiratory complaints. Every year people come to Alanya like to sanatorium – there are special opening hours for asthma-sick visitors with much lower ticket prices.

To sum up the day we had a boat cruise…

Tourist ship sailing from port in Alanya, Turkey
Tourist ship sailing from port in Alanya

During our first cruise we went only near the port. When the ship has stopped next to the rocks, our guide told us a story about Aşiklar Cave, also called Lovers’ Cave. According to the tales, it’s a place where lovers, who couldn’t be together, could meet peacefully. There are some legends stating, that in that cave pirates were hiding their treasures. Far away from the city and hidden – without any doubts it could tell many interesting stories.
The cave is open for visitors. It has entrance on both sides of the rock, and the distance between them is 75 m. Both entrances are located 8 meters above the sea level, so you have to be in a good shape to get inside. We were quite surprised when at the end of guide’s tale, a man came out of the cave. After checking that all eyes are on him, he majestically jumped to the sea, and swam towards our ship. Quite a spectacular way to earn some money from the tourists.

During our second cruise, we went from port to Cleopatra Beach. We can honestly say that it looks amazing from both shore and sea. Our guide didn’t mention anything about Lovers’ Cave during that trip. Instead, we had opportunity to swim in open sea. Water was amazingly warm and so crystal clear that, though it was around 15 meters of deep sea below us, we could easily see rocks on the bottom and lots of fish.

Dawid relaxing on sunbed with book and a glass of refreshing drink
Relaxing on the beach

After the attractions of both trips to Alanya, we always returned tired but quite happy. It was pleasant again to lie on a sunbed with a glass of something refreshing. And even “monotony” of the last day we had in Turkey was relaxing.

Our impressions

It was very pleasant and interesting experience. We also realized that one all inclusive holiday is far enough for us.
It’s not the kind of vacation suitable for us!

Costs: 7 days, all inclusive, 5-star hotel in Turkey at the season beginning – 3 500,00 PLN (around 900 USD) total for two. And optional excursions cost, that depends on the attraction itself. Cost of the flight included in price, departure from Poznan, so costs of getting to the airport were covered in our monthly bus ticket.

Was that expensive? We think so.
One could travel much cheaper, while seeing much more. But in most cases it’s not going to be all inclusive. Of course if someone likes “doing nothing” and has enough money – then we recommend this kind of holiday 😉

 

Practical tips

  • We discourage drinking tap water – although it’s not as risky as drinking tap water in Egypt for example, yet still there are chances that microbiological culture inside your stomach will not go well along with bacteria from Middle East. We avoided tap water and nothing bad happened.
  • It’s good to take some cash in small bills – useful for tipping cleaning lady or waiter. Despite the fact that all the meals and drinks were included, tipping waiter or bartender significantly improved quality (and speed) of their services.
  • Despite regular tips, in Turkey exists something called baksheesh (something between a tip and a charitable giving) – e.g. in buses or share taxis called dolmuş (typical, small Turkish buses) one can often see a small basket for change, where passengers can leave tips. You have to be careful tough, because it has become another way of making money on tourists.
  • It’s a good idea to check how beaches near the resort look like before the trip, because often they tend to be rocky. We took our swimming shoes (the protective ones) from Poland and it turned out to be very good choice. We’ve seen a lot of people frowning while walking on the beach, that were later buying overpriced shoes in the hotel store.
  • You mustn’t try to take any stones (e.g. found on a beach) as a souvenir from Turkey, because you may get yourself into a very unpleasant situation at security check. Turkish law states, that it is forbidden to smuggle “historical artifacts”, and their definition is rather fuzzy and not specific. There was a case of an American citizen detained for “smuggling” stones found on a beach (you can read more here).

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