If Bodrum is ‘Turkey’s answer to St. Tropez’, then the overcrowded Côte d’Azur town must have become a lot more charming recently.
The comparison can be slightly justified in the sense that both resorts attract international attention, share a slice of the Mediterranean and were once fishing villages.
But, unlike its French counterpart, Bodrum has long roots and serious connections: being the birthplace of Herodotus ‘Father of History’ beats links to Brigitte Bardot any day.
There’s also the small matter of balance, and Bodrum does that faultlessly when it comes to attracting wealthy young hedonists and winning over savvy family travellers.
Because, for all the elegant waterfront promenades and chic restaurants, glossy marinas and designer stores, Bodrum’s still a very smart choice for family holidays and kids love the easy atmosphere, big beaches and sense of fun.
The surrounding area’s pretty interesting too, after all you can’t go far wrong with nesting sea turtle sites; Turkey’s largest waterpark; mountains and forests to explore; islands to sail round; wide open spaces for biking or gentle hiking; and dozens of cheerful seaside villages waiting to be discovered.
LUX* Bodrum might be a relative newcomer to the Turquoise Riviera but the brand’s ‘lighter and brighter’ philosophy fits well with the resort’s character.
Even on looks alone, the hotel seems as organically grown as Bodrum’s much-admired traditional architectural style: whitewashed and perfectly adapted to make the most of the ethereal natural light on Turkey’s famous coast.
Understandably, the Aegean plays a lead role in the design, featured from every angle, and front and central in as many long, lingering views as possible.
Don’t let the idea of great aesthetics distract you from the heart of LUX*. The brand’s famous for authenticity and inclusive warmth so there’s no question kids will feel instantly at home.
Cute eccentricities like the Tree of Wishes and Message in a Bottle seem as if they were invented just for young imaginations and homemade ice-cream in handcrafted waffle cones shows LUX* dedication to detail – even in tiny treats.
With all that originality going down, it’s probably not too much of a surprise to find that even the kids’ club here is a little out of the ordinary.
Simply called PLAY, its focus is on making the most of the hotel’s gorgeous gardens, involving children in creative adventures and adding an element of nice old-fashioned peace of mind courtesy of formally trained nannies – think Mary Poppins rather than Nanny McPhee.
Obviously all that experienced childcare leaves you with a bit of time on your hands which could be put to good use with sea-view spa soothing from LUX* Me or honing your water sport skills on the private beach or not doing much at all by the pool – fat book and long drink optional.
It’s fairly clear LUX* hasn’t been short on local inspiration and the hotel’s first to admit that, however wonderful its suites and villas, extraordinary restaurants, cool bars and beachy calm, the real draw for families is beautiful Bodrum itself.
Getting kids interested in local culture on holiday is usually more trouble than it’s worth: probably why theme parks do such a roaring trade. But there’s culture and culture and in Bodrum it’s easy to miss the improving side in the middle of all the fun. Brilliantly colourful Bodrum Bazaar’s a perfect example.
Local life doesn’t reveal itself better than in the clothing market’s cheerful clamour or round colourful stalls piled high with fresh produce. Kids love the sounds and rich, exotic smells and if getting them to try new tastes is usually an effort, it’s almost guaranteed to be exactly the opposite here.
Mighty St. Peter’s Castle is more Game of Thrones than dusty museum and spending hours getting to grips with its battlements and big legends isn’t a hardship for most young invaders. The stunning Uluburun bronze-age shipwreck at Bodrum Underwater Museum of Archaeology took 22,000 dives to bring up from the seabed and even too cool to be moved by anything teens are impressed at that.
Bodrum’s known for exclusive restaurants and glamorous shopping, but that doesn’t stop the resort pulling out all stops on exhilarating excitement too, especially when it comes down to keeping its younger visitors entertained.
The legendary ‘Cotton Castle’ is a three hour drive from Bodrum, but soothing mineral waters and sheer spectacle banish all memory of the journey, instantly, on arrival.
Bodrum Aqualand is one of the largest waterparks in Turkey, covers an area of 35,000m² and gives a hint of what to expect with ride names like Tube Tsunami, Crazy River and Black Hole.
Thrills are almost all water based down by the Aegean too, where beaches are packed with every water sport kids can dream up, and quite a few they haven’t thought of.
And, just in case you want to get away for the day and play in another country entirely, the ferry crossing from Bodrum to the Greek island of Kos takes an hour and a half and does spectacular sea views as standard, both ways.
Sweet and cheap dolmus (little buses) are a fun way to get about with kids and explore Bodrum’s neighbouring villages. But if you want to see more of Turkey’s amazing Mediterranean coast, LUX* are expert on everything from hints and tips to organising day trips to must-do places.
Top of that list in August is definitely an outing to Iztuzu Beach to visit the world famous sea turtle sanctuary in hatching season – sail there and the Lycian Rock Tombs at Dalyan are another sight to inspire kids with awe. And try to make time for Hierapolis-Pamukkale with older kids.
LUX* Bodrum welcomes its first guests in June 2017 and to celebrate there’s a 25% discount on all rooms and villas booked before 30 June 2017 for stays between 15 June and 31 October 2017.
Find out more about LUX* Bodrum, this summer’s family holiday offers and beautiful Bodrum too.