You only have to step off the plane in Bodrum to realise, Wizard of Oz style, that you aren’t in Istanbul any more. Bodrum Milas airstrip is surrounded on all sides by hills and plains, an arid-looking yet fertile landscape of dust, rocks and trees. We were greeted politely but warmly by our driver, who ushered us into an immaculate black Mercedes in which we were driven smoothly to our destination.
Just a few kilometres from the airport, the expanse of the Aegean sea opened up on our right-hand side – a vast vista of blue water with idyllic islands and inviting beaches. Upon arrival at Amanruya, we were awaited by Chris and Nick, an Anglo-Kiwi couple whose enthusiastic welcome spoke reams about their passion for the complex that they husband with relaxed yet precise skill.
We were given a brief tour of the extensive facilities before being shown to our cottage, and words can hardly describe our reaction as we walked through the door. This is attentive design to the Nth degree. In a country in which one can all too often be frustrated by the small mistakes in otherwise well thought out properties, here is a prime example of meticulous planning backed up with flawless execution.
A modern, spacious living area has low sofas at one end, beside them a table upon which a cool bottle of white wine, a platter of fresh apricots and a stylishly presented selection of local olives and cheeses awaited us beneath miniature glass cloches. And then the bed. The bed! A modern wooden square four-poster with beautiful linen and curtains.
All mod cons are available: an iPod (ready-docked) played soft traditional string music, a television (with blu-ray player) rose smoothly from a cabinet at the foot of the bed; an array of soft lighting was discreetly placed in readiness for the fading of the day, and a traditional stove was primed for cooler times.
High-ceilinged, windows on two sides of the room occupied almost its full height, and the arrangement of French doors, interior venetian blinds and exterior privacy screens is undoubtedly the finest example of window design I have ever encountered. The bathroom was extensive, to say the least; with roomy stalls for the shower and WC; twin sinks, each of which could comfortably serve as a bath for a good-sized toddler, and a most inviting tub. An arrangement of portholes in the ceiling allowed a good level of light, somewhat reminiscent of a typical Turkish bath-house, yet with a level of luxury more redolent of Rome. If one were so inclined, one could spend a day here just admiring the furniture and fittings; and yet that would be a day in which one failed to enjoy one’s private pool, the beach club, gym, tennis court, restaurant and spa.
Step out the back of the cottage and you find the private pool; beautifully constructed from near-black stone. A table and chairs are in the shade of an olive tree beside the pool; while two sun loungers are at one end. At the other end of the pool and raised up on a brick plinth is the most magnificent day bed I have seen. Another canopied four-poster, its vastness was such that one could probably use it for floor gymnastics, were the temptation to sprawl out with a cool bottle of wine and a lazy game of cards not simply too strong.
The entire complex has been designed to maximise privacy. As you walk through Amanruya you cannot catch more than a fleeting glimpse of the front door of any cottage, and the pool areas are almost completely hidden from view; sufficiently so that Pocket Venus and I felt quite comfortable swimming and sunbathing in nothing more than the attire that the good Lord intended for us. Liberating indeed.
Although even the private pools are sizeable enough to sensibly swim lengths, the main Amanruya pool would satisfy the most exigent of water babies, being as it is fully fifty metres in length; its infinity edge giving way to a magnificent panoramic vista down over the trees to the bay and distant islands.
And should your taste be for a saltier dip, look no further than Amanruya’s private beach club, with its wooden jetty from which to launch yourself into the brine. A series of courtesy golf buggies are perennially on hand to assist you should you not fancy the walk to reception or to the (well maintained and fully serviced) tennis court; and there is a shuttle service throughout the day to take guests down to the beach club and back. We elected to walk, and found the less-than-ten-minute stroll along the track through the woods to be a perfectly pleasant precursor to a strawberry daiquiri on the jetty, politely and charmingly served.
Sun loungers are available on the jetty and along the waterline, and the lovely beach bar will keep you fed and watered while you swim, snorkel, play around in a pedalo or sailing boat or simply soak up the sunshine and enjoy the thorough relaxation that comes hand-in-hand with such a secluded and deliberately restful environment.
While well suited to couples, families or groups of friends, Amanruya is also fully set up to cater for small conventions or working groups. The conference rooms are designed and presented with the same taste and elegance as the remainder of the site, cool and tranquil. There are also two large lounging areas, comfortable and with views from three sides, that are available to guests and delegates alike.
So many places, although admittedly perhaps less so those situated on more remote sites, seem to wish to pack every square foot with obviously monetisable space. Why build a lounge without a bar or restaurant in it? Why build a dedicated library in a hotel? Yes, that’s right: a library. The designers of Amanruya saw fit to build a library, high on the site, with two floors of shelf space and an upper reading room with panoramic views. This is not a place that is simply designed to milk you of your hard-earned at every turn. Room rates are not cheap, and nor would you expect them to be, but once on-site you will find that the library, lounges and exaggerated swimming pool are all there for your delectation without anyone hovering to peek in your wallet. Whenever you wish, however, you will find a willing and helpful member of staff who will assist you with whatever you may need or desire.
There is an elegant restaurant serving a full and varied menu. In a country where good bacon is hard to find, the presentation and quality of the full English breakfast at Amanruya will take some beating. Highly recommended, and accompanied by good quality local breads and pastries, jams and juice freshly squeezed to order.
The tennis court has a small covered viewing area beside it, all set up with water, towels and of course the necessary racquets and balls. The gym is well stocked with towels and water, and has a good array of quality machines. The overall impression is of a place where someone has really thought about what a guest will need to have a smooth experience of uninterrupted relaxation.
Bülent Ecevit Cad. Demir Mevkii
Göltürkbükü – Bodrum