“ Hotel Resort in Side, Turkey. „
Türk = 'ü' : pout your lips as if you want to say 'u', but then say 'ee'
tatil = 'a' like in 'wonder', 'i' like in 'give'
Congrats, you've just said 'Turkish holidays' in Turkish!
The airport for the south coast of Turkey is Antalya, the Hotel Barut Arum is in Side (See-da), a small town 60 km to the east. As the transfer was not included in our arrangement, we had to take a taxi, at the taxi station there's a long list with destinations in the vicinity with fixed prices in Euro, our fare was 65 Euro.
The Euro is the second currency in Turkey, so you have to change your money into Turkish Lira as well as Euro, you can do that in the airport while you're waiting for your luggage. You can also get your visa there, British and Irish tourists still need one (German and Italian ones don't).
The Hotel Arum is a five star hotel belonging to the Barut group, it's situated 3,5 km west of Side built on a slight mound. The entrance hall is pompous, big and rather cold in appearance, from there a flight of stairs leads down to the dining-room, another to the pool area, more about that later. The receptionist was friendly and efficient and it didn't take long until we were in our room. The man in our travel agency at home had told us that all rooms had twin beds, but ours hadn't, there was only one big double bed, shock, horror, a sleepless night was waiting for us! Back to the receptionist who told us that the hotel was full and that only the following day there was a chance for us to get a room with twin beds.
Hmmm, what to do? Fortunately there was a sofa, I put the four cushions from the back and the sides on the floor and made a kind of bed. As Turkey had been my idea, my husband decided that I was to sleep on it. What can I tell you? I slept like in Abraham's lap as the saying goes, but I didn't want to dismantle the furniture every night and reassemble it in the morning for nearly a fortnight. The following day we got another room with twin beds, while we were out, our luggage was moved there. I'm telling you this to show you that the staff is willing to help and make the guests happy.
The new room was quite spacious with ~ 18 m², with a double bed and a normal one (I got the big one), a comfy armchair and enough light to read a book by (a rare thing in a hotel), a small balcony overlooking the pool area and with a view of the sea, unfortunately slightly obstructed by a tall date palm tree. The bathroom contained the usual amenities and toiletries including terry cloth slippers. The TV set worked well (CNN, BBC, National Geographic), all as it should be in a hotel of this category.
The dining room on the lower ground floor is an enormous hall, some low walls dividing it into sections try to give the guests the feeling not to sit in the waiting area of an airport. A piano player also strives to make the atmosphere a bit intimate. It opens onto a terrace where the guests can also sit and have their meals.
What I enjoyed was that it was possible to eat conventionally, i.e., the international food you get everywhere (some people like this) but also Turkish food which is very tasty (we know this from our Turkish neighbour who once a week sends us something to eat in exchange for helping her daughters with their homework). There's a great choice for veggies. Every night a different sweet was prepared in the dining room and the guests could watch and sample it on the spot - together with the twenty or so other sweets on offer. A fave waiter of the guests was a young man who carved artful motives into water melons and pumpkins, flowers out of cucumbers, potatoes and egg plants, very funny. I can't imagine any sane person who finds something to niggle about the food on offer.
Between the hotel proper consisting of a main building and some smaller buildings with apartments on either side (the Hotel Barut Arum has 321 rooms altogether) and the beach is an open building on a small mound with a restaurant where half board guests can have lunch, in front of it is a terrace overlooking a small amphitheatre for nightly performances, mostly shows of Oriental dance, Latin music, Cabaret or Jazz dances, the noise doesn't reach the main building (you should have ear-plugs with you nevertheless, you may get snoring neighbours).
There's also a small cave like disco which I only saw in use the very first night when I was strolling through the grounds to get an overview. I heard Turkish pop music and when I had a look, saw six not so young Turks dancing singly on the dance floor watched by an all male audience, I have no clue what was going on there.
A bit further on is a kind of hut, the Beach Bar, with some tables outside, at noon a Turkish woman sits on a low stool nearby and prepares gözleme, a very thin pancake, filled with either a mixture of cheese and spinach or potatoes, yummy and only 4 Turkish Lira each (1,48 GBP).
Stepping out of the hotel one comes to the large pool area which is more of a pool landscape. If my country-people occupied the deckchairs with their towels at ungodly hours early in the morning I can't say, firstly, because I wasn't up at ungodly hours and secondly, because I find it weird to lie on a deckchair beside the pool if the open sea is only some metres away, so I'm not interested in what's going on at the pool anyway. There were always free deckchairs in the garden between pool and beach and also on the beach under the umbrellas.
The beach is private in the respect that the deckchairs are reserved for the guests of the hotel, some guards linger in the garden and have an eye on the beach, although guests come and go every day, they know exactly who belongs to their hotel and who doesn't. But, of course, tourists from other hotels can walk along the water front and do so all day long. Unfortunately the water is very shallow so that swimmers have a long way to walk until they can swim and the bottom of the sea is full of stone slabs and rock formations, rubber swimming shoes and goggles are advisable. The good thing is that where there are rocks, there are also fish, I saw lots.
The hotel offers sportive activities but we don't do sports with reps, on the beach surfing, parasailing, water skiing diving excursions, horse rides etc. are offered. The only thing I did was to go to the Hamam, the Turkish Bath, which is in a Beauty Spa beside the gym on the premises, but that's another story.
All in all the Barut Arum is a recommendable hotel for elderly couples as well as for young families, we heard repeatedly that guests had stayed there before and intended to come back; the clientele comes from Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Scandinavia, France and Russia, we didn't encounter any Russians during our stay there, though, which wasn't perhaps a bad thing.
When I had looked on the net for a hotel near Side, I had checked what other guests had written and found many complaints if there were too many Russians, my cousin who'd been in the area last year had also warned me. What do I have against Russians? Nothing in principle, at the mo' we've got the third Russian language assistant in our house, but here we're talking about large groups of Russian tourists abroad. The very rich Russians go to other destinations, the Russians who can afford the Turkish Riviera tend to behave in a way that doesn't please. They plunder the buffets and load their plates full with food but eat only a bit, the buffet is half empty when the other guests come, the tables full with garbage, they drink like sponges and the ensuing singing is also not to everyone's liking. Exceptions prove the rule, of course, we got to know two young Russian women from a neighbouring hotel on the beach who we met every day, we got along with them very well.
Maybe we'll go back next year. A three hours flight and then between 26° and 30°C (79° and 86°F) in the second half of October, the sea as warm as it is in Italy in August - that's not bad, isn't it?
Prices (Double Room, Halfboard) range from 70 Euro in November to 145 Euro in June. For further information check: www.baruthotels.com and firstname.lastname@example.org