“ New hotel at the northern end of Turunc. „
Our annual autumn extended break this year saw us once again back in Turkey. The first week we spent on a gulet, cruising around the coast, ending up in Marmaris. The second week we would spend ashore, based in a hotel in Turunc. The holiday was booked through Anatolian Sky and one of the hotels that they offered us was the Meril Hotel.
The photos on the website, of the hotel, showed a place that looked attractive, and the details seemed to indicate a hotel with good facilities, all a good sign. However, as usual I checked Tripadvisor to see what other guests thought of the place. The results were not encouraging although I did notice that all the unfavourable reviews were from a few years ago. More recent reviews seemed to suggest that there had been changes.
Turunc is a small town, actually, village would be a better description, occupying a bay around 40 minutes by road or by sea, south of Marmaris. It is reached from Marmaris either by coastal dolmus ferry or by taxi or dolmus bus over a simply amazing mountain pass that zig-zags its way up and over the mountain that separates Turunc from Icmeler.
The Meril Hotel is situated at the northern end of the bay, almost the last property in the town. Here it is around 5/10 minutes by foot from the town centre, along the promenade at the back of the beach, so you can see that we are not dealing in vast distances.
The approach to the hotel reveals an attractive and very well-maintained exterior; the Reception area continues this impression. It would seem that the hotel's management has heeded the critical reports from former guests and has completely refurbished and renovated the hotel.
We were welcomed and allocated our room. We were also allocated a card which acted both as our room key and also the means by which we could charge extras during our stay. The bad news was that this card had to be "charged" up front and not paid off at the end of our holiday, and they would only accept cash. Annoying certainly but even more annoying, the hotel only offers a truly appalling exchange rate of 2.45 TL/£. Everywhere else was offering at least 2.8. One thing's for certain, we wouldn't be changing our money at the hotel!
Our room (604) was on the top floor and was partly a roof room. However, the room had more than adequate space and even contained a double and a single bed; clearly intended to also be suitable for a small family. The room was well decorated and in very good condition apart from a badly stained bedspread, which we reported to the hotel and the local rep.
The patio doors led out onto a balcony but this had quite a high wall around it due to the roof. A table but no chairs were provided until we flagged up this omission. The patio doors were covered by a set of fine net curtains, to keep out insects if you leave the doors open, especially at night, and a second pair to keep out the light and protect against the heat of the sun. We had no problems being bitten in out room even though we often slept with the window open.
The bathroom was also in good order, with the usual shower over the bath and a glass screen to prevent water spraying onto the floor. As is common throughout the Med, you are asked to deposit toilet paper in a bin beside the toilet, and this is emptied daily. The only real issue with the bathroom was that, as is common in Turkey, low-energy lighting is used throughout, in the case of the Meril, LED lighting. I don't have an issue with these but the ones in our bathroom were poorly positioned and left the actual bath area in relative darkness.
The major issue with the bathroom though, was the lack of hot water in the morning, for our showers. The water could be described as tepid at best, certainly not encouraging you to spend more time there than was absolutely necessary. I have found this to be an issue in other Turkish hotels as well, most of whom seem to use solar heating to heat all the hot water used in the hotel but which appear to have woefully too little capacity to meet the actual requirements.
Storage was by way of a large wardrobe by the door, with adequate hanging space (but a shortage of actual hangers) but little shelf space. Nevertheless we did managed to find somewhere for all our clothing, despite part of the shelf space in the wardrobe being occupied by a safe for your valuables.
We noticed a loud, continuous rumbling noise in the room and thought it was the air conditioning unit but it soon became clear this wasn't the cause. We queried this with the hotel and were told that the noise would stop at 10pm. It appears that it is possibly something to do with the solar water heating on the roof.
The entertainment in the room is by way of a flatscreen TV attached to the wall. This mostly shows foreign language channels but we were pleased to discover that BBC World News was included. There is also a mini-bar but we only used this to keep our bottles of water cold.
We enjoyed a good night's sleep throughout and, even when it was very hot and we closed the window and switched on the air conditioning, on the lowest setting the noise did not disturb but provided adequate cooling. Indeed, we were not disturbed by any noise, internal or external.
We were staying B&B and took our breakfast in the restaurant on the pool level of the hotel, which is the ground level at the back of the hotel (the ground level at the front is on level 2). Here it is set on a terrace above the level of the pool itself. Tables were set outside on a covered terrace and also inside, for those who prefer not to eat al fresco.
Breakfast is a buffet affair with a decent selection of cereals and fresh fruit and salads. Yoghurt and honey is available for those who, like us, are addicted. There is also slices of cheeses and processed meats and "salamis" but, to be honest, these were fairly unappetising. There were also some hot pasties.
However, this is pretty well where the good news ends. The juice dispenser dolls out a watery, unpalatable, poor excuse for fruit juice and doesn't in any case include orange juice at all. There is an urn of coffee and another containing both Turkish Tea and hot water. There is no English tea though. I made do by mixing Turkish tea with water, 50/50. All in all we found the selection fairly disappointing.
We did eat in the restaurant one evening. In the hotel's room brochure it states that the restaurant closes at 10pm but a notice outside the restaurant itself says it closes at 9.30pm. We went down at 8.45pm after a tiring day, not wanting to venture down into the town.
We should have looked to see what was available because we discovered that most of what had been provided had already been devoured, especially the hot food, and the kitchens didn't seem to be intending to replace any of it. Indeed, when we did get around to helping ourselves to main course, we found that the heated trays had already been switched off! We complained about the lack of selection and were then provided with what I can only describe as some greasy rectangular burgers! Thank the gods we weren't staying Full Board!
During the day, when we weren't in the town, we spent our time around the pool. The pool is adequately large and kept very clean. The water is comfortably warm, the pool area itself being surrounded on two sides by the hotel building and forming something of a sun-trap. There is a bar on the pool terrace, where you can get drinks and there is a separate covered area at the end of the pool terrace with tables and chairs. The sun-loungers and parasols were all in good condition and comfortable. The hotel does not provide pool towels so you'll have to take your own.
There is a spa at the hotel, offering Turkish Bath and massage. My wife indulged in this twice and declared it the best experience of the type she had ever enjoyed, at ridiculously good value for money. This really is the one outstanding feature of the hotel.
So, what to make of the Meril? Well the room and facilities were generally good but the most disappointing part of our stay was the restaurant and the food, which was, in our opinion, mediocre to say the least. To be honest, had I known I would have been inclined to stay Room Only. Just 5 minutes away are a whole range of choices of restaurants, all offering every breakfast type you want, including Full English. Would we stay at the Meril again? Probably not, not unless substantial improvements are made in the catering.