I was lucky to be picked to go on a Travel Counsellors prize winners trip to Kalkan in Turkey.
We have team events several times a year, when everyone at Travel Counsellors around the world come together. It’s a great way to get to know our colleagues from far and wide, and to meet and put a face to their names. It’s a good way to bond and lots of friendships have been made this way. We at Travel Counsellors are a friendly bunch, not only with our clients, but with each other.
Discerning Collection generously sponsored the competition, and the winning team’s prize was a 4 day fam trip to Kalkan, where they have some of their properties. We all met at 4am in South Terminal at Gatwick, for our 6am flight with Monarch Airlines to Dalaman. Some of us had stayed the night at the Gatwick Hilton, which is adjacent to the airport – a good tip to know, if like us, you have a flight at the crack of dawn.
It was a swift 3.30 minutes flight on the way out, as we flew towards the sunshine of this part of Mediterranean Turkey. I’d been to this area around Dalaman before during October, so knew that we had a good chance of the weather still being hot and sunny – and it was. It was a tonic to have blue skies and warm sunshine compared to the rainy skies we’d left behind at home. We trooped off the plane with big smiles on our faces. Another tip – make sure you have a ten pound note ready with your passport to pay for the tourist visa on arrival.
Discerning Collection put on transfers for us in mini buses and before too long we were on route to Kalakan, just under two hours away on good roads. We all stayed at the Asfiya, a good 3-4 star property which seems to be well loved by returning guests – who in some cases have been coming here for years. One holidaymaker told me this was his 15th year staying here! I would say one of the main reasons for this was the sheer helpfulness of the staff. Nothing was too much trouble for them. Plus the grounds and pool area were attractive, well maintained and spacious, with plenty of loungers and shade if you needed it.
There was also a good bar, plenty of places around the pool to sit for lunch, and a fairly good comprehensive menu - which we all sampled as soon we arrived, and relaxed over a late lunchtime meal. There is a variety of room types, most of them are now classed as suites with their small lounge areas, but some are brighter and offer more light than others, so depending on budget and other factors, it was a good insight to us, to know what to offer our clients. These suites go all the way up from the Standard Room, Deluxe, to Rooftop Deluxe, the Owner’s Suite, also two lovely Penthouses Suites, with their elevated sea views. Some of these have their own pools, and Jacuzzi’s.
Further down the hill we had an excellent dinner one night at the Likya Residence and Spa. And a couple of days later, we also had a daytime visit looking around this lovely hotel. This is a five star, adult only (no children under 16 years) boutique hotel, which has amazing views of Kalkan Marinia, and out to sea. The rooms and suites are spacious, have elevated views, huge terraces, and some wonderful features. The main swimming pool is long and a good size, and there are smaller, a couple of more private pools tucked away. We met two guests, (booked by another Travel Counsellors) who couldn’t believe their luck at having a small infinity pool with an elevated view, all to themselves. This is a very popular hotel with our clients, and it was easy to see why. The Spa is beautiful, peaceful and secluded and had a good choice of treatments and facilities. The materials used in this part of the hotel were natural stone, as in the rest of the hotel, and added to the relaxing ambience.
We also visited the nearby Asfiya Retreat Apartments, a couple of the villas, and looked at the site of the new development - the Asfiya Sea View Hotel, due to be finished in time for the 2014 summer season. This will be a suburb development, with direct access to the main road leading into the centre.
So apart from sunbathing around the pool, looking around the pretty town, shopping, and visiting the local Thursday market, we also were lucky enough to spend a lazy day at sea on a Gullet cruise. And this has to be the ultimate relaxation on a beautiful, sunny day. Swimming in the clear sea, sunbathing and eating the delicious local fresh food prepared for us by the father and son who operated the boat - it was definitely a day to remember.
I’d heard about Kalkan over the last few years from clients and colleagues alike, and knew it was popular. It’s easy to see why because it is pretty, with friendly locals, plenty of cafes, and shopping. But it is very hilly, so I wouldn’t recommend it to elderly clients, or people with walking difficulties. That aside, it was easy to see why everyone calls it their favourite place. So my final tip – is to leave the high heels at home, ladies, and relax in casual footwear.