THE UNDERSTATED RIVIERA OF THE EAST
Last week we explored Montenegro as a contender for the ‘new Riviera’. Guest blogger Kathryn Tomesetti suggests that for a real breakaway from the crowds this year, the Turkish coast is not to be missed.
For a taste of the Cote d’Azur 20 years ago, set sail for the Turkish coast. On the Cesme peninsula, just west of Izmir, sits the boho resort of Aliçati. Pinch yourself Pampelonne fans – it could be St Tropez.
Like St Tropez, Alaçati old town is car-free. Visitors must flip-flop past the pavement cafés protected only by big sunglasses and an Hermès scarf. The backdrop is pure Place de Lices: handsome townhouses, window boxes, boutiques and bars. The brand new 400-berth Cesme marina – recently voted Turkey’s marina of the year – will bring in more pioneers of pleasure in 2012.
Further south, the Bodrum peninsula is like the Costa Smeralda in the Aga Khan days. Imagine a coastline sprinkled with deserted islands, lonely beaches and the occasional super-chic resort. Türkbükü is the country’s ritziest enclave, the preserve of models, actors and all-night clubs. The beach club at the latest Aman Resort near Göltürkbükü is set to be Turkey’s jet-set destination du jour. A short sail away, Gündoğan is quieter but equally sophisticated – the favoured escape for Turkey’s political elite.
For superyachts, Göcek still leads the pack in terms of facilities and style. This happy resort forms the humming heart of Turkey’s yachting industry. If you fail to eat, shop and party in this alfresco playground you may as well catch the first flight home. Dalaman Airport is a 15-minute cab ride away.
Göcek’s marinas are certainly world class. D-Marin’s Port Göcek is a landscaped Mediterranean forest connected by bridges, canals and beach. It’s what would be built in France or Italy today – if a similar project were started from scratch.
The new marina in Kaş is similarly chic. This modernist vision of white stone and green palms – complete with slick swimming pool and yacht club – stared welcoming pleasure seekers in summer 2011. On the surrounding coastline there’s zero development until you hit Greece.
A sojourn along the Turkish coast remains a voyage of discovery. To prove it, try mooring up by the Roman ruins in Sarsala Bay or anywhere on the Datça peninsula. There won’t be another luxury yacht for miles around.
Kathryn Tomasetti is the author of National Geographic’s Istanbul and Western Turkey. Her writing also appears in The Independent and The Times.
Our top recommendations for luxury charter yachts in the area this summer are below. For more information on chartering in Turkey, contact the Y.CO charter team.