Hillside Beach Club, Turkey, review: tone up on the Turquoise Coast | Travel

JTurkey is the trump card of spring. Temperatures soar to 22°C in April and, thanks to the favorable exchange range, this is one of the most affordable places to warm up before summer. It’s also only about a four hour flight from the UK. Savings and sunshine aside, I came here on a mission to get back up and running at the Hillside Beach Club in Fethiye. Every day, 25 exercise classes are offered and they promise one thing: to sweat.

The 330-room resort curves in a horseshoe around Kalemya Bay on the Turquoise Coast and has a cult following; a whopping 68 percent of customers are rebookers. I meet a hillside practitioner on the path to hatha yoga, which takes place on a beach at the back of a forest. “This is our ninth stay” Anita, a Scottish GP, tells me as she rolls out her mat. “We come back because it feels like a secret safe island – the kids love to play football on the lighted courts at night and we can escape for a game of tennis.” Sweeping from downward dog to mountain pose, I breathe in the pine-scented air as larks fly overhead and flying fish glide across a sea stained with puddles of turquoise ink. I won’t forget that.

Hillside Beach Club in Fethiye

Well warmed up, I sign up for something more thrilling: Fliteboarding — balancing upright on an electric hydrofoil. Hillside is the first resort in Turkey to offer the sport and it’s a smart move – 400 lessons have been booked in the first two months. Ercan, my instructor, gives me a helmet with an earpiece so that he can guide me as I go. There are three steps: plank, kneel, stand up straight. It’s nearly impossible to balance and I slam headfirst into the water repeatedly over the next hour.

Water floods my nose, my throat burns, and I can’t help but dream of sipping a margarita on the beach. notes Ercan. He gets insistent as I get back on the board for what feels like the 307th attempt. “Again,” he says firmly into the helmet each time I fall. “Do not abandon.” And I don’t – if only for his unwavering enthusiasm. At the end of the lesson, I am on my feet, admittedly only for 15 shaky seconds. “Why is it called Fliteboarding?” I gasp, back on solid ground. He points to a photo that shows a board lifted half a meter above the water and I walk away wondering which is more bruised, my knees or my ego.

Looking for respite, I seek out the on-site hammam and am greeted by a Turkish masseuse who looks like she wants to do business. She does. Lying half-naked on a heated marble slab, I squirm as she begins to rub off layer after layer of dead skin. “Hala” – shut up – she growls, before grabbing my ankles and pulling me like a rag doll on the marble. I forgive her when the hot foam section follows, accompanied by a very thorough massage.

Later there’s a chance to learn the ropes on a catamaran lesson and we’re told to watch out for the dolphins – although I’m secretly more excited to rest my sore thighs as we sit on the nets. Also on board is German Luca, whose children happily shout from a huge inflatable sombrero nearby. “It’s funny,” he explains as they walk away. “I’ve been coming here since I was a kid, now I bring my own.” I ask why and in response he gestures towards the glittering bay.

Refueling takes place at the imaginatively titled main restaurant and they take it seriously – with a buffet. They are back! Grilled sea bass, roast chicken, stuffed eggplant dolmas, spicy sucuk (Turkish sausage) and borek (fillo pastry stuffed with spinach and feta) – all tempting. I count 14 types of butter. It’s a slippery slope. Dessert is honey from beehives across Dalaman, served on huge wooden combs with generous dollops of Greek yogurt.

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As night falls, to my horror, a boat appears in the pool and a swarm of children grab the deckchairs as the entertainment team descends for a theatrical performance of Frozen on the water. I make a quick exit to my apartment, the echoes of Let it go powering each step. I’m told the nights are getting more adult at Pacha, where there are regular white parties – and Elsa and Olaf aren’t invited. But after a day of sport, lounging on my terrace overlooking the bay trumps anything friendlier.

Hillside beach club

Every morning free guided e-bike tours are organized by local bike shop owner Unsal, so I get up early to cycle around the Fethiye peninsula. Each brilliant blue bay seems to outshine the last and soon we have a bird’s eye view of Fethiye harbor dotted with schooners. Babadag Mountain, traced with some of the most difficult cycling routes in the region, looms in the distance. In one hour we cover 15 km – nothing in Unsal. “I’ll go as long as a guest wants: my record travel time is nine hours with a Dutchman who didn’t come here for an easy holiday,” he laughs.

Clicking the gears in boost mode we cruise uphill and I ask how the last 18 months have been. “Hard. Really hard, especially for my parents,” he says. exercise or even run errands.” The vaccine rollout in Turkey has not been smooth either. Unsal’s parents received two injections of Sinovac, before receiving two injections of Pfizer. that Turkey was redlisted until September last year has also caused the country to lose income generated by the 2.5 million Britons who holiday here during a typical summer season.

Kayakoy was once home to 10,000 people

Kayakoy was once home to 10,000 people

ALAMY

Back at Hillside, we part ways. The glitz of Oludeniz is half an hour away, but I opted to have a history lesson instead. The rock-hewn tomb of Amyntas, named after a king who is buried there, is nearby and ten minutes further on is Kayakoy. The abandoned hillside village that was once home to 10,000 people became deserted after Greek Orthodox Christians were forced out. The carcasses of churches and empty houses look even stranger in the moonlight, I’m told, but even in broad daylight its ‘ghost village’ moniker seems apt.

On my last day, I try Fliteboarding again. Miraculously, I stand on my feet the first time and spend the rest of the hour gliding through the water with ease.

Then I have a choice – Serenity Beach, accessible via a nature trail, or Silent Beach, where conversations, cell phones and children are prohibited. Opting for the latter allows me to do what I have avoided on all vacations: lie down and enjoy the sun. Seeing a single empty deckchair, I limp and wonder if it’s really free. It doesn’t matter – talking is forbidden so technically no one is allowed to ask me to move.

Lucy Perrin was a guest at the Hillside Beach Club (hillside beach club. com). Seven nights full board from £2,044 pp including flights with easyJet (easyjet.com). The station reopens on April 11

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Sharon P. Juarez