KNOWLEDGE - EXPERIENCE - SERVICE - INSPIRATION
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I recently attended the Advantage conference Bodrum and stayed at the Mark Warner property, Sea Garden Resort which is a Hapimag Group hotel. This resort is huge and you certainly get a work out each day climbing the steps up and down to/from the beach which is not a bad thing when on an All Inclusive basis! It is split into two parts with the hotel on one side of the peninsular and the apartments on the other with the ‘village’ in the middle. The hotel rooms are in blocks within the lush grounds and all have satellite TV, balcony, air con, bath tub & minibar. There are many restaurants offering a variety of international cuisine and there are different bars & a night club offering evening entertainment. Mark Warner are renowned for their sports facilities and this resort is no different, offering many water sports as well as tennis, squash, gymnastics, cycling & other sports. There is also a Wellness Centre & Fitness Centre and a great deal of children’s activities and entertainment.
The resort is 17km away from Bodrum which is a must see whilst there. It is a large busy resort but attractive and authentic. You get a real feel for Turkey here and be prepared to haggle in the many shops offering ‘designer’ handbags & clothing! The Castle sits above the town and provides a beautiful view point of this extremely pretty coastline.
After the conference I stayed one night at the Jasmin Beach Hotel which is an All Inclusive hotel overlooking Gumbet Bay. The food here was very good as was the position of the hotel but I would definitely recommend the upgraded rooms which were very nice indeed. It’s a fun family hotel with very good staff.
The following day I was very excited to join the Star Clipper which was half way through her Southern Cyclades cruise. It is a unique Tall Ship sailing experience on a traditional clipper that has the sophistication of a modern day private yacht. The cabins were extremely comfortable and varied only in position within the ship. The food was fabulous and the drinks were not over-priced. The crew obviously loved their jobs and you can see the pride in their work. It runs like clockwork and is fascinating to see how it all works. I was surprised at how relaxed and informal it felt whilst still maintaining an elegance that only a sailing ship can have! In short I was blown away by the whole experience and totally fell in love with the Clipper.
The day begins with a really good buffet breakfast, a smile and a ‘Good morning’ from the cheery restaurant staff. All meals are open dining so you can sit where and when you like. There is an early bird breakfast too for the early risers as well as tea & coffee always available. After breakfast you may go back to your cabin to find it cleaned and a different animal on your bed each day (sculpted from towels!) before heading up on deck. Some days you may be going ashore on the organised excursion or taking the frequent tender to wander around at your leisure and do some shopping or sightseeing. You may come back on board in time for lunch which again is buffet style and varied in choice. If you miss lunch, there is always afternoon tea!
You could take part in the knot tying & navigation classes or even climb the mast if you’re brave enough!
Whatever you choose to do, you won’t want to miss the sail away. This was my favourite part of the day and I wasn’t surprised at all that it seems as though everyone goes up on deck to watch this every day. No matter how many times I saw it, it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It takes around 15 mins for the crew to raise the sails and it’s so dramatic with the music of Vangelis playing loudly. You can see on lookers on the shore watching and taking photos.
The captain may do a ‘story time’ now where he shares tales & knowledge or you could simply enjoy the last of the sunshine.
The evenings begin with a drink in the bar before dinner which is a real treat. There is no seating or time restrictions nor even a dress code. It could be described as Casual Elegance. The food & wine are delicious with exceptional service from the unobtrusive waiters. After dinner the evenings are relaxed and the entertainment differs nightly. This could be a quiz night, a talent show, a film showing or live music to listen or dance to. Whatever you do, it’s lovely to fall into your bed and drift off to sleep to the gentle rhythm of the sea before doing it all again tomorrow!
I absolutely loved my few days on the Star Clipper and cannot wait to do it again – as Arnie said, I’ll be back!