Silence is often golden at Hillside Beach Club in Turkey

By on June 12, 2022 0

Nestled on the Turkish Riviera, Hillside beach club is built, terraced, into the hills and overlooks the most incredible turquoise waters. Verdant pines and fuchsia-pink bougainvillea disguise the fact that the hotel is even there. If you occur pass by on a yacht, you could blink and miss it.

To get there by road, however, you’ll pass a working dockside shipyard just outside the town of Fethiye. You will pass the bones of towering half-finished ships; vast ships mounted on stilts, their carcasses exposed to all eyes, and stripped yachts, to be varnished. It is a sign of the importance of the sea for this magnificent coastal strip located near Dalaman, in the south-west of Turkey.

Fethiye has long been inviting visitors from afar to arrive by boat. Most notable – apart from modern tourists, of course – were the ancient Greeks who arrived in the 5e century BC. AD, to make it their home, naming it Telmessos.

Since then, a lot has changed… or maybe very little… At the resort, which presides over the pretty bay of Kalemya, all is calm, apart from the lapping of the waves and perhaps the slight burst of laughter from someone who gives paddle boarding. It may have 330 rooms, but you would never know. Created like a village, the pink roofs of the individual rooms spring from the trees and spread out over the bay, you never realize how many other people are staying there at the same time. In fact, the hotel celebrates the charm of its surroundings so much that one of its three beaches – called Silent Beach – is, well, just that – quiet, so you can truly appreciate its beauty without distractions.

It is reached by taking a winding path carved into the cliffs. You’ll pass floating solar platforms floating in the water and a small “beach library” found on the way – a cabinet full of books to borrow. All the while, you’ll be mesmerized by the changing colors of the Mediterranean – one minute, it’s sapphire blue; the next is like clear-cut emeralds, which then suddenly turn into precious lapis lazuli.

No children are allowed and no phones either at Silent Beach. So when you get there, it’s just you, a cold Spritz and the wind rustling through the trees. Happiness.

Behind the shore at this eastern corner of Hillside, you’ll find another sanctuary for adults – the Sanda Nature Spa. It’s like you fell asleep in the sun and woke up in Bali. Built over a stream, the spa is nestled in the forest and features teak and open-air therapy rooms lined with seagrass mats and pebble floors. Here, Asian techniques blend with Aegean customs. The Aegean Seeds massage, for example, combines a Balinese style of massage with locally sourced essential oils of grape, fig and pomegranate extracts. It draws on the past for a local way to escape for a few hours. Another must is to book for a traditional Turkish Hammamthat will leave you with soft and fully invigorated skin.

The Hillside Beach Club’s ode to the sea continues with the activities it offers – from diving to sailing lessons; windsurfing snorkeling. When you feel like it, you can also board a traditional sailboat that will take you to Silent Beach or Serenity Beach at regular intervals during the day. At the latter, you can have lunch from a simple and relaxed menu – “Today we have grilled salmon or spicy chicken skewers”, you will be told (there is no menu , that’s its understated charm) — and there’s also a cocktail bar for a refreshing margarita or two. You can also get to Serenity by following a nature trail. Your reward for hiking along the cliffs in the Turkish heat is the thought of a delicious dip in the sea when you get there.

One of the highlights is the sunset tour. You board a traditional Turkish wooden two-master schooner boat that takes you to secret bays and hidden beaches. Once docked at Aquarium Bay, you can dive into the deepest ocean and later enjoy a glass of bubbly as the sun sets.

Back at Hillside, your all-white bedroom is the perfect cooling sanctuary after a sunny day. The family suites have a separate bedroom for the children, a dressing room and an open-air living room with a view of the bay. There are flat-screen TVs, but the truth is, you’re never really in your room long enough to even want to turn it on.

You can start your day here with morning yoga on Silent Beach followed by a traditional ‘Kahvalti‘ breakfast of charcuterie, local cheeses, annoy pastries and eggs served in a copper pan called ‘sahan‘.

In fact, the choice at the main restaurant is so vast that you can have anything you desire – from freshly baked breads spread with local honey to freshly made omelettes or, in fact, the full works with a “full-English”.

The festive offer continues at lunch and dinner. A variety of expert chefs preside over different ‘stations’ so you can have dishes conjured up before you. A favorite was the zeytin piyazi salads – chopped Gordon Ramsay style while you wait – and made with diced tomatoes, sliced ​​green onions, chopped parsley, dill, thyme, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and l ‘olive oil.

A stone oven offers different just-baked specialties every day – so you might find bite-sized donuts, hot from the oven and rolled in sugar, or the Turkish flatbread Gozleme, stuffed with herbs and ground lamb. The fish counter, meanwhile, is another tempting corner with its wide range of freshly caught local fish – from Eskina to Bream; Cipura to Bluefish – after choosing what you want it is freshly grilled and delivered with Lahmacun bread at your table.

Many dishes draw on local cuisine – so you can create your own mezze selection, with Haydari (garlic yoghurt with mint), patlican salatas (eggplant salad); stuffed vine leaves and see me (tomato salad with lemon juice and pomegranate molasses). For dessert, there are handmade Turkish delights; baklava oozing with syrupy sweetness and melting pistachio cakes. Try it Kunefe dessert, made from spun dough called kataifisoaked in attar syrup and topped with unsalted melted cheese.

Away from the main restaurant, you can also dine at Pasha, which brings an Ibiza vibe with its neon-white building, a DJ playing chill-out music and a locally-influenced tasting menu with dishes to share – consider the feta and fennel salad; freshly grilled mullet; chilli and tomato prawns; and herb flatbreads served with hummus and spiced yogurt dips.

The Italian restaurant on the beach, on the other hand, allows you to dine by candlelight, with a breathtaking view of the sea. This is the essence of romance. The seven-course menu changes according to the products available – but you can be offered a homemade focaccia, misto fritto, artichoke salad with local herbs and Bodrum mandarins; Linguine with lobster tail and sea bass cooked with thyme and rosemary and vegetables from the Aegean Sea. That’s enough to sweep you off your feet.

Tennis art workshops; from nightly shows to daily football matches – there’s a range of activities and events for guests to immerse themselves in. For example, the BFI’s annual residency has just ended – which sees film experts present film screenings of new and old favourites. This year’s festival was music-themed, so West Side Story and Sing in the rain were projected. The week also includes interactive workshops and lectures for adults and children interested in the world of cinema. (It will return next May, but regular film screenings take place year-round at Hillside).

Next is Classical Music on the Sea (August 5), which on a hot summer day transforms the resort bay into a floating stage to host a classical symphony orchestra. Then the London Jazz Festival (September 29 – October 2) follows in the fall. The capital’s largest pan-urban music festival promotes cultural diversity through world-class artists and rising stars in the music industry.

Activities aren’t all resort-based at Hillside, as the resort encourages guests to tap into the local culture. It’s all part of the ‘Hillside Outside’ program – so you can borrow an e-bike to explore Fethiye’s bazaars or book a guided tour of the ancient town of Kayaköy (known as the ghost town because it’s been uninhabited since the Greeks left Turkey during the great population exchange of the 1920s).

But Hillside’s best bit is ‘the golden hour’. As the day draws to a close and calm descends on the bay, you should sneak out alone to watch the sun say goodbye, streaking the sky with fingertips of rose, lilac and amber. As your damp hair dries in the balmy evening air, you’ll see the resort begin to light up as night sets in. It’s a little slice of Turkish magic.

Rates per night at Hillside beach club from £192. Rates based on two people sharing a standard room on full board plus.