Monday, 2 July 2012

Luxury On A Budget: Turkey

As you can see from my previous blog post, I have just come back from an amazing holiday in Antalya, Turkey. It seems to be a really popular country this summer, I think mainly because it is a beautiful location but not too pricey. The location and the hotel (Flora Garden) was beautiful and I was really sad to come home after having a fantastic week there. It is safe to say I have really caught the travel bug now and can't wait to get away again! I went with my boyfriend, and we got an amazing deal from Thomson to go to a 4/5* couples hotel all inclusive package, which included the bus travel there and back from the airport and as we were 'priority' we were the first stop as well as a free a la carte meal :) I must say the value for money was so good, although it is a wise idea to bring some spending money with you as the a la carte restaurants are not free and neither are the various activities. To best review this I think I should probably split it into sections...

There isn't a lot to say about this to be honest! We traveled with Thomson airlines (obviously) and found the service was lovely, although even though I am small, a bit more leg room would have been appreciated! There was a two hour delay to our flight though, which was out of Thomson's control but the duty free at the aiport more than made up for this :)! The transfer to the hotel was a bit annoying however as it was really late by this point (around 1am) and the bus driver was SO slow... obviously I didn't expect him to drive like a loon but it was such a snail pace I felt sorry for the people who were 2 or 3 hours away. They also played a really old cheesy video which I didn't find helpful as it had loads of information on other places on Turkey which we wouldn't have been going to on that trip and I just wanted to sleep! The reps were fab though, especially, on the way back as they were organised and ready to help.

Where we were situated was GORGEOUS!! Literally sooo lovely, I would go back again just for that. We were right by the sea with a private beach for the hotel which had a lovely little pier and there were lots of garden spaces with hammocks too. Whether it was during the day or evening the view was spectacular from the restaurants and pool, with the loveliest sunsets right over the sea that I couldn't help taking lots of pictures of! I was worried that being right a dual carriage way would make it super noisy but to be honest I never heard anything but waves from the sea, plus you couldn't see the road either from the resort. Overall, it was fab!




Again, both our room and our hotel were absolutely wonderful. Everything was clean to a great standard and it was relatively modern and comfortable. Another cool extra in the room was that you could change the colour of the lighting!! You could choose purple, red or blue which we thought was pretty cool! The facilities included 5 a la carte restaurants, the main buffet restaurant, a spa, tennis courts, volleyball, hairdressers, paragliding and much more! They also had about 7 different bars and lots of different snack bars and even a pancake house, so there was loads of free food any time of the day! I also loved that on the grassy sunbathing area were sofa type loungers so you and your partner could sunbath lying together, which was cute cute and comfy :)!

This was one of the things I was most worried about as it is always one of the main things that can really let a lovely hotel down, especially as it was all inclusive. However, I thought the food was really impressive due to the excellent quality and variety of food in the main buffet including soups, cold mezze starters, meats, stews, grills, veg, fresh fish, fruit and a large selections of puddings! And the menu changed every day too which was a lovely touch. We went to one a la carte restaurant during our stay as they were all booked up, and we chose the Anatolian which served traditional Turkish food. The food here was even better, although the Turkish champagne left a lot to be desired as it smelt and tasted of cheese! We also ordered room service for breakfast and one time for a snack and again, there was an excellent selection for a great price! Overall, I couldn't fault the food as there was something for everyone.

Lobby Bar
Breakfast in bed :)
Real honey comb!
Starters at the Anatolian restaurant
Last but certainly not least important - the service. I wish I could say that this was fabulous just like everything else, but to be honest it was quite awful. I don't know if it was because it was all inclusive but many of the staff were incredibly rude and didn't actually listen to what you said - if you asked for a cocktail (many of which were free) they would give you whatever they fancied making rather than what you asked for and if you didn't want something you had to repeatedly say no, for example I got a drink repeatedly thrust in my face by the pool which I didn't want. They were also very eager for tips but went about it the wrong way - they expected a tip for doing their job which they are already paid for, for example carrying our bags which we would have done ourselves, from the lobby to the 'luggage room' which was literally less than a couple of metres and had to wait for hours for them to do anyway. One time at dinner they literally came round with a box shouting 'TIP TIME!!' and thrusting it in various customers faces while they were trying to eat, which many people were shocked at! Lastly, they had a culture night which was lovely with local stalls and camels, but one man repeatedly forced perfume on us we didn't want, refused to take it out of our hands in which he had placed it and when i had to show him the inside of my bag to prove we had no money on us he whispered to my boyfriend that "the women in Turkey don't speak" (!!!!) I literally could not believe how rude they were!!! To be fair, not every single person was like this and some were very attentive and did their job well especially the really friendly cleaners, however, I feel many let down the resort and hotel badly as apart from this the holiday was amazing and I would not suggest to anyone not to go just because of the service.

Overall, although the service let the hotel down, the location and everything else about this holiday was perfect and I would definitely recommend Turkey as a holiday destination and the Flora Garden as a perfect hotel to stay in.

What do you think of the resort? Have you been to Turkey or are thinking of going this summer? xxx


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