Yalıkavak: the new lap of luxury on the Turquoise Coast

LEYLA YVONNE ERGIL
Published 11.07.2014 23:03
Yalıkavak: the new lap of luxury on the Turquoise Coast

Discover Yalıkavak, once a quiet seaside town in Bodrum that has since undergone a complete transformation to become the most luxurious spot on the Turkish Riviera

Situated on the northwestern tip of the Bodrum peninsula on the Aegean Sea, Yalıkavak has long been a favorite destination for expats and has a wide and active foreign resident community. Located 18 kilometers from Bodrum center, Yalıkavak in the past was a sleepy fishing town that was somewhat off the beaten path for Bodrum's vacationers, which was a draw for foreigners seeking to move to southern Turkey for a more relaxed and authentic way of life. Over the past few years, however this once sleepy town has undergone a complete renovation only to become the most luxurious destination on the Turquoise Coast.

While Yalıkavak now boasts the fancy new Palmarina, and its chic restaurants and shops, it has managed to retain its original charm, offering the perfect medley of traditional Aegean culture with Turkish luxury at its finest all sprawled out along beautiful beaches and a mesmerizing sea. If you haven't already, now is the time to discover Yalıkavak and enjoy this seaside town set in the lap of luxury. The Palmarina Bodrum, the new state-of-the-art marina owned by Azerbaijani entrepreneur Mubariz Mansimov's Palmali Group, lends itself greatly to the transition Yalıkavak has undergone over the past few years. With 105 stores, a number of world famous restaurant chains, the Billionaire's Club, the Kid's Paradise aqua park, a heliport and mooring for over 140 yachts, Palmarina is much more than a marina.

Nobu, the international Japanese restaurant sensation, is a dominant fixture at the marina, with a seawater pool, that charges an entry fee of TL 50 on weekdays and TL 75 on weekends. Other top hitters on the restaurant front include Mezzaluna and Cipriani, as well as Istanbul favorite Hünkar. The most extravagant restaurant, pool and nightclub experience is had at the Billionaire's Club, which charges a flat rate of TL 75 for a sun lounger. Club Monaco caters to the mega yachts and also boasts a replica of Istanbul's Kız Kulesi (Maiden Tower). Plans are to eventually offer high-speed trips to the Greek Islands from this ultra-exclusive marina, which has already been visited by the likes of Bill Gates.

Yalıkavak, whose beaches were awarded Blue Flag status over a decade ago, also boasts Bodrum's hippest beach club Xuma, located in Kudur Bay. This happening spot combines live mu s i c w i t h a lush garden sun lounging experience. Xuma also has a wide range of water sports options as well as offerıng massages. Entry is TL 50 and expat rocker Allen Hulsey is amongst this summer's scheduled performers. Magi Beach is more laid back wıth a family-style, great food, giant pillows, sun loungers and cabanas overlooking the lovely Tilkicik bay. Nearby is the impressive water park, Pirates of the Cactus, yet another new installation in Yalıkavak's transformation. For a piece of history, head to Sandima, a 600-year-old abandoned Türkmen village, once the main residential area of Yalıkavak. The stretch of road leading up to the abandoned hillside village is lined with village breakfast joints.

In Sandima, stop by the Nural Sanat Evi, a local art house run by a friendly sculptor and painter couple. For an alternative breakfast option, head to the windmills, located at the top of a hill 5-kilometers in on the road to Bodrum, where you can enjoy a classic Turkish breakfast and a view of the peninsula. The now bustling town of Yalıkavak has quaint shops and stands as well as Sanatçılar Sokağı, a street devoted to local artists, and a lively Thursday market. In town, Mythos is the new popular fish tavern along the sea, while Kavaklı Köfte is more down-home with wooden bench seating in the town square. Gülten Abla serves up a traditional Turkish fare in a cozy setting under a huge sycamore tree, while expat-owned Le Café has an extensive Italian menu as well as a few authentic Indian offerings and seaside dining.

The long-standing traditional way to spend an evening in Yalıkavak is at one of the traditional fish restaurants on the other side of the marina. While Çimentepe is the oldest, Sait's has become a landmark, even opening a second branch in the Palmarina. Yalıkavak has a lovely path you can stroll from the new marina to the boat yard, passing by handmade craft stands and beach side establishments. For live jazz music, stop by Café Minor, owned by a musician couple, and Giggles for comfy seating on the sand.

For the ultimate plush and tranquil stay along the beach, Highlight Hotel offers spa services and has Bodrum's branch of the hip Istanbul Bej restaurant. Popular healthy-living doctor Osman Müftüoğlu's Palmalife Resort & Spa also offers detox programs in a stunning setting lining the
shore.

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