I hesitated to post this. It may seem an odd time to read about all-inclusive resorts but I wrote this series a while back and still find it applicable as hotels are reopening! Also, I have added an extra 11th tip just for the COVID-19 rules here in Turkey!
(ALSO, stay tuned for the 3 all-inclusive resorts I would recommend in the Marmaris location! Those 3 posts will be rolling out over the next couple of weeks!)
Maybe you got here by googling “Should I stay in an all-inclusive resort in Turkey?” If so, you are in the right spot. Here I share my top 10 tips for staying at an all-inclusive resort in Turkey. Keep reading to see if you are the type of person that should even stay in an all-inclusive type place!
If you are like me at all, a go-getter, maximizer, see all you can ‘vacationer,’ then this post is maybe not for you. BUT WAIT A MINUTE! If you are the yang to my ying, like my husband who loves to stay in one place for as long as possible, this could help you understand your other half a bit.
Staying at an all-inclusive hotel is NOT MY usual go-to vacation, but it is SO incredibly popular in Turkey with foreigners AND Turks alike.
The foreigners, mostly Brits/UK and Russian, want to come warm up from the eternal winter that should now be spring. They bask in the sun getting the worst sunburns I have ever seen. They could care less about anything in Turkey except pouring mass amounts of vitamin D into their bodies.
Turks on the other hand, women in particular, want to get away for the week and NOT COOK ONE SINGLE THING. While this stigma is changing, so many Turkish women still cook daily elaborate family meals FROM SCRATCH. My Turkish friend explains it to me, “I just want to go relax and have someone else cook for us.”
So, all-inclusive resorts are their salvation providing both non-stop sun in the summer and meals made by others.
But not all 5-star all-inclusive resorts are created equal… BY FAR.
I spent hours making a list of 5-star hotels in the Marmaris region and then strategically went through them. I checked pictures of the room, the property, the services, and prices. I was also writing a couple of articles on the websites and my own. So I spent the appropriate amount of time researching.
Now having stayed or toured four different resorts, I want to share with you my 10 tips for staying at an all-inclusive resort in Turkey:
1. Not all 5-star hotels are created equal.
Do your research. Ask your neighbors, friends, etc. In Turkey, you go on verbal recommendations. It is the best way to find the best resort anywhere.
2. All-inclusive means food and drinks (plus the minibar). It does NOT mean all the services.
Yeah, you are thinking, “of course, Catie, you should know that” but at the same time it’s hard to figure out what IS and IS NOT included on your ‘all’-inclusive pass. Yes, the mini bar in your room is included… no, room service is not. Yes, enjoy the sauna and Turkish bath…. but you must reserve your spot beforehand.
But usually, there is a beautiful little tea time with, of course, tea, but also little treats to ‘tide you over’ until the dinner buffet.
3. Just to add to #2, you get all the alcohol you want. (***disclaimer, drink responsibly)
Jason and I aren’t huge drinkers; we enjoy an occasional wine or beer. If you are a big drinker or just want to enjoy a cocktail any time of day without judgment because you can, this is your go-to place. Alcohol can be expensive in Turkey, so an all-inclusive stay is worth it depending on the amount of alcohol you wish to consume. Although technically you could do that in your vacation, you just may not have all the ingredients to have a margarita one day and a martini the next.
4. All-inclusive does not mean secluded.
Yes, your resort may be on the beach and yes, the pictures may only show ten people enjoy a 1,300-meter pool. In reality, there are usually 100s of people at the same resort during the same time you are there. Fortunately, the resorts are well planned out and are good at creating space for guest to give the illusion of fewer people around. My advice? If you are not a fan of lots of people on your same vacation, a resort may not be for you.
5. Check the kid programs. Not all kids program and activities are created equal.
Depending on the ages of your kids and how much you actually want to see them, make sure to check out what the resort offers. Club Turban has childcare program most of the day and even night parties for kids such as Disco Night. Smaller resorts(like Marti resorts) provide shorter intervals of childcare – morning and afternoon 2-hour activities from ages 4 and up. (P.S. – Maybe sure to check if ice cream is included!!!)
6. Heck. Check the general entertainment programs!
Lots of hotels provide movies, game rooms, and daily activities. Others provide dolphin shows and acrobatic/magic shows for all ages. Even better, the weekends usually mean there are themed dance parties for the guests!
7. Languages: But I don’t know Turkish!
Who cares? About 90% of the guest don’t either. Most of the staff can communicate basic needs and requests in English (which I will say that other guests may also not know!). Be brave, suck it up, and figure out how to communicate via charades, if necessary, what you need.
8. To Valet or not to Valet?
Out of the three hotels, only one of the hotels did valet service every time, and it’s generally because parking is so limited. I am not sure where we would even park, but thanks to them, we didn’t have to worry about it. We also did not tip them. GASSSSPPPP. Well one, they were so crazy busy that we hardly had time to say thank you before they were on to the next guest. Two, that is what they are paid to do.
9. Do I need to tip?
A tip is different in every country. In Turkey, it is only expected more in touristy places because other foreigners have come before continuing to tip like they were back home. It is usually not necessary to do so, but it never hurts to give the valet or bellman a 5 TL tip here and there. Generally, room service staff do not get paid as well and if you can leave a tip at the end of the week stay, it is much appreciated. However, I am never sure if it actually gets shared or given to the right people. I can almost guarantee this is a foreigner idea and not usually practiced by Turks.
10. The laundry scheme.
Want to know what the most expensive thing is at the hotel? Laundry. At 4 Euros for pants and 2 Euros to clean a shirt, you are better off doing your laundry in town… or just bring enough clothes. Nope, laundry is NOT included.
Seriously, Jason and I try to pack light. We also pick apartment-style accommodations when we travel for the soul purpose of having a washing machine to use when we want. What can I say, I love some clean clothes. And so do you – even if you don’t like doing laundry. Our recent trip of one week was extended for three more days which is just long enough to push us over the edge of needed to wash clothes (think exercise, running, yucky clothes). So instead of using the resorts laundry service, I took a bag full of clothes to the local laundromat and paid for a load. One shirt and one pant cost the same as washing all my clothes in town. Not overly convenient? No, but I enjoyed an afternoon in town while saving some money on cleaning my clothes. If money is not an issue, just use the resort’s laundry service.
BONUS: Bring your own snorkels and floaties! With our travel schedule, we didn’t think we would have time for it, but we definitely did! We regret not bringing our water stuff!
11. COVID-19 times:
Turkey has been one of the strictest when it comes to pre-cautions for preventing the spread of COVID-19. I should know – my family has now been until 9 consecutive weekend lockdowns. Our daughter is still only allowed out at certain times during the week…
As hotels have just started to reopen as of June 1, every establishment must undergo strict health and safety measures before reopening as well as continue to abide by government set rules. For example, each occupied room must go several days between occupants for thorough cleaning and airing out. Please consult your hotel of choice to see what rules must be followed, and/or check the hotel website for information (some hotels are still working on posting this information).
So those were my 10 tips for staying at an all-inclusive hotel in Turkey.
Final thoughts, is it worth it?
– If staying at an all-inclusive place for a week is on your bucket list, there is no better place to consider than Turkey. The prices here beat any other tropical area resort, and the staff is extremely warm and friendly.
– If you are an expat living in Turkey, a resort will give you the feel of traveling to a foreign country without having to pay to leave Turkey. Score for not having to take a plane to feel like you left the country.
– If you are a large family with active kids that love being outdoors wanting to enjoy an easy vacation on a budget, resorts are perfect for you because there is something for every member.
Are you an all-inclusive resort-type traveler?
What tips can you add?
Let me know why YOU love spending your vacation here.