Baristas Best Travel Guides

Why Baristas Make the Best Travel Guides

NOTE FROM CATIE: Michael is a long time friend! It is crazy to think we met one another over 10 years ago now! He is also the one who encouraged me to give up my heavily flavored cream (with a bit of coffee) and to ‘just drink it black.’ It took me a few years longer than he probably would have liked, but now I am a very proud black coffee drinker! Now on to the article

The best-informed travel guide just might be the person making your coffee. The role of barista has long gone beyond the role of “bartender” like the original Italian might suggest. Baristas are cultural critics, political wonks, and amateur music historians. They know where the best Banh Mi is (which by the way, Catie cutting in here, is a Vietnamese sandwich). They’re probably eating it on their lunch break. 

Your barista very likely has a liberal arts degree if not an MFA. Their band has appeared on public radio and opened for some nationally known acts.  But more importantly for you, they’ve learned how to craft a perfect cappuccino, and that attention to detail has attracted the city’s top chefs, museum curators, and journalists to their café.

In short, they know people. 

Baristas Best Travel Guides

(Of course, this is contingent on being in a good, independent coffee shop. I cofounded thecoffeecompass.com to help people find the best cafés around the world.) 

Barista knows where the hidden gems are.

They know which sights are overrated, which restaurants are past their prime, and where the queue is too long to make it worthwhile. They’ve already been to the up-and-coming place no one has written about yet. 

Lucky for you, your barista will more than likely share a few tips with you— provided you’re a friendly customer and they’re not slammed making drinks.* (Do not— I  repeat—  do not ask for a travel recommendation in the middle of the morning rush!)

Baristas Best Travel Guides

The technique here is very simple. 

1. Order a coffee. If appropriate in local culture, leave a tip.

2. Drink said coffee. 

3. After you finish your coffee, thank the barista. 

4. Mention you are visiting from out of town, and ask if there are any restaurants/bars/museums/ etc you should see while you’re in town. 

Mosts of baristas love their cities, and can’t resist showing it off to out-of-towners. More than once, a barista recommendation has had a waiter or bartended asking me, “How did you find us? We don’t get many tourists here.” 

In short, your barista can curate an unforgettable travel experience

Just make sure you leave a tip.  

*Do not try this in Manhattan. Those baristas are battle-weary and interact with far too many tourists to care whether you find the best natural wine bar (it’s the Ten Bells, btw). 

Baristas Best Travel Guides

Michael Butterworth is the cofounder of thecoffeecompass.com. (Instagram)

He lives in Istanbul with his family. 

Trabzon Turkey

TURKEY: Your Travel Guide to Trabzon, Turkey

NOTE from Catie: I am so happy to have Kelsey guest post about Trabzon, Turkey! I met Kelsey when she was living in Izmir and immediately loved her! She has so much good information about Turkey since she lived here for 5 years! And Trabzon… it’s one of my favorite places! It’s perfect that this lovely gal is writing about a favorite place!

The Black Sea region in Turkey is home to some of the most beautiful coastline and mountains in the country. The Black Sea region of Turkey is home to the Turkish dish pide and Turkish dessert sütlaç. Along this coastline is the city of Trabzon, which both borders the coast and spans deep into the mountains. This article will serve as your ultimate travel guide to Trabzon, Turkey, covering topics such as:

  • Culture & Geography
  • Transportation
  • Seasons/Weather (i.e. Best time to visit)
  • Things to Do in Trabzon
  • Brief Review of our Hotel
  • Specialty Foods & Desserts 

Trabzon Culture and Geography

Trabzon is located in northeastern Turkey along the Black Sea. Black Sea in Turkish means Karadeniz, and Trabzon really has its own cultureThe Turks from this region have their own accent, dress and lifestyle. Across the sea from Trabzon are the countries Georgia and Russia. 

The culture in the Black Sea region is a conservative one. Turkey is over 99% Muslim and most of the women are covered. Trabzon has seen a rise in Arab tourists lately, so it is common to see women wearing a black burqa with only their eyes or face exposed. However, I did see one lady at the airport wearing flip-flop shoes with her burqa! The Turkish women in Trabzon are covered with a hijab, or a head scarf, but still dress with a variety of color and style. I find the varying degrees of Islamic fashion pretty intriguing.

Trabzon Turkey Location Map

Transportation in Trabzon

Transportation in Trabzon is relatively easy, as long as you have access to your own vehicle. Flying into Trabzon’s airport, known in Turkish as the Trabzon Havalimanı, is a sight to behold. The runway is parallel to the Black Sea, so you get an amazing view of the city and the sea as you arrive. If you are already in Turkey, you could consider driving but if you are coming from abroad, flying in is the way to go. You will get to road-trip plenty once you arrive, since most of the activities are very spread out from each other!

The airport is located right next to the sea, but most of the things to do in Trabzon are located about 30 kilometers inland. The best option for transportation in Trabzon is to rent a car from the airport. As a foreigner, you can utilize websites like economycarrentals.com or rentalcars.com to book in advance.

Seasons/Weather in Trabzon

The weather in Trabzon varies as the seasons change. The best time to visit is during the spring and fall to avoid the summertime humidity and wintertime cold. Realistically, to be able to see and do everything fully, any season other than winter is a good option. It just depends on your preference for temperature and weather conditions.

  • Summer (June-August) is humid and warm with temperatures around 26° C. You can definitely explore outdoors during this season.
  • Fall (September-November) sees a lot more rain and the temperature ranges from 10-20° C. Depending on rainfall, some activities might be less accessible, but it is still a beautiful time of year to go. We went in early October for our anniversary and were very happy with our trip.
  • Winter (December-February) are cold and wet with a good amount of snowfall. The snow may make some of the roads more difficult to drive on, but it will look like a winter wonderland. Temperatures can drop below 0° C, but average around 5° C during the day.
  • Spring (March-May) This season fluctuates a bit as winter transitions to summer but you can expect temperatures of 14-19° C and the highest number of clear days. 

So, When is the Best Time to Go to Trabzon?

Verdict: For good weather conditions and freedom to explore all that Trabzon has to offer, May is the best month to visit Trabzon. 

Things to do in Trabzon

Hagia Sophia Mosque

Visiting the Hagia Sophia Mosque is one of the quickest and best things you can do in Trabzon, because it is an amazing piece of history and has an incredible view. It is easy to get to and doesn’t take more than thirty minutes to explore. The Hagia Sophia Mosque (Camii) is west from the airport and located next to the Black Sea. It was initially built as a church in the 13th century but once the Ottoman Empire was established in the region, this structure was converted into a mosque. It is still open as a mosque today. 

Trabzon Turkey Hagia Sophia Mosque
Hagia Sophia Mosque in Trabzon

Like many Byzantine structures, it has a high dome in the center and is shaped like a cross if you looked at it aerially. There are many frescoes still visible on the ceiling of the Hagia Sophia Mosque depicting stories from the bible. In order to enter the mosque, out of respect, women should cover their hair using one of the complimentary scarves found for guests at the entrance.

There is a small garden behind the mosque which has an incredible panoramic view of the Black Sea. It is a peaceful place to sit and walk around, with a café located nearby to enjoy a glass of Turkish tea. 

Sumela Monastery

You cannot have a list of things to do in Trabzon without including Sumela Monastery. Sumela Monastery is a Greek Orthodox Monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is one of the most iconic tourist attractions of the region. Sumela Monastery is located in the Macka district of Trabzon and is about an hour drive from the airport. The drive is lovely as you watch lush green mountain after mountain, eventually seeing rivers and streams as you get closer to Macka. 

The day we went to see the monastery was a very misty and cloudy one. We got to the entrance of the national park, which has an 11 TL entrance fee, and made it up the mountain to the entrance of the monastery. There was so much mist that it was not visible! We were a bit bummed, as this was our only opportunity on our trip to see the monastery, but we still enjoyed the national park and thought the mist was cool to see as it sat on top of the mountains.

There is a rest facility and bungalows within the national park at the foot of the mountain where the monastery is located, so there is the option to stay overnight. There is a photo studio that will take your picture in traditional Ottoman garments. We decided to take advantage of the opportunity and for 20 Turkish Liras purchased this photograph.

If you come anytime between May-September, it is likely the monastery will be visible. Since we came in October, there was a good amount of rainfall already and the precipitation was very high. We are excited to return again one day to see Sumela Monastery on a clearer, sunnier day!

Ataturk Köşkü (Ataturk’s Pavilion)

The Ataturk Köşkü, also known as the Ataturk Pavilion, is probably one of the most beautiful museums in Trabzon. We did not have enough time to visit this location, but if we had more time this was next on our list. I want to add it to the list of things to do in Trabzon, because it is a beautiful structure and for a time belonged to the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. 

This mansion was gifted to Ataturk from the Trabzon Municipality in 1930, but then he donated it back to the Trabzon municipality seven years later, stating no man needed to have so many houses. After his death, it was opened as a museum and is still open to the public today. There are many pictures and belongings of Ataturk still there for tourists to observe. The building is reminiscent of French chateaus and has a beautiful garden around the premises.

Hamsiköy

Hamsiköy is a small village located in the Maçka district. It has beautiful scenery and is home to the traditional Turkish dessert sütlaç. You will really experience what life in a Turkish village looks like when you visit. Sütlaç is like a rice pudding that is often served with cinnamon or crushed hazelnuts on top. Do you know the Mexican dessert arroz con leche? It is essentially the same thing, so delicious. 

Where can you eat this delicious sütlaç in Hamsiköy? At Osman Usta’nın Yeri, who has been in business since 1972. The secret to this delicious sütlaç is that it is cooked for a long time and made from organic, fatty cow milk. Sadly, we did not make it to Hamsikoy, either, but we read such great things about it that we wanted to include it in our list.

Uzungöl

Uzungöl

Uzungöl rivals Sumela Monastery, as far as best things to do in Trabzon goes. Uzungöl means “long lake” in Turkish and it truly is a long beautiful lake wedged between tall mountains. It is about 1 kilometer long, with a circumference of about 7 kilometers. 

This is not located near the other places on the list of things to do in Trabzon. It is about an hour and a half drive, or 100 kilometers, from Trabzon’s city center. It is located in the Çaykara district.

We arrived at night, so we couldn’t see much of the lake, but it was an incredible view to wake up to in the morning. Uzungol has many Arab tourists, which is good to be aware of before arriving. A majority of the women will be modestly dressed. Their cultural norms are quite different than westerners, so behaving respectfully is important, as well. 

There are many things to do that revolve around the lake. Firstly, you can enjoy a walk around the lake. If you don’t prefer to walk, you can also rent bikes and bike around the lake. There are many shops, cafes and restaurants spread out around the lake which you can sit at to enjoy some coffee or tea. There is also paddle-boarding on the lake which would be a fun activity as a group or couple.

Hotels in Trabzon

Ilhan Kardesler Apart Otel

This small hotel in Trabzon is located just behind the mosque, which you see upon arriving to Uzungöl. It is quaint, the service is excellent, and the view of the lake from our balcony was lovely. We had a small kitchenette in our room, which was nice. The hotel was clean and had a modern interior design. The bed was very comfortable, which is so important! In the morning, we enjoyed the complimentary breakfast. Complimentary meals are always a great way to save on your food budget while travelling. We often try to book places where breakfast is included.

Specialty Foods & Desserts

Sütlaç 

We mentioned this delicious Turkish dessert already, as it popularly originates from Hamsiköy in the Trabzon region. Sütlaç is a baked rice pudding made mostly from cow’s milk, sugar, and cream, with just a few additional ingredients. This is a dessert you must try when you visit. You can find it anywhere in the Black Sea region.

Pide

Pide Turkish Food Trabzon Turkey

Pide is a traditional Turkish food that originates from the black sea region. The pide dough is hand-made, topped with butter, cheese and any variety of ingredients you want. I often just prefer cheese, while my husband enjoys ground beef, cheese, egg and onions on top of his. In the Black Sea region, they really loaded on the butter! 

I hope that this travel guide to Trabzon, Turkey inspires your next adventure! Like this post? Save it for later!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kelsey Cetin from @kelsey.cetin

Hi there! My name is Kelsey Cetin and I am an American girl from California. I live in Sacramento, CA with my husband, Oguzhan and our dog, Bambi. I was an expat in Izmir, Turkey for about 5 years, where I met and married my husband. We had a big Turkish wedding and my life forever changed once I became a gelin. Although we have relocated to California, Turkey still holds a very dear place in my heart. I love to travel to new places, but going to Turkey will always feel like going home to me.

My hobbies include photography, exercising, spending time with family, and of course, traveling! I love visiting new places, trying local cuisine, and making sweet memories. I recently earned my Masters degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and my “day job” is in Human Resources. I am passionate about creating healthy work environments through organizational development. I am a follower of Jesus Christ and have an intimate relationship with God. This is really the foundation for everything in my life.

I met Jason and Catie in Turkey and absolutely loved Catie’s mission with her blog, YouTube channel and podcast. It inspired me to start, too, and share all the wonder that Turkey has to offer with the world. It is an honor to be featured on her blog now!

TURKEY: Sailing Along Turkey’s Mediterranean Coastline

Quick Note: Being in Kalkan the last couple of weeks has made me reminisce about our FIRST sailing trip we took our FIRST week living in Turkey (September 2016). We actually stayed on the sailboat in this little Kalkan town’s marina! What a fun opportunity to be here again with Sofia and our friends seeing some of some places FOUR years later! I hope you enjoy reminiscing with me!

Also, this article was first featured first in the Lale Magazine May/June 2018 (Pg. 8-11)  – Sailing Along the Mediterranean Coastline

Sailing along the coast of Turkey may have been one of the best vacations my husband, Jason, and I have ever taken. With our ‘want to see every site’ wife married to the ‘one city is enough’ husband, we finally found a travel mode that suited both of our needs.

As we neared the marina, I was excited and had a fear of the unknown simultaneously. Jason summed it up thus, “This could either be a really great idea or a terrible one.” Although I agreed, I leaned more towards the optimistic side, and somehow knew this was a perfect way for us to celebrate his birthday.

Our small flotilla consisted of 3 yachts. Two narrow eight passenger premier yachts, that leaned into the wind when sailing, were equipped with double cabins. The cabins had bunk or double beds and at least two communal bathrooms. 

The larger, spacious catamaran held eight passengers. The private quarters had a double bed and bathroom.  Each yacht had a large kitchen, a communal lounge, and spacious decks for sunbathing.

Our week started with the rules, an overview of sailing protocols, and a review of our itinerary.  Since we were all adults, our skippers sped through the details knowing we were anxious to get on the water and experience what sailing was all about.

Our yacht left the marina and quietly slipped out into the quiet sea leaving the hustle and bustle of city life behind. Soon, after our group soaked in the first sites and experiences of our new adventure in the Mediterranean, we all quickly became like old friends reuniting back together, instead of strangers. There’s truth in the saying that experiences together with others will bring people, known and unknown, closer together. 

Our soft-spoken and likeable skipper proved to be a skilled teacher. With the choppy water, sailing wasn’t always a viable option, so the majority of the time we had to use the engines. 

I quickly abandoned my dream of being silently driven by the wind, and settled for a book and the sun on our first day.

We all rapidly adapted to sea life. Our anchoring and docking skills shined as we assisted the skipper with the more menial sailing tasks. In unison, our group worked to tie the ropes which releases and retrieves the sail to push us one way or the other. We soon realizing how much there is to learn about wind and sailing. But the skipper still made sure we all had a chance to ‘take the helm.’

Our days on the boat were surprisingly serene. With nowhere to go, you’re forced to enjoy the water, sun, and the passing coastline. We noted the change from forest to bush to the rocks that descended straight into the sea. Other boats sailed by further off, respecting the unspoken rules of sailing on the open seas. 

In the mornings we dipped into the chilly water, cooled from the sunless nights. Our breakfast was self-serve and minimal. Halfway through the day our skipper, who also served as our chef, would surprise us with some creative lunch that we would enjoy in between our midday sea explorations. Personal snacks and drinks were welcome on board. We always ended up in a marina in the late afternoon and we ate dinner on dry land. No matter how much we consumed during the day, everyone was starving again by the time we landed at the marina.

Photo Credit: Eric Rowell

Our days went like this. Each day we sailed from one coastal town to the next, the evenings free for exploring the nearest cities by the marinas. The stopovers in the coastal villages allowed us time to browse the many bazaars and markets.

One evening we moored in a secluded cove accessible only by the sailors. Snorkeling in this secluded bay revealed waters packed with sea life and the ever popular sea turtles. This location has gained traction over the years and is now popular enough to boast a large open-air covered restaurant. 

This little oasis along the miles of uninhabited rocky coastline provides solid ground for wobbling first-time sailors to enjoy hearty Turkish casserole dishes, the local ‘catch of the day,’ and even wild hog hunted in the forest. After cruising all say, our dinner followed the Turkish customs, starting after sunset and visiting well into the night, with live music wafting from the background.  

Our group never lacked things to do when we docked at the thriving Turkish fishing villages. Lazier options include strolling on the pristine beaches or partaking of amenities like the hammam—a traditional Turkish bath. Alternatively, we could opt to simply sit at a local bar and enjoy the golden sunset, cocktail in hand.  

More active activities found us sloshing through the river and healing mud of a nearby gorge or hiking through world-famous UNESCO sites. Another day, we explored a ‘ghost town,’ deserted since 1927, where we meandered through thousands of dilapidated stone homes. 

Sailing is like a road trip on the water. Instead of stopping off at a park or a truck stop, you can do activities such as snorkeling and paddle boards, while cooling off from the summer heat, or if we felt energetic, taking a hike.

Patara Beach = Photo Credit: Eric Rowell

Championship yachtsman, K. Adlard Coles once said, “Our voyage had commenced, and at last we were away, gliding through the clean water, past the reeds. Care was lifted from our shoulders, for we were free from advice, pessimism, officialism, heat and hot air.” Sailing on the Turkish Coast lifts the cares and burdens from your life and takes you far away from what worries you.

As Ratty states in the book Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame: There is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not.

And from our experience at sea, I couldn’t agree more.

Photo Credit: Eric Rowell

Now to you:

  • Have you been sailing before?
  • If so, where did you go?
  • Have you sailed in Turkey?
  • What was your experience like?

I’m so curious to know! Let me know in the comments below!

 

Travels Marmaris Turkey Sentido Orka Resort

TURKEY RESORTS: Sentido Orka Lotus Beach Resort

*** Pre-note: As I wrote over on my Top 10 tips for choosing an All-Inclusive Resort in Turkey post, all hotels are required to abide by strict rules for reopening and hosting guests. Please visit the Sentido Orka Lotus Resort website for this information as well as up to date prices.

Located in between the city of Marmaris and the beach town of Icmeler, Sentido Orka Lotus Beach Ultra-All Inclusive Resort is the newest kid on the block. Mountains are facing the entrance of the hotel and rooms facing towards the sea; the view is enjoyable either way.  

Built in 2015, the resort has a new and modern feel. Similar to the Grand Yazici Club Turban, the hotel boast of 441 rooms throughout nine blocks. Even though it is significant, the grounds seem smaller than the 31000 m property. 

Travels Marmaris Turkey Sentido Orka Resort

While the price is more upscale than the other hotels in town, even more than the standard room at Grand Yazici Club Turban, I found the tastefully styled lobby design for the masses. Summer could mean that there are upwards of 1,500 guests. Most communal areas are high-ceiling, vast and monotonous in design with no pockets of privacy or coziness for reading a book in solitude.  The check-in counter and guest relation desks cover the entire right wall as you enter into the lobby. 

Sentido greets their guests and visitors the best with their welcome treats and drinks. We enjoyed our choice of water or lime drink and possible 10 different types of sweets, from cookies to the traditional Turkish baklava.

Travels Marmaris Turkey Sentido Orka Resort

This bright, airy hotel prides itself on being a vacation resort for the ordinary working people – quality but affordable. Nevertheless, the rooms are all similarly arrange with Sentido colors of a light teal blue and white. The accommodations vary from one bedroom standard or superior rooms, and two bedroom family-style rooms, all accompanied by a balcony but unfortunately no sitting area. There are no luxurious suites or villa type accommodations, but several rooms connect to provide more space for families.  

Rooms:

The air-conditioned accommodations are relaxing, with streamline furniture, plush bedding and calm, neutral colors, phones with data ports, glass-topped desks, tea kettles, flat-screen cable TVs, minibars, safes, modern baths with hair dryers, toiletries, and large mirrors, and balconies. Robes, slippers, and free wireless high-speed internet access are in all rooms, but family rooms benefit from a second flat-screen TV in the additional room. All arrivals receive a welcome tray with snacks and fruit for their stay. 

Cuisine:

The dining room is large, cafeteria-style with colorful, art decorations thoughtfully placed. Breakfast starts from 7:00-10: am, and lunch is from 12:30 – 2:30 and dinner from 7-9, a plentiful buffet including house-made local specialties. For dinner, guests can enjoy one la carte meal of Chinese or Italian during their week stay. Turkish is extra and reservation-only dining. 

Travels Marmaris Turkey Sentido Orka Resort
Travels Marmaris Turkey Sentido Orka Resort
Travels Marmaris Turkey Sentido Orka Resort

Family Friendly:

During the day, the kids club offers programs for ages 4 and up. The best part about a family staying here is the number of areas for kids to enjoy. The six slide water park, the small aqua park for small children, and the 650 meters of private beach. If couples or families want some privacy, for 50 Euros a day (check website for updated prices), they can rent one of the straw-roofed open-aired villas hovering above the sea.

Travels Marmaris Turkey Sentido Orka Resort
Travels Marmaris Turkey Sentido Orka Resort
Travels Marmaris Turkey Sentido Orka Resort

Entertainment:

In the evenings, guests can enjoy a mix of entertainment, from live music three times a week, beach party, and karaoke. As well, live music serenade guests at the Roof Lounge which offers a magnificent view of the bay area. The mix of wooden archways and flooring contrast with the white chairs and cushion giving it a chic, jazzy feel. The bar is open in the summer months at 7 pm-1:30 am. 

All the extras:

A complete health club, with a hair salon, gym, bio-sauna, steam room, mood showers and treatment rooms for massage, supplements the pool. Like most all-inclusive resorts, doctor, spa, fitness area, beauty center are all available at an extra cost.

Travels Marmaris Turkey Sentido Orka Resort
Travels Marmaris Turkey Sentido Orka Resort
Travels Marmaris Turkey Sentido Orka Resort

Room service runs nonstop, and the young staff is hospitable, helpful, and professional catering to guests as needed.

How to get there:

The Dalaman Airport sits 1.5-hour drive from the hotel, and the hotel arranges for transportation for a fee. While we had a car, buses to Marmaris run every 10 minutes for 3 TL that guests can catch at the entrance of the resort. For cars, free parking is available at the back of the hotel.

While Sentido is new to Marmaris, the Orka Lotus brand is not. This is the first combined brand hotel of Sentido Orka Lotus Beach Resort of their kind, working together to serve vacationers from all over the world. 

Some final and personal thoughts:

For $140- $200 a night for a standard all-inclusive stay, I felt that this hotel could have been overpriced for couples. But for families, this sounds like a deal! The water park alone is worth the cost of this hotel. Parents can enjoy their sun-bathing while watching their kids enjoy the water activities and never have to leave the hotel!

CONS

The location is just far enough outside of Marmaris that it would be a little frustrating to ‘hop into town.’ Expect a good 20-minute ride to the city center and 30-40 TL for a taxi.  For an inexpensive option, the buses can also take you as well.

High season means the hotel can get up to 1,500 guests and over 400 staff.

While the pool is a decent size, I found the largest pool to be smaller than other pools provided by resorts about the same size. However, there are several pools to choose from as well as the beachfront.

Travels Marmaris Turkey Sentido Orka Resort

PROS

This resort has the longest private beach of 650 meters which means everyone can have a little piece of the sea to themselves. 

The hotel sits on the walking/bike path built from Marmaris to Icmeler. If time, guest can enjoy a run, walk, or bike ride to either city for a few hours. 

***Disclaimer*** For my travel article, I received a tour of the hotel and grounds. Other than a complimentary lunch, I did not receive any complimentary services, upgrades, or accommodations during our time at the hotel. I did not personally stay at this hotel. All opinions are my own.

Travels Marmaris Turkey Grand Yazici Hotel All-Inclusive

TURKEY RESORTS: Grand Yazici Club Turban

*** Pre-note: As I wrote over on my Top 10 tips for choosing an All-Inclusive Resort in Turkey post, all hotels are required to abide by strict rules for reopening and hosting guests. Please visit the Grand Yazici Club Turban website for this information.

After reviewing three all-inclusive 5-star resorts in Marmaris area, I can tell you without a doubt that my interactions with the Grand Yazici Club Turban and their staff were by far my favorite. 

Travel writing looks different in Turkey. Typical professional courtesy emails don’t always get through to the correct representative. I have considered translating my emails in Turkish (as not all ‘English’ speakers are created equal as well). Plus, Turkish hotels (unless they are a large chain), are more accessible and happier to communicate with over the phone. 

However, Club Turban had no issues responding to my emails. Jülide at guest relations was terrific, easy and quick to communicate with via email. 

Travels Marmaris Turkey Grand Yazici Hotel All-Inclusive
Travels Marmaris Turkey Grand Yazici Hotel All-Inclusive

On the west edge of Marmaris city starts a chain of beachfront resorts and hotels; the first hotel you will see is the Grand Yazici Club Turban. If you want the night-life of Marmaris with the privacy and luxury of a resort, this is the perfect location. 

Built in the 70s, it is the first resort in this strip of the area. Turban, the owner, asked to build on the once government protected land to host future conferences and governmental workers. Since Turban has passed away, the family business has continued under the brother and sister duo; the brother is owning the one class up Club Turban, and the sister possessing the nearby Grand Marmaris Palace. Both are only open seasonally, usually March to October. In the winter, guest can enjoy snowy wintery activities while staying in the family’s smaller 18-room hotel in Uludag.

Travels Marmaris Turkey Grand Yazici Hotel All-Inclusive

The hotel only looks like it has been here much longer than its 30 years because the hundreds of tall pine trees scattered throughout the grounds give it an earthy, old neighborhood feel. The hotel was very strategic about building around the existing trees, even to the point where balconies and roofs created holes and corners to allow for their lean into the buildings. 

The 459 room resort provides several types of accommodations; 224 of which are villas. Whatever style room, you would like, they most likely have. 

The Main Rooms: Our room was located in the main building which two years ago was considered the adult-only section of the resort. Now open to any guest, the main building rooms range from 40 m standard rooms to the 210 m Presidential suite: standard room, one bedroom Suites, two-bedroom suites for families, all with balconies facing towards the resort and thermal pool.

Villas are available as well.

Travels Marmaris Turkey Grand Yazici Hotel All-Inclusive

Arrival by car, we were greeted warmly in English by the gate staff, and our car was taken for parking. I am still unsure where the car was parked but there was no need to worry about it, and it is included in your cost.  After the quick check-in, we received our bracelets and information sheets with the services information and a map of the 41,000 meters grounds. The concierge, Huseyin, a 20-year employee of Grand Yazici who works at the winter hotel in Uludag and in the summers here, kindly showed us to our room. 

To our surprise, a beautiful arranged tray of fresh fruits, nuts, dried fruit and cookies accompanied with wine and whiskey were delivered to our room. For marine and executive rooms, extra included services are given such as breakfast to the room upon request, a baby buggy, and flowers upon arrival. For those living the ultra luxurious life, services such as a butler, golf car, and private pavilion are available for a fee. 

Guests have the option of 6 different pools located throughout the grounds; including a ‘relax pool’ for guests over the age of 14 years old, indoor heated pool, a thermal water pool, and a special children’s pool and slides. Otherwise, private 330-meter beach comes set up with sun loungers and umbrellas for guests every morning.

Travels Marmaris Turkey Grand Yazici Hotel All-Inclusive
Travels Marmaris Turkey Grand Yazici Hotel All-Inclusive

One will never go hungry here. The main restaurant serves breakfast, late breakfast (which makes me think of the hobbits and their 2nd breakfasts), lunch, dinner, and even a midnight Soup (which we never stay up late enough for).  As well, there are snack bars, coffee breaks, and early lunch and supper options for children.

Outside of the central area, guests can enjoy the pool bar, beach bar, my favorite – the Coffee Corner, and the kids favorite, the Lemon Cafe, where they can get free ice cream whenever they want.  Week-long guest receives one included al la carte meal from either the Chinese Restaurant or the Kebab House. The La Pergola Italian Restaurant, Mavi Seafood Restaurant, and the newly opened Steak House are all extra cost.

Travels Marmaris Turkey Grand Yazici Hotel All-Inclusive
Travels Marmaris Turkey Grand Yazici Hotel All-Inclusive

During the day, Mini Club programs run all day for ages 4 and up. Babysitters are available for younger ages at an extra cost. 

As well, entrance to the Turkish Baths, Steam room, and Fitness are included with additional services at a fee. In the evenings, guests can enjoy a mix of entertainment, from 9 PM entertainment show like magic or acrobatics, live music every night at 9:30, and on the weekends alternating Disco and “White dress” parties. Like most all-inclusive resorts, doctor, spa, fitness area, beauty center are all available at an extra cost.

Travels Marmaris Turkey Grand Yazici Hotel All-Inclusive

Repeat guest receive priority and perks like booking for al la carte restaurants and discounts for all spa services. 

The Dalaman Airport caters to guests heading to Marmaris area and this hotel. If needed, the hotel arranges transfers to the hotel. While we had a car, there is a mini bus to Marmaris that guests can catch at the entrance of the resort every 10 minutes for 3 TL.

If you are interested in this hotel for a large conference. The Club Turban has the largest in the area fitting over a 1,000 in the main area. The large room can be split into 3 smaller rooms and customizable services are provided as needed for your conference. 

Travels Marmaris Turkey Grand Yazici Hotel All-Inclusive

Some final and personal thoughts:

For $110 a night for a standard all-inclusive stay, I felt that this hotel is worth every penny. 

Their goal is to make the guests “holidays unforgettable and happiest time by providing high-level service.” 

CONS: 

Being a large resort means that it also comes with lots of guests. Upward of 1,800 people can be on the property in the peak of high season. Other than the crowds of meal times, the noise around the grounds is minimal. 

While the colors were neutral tones, I found the sitting room set to be dated. Out of all that, it wasn’t a deterrent from going back, which we did by the way. Being a 40-year-old hotel, that is really impressive.

Most rooms do not have a view of the sea, but for us, it wasn’t necessary. 

PROS: 

Our suite was one bedroom and one sitting room with two bathrooms. The rooms were amazingly spacious with room for our clothes and bags to be tucked away out of site.  I love being able to unpack at a hotel. Always makes it homier when you can empty your luggage. 

The AC is self-regulated, and each room comes with a ceiling fans. I LOVE BOTH of these things, and I loved that BOTH of them worked well.

The showers have on-demand hot water and excellent water pressure. This gal with thick hair loves BOTH of these things when she has to wash her hair.

Travels Marmaris Turkey Grand Yazici Hotel All-Inclusive

Because of the trees, shaded sitting areas where plentiful given us space to work and relax outside and away from the sun (which my white skin does not like). 

The size of the hotel means they can provide the best entertainment and services for their guest.  This property is fantastic for families because the hotel offers suites with a sitting area for families to enjoy together. As well, the evening activities are for both families and couples. Heads up though, not all of the entertainment starts until late May or June.

Now I need to know…

Have you stayed at this resort before?

What did you think?

What is your favorite or not favorite part of staying here?

***Disclaimer*** For my travel article, I received a tour of the hotel and grounds. I also received a discounted stay with a complimentary upgrade to a suite in the main building.  As well, we enjoy an Al la carte dinner with the guest relations personnel, Jülide, at the Chinese Restaurant. However, regardless, all opinions are my own.