When summer comes to Turkey, the population of the hinterland drops as inhabitants flock to the coast for relief from the heat, a respite from work, and a taste of the Mediterranean sweet life. Turks are not alone either, as ever increasing numbers of Europeans have taken over swaths of landscape for summer homes while backpackers from around the world fill the hostels.
They are lucky enough to have three coastlines to choose from–along the Black Sea, Mediterranean, Aegean. The first is the roughest, both in its tourism development and nature of the water, which can generate some dangerous riptides and waves. The second, probably the most popular, reaches soup-like temperatures that offer little relief from the sun. The third, the Aegean coast, has always been my personal favorite for several reasons—the coolness of the water (“like a nail” in local terminology); magic of the landscape; trove of ancient cities; and exceptionally fresh fish, fruit, and vegetables.
After a five-night stay at 4reasons Hotel in Yalikavak, a fishing town on the Bodrum peninsula, I now have several more. A hotel since 1996, it was given a thorough redesign and renovation by Ali and Esra Akin, who took over management in 2003. The hotel also adopted a new name based on the four reasons guests should choose the hotel.
It’s no surprise that Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, was born just 15 miles away on the island of Kos (now Greece). The region exudes healing powers that penetrate the body, spirit, and mind. A certain amount of the serenity at 4reasons comes from its hilltop location, a 20-minute walk the town center and marina, which although small in comparison to nearby Bodrum, still pulses throughout the day and night. Furthermore, with only 20 rooms in the hotel, there is plenty of space for all.
On paper, the hotel describes itself as “nu-bohemian,” with the key ingredients of design being comfort, flexibility, wit and simple elegance, all displayed in the four room styles—casual, functional, junior suite, and passionate. Dropping my bags in the last, it was immediately visible, from the minimalistic whiteness of the room and grey pebbles surrounding the bed area to the simple wood accents and sparse but bright splashes of color in the artwork. The layout of the hotel also intrigues with a subtle skewing of straight lines between the sections of the hotel (e.g. the pool and restaurant) in an almost cubist manner. But there’s also an equal balance of organic design in the lush, hanging gardens of honeysuckle, jasmine, and bougainvillea.
You can tell the moment you lie down on the Eke bed linens and the blue star Yataş mattress that nothing is done on the cheap. But the hotel’s quality might best be witnessed in the on-site bistro restaurant, one of the best I’ve experienced in any hotel. Much of this has to do with its stunning perch position overlooking olive and citrus groves, but a lot with the fine food served from the kitchen. Although not completely flawless, the freshness and taste of the modernized Mediterranean classics produced by Chef Sercan Sağlık is unquestionably good, as is the presentation. Of particular favorite was the baked sea bream in orange sauce and Mahmudiye, an Ottoman favorite of chicken thighs served with almonds, figs, currants and honey (and the best meal of the experience). Nor do they skimp on the cocktails either, which pack as much punch as taste, especially the “hi-dut,” made with fresh black mulberries.
As always, I believe the best hotels make you feel like a guest rather than a customer. Business may be business, but I don’t want to be constantly reminded of it during the stay. The best gauge of a hotel’s attitude towards this philosophy is the water policy in the rooms. As the fundamental element of life (and therefore of hospitality too), it should be given freely and not charged. 4reasons happily agrees and gives a free bottle of Kestane, a premium water, named for the ancient forest it springs from. Leave your room and the treatment continues from the hotel staff, who are both ready with a smile and to help out, even if not in their specific purview. Ask anyone, and you shall receive.
It’s admittedly hard to suggest any improvements to the 4reasons. Some might argue the price is a tad high (starting at $200 per night) compared to some of the many nearby five-star resorts. That may be, but for me, the 4reasons gives a value greater than the sum of its parts and left me feeling happier and healthier than when I arrived. Should anyone complain about a lack of glitz, I suggest they step out onto the balcony and look up that canopy of stars shining brightly in the hills of Yalikavak.
Check rates online at Priceline.
Mike Dunphy stayed as a guest of 4reasons Hotel
All photos by Mike Dunphy