IBIZA, Mykonos, Marbella, St Tropez. . .
All the influencer dream spots, with their quaint settings, hip beach clubs and overpriced bottles of Whispering Angel.
And, of course, as a showbiz editor, all my usual haunts.
But with the cost of living skyrocketing and my bank balance collapsing, it was time to branch out.
Luckily, it turns out there’s a “cool” new vacation destination in town – well, the port: Bodrum.
Known as both Turkey’s St Tropez and the Turkish Riviera – depending on your previous posh point of reference – this glorious Aegean spot is booming. And rightly so.
It’s also about half the price of its aforementioned Mediterranean rivals, but with glorious, unspoilt beaches and weather to rival any of them.
And, oh, the food! But more of that later.
As someone with a pathological fear of high-rise hotels, I booked into the new METT hotel, which is located on one of Bodrum’s most pristine beaches, Haremtan Cove.
The minimalist boutique resort comprises 68 beautifully designed rooms and 35 villas, with private pools or gardens.
When checking in, I was asked for my phone number.
Turns out I hadn’t fired, rather the absolutely flawless customer experience team uses numbers for Whats-App updates to answer any questions and are generally available 24/7 .
It was a service that I had never experienced before and made every customer feel like they were getting a unique VIP service.
Dancing on the tables
This is clearly the future of the hotel industry and it avoids dialing 0 on the room telephone.
Our oceanfront room had a large balcony, perfect for watching the sunrise with a cup of coffee, thanks to the in-room coffeemakers.
While there was no bath – but then who bathes in 30 degree heat? – the shower was a blissful jungle, and the bed came with a “pillow menu” that, for a semi-insomniac, gave me no excuse not to sleep.
(Well, that and industrial strength melatonin and a bottle of Turkish wine every night).
While I accept that not everyone wants to exercise while on vacation, for me that’s non-negotiable.
Fortunately, there was a state-of-the-art gym overlooking both the outdoor infinity pool and the ocean, as well as METT’s bodybuilder personal trainer, who strutted around looking like The Rock.
After a quick infrared sauna (no idea either) and a steam room, we got a massage as a couple in the resident spa.
It may sound romantic, but in reality, we were respectively bludgeoned by two different therapists, simultaneously. It was happiness. In a somewhat masochistic way.
A dawn start saw us lying on the beach at 2.45pm, just in time for a leisurely, wine-filled late lunch.
Turns out Turkish wine is delicious. We found a reasonably priced £13 bottle of house Sauvignon Blanc which was pleasantly dry and slicked down a bit too well.
Conveniently, the METT has one of the most exclusive beach clubs and restaurants in the entire province, Folie, which feels like a cross between the Aztec area of the Crystal Maze and an ultra-hip Ibiza open-air restaurant.
Offering a range of Mediterranean fusion dishes, freshly caught fish specialties and a resident DJ spinning suburban remixes, it’s pretty much unbeatable. Saturday is the day to visit, with a cabaret show featuring acrobats, singers and a dance troupe.
At 5 p.m., the place began to vibrate. Guests were dancing on the tables, and the extremely patient service staff were always smiling. It was brilliant.
The restaurant is a child-free zone, so may not be the place for families with many small children.
The other restaurant at METT is an Italian one called Isola Manzara and overlooks the whole of Bodrum, including its 15th century castle.
All the pasta is made by the chefs, and the cocktail bar wouldn’t look out of place in the buzz of London or New York, only with a backdrop that’s considerably prettier than Tottenham Court Road.
Watersports are also on offer, and we spent fun, childish afternoons on inflatable “doughnuts”, towed by a speedboat. My neck still hurts.
While we could have stayed at the resort all week, we decided to visit another beach bar on the Bodrum peninsula.
The Buddha-Bar Beach, a 15 minute drive from the METT, was equally exclusive and offered a range of cocktails, champagnes and wines.
After a couple of pretty watery frozen margaritas, we strolled over to Barbarossa Restaurant.
For the next five hours I had one of the best meals of my life. And I ate a lot of meals. Run by the charismatic Lambros, this Greek restaurant deserves its own review.
The seemingly endless food included an exquisite prawn saganaki – jumbo prawns wallowing in olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, feta cheese and chilli – followed by lobster spaghetti and a Greek version of Eton Mess.
It was washed down with more local wine and some more local wine.
If you go to Bodrum be sure to check it out. Another must-do, if you like a bargain, is a stroll through the town itself, which sells a range of counterfeits.
Name your designer and you can buy it – just for a fifth of the price.
I walked away with a ‘Louis Vuitton’ wheeled suitcase (£148 vs £2,140) which, if you don’t inspect the zippers too closely and squint a bit, looks like the real deal. And a ‘Hermes’ bracelet (£24) was equally convincing, although I drew the line at some fake Birkenstocks.
It’s also fun to haggle, under the sign of adrenaline, with the tradesmen who all swear blindly that their products are “genuine leather”.
You see, you wouldn’t get that in St Tropez. . .
STAY/COMING: Five nights’ B&B at METT Hotel & Beach Resort Bodrum costs from £1,474 pp, including flights from Gatwick on September 13, plus private return transfers.
For more details, see trendingtravel.co.uk or call 0161 388 5553.