I would like to share a personal message with my readers. The message:
Turkey is unlike anything you read or hear. If we separate the government from people, we will realize that we are all the same and welcome each other to our country.
That’s how I feel in Turkey, I am welcome!
Travel unites! I knew it the moment I stepped out for the first time and ventured through Italy on my own at the age of nineteen. Throughout my travels, I have never felt unwelcome or endangered anywhere I’ve been–and I have been to what some consider ‘strange places’.
I am beyond fascinated with Turkey…anything biblical, raw nature, a cosmopolitan city with European flair and Islamic grace, you’ll find it there. It is a foodie, nature lover, wellness, shoppers, history buff, cultural and religious lover’s paradise, and holistic too. OMG, have I missed anything? You can slow life down and really feel the joy of living!
Through the years I’ve visited the Turkish Riviera, also known as the Turquoise Coast, an area of southwestern Turkey, but never made it south of Bodrum. The combination of mountainous scenery, beautiful beaches, plus an abundance of natural and archaeological sites, makes this stretch of Turkey’s coastline a cultural treasure trove.
Introduction To Mandarin & Mango
The foodie in me looks at Social Media as a smorgasbord, taking what I like and leaving the rest. It was through Social Media that I was introduced to the Mandarin & Mango Boutique Hotel by its owner, who is my FaceBook friend. I browsed the website and fell in love with the property. Located in Fethiye, Turkey, it was just my kind of place: small, secluded and within easy reach of historic sites and nature at its best. I put it on my “one day” list, not realizing just how soon that day would arrive.
Seated in a window seat, as the plane approached Dalaman airport my heart skipped a beat. The coastline below was magnificent from the air and I couldn’t wait to see more of it. I like to research and know where I am going before I plan a trip, but not this time. I left my expectations behind and arrived with an open mind and trusting heart.
I’m not quite sure what I expected, but certainly not a world class airport, I found my way to the rental car desk and soon was behind the wheel of a Fiat automatic heading south to Fethiye. Navigating by Google maps, I got lost before I left the airport, but a helpful Turk lead the way and soon I was on a highway which resembled the Autobahn. (I didn’t expect that either.)
The road was empty making the drive very pleasant and soon I was in Oludeniz sipping Turkish coffee and watching the paragliders. Oludeniz is not just one of the most photographed beaches, it is also regarded as one of the best places in the world to paraglide. The weather conditions and the height of Mount Babadag made it a perfect launch site.
Everything this far was so pleasant and I was just ending the final stretch of 12K on a windy, narrow road running along the sea and ending in Kabak. This drive is not for the lighthearted; but for an adrenaline-rush junkie like me, it was thrilling and I just followed the signs to Mandarin & Mango.
When I arrived, I was escorted to one of their two private villas with a pool–my home for the next 3 nights. I walked upstairs to examine this huge duplex villa. Upstairs was a bathroom and bedroom with a large bed perfectly positioned to observe the views of the ocean. Through the side window, the sight of the garden made me want to rush out. The lower part of the duplex had a large sitting area with flat screen TV and to the left of it a double Jacuzzi tub and a full bathroom. This was unlike any place I have been to in a long time. It was more like being a guest in someone’s home than a hotel. The personal touches were evident everywhere. And then, I opened the door and stepped into what looked to me like what I imagine to be the “Garden of Eden”. It was a spectacularly planned mix of trees with several sitting areas, a palapa-style day bed and a large pool all with horizon views of the ocean.
This boutique hotel consists of 2 separate sections: The Mandarin has 6 rooms and 2 suites; the Mango (where I was) has 8 rooms and 2 one-bedroom villas with private pool. Each section has its own pool and kitchen so they can function individually or as one resort. Both are lovely. The bedrooms are extraordinarily spacious, equipped to the highest standards, blending unique hand-crafted furnishings created from reclaimed wood from old buildings near the Black Sea coast, traditional Turkish rugs, modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs, CD/DVD players, fridges and of course air-conditioning. Most of the rooms contain super king-size four-poster beds and each room has a large Jacuzzi suitable for two people, as well as a well-appointed marble shower room with a hairdryer. Each room also has a furnished balcony or terrace with views towards the sea from the upper-floor rooms. Free Wi-Fi is available in all rooms and throughout the grounds. Finishing touches include a hospitality tray complete with an assortment of sunscreen lotions and mosquito repellent.
I can’t imagine anyone not loving it here. This is a place for those looking for sophisticated yet not stuffy; those who appreciate “farm to table” healthy locally grown and freshly prepared foods. The rates are inclusive of breakfast, afternoon tea and a 5-course dinner.
Just below Faralya at the foothill of Babadag is Butterfly Valley. This rocky oasis is a home to more than 80 species of butterflies including the exotic Jersey Tiger. This is where you can find hippies lazing under the stars in bungalows and tents before taking hikes into the butterfly-filled terrain. I didn’t intend to swim, so I parked myself on a bean bag under the shady tree, sipping Turkish coffee and just trying to take it all in…the natural beauty of nature at its best!
There aren’t too many places where one can be as close to nature as you are here. All you hear are sounds of goats, honey bees and cicadas. I came to just veg out…but I couldn’t resist. There is just so much to do. One can enjoy the water-based activities and secluded beaches, hike, explore historic sites and lose themselves in the magnificent sunsets.
The owner of the hotel told me about Captain Nail, a local guide born in Fethiye. I decided to engage him and take a half-day boat tour to see Butterfly Valley and the caves, and allowing me to see the dramatic coast from the water.
Captain Nail looked like a Santa. He spoke softly and said profound things. He loves boats and he has been taking tourists around for a long time. I enjoyed spending time with him so I hired him the next day too, and he took me around by car which was even better. Exploring the area with Captain Nail was a treat. A boat and vehicle combination was just perfect and climbing the rocks in my flip flops (better footwear suggested) to take in the views of Oludeniz was quite special.
Mango and Mandarin is perfect for anyone: solo traveler, couples, extended families or small groups. The property is ideal for sole use of either Mandarin, Mango or the entire resort. As a woman traveling solo, not for one moment did I feel unsafe or uncomfortable, and I was welcome everywhere. Unlike what we hear through news and social media, Turkey is safe and Turkish hospitality is unlike anything you have ever experienced.
Call (800) 313-1274 or email me and let me show you a different side of Turkey.