Antalya’s lush landscape is the perfect place to play golf and enjoy the Great Outdoors, but just stay out of the water
TO me, it was the perfect metaphor for an extraordinary holiday. My pristine white golf ball represented the three stunning, immaculatelykept courses we had been privileged enough to play.
The azure blue water of the swimming pool spoke to the luxury of the resort, the endless opportunities for relaxation among the spas and pools
and waterparks amid glorious sunshine. And the fact that the two had met in this way reflected the glorious symbiosis between a stunning vacation resort and a sumptuous feast for golfers.
Yes: in other words, I had hit my ball into a swimming pool. But in
truth it was hard to be too bothered. So fabulous had the trip been, so filled with culinary excellence, revelry and relaxation, that I was happy enough to offer up my ball as a watery sacrifice to the holiday gods who had transported me to this little slice of Mediterranean heaven.
Of course, in reality it was Turkish Airlines who had transported me to this little slice of Mediterranean heaven: but given that the journey was mostly like being wafted away on a magic carpet, I think the comparison stands. Certainly between the onboard hospitality, the food and the entertainment and the fabulous reclining seats in Business Class, it was as relaxing and enjoyable as any holiday flight I’ve ever taken. And seeing that Turkish Airlines offer the lowest-cost Business Class seats you can get, it’s not as unreachable as you might think.
And then, just a short hop down the road from Antalya Airport, was our own little nirvana: the Gloria Serenity Resort, a stunning five-star hotel complex where your every need is catered for.
The all-inclusive model means that every bite of food, every refreshing beer or late-might mojito is already paid for in the jaw-droppingly low price. And it’s not just any old food or drink: as well as the usual giant buffet restaurants you might know from elsewhere, Gloria alone has three stunning a la carte restaurants offering dishes as good as you’ll find anywhere (the Japanese meal in the Sha restaurant was one of the best I’ve had in years, period).
THE drinks are all top brand imported beers and spirits, with no watering down or skimping on measures. This, frankly, is how the other half lives: and you can live it yourself for a fraction of what you’d pay anywhere else.
Another hotel guest – originally Irish, now living in Cheshire – told me he’d flown in from Manchester with 23 friends. Flights, accommodation, five rounds of golf plus unlimited food and drink had cost him £1,100 he said. “We’d never go anywhere else,” he confided. “Why would you?”
Why indeed. The resort has everything you could want: a superb kids club and onsite waterpark: a 2,000 seater arena with nightly entertainment; bars with live music, but not enough to keep anyone awake at night; a stunning spa with sauna and (of course) Turkish bath and hammam; and a variety of swimming pools. The service is immaculate, with an array of ever-smiling staff only too happy to attend to your every whim. Across the property are sprinkled a variety of villas, many of which will suit families with shell children better than a hotel room.
The resort also offers three levels of luxury: the best value is the Gloria Verde, followed by the Gloria Golf hotel and then the Serenity. But even the Verde was so sparkling that I can’t bring myself to use the word ‘cheap’: it’s actually just a fantastic resort at an extraordinarily low cost. All three hotels are beside each other and you can wander between them as you like.
If you want a break from relaxa- tion and golf, you can cycle into nearby town and check out the bazaar and the shops (and maybe
come away with what look like utterly authentic branded clothes… at a very inauthentic price). If you’re a golfer, though, you’ll be too busy for any of that. The
three courses offer a truly sensa- tional feast for players. This isn’t the sandy-brown scrubland of Spain or the Algarve: these are lush, tree-lined courses that look more like Woburn or Augusta than Albufeira. They are kept in utterly
immaculate condition, too: and although I personally found that the trees (and the odd swimming pool) appeared to maneouvre themselves directly between me and the hole, I’m assured that the fairways are equally pristine, and
Let’s club together: The club house at the Gloria Golf Club, and below, Sebastian, left