Shortly after joining TravelLab in September last year, I was fortunate enough to be offered a work ‘familiarisation’ trip to Belek, in southern Turkey. Although obviously being extremely thankful for this amazing opportunity, I was slightly sceptical having heard less than great things about Turkey on the news over the past couple of years. Not one to turn down a trip abroad to discover a part of the world I’d not been to before, I tried to remain open-minded and optimistic about the journey and aimed to see what a holiday in Turkey might look like.
Soon after arriving in Antalya, I realised that the impressions I previously had were a mile off the mark! Naively, my opinions of Turkey beforehand were that it would be slightly run-down, littered with cheap-looking resorts full of people looking for a bargain all-inclusive holiday, with not much to do other than lounge around by the pool or the beach; and I’m delighted to say I was entirely wrong. Travelling down the coast from Antalya to Belek, where the majority of our stay was based, we had the beautiful coastline on one side, with vast, rolling mountain ranges on the other.
Our 6 day visit consisted of hotel visits, excursions and a small portion of free time to do as we pleased, to then be able to feed this back to our colleagues and customers. I was amazed at the quality of the hotels, especially when comparing the prices to other hugely popular all-inclusive resorts in some of Turkey’s tourist rivals. The staff were all incredibly attentive, polite and friendly, the food was great and there was loads to do for holiday-makers of all ages and tastes.
Excursions included guided tours of the beautiful Roman town of Belek, a jeep safari trip through the mountains and an afternoon at Land of Legends Hotel & Water Park, which felt like something out of Alice in Wonderland, all of which were brilliant in their own right.
It was a shame to see how the negative connotations and news stories of mass Syrian immigration (which doesn’t actually impact this area at all!) into the country have had such a terrible impact on tourism in the area, but from what I saw it will only be a short matter of time before people start pouring back to the area that clearly has so much to offer!