The warm sea, sandy beaches and air filled with volatile phytoncides is Belek, a young respectable resort 30 km east of Antalya. Until 1984, it was a completely wild coast of the Mediterranean, and today is a continuous series of four- and five-star hotels operating on an all-inclusive basis. The reputation of the most expensive Turkish resort is confirmed by the presence of extra-class golf courses designed by leading world designers.
Belek’s peculiarity is pine and eucalyptus forests planted 200 years ago, where many turtles live. Another of their species – the giant sea “carriages”, chose the local beaches as the place for laying eggs. And although the resort itself is indecently young, only 15-20 km from it are the ruins of the ancient cities of ancient Pamphylia – Perge, Sillion and Aspendos.
The pride and main attraction of Belek are the five-star hotels lined up on the first line. Each of them looks like a small state with its own territory, beach, pools and a bunch of everything necessary for a complete detachment from the outside world. True, living in such a country is not cheap – at the peak of the season a double room costs at least 920 TRY per day. As an undeniable bonus – all-inclusive meals.
4 * hotels are almost not inferior to more “star” brothers. Their main disadvantage is the remoteness from the sea. And although everyone has their own beach, you have to get there either on foot (10-15 minutes) or on the hotel’s free shuttle. The cost of living on an all-inclusive basis is 855 TRY per night. This is probably why the numbers in the “four-star” are the most scarce in Belek.
3 * hotels in Belek can be counted on the fingers of one hand. They are located a 10-minute drive from the sea, and a room with full board in them costs from 420 TRY. Despite the modest prices and small areas, the hotels always have a restaurant and a swimming pool.
The coastal strip of Belek with a length of 16 km is almost completely divided between 5 * hotels. Their wide beaches with golden sand and a gentle entry into the sea are framed on one side by pine and eucalyptus forests, and on the other by a clear blue sea. Every evening sand is cleaned and leveled with special machines. The infrastructure of the beaches includes a lifeguard service, sunshades and parasols, racks with beach towels, sun loungers, changing rooms, showers, toilets, cafes and minibars. Guests of hotels working on the all-inclusive system can use all this for free.
“Strangers” from other hotels are easily recognized by the color of their bracelets and are resolutely driven out by the guards.
For hotel guests on the second line and the residents of Belek themselves, there are two public beaches – in the east and west of the coastal strip. You can get to them on dolmushi that go every 30 minutes, or free shuttles from hotels. The cleanliness and infrastructure of these beaches is not inferior to the “five-star”. True, for umbrellas, sunbeds, lunch in a cafe, cocktails in a bar and other beach pleasures, you have to pay separately. But there are football and volleyball courts, picnic places in the shade of pine trees, go-kart tracks and a variety of water activities – windsurfing, kiting, aquabikes, “bananas” and “bagels”. Rent an umbrella and two sun loungers on a public beach – 43 TRY per day, riding a banana – 56 TRY, flying behind a parachute boat – about 200 TRY.
The respectable Belek is not the cheapest place to shop. Prices here are about 25% higher than in neighboring Antalya. Shopping can be done without leaving the hotel – each of them has shops, boutiques and souvenir shops. Even better to go to the village of Belek. Its streets, in fact, are one large counter with a huge selection of jewelry, quality leather, fur, and textile clothes. An unusually large assortment of blouses, jeans, topics, skirts and, of course, swimwear.
Local specifics are shops with clothing, accessories and sports equipment for golf.
In addition to Turkish brands, there are global brands, but their prices are excessively high. Many stores represent well-known retail chains in Turkey, such as LC Waikiki. Almost everyone has a Russian-speaking staff. You can pay in Turkish lira, dollars, euros and even rubles.
With such an abundance of shops, it is difficult to leave Belek without souvenirs. Among the most popular are all kinds of ceramics, Turkish sweets, embroidered slippers with bent noses, Turks for brewing coffee with a copper bottom, fruit teas and traditional tulip-shaped glasses for them. On Saturdays from 9:00 to 15:00, a bazaar is set up on the streets diverging from the mosque. Mehmet Akif Ersoy Caddesi is booming trade in vegetables and fruits, on Ataturk Caddesi street – things. The initial price, as elsewhere in the East, is conditional, but Belek sellers, accustomed to wealthy buyers, are reluctant to make concessions.
Cuisine and restaurants
It’s hard to stay hungry in all-inclusive Belek hotels. But sooner or later, many have a desire to break out of these tenacious embraces.