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Non-euro destinations Turkey and Bulgaria are currently enjoying a boom in popularity with UK visitors, offering good value beach holidays, guaranteed sunshine and easy accessibility. But how do they rate for spa pampering? Catherine Beattie reports…. TURKEY This fascinating and spectacular country offers clear-blue waters, beautiful beaches and a...

Kempinski, Bodrum

Non-euro destinations Turkey and Bulgaria are currently enjoying a boom in popularity with UK visitors, offering good value beach holidays, guaranteed sunshine and easy accessibility. But how do they rate for spa pampering? Catherine Beattie reports….

TURKEY
This fascinating and spectacular country offers clear-blue waters, beautiful beaches and a history and culture stretching back over a thousand years. Located at the eastern end of the Med, summer arrives early and departs late – the sun can keep shining well into November. Turkey has something for everyone and every budget – from small boutique hotels to luxurious all-inclusive resorts, from family-run guest houses to vast five-star hotels with spa facilities (including the much-hyped new Mardan Palace in Antalya). Currency is the Turkish lire.Along Turkey’s south-west coast, the Aegean Sea laps the picturesque bays and small harbours of the Bodrum Peninsula. Barbaros Bay, one of its prettiest coves, is a glorious sweep of private beach a few kilometres south of the chic resort of Bodrum. This is the hideaway location of the five-star Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay and Six Senses Spa.The scenic cliff top resort opened in 2005 and has 173 rooms and suites, 17 elevators and one of the area’s largest and most spectacular infinity pools. The hotel has a choice of quality restaurants and bars, library, internet access, extensive kids’ club, night club, water sports and beachside dining. The spacious guest rooms are an extension of the resort’s overall design, seamlessly blending modern features like the impressive central atrium and glass elevators with traditional ethnic details and artefacts. All rooms have a private terrace or balcony and overlook Barbaros Bay so guests can enjoy the golden sunsets.

Leading Thai-based spa brand Six Senses Spas operates the hotel’s magnificent spa, which is on two floors and accessed by a dedicated glass elevator. The spa uses Aromatherapy Associates and Aptiva products and offers guests Asian healing therapies like spa journeys, massages, yoga and meditation as well as traditional Turkish treatments such as indigenous hammam cleansing rituals and revitalising detox programmes for body and soul.

The extensive therapy areas include 12 personal spa suites, two traditional Turkish hammams, two private hammams, chromatherapy (colour therapy) room, luxurious private spa zone, watsu pool, high-tech gym, relaxation area with nutritious snacks, juices and teas and a large indoor pool and Jacuzzi offering uninterrupted views of the Aegean coastline. Before and after your treatments, multi-lingual therapists offer ginger tea while the Six Senses iconic little hedgehogs stand outside therapy room doorways.

I opt for a Traditional Hammam Ritual, which starts with a warm up session in one of the steam rooms. Then I’m shown into the hammam, which is not as steamy as I expected, and has such bright natural light that I almost need my sunglasses! I lie down on the warm marble, close my eyes and enjoy being scrubbed, pummelled and massaged from head to toe. At one point the warm marble slab and I are so covered in lather that I almost slide onto the floor. After the cleansing comes the rinsing, bowl after bowl of tepid water is poured over me rinsing away every trace of soap. Afterwards, wrapped up in my cosy robe and sipping ginger tea, I feel incredibly clean and utterly relaxed.

I visit the spa several times during my short stay, enjoying aromatherapy and two early morning outdoor yoga sessions. I also book a pedicure in the beauty salon. The nail technician (who speaks no English) paints my toenails with two coats of varnish, but fails to use a base or topcoat, so the polish chips within days.

Verdict: Great spa and exclusive beach destination. All the usual luxury and service that are the hallmark of Kempinski’s fine hotels. Spa treatments and dining in the hotel’s restaurants are expensive, but good value local restaurants nearby and in Bodrum.

Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay, near Bodrum, Turkey
For more information, latest rates and offers visit www.kempinski-bodrum.com. easyJet (www.easyjet.co.uk) has flights to Bodrum from London Gatwick until 31 October 2009); Pegasus Airlines (www.pegasusairlines.com) has a direct flight to Bodrum from London Stansted. Or fly to Istanbul from London Heathrow and then to Bodrum with Turkish Airlines (www.turkishairlines.com) Kuoni World Class (01306 744707 www.kuoni.co.uk) offers 7 nights bed and breakfast from £1099 per person til the end of June or £1565 per person from 1 July to 31 August including flights and transfers.For further details about Six Senses Spas worldwide read Balancing Senses – the Six Senses Spa Book by Kate O”Brien (reviewed in A Good Read section).

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