She’s back and she’s more sport-widowed than ever.

This time, nine colleagues are ditching me for rounds. They’re a range of handicaps (from +3 to 36), male and female golfers, and they are ready to take on the best of Belek, in Turkey.

If you’re a golfing ‘purist’ (don’t be) you’re probably still organising your golf holidays around the British Isles. You’ve maybe dreamed of America, you’ve potentially considered the likes of Italy (post Ryder Cup), Spain (post Solheim Cup) or Portugal (because: the Algarve). You might never have even heard of the Turkish delight (excuse the pun) that is Belek.

If you’re the non-golfer along for the ride, Turkey might not have hit your radar as a place to shotgun travel to. Consider me your radarman, non-golfer.

It’s winter over in the UK, and I’m sitting on the balcony of a Sea View Standard Room at Cornelia Diamond Golf Resort & Spa, looking out onto the Mediterranean Sea. A mere 700 kilometres of incredible Turkish coastline run from where I sit to where legend has it 1,000 Greek ships crossed the Aegean to recover a stolen woman.

One thing is for sure, the golfers I’ve travelled with, who are currently making battle on Turkish fairways, wouldn’t be abandoning their sport to recover me from the perils of an all-inclusive stay, with hammam spa treatments, and heated outdoor pools. And I don’t blame them.

National Golf Club - Belek, Turkey

Yesterday evening, I walked National Golf Club; I get it. In between cooing over turtles bumbling around the course, and admiring the pink ipomoea flowers draped off the white-washed walls of the clubhouse, I could appreciate how special courses like these are for the men and women I travelled with. National Golf Club has a wonderful magic you can only experience, and I’d fail to encapsulate properly in prose.

It was in the celebration of the women’s four-ball finishing up on the eighteenth, the happy chatter on the terrace of the clubhouse, glasses of Efes Pilsen clinked, and that unmistakably cheerful tinny zing of a buggy’s engine as it flies down the side of the green. It was the low winter light through the pines, the mildness of the temperature (16 degrees), and the reverence of the golfers in the midst of it all. One of them even touched the grass and said quietly “it’s like a carpet”.

National Golf Club - Belek, Turkey

…Okay, that last bit, admittedly, was corny. But they all thought it was true, and were so excited and happy to be there, that I nodded like an indulgent grandparent handing out sweets, and went along with it. For the record: it’s still just grass.

If you’d like to read the non-golfer’s golf assessment of Belek (click here). Otherwise, golf widowers and widows, read on for my hot-take on how you rinse Belek for all it has to offer, and make those weather-beaten, handicap-harping harbingers-of-boring-chat extremely jealous.

The Hammam Experience & Spas

Belek is famous for spas and mineral water from the seven natural springs in the area. Along this strip of sea, whichever hotel you check in to, you won’t want for spa facilities. But while I fully encourage you to dart between the steam room, sauna and indoor and outdoor pools on a loop, I demand you to partake in the religious experience that is a hammam (or Turkish bath). At the height of the Ottoman Empire, it’s said that every neighbourhood in Istanbul had one, and every one we’ve visited has been truly beautiful. Think domed ceilings, blue tiles, white marble floors.

Wine Therapy at Sueno Deluxe

At Sueno Deluxe there is both a women’s hammam and an all-gender. You don’t need to partake in the process of traditional body scrubbing by kese cloth, the foam wash and massage. In these you can just sit in, enjoy the gentle steam, the quiet. But if you do want to go the full-nine-yards both Sueno Deluxe, Cornelia Diamond and the rest all offer the full hammam package. Do it. While the golfers are getting sweaty and sunburnt, you’ll be getting buffed to beautification. It’s a no brainer really. And it’s sooooo relaxing.

Hay Room at Sueno Deluxe

Not for you? What about sitting in a hay room (good for the bronchioles I’m told), wine therapy (where you literally bathe in a wooden bath filled with Çalkarası red) or boil yourself (but in a pleasant way – on reflection) in a Russian sauna. Sueno Deluxe has you covered for all of the above. For the less-active spa types who prefer lounging on (my goodness I’m pretty sure it had a high thread count) day beds, while drying off from the hottub, check out Cullinan’s unbelievably luxurious spa facilities. I also loved Regnum’s sanctuary, with views out into the surrounding greenery.

They’re all heavenly. Enjoy!


Nike said: Just Do It. And I apply that as much to my slow park run 5ks as to food consumption on holiday/work trips.

The words ‘all-inclusive’ should be rated for aphrodisiac qualities. Especially in Turkey, where one of the managers said “Here in Belek we don’t do ‘all-inclusive’, we do ‘all-inclusive ultra’”. Take your preconceived notions of the former, and leave them at the door. It’s 4am, and you woke up peckish in nearly any one of the 5 star hotels on this strip. What do you do? You pop down to the 24 hour restaurant. Yes, that’s a thing.

Bubble Restaurant at Cornelia Diamond

The Bubble Restaurant at Cornelia Diamond open 24 hours

You can eat, you can nightcap, at any hour of the night and into day. And the food isn’t just good, it’s delicious. I keep telling myself it’s a Mediterranean diet, even though I’m on the Aegian and a cursory olive added amongst a plate piled-high with aubergine mash (I heard angels sing), three sea bream fillets (because I only learnt to count as far as three in Turkish), chips, dips, goulash, beyaz peynir (white cheese from Ezine), freshly baked bread rolls, butterflied chicken breasts, roast potatoes (I’m Irish, and why choose?), noodles, fried buckwheat and sushi (because that’s an option too). And don’t get me started on the dessert offerings: milk cake, biscotti cheesecake, cherry mousse, pistachio macarons, dense chocolate fudge cakes covered in whipped cream florettes. It’s decadent, it’s a (work) holiday. Indulge.


Beyond the golf, spas and beaches, there’s so much to explore. Turkey is sprawling, ancient, culture-rich and beautiful, and you don’t have to go too far into its depths to start to see some of the best of it. All the hotels either directly, or via partners, can help organise your half day or day trips, so do take advantage of the expert help. Taxis can be expensive, even in low season, so I wouldn’t recommend you rely on those as your mode of transport for a self-planned excursion, unless you can agree a reasonable rate upfront (again your hotel guest relations can advise).

Now, where to?

The Ancient City of Aspendos & Aspendos Theatre

Aspendos Theatre

Just 25 minutes taxi from Belek’s hotels, are the remains of an ancient Greco-Roman city. Among its many brags, it can boast that Alexander the Great ‘woz ere’, having marched into the city in 333 BC after capturing nearby Perge.

Today it attracts many tourists to the era, drawn to visit one of the best preserved Roman theatres in the world. Built in the second century, with up to 7,600 person seated capacity, it’s a feast for the eyes. Around it tourists also flock to the baths, basilica, agora, aqueducts and nymphaeum. It is well worth the very short journey and time out from spa-ing.

The Taurus Mountains

You really can’t miss them. They dominate the skyline behind Belek, and are home to some of Turkey’s most lauded natural wonders like Eagle Canyon, Side Altinbesik Cave, Green Canyon, and the Ucansu waterfall. If you are into hiking, this is definitely a must-do item.

Taurus Mountains

It’s just 1.5 hours drive into the thick of the mountains, and local tour operators offer experiences like boat journeys through Green Canyon and jeep off-roading. For pretty inhabited places, add Ormana Village to the list. It sits on a hilltop, amongst the dramatic mountain range; a higgledy-piggledy cluster of stone and wood houses.

St. Nicholas Church, Demre

St. Nicholas Church, Demre

3.5 hours drive from Belek, much of it along the incredible Lycian coastline. You’ll be driving with mountains on one side and beaches on the other, with plenty of towns to stop at and explore on the way there or back. But it’s a church?

Wrong. The church was built on the burial ground of the man credited as the inspiration for Santa Clause. I won’t threaten you with the naughty list if you don’t make the trip, but you should because it’s beautiful, fresco filled and of significant religious and architectural importance.

Cappadocia & Göreme National Park

If you’re strapped to the wagon of a golfing group on one of our 7 night, 4 round packages then this could be one for the whole group. You could easily turn this into an overnight trip, as it’s a much punchier 5.5 hour drive from Belek!

Göreme National Park

But don’t shake your head. Google images of Turkey and this has surely come up: hot air balloons floating up at sunset from a landscape covered in fairy chimneys (magical looking rock formations). This truly is a once in a lifetime sight.

Ready to convince your golfer to get themselves (and you) to Belek? I don’t blame you. Click the link below to explore (and share) some of our packages.



Collects course booklets to burn them during cold winters. The kind of loon that will use a picture of their dog for their profile.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.