Superior food, unlimited watersports, and a personally tailored experience…
As Europe continues to be battered by the ‘Beast from the east’ it can be hard to envisage where you might like to travel once the snow finally recedes, but it doesn’t take much stretch of the imagination to work out why you might want to head to Turkey’s Hillside Beach Club.
Every summer the sprawling five-star hideaway, hidden among fragrant pines above Kalemya Cove, hosts themed weeks to help guests make the most of their getaway. The Week Portfolio was invited this year for the resort’s health and wellness-inspired Feel Good Week, a programme designed to give guests a complete mind and body reset – not to mention a healthy dose of vitamin D.
Fear not, this is not a fitness boot camp with power-crazed instructors shouting into your ear from the moment you wake. Guests can dip in or out of the activities as they wish, effectively designing their own restorative week tailored to their individual needs.
Those looking to push themselves harder have the option of additional personal training sessions, beach fitness classes and one-to-one nutritional consultations. Those in need of some R&R can simply roll over and have a lie-in.
On my first day at the resort, I sleepily head out for sunrise yoga on Silent Beach and end up feeling so energized by it that I return daily for the rest of my stay. Sound and breath therapy classes are also on offer, led by experienced on-site practitioners who support and guide stressed-out holidaymakers every step of the way.
Every wellness week needs a spa, and Hillside has two – the Sanda Spa and the Sanda Nature Spa. The former is free for all guests to use and includes a Jacuzzi, Turkish bath and sauna. The latter is a paid affair, run by Balinese therapists who wander down the tree-lined steps to the cove below to offer massages on the beach.
The Nature Spa itself is a haven of serenity, nestled in the lush forest amid rushing waterfalls. After being greeted with herbal tea and a menu of pampering experiences, guests are whisked into one of the tree-top treatment rooms for deep tissue massages to a backdrop of birdsong.
Unusually, the Hillside Beach Club is a perfect destination for both families and couples, with two adult-only beaches and a separate kids club sited far from the grown-up areas of the resort. The kids club itself is excellent, offering activities ranging from building your own robot to sailing classes. Run by enthusiastic staff, children are dropped off after breakfast and picked up at the end of the afternoon, leaving parents free to enjoy yoga, hiking, or simply some good old-fashioned sun worship.
There are plenty of places to lay your towel here, including two floating jetties, with cushioned sun-loungers and an on-call waiter who arrives at the touch of a button, and the main beach, where everyone is welcome, as well as the adult-only versions.
One of the child-free beaches, Silent Beach, also bans phones. On my second day, I leave my handset in my room, pick up one of the pre-loaded e-readers on offer and sink into a state of tranquility for the entire afternoon.
Serenity Beach is a five-minute boat trip away (boats leave every 15 minutes) and has everything you’ll need for the afternoon – hammocks, chefs and a cocktail menu.
The main beach has an impressive array of watersports on offer. There are snorkeling tours, dive boats, sailing courses, catamaran tours and more. On day three, I head out on a paddleboard after morning yoga, bobbing over glass-clear waters in the wake of my sure-footed instructor. I don’t see dolphins, but they are known to play in this cove and are often spotted by hotel guests.
The standard of food throughout the resort is top-notch, with three restaurants to choose from, plus several beachside bars. Pasha on the Bay is the pick of the bunch – an adult-only restaurant with candlelit tables next to the Mediterranean and an exceptional set menu. It is here that I am unexpectedly served the best burrata I have ever eaten in my life. Flying fish leap from the water and underwater floodlights nestle next among rocks, offering an evening of live Blue Planet-style entertainment.
The main restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, serving exceptional buffet-style dishes. Theatrical chefs preside over individual stations knocking up stone-baked pizzas, steaks, stir frys, chocolate soufflés and more. There’s also an energy-boosting selection of raw foods and juices, if you’re feeling virtuous.
Afterwards, guests can head to the Abacco Bar for a jazz session, or to curl up under a blanket of stars for film night. A floating Catamaran cinema sails into the cove weekly, complete with a beach-side popcorn stall and a pile of blankets. The evening entertainment on offer is impressive, and changes nightly. When you’re ready to retire, forget the stairs and climb aboard one of the glass lifts set into the hillside instead.
Ensconced in my all-white, tranquil room at night, I peruse a pillow menu for the first time in my life and realise I can’t think of anything else I could possibly order or desire. Hillside might be an all-inclusive resort but it feels more like a high-end private hideaway. And there’s not a ghastly neon wristband in sight.