The Dial ’07 Summer Holidays, Lodging a Complaint — Part 3 of 3.
After Club Med in Antalya, Turkey, we were ready for the thrill of adventure with a week-long trip, driving up to the Cappadocia region. Images of Chevy Chase in “Summer Vacation” are not out of the question. Other than the middle four nights which we had booked in the beautiful town of Uchisar, we found hotels as and when we needed them. For this blog, I reserve comment for 4 of these places.
Top honor goes to Utopia World Hotel in Alanya. This 5* ‘all-inconclusive’ hotel aloof on a hill offers magnificent views and sunsets. It also is an opportunity to practice your па-русский as it seemed that fully 50% of the guests were Russian. The hotel has only been open for a few weeks when we arrived, unannounced last week. Our one night stay, at 308 lira for the four of us, was an absolute treat. Enormous Aqua Park. Great tennis court. Food was a C+. And the Club Med-style animation was B-. The animator spun the evening’s activities in three languages: Turkish, Russian & German. Definitely knew we weren’t at Club Med.
Second prize goes to Olbios Hotel in a town called Kumkuyu (sounds like a swear word, no?). This 4* resort featured a black sand beach that stays moist throughout the day and one of the most gradual slopes into the sea you will ever see. 100 metres out, you are still only up to your hips. Huge pool with a slide offered hours of fun for the kids. Wild animals — including an emu, rabbits, a clipped pelican and chicks — were sprinkled throughout the site. We didn’t try the “Mini Club” because it was strictly monolingual–a sign that the only tourists here were local. German was my main language with the staff. For 170 lira, a great value.
Third prize goes to our lovely host on the outskirts of Aksaray, at the 3* Aratol Hotel. [+90 (0)382-215-8082]. After a warm reception by the owner of the hotel, Mehmet–who is fluent in French and also has a business & home in France–we enjoyed a nice dinner and the spacious rooms. The swimming pool was a bonus.
But, the booby prize goes to the one place we had reserved in advance: Les Terraces d’Uchisar (see photo of town on the left). Run by a French couple, we had bad feelings from the moment we arrived to the time we left, a day earlier than planned. It all started when the owner, Marco, a gruff man, complained about the poor sense of humor of the British. Then, before we had even checked in, we were sold the idea of taking a hot air balloon – for which he said that he would “get us a favorable rate.” We reserved unwittingly for a 4:30am ride the following morning. The room and the view were lovely. However, that night, we slept terribly if at all. Dogs howled and barked all night long. I took a sleeping pill at 1am; Yendi didn’t sleep a wink. The kids woke up several times. Then the day’s first muezzin (call to prayer) started at 3:45, seemingly right outside our window, too. Needless to say, the 4am wake up call was very tough. A 4:32, we were about to head downstairs when the owner pounded on the door and told us off for being late. He was furious at having been woken up by a phone call (apparently no direct telephone lines to the room) from the Balloon operator and said that “he would have expected better from us [than to be late].” When we told him about the horrible dogs, he shrugged it off saying that they weren’t his responsibility. When you know that he was payed up to a 60% cut on the 630 euros we spent for the four of us for the balloon ride… As it turned out, we paid not a penny less than the list price. The 1 1/4 hour ride was beautifully serene–truly a memorable experience. Alexandra, however, got sick and ended up curled up in a corner of the basket for virtually the whole ride. Note that there are a number of different balloon companies — we took the very reputable Cappadocia Balloons run by a charming English/Dutch couple, but there are many local, much cheaper alternatives.
Back at the ranch, we collapsed and slept into the early afternoon. When we informed the host that we were not dining at the hotel, he was visibly irritated. It was like we were supposed to be there to please him. Very odd. That night, we decided to cut our stay short by a day and informed the hostess. The night was a little more peaceful, although we still had a one-hour symphony of howling dogs and the muezzin with which to contend. The next day, we had the good fortune of meeting a very interesting and pleasant French couple in a charming hamlet nearby. And, as they were staying at the same hotel, we chose to have dinner together at the hotel. We learned that the owner had been equally unpleasant to them — including using crass language toward their kids (‘bouge ton cul’). When we mentioned our checkout for the following morning, the owner said, with a big smile, “My dear friend, I will of course still need to charge you for the night you do not spend here.” Without going into the details, we left the following morning, having paid the extra night. This is a place trying to get sold. Wait for new owners before setting foot there. Until then, they remain the Terrors of Uchisar.