Wonders of Turkey

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Ciragan Palace Kempinski in Istanbul.
Ciragan Palace Kempinski in Istanbul.

Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, may have a cosmopolitan feel, but the rest of the country is incredibly diverse, blending modern and historic elements that draw travelers for its archaeological wonders, historical significance and Mediterranean charm.

“Turkey is one of the most diverse destinations in the world, with a richness of history, archeology, gastronomy and geography, combined with art and culture that spans the ages, yet is at the forefront modern innovation,” says Emin Kaya, director of the Turkish Culture and Tourism Office of New York. “Few countries have as wide a variety of tourism attractions as Turkey, including—and, perhaps most importantly—its figurative and physical position as a bridge between Eastern and Western cultures that embraces visitors from all corners of the globe.”

With the amount of national parks, UNESCO World Heritage sites and beaches alone, it’s hard to highlight just one region of the country. Here are a few top picks and hotels to get the wheels turning when planning a trip to this culturally rich destination.

• Patara Beach boasts 11 miles of shoreline, making it the longest beach in the Mediterranean, flanked by mountains at either end and sand dunes along the shore.

Bodrum is located on the southwest tip of the Aegean Coast, and its seaside resorts and hopping nightlife have given it the nickname the “St. Tropez of Turkey.” Travelers can also explore ruins dating back to the year 1000 BC. Recommend visiting one of the Seven Wonders of the World, The Tomb of King Mausolus, an open-air musuem showcasing the tomb that took about 100 years to build. Bodrum is also host of the annual International Bodrum Sailing Cup, taking place Oct. 21-26, which celebrates the end of the cruising season with a yacht regatta.

Cappadocia, meanwhile, is a UNESCO World Heritage site that harks back to 3000 B.C. and was the home to many civilizations. One of the key points of the Silk Road, Cappadocia’s unique landscape of rock and fairy chimneys was the result of a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago. It’s known for its cave hotels, such as the Relais & Chateaux property Museum Hotel Cappadocia, and hot air balloon rides.

• In the Black Sea region, a monastery dating back to the fourth century towers 4,000 ft. above the cliffs of Mt. Mela. The Sumela Monastery was established as a church by Greek monks and was later expanded into a monastery in the 14th century. The region also features the World Heritage-listed town of Safranbolu, known for its restored Ottoman konaks, or mansions, constructed of timber and stone.

Spend the Night
is expanding its wings and has opened its first hotel outside of Istanbul, the five-star Wyndham Izmir Ozdilek in Izmir. The 219-room hotel is in a 20-story building overlooking the Izmir Bay. Rooms and suites feature floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing views of the sea. If your client wants VIP treatment and spectacular views, recommend the Presidential Suite, with a 360-degree view of the bay, oversized jacuzzi, dressing room, library, dining and living rooms, and professional kitchen. Call for rates.

Wyndham will open its fourth property in Turkey next year with the Wyndham Istanbul Levent in Istanbul.

Radisson Blu Hotels & Resorts is also expanding in Turkey with its new hotel in Istanbul, Radisson Blu Hotel, Istanbul Pera in the Pera Taksim district. The five-star hotel features 130 guestrooms and suites; views of the Golden Horn and harbor; and the restaurants A la Carte Terrace, opening in November, and Vega All Day Dining Restaurant in the lobby. At the Botanica Fitness & Spa, guests can opt for a body treatment, experience the Turkish hammam, and relax in the jacuzzi or sauna. Rates for a Golden Horn Terrace suite start at $652 pp, per day and include two tickets to the Pera Museum and breakfast buffet; 2-night minimum stay is required for the package.

For those looking to spend New Year’s Eve abroad, the Ciragan Palace Kempinski in Istanbul is offering the 4-night New Year’s Eve package, starting at $4,090. The package runs from Dec. 28 through Jan. 1, 2014 and includes daily buffet breakfast for two; a New Year’s Eve gala dinner at the Laledan Restaurant for two people; a couple’s massage at the Sanitas Spa; and New Year’s Eve brunch for two on Jan. 1, 2014.

The hotel, located on the shores of the Bosphorus, features guestrooms with balconies overlooking the water and 11 suites in the former imperial palace, once the home of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire.

For more information, visit goturkey.com. For more on Turkey, see Turkey Takes Center Stage.