A jewel on Turkey's Turquoise Coast, Maçakizi is frequented by the Mediterranean gypset floating into Türkbükü Bay on private yachts. Daytime massages overlooking the Aegean are followed by evenings of fine dining and sundowners with trendy Istanbullites by the waterfront.
Mention Maçakizi at a dinner party and you'll receive either one of two responses. The first one is blank stares and slightly confused faces who slowly try to repeat what you just said out loud "Machakeessee..?" Or you'll receive a half scream of delight and a flurry of superlatives retelling stories of delicious dinners, burgeoning bougainvillea, long days in the sun and longer evenings of drinks at the seafront bar and Euro-heavy disco. Maçakizi (meaning queen of spades) belongs to that rare breed of Mediterranean family institutions that are at once luxurious and homely, yet cool and bit naughty.
Founded in the 70s by Ayla Emiroglu, whose moniker "the queen of spades" is given to the hotel, it is today run by her son Sahir Erozan who can often be found in the bar talking to friends or well-seasoned staff. After arriving on an unassuming road near Türkbükü, a 40-minute car ride from Bodrum airport, the hotel sprawls down towards the sea like a harbourside village. Walkways that thread through pines and lush vegetation lead from bar, to spa, to restaurant, to pool and all the way down to the shoreline with its wooden pontoons with sunbeds. The feeling is a bit Côte d'Azur with a Turkish twist - it's not for nothing they call this the Turquoise Coast.
The 74 rooms including suites and villas are simple but beautiful, comfortable yet functional, with a palette of white and light wood punctuated by ikat scatter cushions by Rifat Ozbek (a local and the interior designer of Loulou's nightclub inside London members' club 5 Hertford Street). Step out onto the balcony for views across the Aegean.
What's for breakfast?
Take a buffet-style Mediterranean breakfast that champions fresh, local produce on the terrace until 11am. Trying Turkish coffee is a must.
How about lunch and dinner?
The beating heart of the place is the two bars and the restaurant. During summer, this is lively for lunch, and later for drinks and dinner as hotel guests mingle with day visitors on the sun-drenched pontoons. The restaurant meanwhile fills up with people stepping off their yachts to enjoy the fine-dining cuisine mixing Turkish and Mediterranean flavours with a focus on the local seafood. This might sound grand, and the food may be the best in the region (the lunch buffet is widely renowned), but it's all handled with such warmth that the atmosphere remains relaxed. Order the octopus and sip on Turkish Chardonnay as the sun sets.
Is there a bar?
Yes, and it gets very vibey in the summer. Come here for champagne and sweet almond liqueur.
Maçakizi has excellent amenities, including a beautiful, glass-fronted hammam overlooking the Aegean sea, where you can relax for a scrub down and a massage. The open-plan, bamboo-walled Nuxe spa offers bespoke treatments powered by botanicals. A partnership with London wellness institution Bodyism provides for a wide programme geared towards personal fitness. Like those cushions in your room? Pick one up from the hotel boutique, which also stocks a range of kaftans and other products.
Things I should know
Make an entrance on the hotel's seaplane which flies directly between Istanbul and Maçakizi Beach. The price of the rooms usually includes the buffet breakfast and a three-course dinner. During high season (July and August) the hotel gets quite busy with the monied of Istanbul and the Euro yacht set. It's closed between November and March.
Villa Maçakizi is a new addition for 2019, along with the the Macakizi Lofts, just a 10-minute boat ride up the coast. The villa is a sprawling white mansion with 16 bedrooms decorated with the signature bougainvillea, perfect for weddings, private parties and corporate entertaining. After just one season, it's sure to have established itself as one of the great Mediterranean villa rentals. In 2020 the hotel is expanding further with a residential offering that's all neutral tones and inside/outside living across two floors with breathtaking bedroom views over the sea, a private bar and sunbed pontoons.
Within a short walk I can find
Make the most of the Turquoise Coast by wandering along the Göltürkbükü waterfront, renting a boat or embarking on a day cruise. There are several lovely local bars, cafés restaurants - we rate Mimoza, Fidele and Orfoz. Ask the hotel staff for a recommendation, they'll be happy to ring ahead and book you a table.