London-based design studio and creative consultancy, Campbell-Rey, and a contributing editor at
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
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
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
Things I should know
Make an entrance on the hotel’s seaplane which flies directly
Istanbul and Maçakizi Beach. The price of the rooms usually
includes the buffet breakfast and a three-course dinner. During
high season (July
the hotel gets quite busy with the monied of Istanbul and the Euro
yacht set. It’s closed between November
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.