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Value-for-money holidays: Inside a recent all-inclusive resort in Turkey that can suit all tastes

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At times, this looks like being aboard a large cruise ship. There are 500 cabins (sorry, rooms), seven restaurants, eight bars, a spa, a water sports centre and a nightly cocktail of cheesy entertainment.

Most vital, the just about brand-new (it opened to British visitors in June) Liberty Fabay Hotel on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast is all-inclusive.

Which could explain the relish with which two teenage boys — sitting with their parents at breakfast, wearing impeccably ironed Ralph Lauren polo shirts — are fastidiously constructing a minaret of pastries, croissants, and doughnuts, topped off ingeniously with an inverted ice-cream cone.

Mark Edmonds checks into Liberty Fabay Hotel (above) on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, which opened to British visitors in June

Above is stunning Oludeniz Beach, which lies around 40 minutes by car from the hotel

Above is stunning Oludeniz Beach, which lies around 40 minutes by automotive from the hotel

Perhaps they intend to work off a few of those calories later by attending the poolside fitness class which takes place every day at noon. 

Or taking a snorkelling trip from the private beach, a stretch of pristine sand just 200 yards from the important hotel complex. If the boys’ breakfast doesn’t compromise their aerodynamics, they might also have a crack at parasailing.

The sprawling hotel has been conceived cleverly — it is meant to appeal to all, with a lot of the activities centred on the pools and geared toward all age groups. 

The in-hotel aqua park with a spread of slides offers kids a thrill, while parents can enjoy organised beach volleyball, or water Zumba (an exhausting type of pool-gymnastics). There’s also a fitness centre, tennis courts and different levels of yoga.

Anyone who prefers an inactive holiday can slope off to one among the adults-only bars — including one on the beach.

The hotel appears to be doing a roaring trade — but that is partly because Turkey arguably offers the most effective value for money of any European hotspot.

Charter flights to Dalaman from the UK have increased by 32 per cent on the 2019 pre-pandemic peak and, within the absence of many Russians, the British market has turn out to be ever more vital. At most of the beach restaurants along the coast, a straightforward lunch of grilled fish or lamb costs about £7, a chilly beer £2.

'The sprawling hotel has been conceived cleverly — it is intended to appeal to all, with most of the activities centred on the pools and aimed at all age groups,' Mark says of Liberty Fabay Hotel

‘The sprawling hotel has been conceived cleverly — it is meant to appeal to all, with a lot of the activities centred on the pools and geared toward all age groups,’ Mark says of Liberty Fabay Hotel

The in-hotel aqua park with a range of slides offers youngsters a thrill

The in-hotel aqua park with a spread of slides offers kids a thrill

One of the 500 guest rooms. 'The hotel seems to be doing a roaring trade — but that's in part because Turkey arguably offers the best value for money of any European hotspot,' says Mark

Considered one of the five hundred guest rooms. ‘The hotel appears to be doing a roaring trade — but that is partly because Turkey arguably offers the most effective value for money of any European hotspot,’ says Mark 

Amenities at the hotel include a spa, fitness centre, tennis courts and different levels of yoga. Above is an indoor hot tub at the resort

Amenities on the hotel include a spa, fitness centre, tennis courts and different levels of yoga. Above is an indoor hot tub on the resort 

Mark says that staying at the Liberty Fabay Hotel 'feels like being aboard a giant cruise ship'. Above is the hotel's lobby

Mark says that staying on the Liberty Fabay Hotel ‘looks like being aboard a large cruise ship’. Above is the hotel’s lobby 

The Lagoon Beach Bar at Oludeniz, 40 minutes by automotive from the hotel, even has a throwback Nineteen Fifties-style cigarette girl, selling packets of Marlboro for lower than £2 a packet. You’ll be able to take a ship from here to Butterfly Valley, a nature reserve that’s home to greater than 100 species of rare butterfly.

The traditional port town of Fethiye is about quarter-hour away by taxi, along a busy and dusty road, however it is a useful embarking point for a lot of local attractions. It sits almost opposite the Greek island of Rhodes, just 60 miles by ferry. From here, we take a ship tour along the attractive Dalyan estuary (reasonably priced at £30 a day for as much as six people), past the Kaunos rock tombs which date back to the sixth century.

The tombs, once a part of a settlement built as a necropolis by the traditional Greeks, are amongst essentially the most striking archaeological ruins in southern Turkey and are best seen from the water.

At the tip of this trip, we stop for lunch at Iztuzu beach, where the Dalaman estuary meets the Med. It’s a hatching ground for loggerhead turtles, a rare and guarded species: we saw several swimming within the harbour.

Mark goes for a drink in a beach bar in Oludeniz, above. From here, travellers can catch a boat to Butterfly Valley, a nature reserve that is home to more than 100 species of rare butterfly

Mark goes for a drink in a beach bar in Oludeniz, above. From here, travellers can catch a ship to Butterfly Valley, a nature reserve that’s home to greater than 100 species of rare butterfly

Then on to the famous local mud baths once visited by Dustin Hoffman and Sting, who apparently made essentially the most of its legendary cleansing and healing properties.

The mud, which is brought in from the natural thermal pools within the hillsides, is presupposed to make you are feeling younger and improve the skin. It makes us feel smellier — the mud has a pungent, sulphuric quality — but not much else. Still, if it was ok for Dustin, it’s ok for me.

More intriguing is Kayakoy, a big ghost town within the hills outside Fethiye which has a controversial past and is the setting for Louise de Bernieres’ novel Birds Without Wings.

A bird's-eye view of the picturesque Butterfly Valley nature reserve

A bird’s-eye view of the picturesque Butterfly Valley nature reserve 

The Kaunos rock tombs are among the most striking archaeological ruins in southern Turkey and are best seen from the Dalyan estuary, according to Mark

The Kaunos rock tombs are amongst essentially the most striking archaeological ruins in southern Turkey and are best seen from the Dalyan estuary, in line with Mark 

Mark explores the ghost town of Kayakoy, pictured, which is the setting for Louise de Bernieres' novel Birds Without Wings

Mark explores the ghost town of Kayakoy, pictured, which is the setting for Louise de Bernieres’ novel Birds Without Wings

The ancient port town of Fethiye, pictured, sits almost opposite the Greek island of Rhodes. 'It is a useful embarking point for many local attractions,' says Mark

The traditional port town of Fethiye, pictured, sits almost opposite the Greek island of Rhodes. ‘It’s a useful embarking point for a lot of local attractions,’ says Mark 

TRAVEL FACTS

Mark travelled with Jet2Holidays. Seven nights’ all-inclusive, including flights and transfers, on the Liberty Fabay from £1,168 pp, based on two adults and one child sharing, departing in September 2023 (jet2holidays.com, 0800 408 0778).

Our Turkish guide tells us that the Greeks who left the village during World War I did so voluntarily; the reality is reasonably more complicated, with the Greeks insisting that they were driven out by their Ottoman oppressors who sent lots of them to Labour camps. As we walk across the ruins, the crumbling partitions of those houses are a stark reminder of the vivid recent history of this extraordinary country.

Back on the hotel, the staff struggle with English but haven’t any problem with ‘a dry martini please’, served bone dry and in a properly refrigerated glass. And, oh the enjoyment of not having to whip out a bank card or sign a coupon.

All-inclusive resorts have their detractors, but they make numerous financial sense. Children can have as many ice creams as they need, adults can eat and drink all day.

Within the bars and restaurants on this hotel — comfortable, spacious and good value — there could be very little evidence of belt-tightening. Quite the other in actual fact: it is obvious that belt-loosening could be very much the order of the day.

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