We have just got back from our trip to Turkey where we stayed in at Garden Resort in Kemer, near Antalya with our 8 year old son and in laws. The reviews we read before we left were a little polarized and contained a lot of opinion, so we thought we’d give the facts.
Our last family group holiday was to Cuba, which was outstanding, but you get what you pay for. This year, we gave ourselves a stricter budget but still wanted an all inclusive, four star holiday with guaranteed sunshine. For two weeks, we did not want to bother with shopping, cooking or cleaning; we just wanted to lie back, see the sights and have a great two weeks in the sun. The Garden Resort provided this perfectly adequately. It was not in the same league as Cuba (even though both stays were supposed to be 4 star), but there was nothing that we could complain about- it was all satisfactory.
Hotel, gardens and pool
The hotel was clean, tidy and well presented. The pools were lovely and the water slides were great for our 8 year old son. Father in law found the shade when he needed it, (even though, at times, the groundsman could get a little funny about moving sun-loungers around, especially if they went on the grass).
The rooms were clean, tidy and well presented. Any little problems were sorted out quickly and efficiently. The cleaning staff were friendly and provided what was asked for.
Our rep was friendly and helpful. She provided us with some great advice and some spot on local information and helped us really make the most of being in Kemer. We were particularly pleased with the suggestion of hiring a car. We did this and travelled to Chimera, Phaselis and Olympos- this was probably the best day of the whole holiday.
As we said, the hotel satisfactorily met our basic needs, but it was only the very basics that were part of the all inclusive package. A bottle of water was provided for each peron at the beginning of the holiday and we were expected to refill this from one of the water coolers in the dining hall or by the pool and to keep them stored in the mini bar (an empty fridge) in the room. There was a safe in the room for valuables, but this was extra.
The bar facilities were not impressive. The beer was OK, but the choice of spirits was limited to Raki, Vodka, Coriander Vodka (which doubled as Gin) and a generic brown liquor that was used as either Whisky, Rum or Brandy, depending on what was ordered. The choice of mixers was limited to Cola, Generic lemonade type drink or tonic water. The bars were very small and sometimes got very busy and having a slice of Lemon put in a drink was a cause for celebration.
Soft fruit type drinks were all self dispensed from pumps and were a bit sweet and sugary. Fresh fruit juice was available during meal times but was extra.
The food was edible and tasty, with the rice dishes and soups being particularly nice. The food provided a balanced diet but there was not a huge variation in what was available and the receipes seemed variations on a theme. There was a snack bar open in the afternoon serving burgers but Ice cream for the children was extra.
The entertainment during the day provided a break from relaxing by the pool and the evening entertainment was enthusiastically delivered in both English and Russian. Some evenings were really quite good.
This was a point of discussion before we booked. There are many negative comments about the fact that the hotel’s guests were predominately Russian but we dismissed this as people simply being unwilling to integrate and we went with an open mind.
When we think of Russians, we may think of a drab, dour, conservative people, or we think of tacky nouve riche and the Russians here were a mix of both. They made no attempt to socialise or even recognise our presence (particulalry when trying to navigate the dinning hall). However, this was not a problem; the Russians were neither loud nor disruptive, (unlike some of the British we have had the misfortune to be on holiday with) and their presence did not, in itself, affect our holiday.
However, their dour, uncommunicative demeanor impacted on the hotel staff and this in turn impacted on how the staff then treated the guests. The Russians seem somewhat challenged by the concept of saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to people who are serving them and this, naturally, will effect the approach of the people who are doing the serving. Russians will point to a pump and demand “Beer.” or simply pile their plate with food, take it to a table, have a few mouthfuls and then leave it for someone else to clear up, so it is somewhat understandable that the staff generally did not come across as warm or welcoming; they carried out their duties diligently and effectively, but without really engaging with the guests. There were not many smiles shared, particularly in the dining hall.
However, we put in the effort to say Merhaba (hello) Lütfen (please) and Teşekkür ederim (thank you) and found this was really appreciated by the people working to look after us. By the end of the holiday we were on very friendly terms with a number of staff. During our evening conversations with them, we learned a lot about how things had changed over the past few years since the arrival of the Russians.
If you decide to go to this resort, we would highly recommend three points
1) Be polite to people even if they are not immediately polite to you.
2) Don’t be a greedy pig in the dining hall. Only take what you know you will eat.
3) Hire a car and travel around.
The bottom line is, if you are on a budget then this place is OK as somewhere to stay. You will be fed, watered and accomodated in pleasant surroundings.
Would I go there again? No, I’d save a bit more and go back to Cuba.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Garden Resort Bergamot Hotel is located at Kemer, one of the most beautiful areas of the Antalya region. Kemer, surrounded by the Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, is in walking distance. To the centre of Antalya it is about 40 km and 55 km to Antalya Airport. The hotel building with its little towers and terraces reminds of the architecture of the Ottoman Empire and the setting amidst a former orange grove provides a feeling of nature and peace. We are an All-Inclusive Family Hotel. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Garden Hotel Bergamot