Hillside Beach Club
Tucked away in a dimple of land in Turkey’s southern coast lives a small secret: a bustling hillside community of savvy Istanbullus, travel aficionados and middle-European aristocrats, neatly organized into terraced suites, bikini uniforms and late-afternoon spa appointments. Officially known as Hillside Beach Club by the world, and Hillside bliss & cure to those who dwell for an average of 5 days during the high summer season.
Abi and I arrive late Wednesday afternoon, thoroughly worn out from a grubby day’s travel and one twisty car-ride from Dalaman airport closely bordering 1) the edge of hills and 2) seasickness (yes, in a car). Alas, the vehicle is sent from the mother ship and has free-Wi-Fi, for which we reward 100 brownie points. We’re ushered through the reception building as our luggage disappear on a golf buggy with a handsome Turk at the wheel. We don’t mind this at all. He could’ve been a luggage pirate from the local town.
After a breezy check-in another handsome Turk begins the tour (100 more points for Griffindor). Like all 330 rooms at Hillside, we get a full ocean frontal, the resort is built so that all rooms are treated to the money shot. Our third-floor room opens into a private terrace and is a medley of timber, sand and slate grey. The rest of the resort is a collective of buildings and beaches, punctuated with cream lounges and powder-blue fixtures. Relaxed and sophisticated, despite the flock of goggled children padding around the heated pool.
The sun melts into a golden sea as we into our duvets on the first night at Hillside. A promising day lurks behind the hills…
My travel buddy is fast asleep and doesn’t budge a muscle as I flutter around the dressing table chanting BREAKFAST BREAKFAST. She’s an owl. I’m a pig. A pig with big plans to ravage everything on the menu. A generous buffet offers irresistible breads, deep bowls of crumbly feta, fresh walnuts and figs. My tip? Go light on the savoury and finish with a breakfast dessert: crêpes with a slather of Sarelle, which is like Nutella but heavier on hazelnuts. Top it off with strawberries that taste gloriously, and nostalgically of themselves.
Pass the early birds calling dibs on sunbeds and setting up a towel-camp for the day. Not sure if their breakfast was shovelled in with haste at 7am or they’re planning on ordering a liquid version via the sun-bed app, but both thoughts are equally amusing.
The climb to our third floor room has never been this laborious. I decide that I’ve done the work-out for the day and mentally schedule in burgers for lunch. I’ve earned it.
The vista of deep green pines and turquoise water revive me from a sit-down that nearly slips into post-breakfast nap. I load sun-things into a straw bag and descend the hill via stairs (two burgers maybe) towards the adult-only sun deck. The ‘adult-only’ sign excites me and I feel like a freshly-turned 21 years old again at the liquor store.
After reading the same paragraph in my book three times I decide its time for a dip in the insanely clear water.
Realise why I never swim and ponder how many calories I’ve burnt just floating and reward myself with burger number three.
Jolt up from the nap (which finally happens after the mandatory dip) at the first clink of lunch plates being set up. I scoop up my belongings and follow the smell of marinated vegetables, lamb köfte and meze wafting down the deck. I grab a plate and attack one end to the other with a spoon/ladel with no consideration to the person behind me – you snooze you lose, bro.
We ferry our plates over to where the sailing boats are lined up and decide to eat ‘lap top’ with both feet dipped in the water. I love this eat-anywhere policy, and make a mental note to implement this once home.
The only appointment to keep, booked the evening before with leftover pragmatic city-brain, which slushy holiday brain thanks profusely as we step into the cool, shaded haven that is Sanda Nature Spa. Smells like Bali. After a core-refining ginger & lemon tea, Abi and I follow our masseuses (masseusi?) into cabins. Sounds like Bali too.
Every single muscle in my body is pulled to a happy face. There’s a new smell about town and it’s Turkish tea + snacks being set out. I love this place.
Top – DIY (Find the tutorial in the Adorn book). Trousers – Zara. Clutch – Next.
Time to catch up with a couple emails, we catch boat shuttle to Serenity beach, another adult-only beach and delightfully far away from everything that it feels like I’m on another mini holiday. (Holiception?) I ask for a smoothie, and then a plate of fruit, I slump lower in the sun bed… emails answered = zero. Who am I kidding.
As the sun dips lower, we catch the last shuttle back to change before dinner. Yes we’re about to eat again.
The beams of our private terrace frames the sunset like no other, everything turns into golden liquid. We dive head-first into an evening of fruity cocktails, dinner (mind-blowing buffet) and a film at the amphitheatre.
Photos by Park & Cube; photos of me by Abi; Park & Cube was a guest of Hillside Beach Club as a member press