With the pandemic over it was time to make a panic booking to go on holiday, just in case the powers that be decide that this was no longer allowed (again!).
This time, as we work our way along the hotels of Lara Beach, it was time to see exactly what was inside that enormous palace hotel that we have been in the shadow of, from our previous visits to Turkey.
Firstly, its enormous. A little too big really, as in places outside of the ground floor where the restaurants, lobby, shops, arcade and bars are situated, its all just plain old big. They have tried quite hard to give it a palace feel with marble floors and plenty of gold paint around and Turkish style decorative wallpaper and carpets. The lobby when you come in does give it a feeling of grandeur that for sure. As you make your way up to your room, via the 15 or so lifts available the sense of opulence subsides until you enter your room. The room we had was just standard but was one of the biggest rooms we have ever had in Turkey. More crazy carpet and more gold paint. The décor was not over the top in the room and felt quite Turkish actually. (funny that!). Our balcony was pathetic, hardly enough room to sit down on the single chair which overlooked a neighbouring hotel. Not much to see here.
Back down into the lobby and out the back is the pool, this too is enormous and unlike other hotels around, this pool is just one great big pool that spans from the hotel exit to the rear all the way down to the beach. Dotted around the pool are a few bars, some serving food, all serving cocktails and local beers. Some smaller bars serving quick meals like fruit (melon), ice cream, and Turkish wraps (all you can eat).
If you want something a little more than a snack, the restaurants serve burgers, pasta, fries, pizza and more healthier options like hummus and salads, that is until its feeding time at the restaurants in the palace hotel.
All the hotels that we have stayed in along Lara Beach put on quite a performance when it comes to food.
There is a long bridge that traverses the pool and zig zags over a lot of it. This leads down to a section where the water slides are on the left and on the right there is a fun fair. (not really for adults, but you can have a go if you like of course).
Moving on through the pool area to the beach you are welcomed with 500 sun loungers on the sand and if you make your way down to the sea, there is a pier with another 200 sun loungers and a bar. Its pretty nice. Dotted along the beach, for all the tourists to use are water-sports companies offering everything from kayak, pedalo and paddle board hire all the way up to jet skis, paragliding, private boat trips and boats that look like cars. Its worth haggling with al of them to get the best price.
Along with all of this comes the standard Turkish hospitality. From the poolside, waiters are passing every now and then and asking if you want a drink. Orders are promptly delivered. This is a step above what we have seen before in other hotels.
All the hotels put on entertainment throughout the day with aqua fit, water polo, beach volley ball and some amusing competitions at various times in the afternoon, they do a really good job. There’s a lot going on but this is the first hotel we’ve seen where there is a foam party every Friday.
Absolutely bonkers really, but its lots of fun. Oh and there is an amphitheatre with shows in the evening and some kiddies stuff though out the day to keep them entertained.
Overall this was a really enjoyable two weeks and we never felt bored, unless we wanted to. There was always a secluded sunbed somewhere where if it all got too much you could just close your eyes and go to sleep.
Outside of the hotel there is the shopping. Knock-off premium brands a plenty with bargains to be had.. just make sure you haggle.
Although we have been to Antalya before, we decided to pop in again to see what was going on. There are some really nice seafood restaurants around and again, plenty of shopping, which we did a fair bit of.
We would recommend heading down to the harbour where you can find boat trips, beer and a fresh breeze.