Hotel Insider Not one for culture vultures, but if you seek the sun, entertainment and activities to keep a family happy, this is a great all-inclusive option with that five-star quality.
Host of activities at Rixos Premium Belek appeals to families
After landing at Antalya Airport and driving along some fairly bland coastline and townscape, you know you've arrived in the right spot when you turn down a road of palms and imposing gates, each leading to one of the five-star resorts and a water park that back onto a prime stretch of beach. Guests are welcomed with the customary Turkish delight and refreshing cologne, and we were invited to wait at the bar while we were checked in. It's a huge lobby, with a water feature running through the middle. We found our own way to our rooms; the luggage arrived moments later.
The hotel has a neighbourhood of its own, with internal streets such as "French Street", fashion boutiques, restaurants and, oddly, a shop offering to airbrush and print your pictures onto plates. The grounds are green, and there's a canal with boats to take you as far as the Troy Aqua & Dophinarium Water Park, which is overlooked by a giant wooden horse and is free for Rixos guests. Beyond the resort are archaeological sites and secluded beaches. The old town of Antalya is a beautifully preserved mix of Ottoman, Roman, early Christian and early Islamic architecture.
While not remarkable in their decor, the rooms are a good size and inoffensively pleasant, with fantastically comfortable beds. All have sizeable private balconies, and mine overlooked the canal. A selection of baklava and a plate of fruit sat under cellophane, presumably to avoid attracting flies. The bathroom was big and glossy, with a large shower room and enormous bath.
Necessarily the size of this place - 769 rooms, as well as a VIP village - makes the service slightly less personal than you might find in a city hotel, but that's a quibble: the staff are friendly, quick to respond and efficient.
It's not exactly sophisticated, but top marks for effort. During the day, the kilometre-long beach is relaxed apart from the occasional interruption of exercise classes, while at night a traditional Turkish meal was enlivened by a trio of gaudily dressed belly dancers and musicians. The shisha cafe was next to a dance floor full of teenagers dancing with name-badged entertainment staff to a surprisingly good DJ and live percussionist. There was also a beauty contest. Enough said.
With a couple of exceptions, all food and drink is included in the price of your room, making restaurant decisions easy. There are eight restaurants. Among the best are the tranquil Pan-Asian restaurant Ying, perched on stilts on a woody hill, and the canalside spot La Rosetta, which serves modern Italian dishes and features a view of a musical dancing fountain show. More traditionally Turkish is Lalezar, which offers flamboyantly presented, historical Ottoman food such as Toyga, a cold yogurt and chickpea soup, and roasted sea bass.
The spa with its opulent hammam and outdoor flower-filled relaxation spaces, although parts of it, including the sauna, are mixed gender, which might put some off; and the VIP villas, reached by golf buggy from the main hotel, surrounding a nice pool and so exclusive you're not allowed to take photos in the shared spaces.
The tacky nightlife: in a spot this beautiful it's surprising there isn't a more relaxing spot for a shisha cafe and a more grown-up venue. The tiny, dark maid's rooms in the VIP villas seem mean. And the presence of a dolphinarium seems like an outdated cruelty.
Not one for culture vultures, but if you seek the sun, entertainment and activities to keep a family happy, this is a great all-inclusive option with that five-star quality.
The bottom line
A double room at the Rixos Premium Belek starts at €250 (Dh1,130) per person, per night. The Rixos Premium Belek, Ileribasi Mevkii, Belek 07500, Antalya, Turkey (www.rixos.com; 00 90 242 710 20 00).