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Hotel review: Kempinski Barbaros Bay (Turkey)

Wednesday newsletters always feature a luxury hotel and/or flight review.

Today (January 14, 2014): Hotel review: Kempinski Barbaros Bay, Bodrum (Turkey).

Set on a hillside overlooking its own private bay, Kempinski Barbaros Bay Bodrum beckons travelers with its gorgeous white architecture, natural wood accents, and turquoise blue pools. The 149 rooms and 24 suites all have balconies or terraces overlooking the Gokova Gulf. The resort boasts a rich variety of restaurants, bars and a wonderful spa.

Kempinski Barbaros Bay Bodrum features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Turkey.

In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip and slideshow):

  • Pros & things I like
  • Cons & things to know
  • My verdict
  • Tips for future guests & save money
  • Comparison with other Bodrum luxury hotels
  • Best time to visit
  • How to get there

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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • The hotel enjoys a wonderful setting. Nestled high atop the cliffs overlooking pristine Barbaros Bay on the Bodrum Peninsula, the hotel is located in its own private bay on the magnificent Aegean Sea.
  • Because of its hilltop location, the resort enjoys a spectacular, uninterrupted view towards the sea in all directions.
  • The hotel has 149 guest rooms and 24 suites that come in several categories. All accommodations are tastefully decorated and have walk-out balconies or terraces overlooking the Gokova Gulf. Soaking up the sun-kissed view of the Aegean from the privacy of your own room is a true delight.
  • The Moorish style pool area is quite spectacular: the hotel has a massive pool, a (cold) Jacuzzi pool and a kids pool. All pools are surrounded by a wooden deck and have gorgeous sea views. There is also a large lounge area, oriented towards the south, with very comfortable sun beds.
  • The hotel has a large private beach club down the cliffs. The water is clear and beautiful (and surprisingly warm when you visit later in the season). One part of the beach is reserved for families with younger children. The other part (so-called silent beach) is adults-only to guarantee a peaceful experience for those in need of that. The beach club also has an excellent restaurant.
  • The fabulous resort grounds are spread out and the beach is a 15 minute walk from the main hotel building (where the rooms, pool and spa are located). But they also have golf carts that drive you down to the beach if you want to, which is great.
  • A lot of water sports activities are available at the beach club, albeit not all of them complimentary. Besides some nice sea gadgets like water buggies, the hotels also offers windsurfing, catamaran sailing, para-sailing and beach volley.
  • The intimate, two level, boat dock bar that floats over the sea and comes with a couple of sun loungers, is a great, tranquil place to spend the day (do not forget to visit it, as it not marked very well).
  • Food is good and varied, from the excellent buffet breakfast, lunches at the beach to the delightful dinners. The resort has several restaurants, so foodies will not get bored during a stay, even a longer one. Olives Restaurant serves buffets and Turkish cuisine while the Saigon Club serves dishes that are a fusion of Thai, Vietnamese, Balinese, and Japanese cuisines. The resort’s signature restaurant La Luce serves excellent Italian fare in an al fresco setting.
  • The service provided by the professional staff is impeccable.
  • The 5,500 square meter, ultra-modern spa offers an array of treatments based on an Asian approach to wellness. Services include holistic detox programs, a Turkish hammam bath, an indoor pool and a whirlpool. Massages were amongst the best I ever received at a luxury hotel.
  • The room rate is cheaper for singles (as compared to booking the same room for double occupation), a policy which I can only applaud (being single myself).

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

The Kempinski Barbaros Bay Bodrum is a 5-star hotel, no doubt about it. Nevertheless, it has several issues that you need to beware of when considering a stay here:

  • The hotel is located in a very quiet area and it’s quite far from the nearest village or any crowds. This is a great option for travelers looking for peace that don’t really want to leave the resort. However if you are interested in venturing out into Bodrum town, it would take around 30 minutes by taxi on windy roads.
  • This main hotel building is massive – some would say an architectural monstrosity – and it borders the ambiance of a large corporate hotel. The huge, four-story atrium feels soulless, although the picture window frame of the Aegean sea over three cut away floors is impressive. The hotel was constructed in the nineties of the previous century, and somehow the design shows its age and feels dated in certain areas. If you are looking for an intimate place, then stay somewhere else.
  • While the location, pool and beach are quite spectacular, rooms (and their decors) are underwhelming and not very large nor luxurious considering the price.
  • In my room, two single beds were placed together to form a king-sized bed, which gave a bad impression. More troublesome, the beds are uncomfortably firm. To the hotel’s credit, I was given a foam topper after the first night and that made sleeping more comfortable.
  • As you may expect, this is not a cheap place to stay, although room rates are quite reasonable when you opt for a stay outside high season. While food at the restaurants is good, it is not spectacular and overpriced. The spa charges premium prices.
  • The water in the pool is very cold, almost freezing. This is not an issue in the heat of the summer, but it is in the colder months of April-May and September-October. More troublesome is that the water in the outside jacuzzi is freezing as well (the hotel should heat it to the temperature of a warm bath).
  • The narrow beach at the beach club is not composed of soft sand; it is rather a stone and coarse sand beach (like most beaches in Turkey). You need shoes to enter the sea from the beach, because you actually walk on slippery and hurting stones.
  • The lower room categories only have partial sea view.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 9/10
  • Design: 7/10
  • Rooms: 6/10
  • Food: 7/10
  • Service: 8/10
  • Overall experience: good: 7,4/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: Read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury resort like the Kempinski Barbaros Bay. Using the aggregator website Hotelscombined, I found the lowest rate on Hotels.com for my stay in October 2014.
  • Save money: enjoy free VIP amenities (upgrade, daily breakfast, 80 euro food & beverage credit, early check-in and late check-out) when you book your stay with Virtuoso.
  • Save money: Make use of Kempinski’s best rate guarantee to get an additional 25% discount on the cheapest room rate and an upgrade at check-in.
  • Save money: From time to time, the Kempinski Barbaros Bay features on Jetsetter, which offers the best deal.
  • Book a stay outside high season, when room rates are reasonable and reflecting the hotel’s real value.
  • Request a foam topper to enhance the sleeping comfort.
  • Members of Kempinski’s loyalty program, GHA Discovery, receive additional benefits.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

COMPARISON WITH OTHER BODRUM LUXURY HOTELS

Besides the Kempinski, the Bodrum area hosts 3 other hotels which fall in the high-end luxury segment: Amanruya, Mandarin Oriental and Jumeirah Bodrum.

  • Amanruya is definitely in another league as compared to the Kempinski: it is an intimate, super-de-luxe hotel, with fabulous accommodations, much better (and slightly cheaper!) food and unparalleled, exquisite service. Click here to read my review of Amanruya.
  • While Amanruya offers a superior and far more intimate experience (reflected by higher room rates), the Kempinski does have a couple of features were it beats Amanruya: its setting is more open and oriented towards the sea (views at Amanruya are blocked by the lush vegetation); its beach is much better (the beach at Amanruya is not really a beach); it enjoys more sun in the late afternoon (Amanruya is in the shade about 2 hours before sunset); it has an adult-only corner at the beach club; and it has much better Spa facilities.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The best and worst times to go to Bodrum depend less on weather and more on how much you want to party. If you thrive on international crowds, open-air discos, and mind-bending heat, July and August are when the scene truly goes off. It’s when some restaurants charge double the prices of Istanbul, too. Spring and summer are when the festival season picks up: there are bicycle and diving festivals in May, a film festival in June, and various Aegean, Bodrum, and Turkish cultural celebrations in July and August. The best time for a visit is in late summer and autumn (September, October). Temps linger in the high 70s (around 25°C) with crispy clear days, and the beaches and docks are less crowded. The frenetic, sweaty pace of the high season wanes a bit.


HOW TO GET THERE

Milas-Bodrum International airport is located 45 minutes from Amanruya and it served by all Turkish airlines as well as seasonally by many European charters as well as some full-service carriers (click here for a direct link to their websites). Check the Wikipedia page of Milas-Bodrum Airport to find out which airlines offer direct flights to Bodrum.


HOTEL EXTERIOR

HOTEL EXTERIOR

HOTEL ENTRANCE

HOTEL ENTRANCE

HOTEL ENTRANCE

HOTEL ENTRANCE

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

HOTEL EXTERIOR

HOTEL EXTERIOR

HOTEL EXTERIOR

HOTEL EXTERIOR

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL AT SUNSET

SWIMMING POOL AT SUNSET

ROOM

ROOM

ROOM

ROOM

ROOM

ROOM

ROOM TERRACE

ROOM TERRACE

WELCOME SNACKS IN ROOM

WELCOME SNACKS IN ROOM

BATHROOM

BATHROOM

TOILETRIES

TOILETRIES

ROOM AT NIGHT

ROOM AT NIGHT

ROOM AT NIGHT

ROOM AT NIGHT

ROOM AT NIGHT

ROOM AT NIGHT

FLOATING DOCK BAR

FLOATING DOCK BAR

FLOATING DOCK BAR

FLOATING DOCK BAR

FLOATING DOCK BAR

FLOATING DOCK BAR

FLOATING DOCK BAR

FLOATING DOCK BAR

HOTEL LOUNGE

HOTEL LOUNGE

HOTEL LOUNGE

HOTEL LOUNGE

HOTEL TERRACE

HOTEL TERRACE

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB: RESTAURANT

BEACH CLUB: RESTAURANT

BEACH CLUB

BEACH CLUB

INDOOR POOL

INDOOR POOL

SPA

SPA

SAIGON CLUB RESTAURANT

SAIGON CLUB RESTAURANT

SAIGON CLUB RESTAURANT

SAIGON CLUB RESTAURANT

OLIVES RESTAURANT

OLIVES RESTAURANT

OLIVES RESTAURANT TERRACE

OLIVES RESTAURANT TERRACE

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

RESORT AT SUNSET

RESORT AT SUNSET


*** Follow me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook for a daily moment of travel inspiration ***


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1 Comment on Hotel review: Kempinski Barbaros Bay (Turkey)

  1. Many thanks for a great photo review. Indeed this is a good hotel with excellent service!

    Like

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