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Hotel review: Mandarin Oriental Bodrum (Turkey)

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

Today (November 5, 2015): Review of the Mandarin Oriental Bodrum (Turkey) 

A stunning resort overlooking the Aegean Sea, the Mandarin Oriental Bodrum hotel is where dreams come true. With an idyllic location in Bodrum’s secluded Paradise Bay, two private beaches, a range of fabulous gourmet restaurants, a world-class spa and a choice of stylish rooms, suites and villas, this unique 6-star resort will seduce even the most discerning traveler and invite you to lie back, relax and savour the moment. The first beach resort of the Mandarin Oriental hotel group, which is widely acclaimed as one of the most exclusive hotel brands in the world, is so phenomenal that it makes the nicest 5 star resorts look like a cheap motel. If you are in need of a luxurious beach break around the Mediterranean basin, then stop looking as this is as exclusive a getaway as you can imagine!

Mandarin Oriental Bodrum features in my lists of the hottest luxury hotel openings of 2014, the best luxury hotels in Turkey, the world’s best family hotels, the best luxury hotels in Bodrum, and my most memorable travel experiences of 2015.

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

  • Pros & things I like
  • Cons & things to know
  • My verdict
  • Tips for future guests & save money
  • Best time to visit
  • How to get there

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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • The Mandarin Oriental resort is set in horseshoe-shaped Paradise Bay, the most beautiful cove to be found on the mountainous Bodrum peninsula, an area that is dotted with idyllic bays, magnificent inlets and gorgeous arcs of sand. Although you won’t feel the need to leave the resort, it’ s only a 5 minute drive to the town of Göltürkbükü and a 20 minute drive to Bodrum City Center.
  • The ultraluxurious complex spills down the green hillside from its magnificent open air lobby to its lovely twin beaches, boasting superb views of the Aegean Sea from almost every corner of the resort.
  • The hotel’s esthetics and minimalistic design are stunning beyond words. From the outside, the resort blends perfectly into its surroundings of mediterranean vegetation with olive trees, because of its subtle, green-tinged grey local stone sheathing that matches the hue of the olive stone. The hotel’s elegant interiors feature an understated type of luxury (that you usually see at an Aman or Park Hyatt hotel), using simple but amazing materials with finishing touches that are close to perfection. This is by far the most beautiful hotel design that I have ever encountered at a hotel.
  • The magnificent lobby is one of the architectural highlights of the resort. It’s partly outdoor, with a water-surrounded terrace that offers a phenomenal view of the blue sea, and party indoor, with a monumental stair being the eyecatcher.
  • The resort grounds are spread out but golf carts are readily available to provide a tour of the property (upon arrival at the resort) and to transport any guest to any location.
  • The resort has two lovely beaches (one large quiet beach, one beach club with music) that are by far the most beautiful crescents of sand in the larger Bodrum area, although the soft sand is not natural to the area but has been imported from Turkey’s Black Sea. The water lapping the beach is crystal clear. A small area of white pebbles between the sea and the beach keeps the imported sand in place, without compromising the beach’ scenic beauty.
  • There is an abundance of day beds and cabanas for lounging all around the resort. Along its shore, the hotel has a couple of wooden decking areas over the sea for sunbathing and direct access into the sea.
  • The bay that calls the hotel its home is totally private. You will only share the resort ground (and its beaches) with other hotel guests and owners of the Mandarin Oriental residences, not taking into account the occasional yachts belonging to Turkey’s wealthy elite that dock at the resort’s private harbour.
  • As stylish as they are spacious, the resort’s beautiful rooms and suites feature a luxurious design incorporating contemporary Turkish elements and stylish Oriental-inspired touches. There are 59 beautifully appointed guest rooms, 27 spacious suites including two incredible Presidential Villas, and 23 stylishly designed apartments, all with terraces or balconies.
  • The pool area is located halfway the hill between the lobby and the beach, and features 4 outdoor pools including a designated and shallow children’s pool. One of the adult’s pool features a wall of falling water and loungers set-out in the water.
  • From tennis to scuba-diving, pottery to crafts, the resort offers a fantastic range of leisure activities. Comprehensive sports facilities include two tennis and one basketball courts (with tennis lessons available upon request), and a jogging path circling Paradise Bay. Activities available include scuba diving, olive-pressing, glass blowing, pottery making, outdoor crafts market and helicopter tours
  • A courtyard with exclusive luxury retail shops is located adjacent to the lobby, within the resort grounds.
  • The resort has no less than 7 outstanding gourmet fusion restaurants. Delicious Trattoria style Italian cuisine is served at Assaggio Restaurant (hillside, with its own stunning pool); al fresco Turkish and Mediterranean specialties at JuJu Beach & Bistro; international cuisine with a Mediterranean flair at the Sofra Restaurant; contemporary Japanese cuisine at Kurochan Restaurant (seaside); traditional Turkish fish and seafood cuisine at Bodrum Balıkçısı (seaside); traditional Turkish kebab and mezzes at Veranda Restaurant, and relaxed poolside dining and children’s menus at the Pool Bar & Restaurant.
  • Serving a wide variety of freshly baked, homemade delicacies including pastries, chocolates, and cakes, the Mandarin cake shop is a must-stop for anyone looking to indulge.
  • Families will love the resort as the children facilities are excellent. There is a great kids’ playground next to the children’s pool. Inside the hotel is a well-supervised toddler’s play-room and computer games room for the older ones. There’s even a dedicated children’s only room within the Sofra Restaurant.
  • The beautifully designed, three-level spa, surrounded by idyllic gardens, is one of the most impressive spa facilities that I ever visited at a hotel, at least from a design’s perspective. It has  5 treatment rooms, 3 beauty rooms, a VIP Suite, a couple Spa Suite, two outdoor treatment cabanas, extensive heat and water facilities, luxurious hamams with private scrub rooms, a comprehensive fitness centre featuring state-of-the-art equipment, and a large indoor swimming pool. The spa offers Mandarin Oriental’s signature wellness treatments.
  • With the rigorous demands of the Mandarin Oriental brand and virtually the same number of staff as there are guests (even when full), it’s not surprising that the service is impeccable. You will be treated like Royalty.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

It’s almost impossible to imagine a more laid-back yet sophisticated and exclusive retreat than the Mandarin Oriental Bodrum. The 6 star resort is as luxurious as a hotel can get. Nevertheless, I did encounter a few minor issues (that did not distract from the overall superb experience) and there are some things you need to know: 

  • The smaller one of the two private beaches and most of the resort’s restaurants and are seasonally closed. If you want to experience the resort in its full glory, then you will need to visit it in summer time (June to September).
  • This is an integrated resort with a large residential housing development attached to the hotel (MO Residences). The hotel and its facilities are accessible to both hotel guests and resident owners. As such, occupancy levels are very high during the peak summer months and weekends, making the hotel feel more busy although there is still a good spread all over the resort without overcrowding one particular area.
  • The difference between “rooms” (MO hotel) and “apartments” (MO Residences) is not made sufficiently clear prior to booking. Without realizing it, I booked a one-bedroom apartment instead of a one-bedroom room, but only found out when I checked in at the resort. While the hotel rooms are ultraluxurious, I was disappointed by the design aspect of the one-bedroom apartment, which did not feature the grained wooden wall panelling (as to be found in the hotel rooms) and only had a very small bathroom without bath tube. While the apartments may be a good alternative for those considering a longer stay (since they come with their own living room and kitchenette), make sure to do your homework well and book a room instead of an apartment.
  • Some of the golf carts run on petrol and are quite noisy, disrupting the overall serene ambience of the resort.
  • The lack of knowledge of the English language by some members of the predominantly local staff is a bit of an issue, although everyone is very helpful and courteous.
  • A small area of pebbles between the sea and the beach keeps the imported sand in place but can make it challenging to walk barefoot into the sea, so be sure to bring swimming shoes.
  • The hotel is oriented towards the north, so you cannot watch the sunset and the resort is in the shade about 1 hour before sunset (since the sun disappears behind the hills).

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 10/10
  • Design: 10/10
  • Rooms: 8/10
  • Food: 9/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Overall experience: exceptional: 9,2/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: Read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like the Mandarin Oriental Bodrum. Book a room at the cheapest price and/or receive many free perks!
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time. Passport and visa requirements differ from country to country. Please check with your local authority before booking.
  • Not all rooms enjoy sea views, and frankly, the garden view that comes with some rooms is not very appealing (see photos below). Make sure that you book at least a a sea view room (or higher category).
  • There’s a huge difference between the apartments and the hotel accommodations, which is not always clear on the hotel website. While the apartments may be a good alternative for those considering a longer stay (since they come with their own living room and kitchenette), the hotel accommodations will  be the best option for all other travelers (since they feel more luxurious and are closer to the main hotel facilities).
  • Book a room on the hotel website to enjoy complimentary WiFi.

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 40 minutes from the Mandarin Oriental Bodrum hotel and it is served by all Turkish airlines and – 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.


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4 Comments on Hotel review: Mandarin Oriental Bodrum (Turkey)

  1. Hello
    What an amazing detailed review!
    Thank you so much for such generous information..
    Considering that you visited this resort and caresse bodrum resort, which one do you recommend for you couple if we have to choose only one considering overall experience, beach, views, rooms, restaurants, hotel grounds and over all luxury

    I really wish you help me with this!
    Thank you so much

    Like

    • I have stayed at both resorts indeed. While I did like Caresse and its boutique hotel ambience a lot, the Mandarin Oriental is definitely in a different league. The MO feels more exclusive and luxurious, the resorts grounds are much larger, the beach is the nicest in the area, and the restaurants are far superior (if you go in the high season, you will have a choice of 7 superb restaurants). Having said that, the MO is (much) more expensive as compared to Caresse, but if you can afford it, book the MO!

      Like

4 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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