It’s a DJ of no little prowess who is able to sync the slow-pulse beats of ambient dance music with the rhythmic persistence of stridulating crickets, then make the track’s final lingering crescendo coincide with the last sliver of the sun’s crescent plopping into the sea. But that’s the kind of unique experience with which you can expect your days to be sprinkled liberally at this richly idiosyncratic destination (the owners deem the word ‘Hotel’ to be reductive) on Turkey’s Bodrum Peninsula.
Macakizi began life in 1977 as a jet-set bolt-hole, nestling on a private bay close to Bodrum. Its founder (and the current owner’s mother) Ayla Emiroğlu, whose nickname (which translates as “Queen of Spades) gives the resort its current moniker, wanted to create an environment in which the plethora of writers, painters and other intellectuals who made up her social group could seek inspiration-by-osmosis. The establishment grew and evolved and eventually, in 2000, Maçakızı moved to its current location in Türkbükü, but retains all the achingly trendy (but bohemian) ethos of its founder.
So what makes Macakizi so remarkable, it can eschew the traditional definition of the word ‘hotel’? A good place to start is its extraordinary façade – one which eschews the traditional definition of the word ‘façade’. Slip off the wooden decking that stretches right along its lower reaches into the sparkling Aegean waters, swim out a few metres then look back and, above a water-level scene worthy of a Slim Aarons masterpiece (supermodels have been known to rub heavily tanned shoulders with Middle-Eastern princesses and the Hollywood elite here), no masonry is visible at all – just flashes of vertical and horizontal timber climbing up a terraced hill that is festooned with lush vegetation and vivid bougainvillea. (You’re short of neither shade or oxygen when staying here.)
Next on the ‘Things to write home about’ list might be the extraordinary artworks all over the public spaces: here, a pouting Audrey Hepburn depicted by Antonio de Felipe; there an extraordinary glass/wire-suspension bookcase by Italian Neo-Rationalist architect Franco Albini; turn another corner on the winding path towards the sea and you’re greeted by a sensuously curvy installation by Turkish sculptor Ebru Döşekçi.
Then there’s the subtler touches: the way the cream sun loungers on the decking are sun dappled by a kind of fabric webbing effect; the startling level of informality which sees senior management frequently greeting regulars who have just checked in – a process which simply involves by grabbing their keys from a hook in reception, and making their way to their usual room – with warm hugs and hearty mirth. There’s the massage tents under a small tree canopy facing the sea, and the traditional Turkish hammam sculpted in white marble; there’s the all-pervading antithesis to manicured, soulless, White House-lawn notions of good maintenance.
Then there’s the multiple dining options: traditional-but-innovative three-course a la carte dinners or buffet lunches from the main fine-dining restaurant, plus an irresistible Mediterranean menu, created by Executive Chef Aret Sahakyan and served in a kind of hillside plateau-cum-olive tree grove. And there’s the newly decorated rooms – 53 of them, plus 21 suites – with works by local artists Suat Akdemir and Rıfat Özbek, modern furnishing, heated travertine floors, open plan bathrooms (with rain showers) and lavender-infused duck feather pillows conspiring to draw you back when you need a break, as if you do, from all the glamour, congeliality and epicurean indulgence.
Go on a weekend night and you’ll notice, around 6pm, that the aforementioned ambient dance music has shifted up a few beats-per-minute, and that the bar tenders are now pouring, shaking and blending imbibements for an increasingly thirsty band of revellers around the increasingly packed party areas with a little more urgency. A long and loud night is ahead…
Any other time though, this place is all about relaxation in one of the most sybaritic and oh-so-hip environments you’ll find off the beaten jet-setter track. And, with the curtain now firmly shut on Northern Europe’s summer, this is our recommendation for where book – now, to be safe – in order to get some recharge, rays and replenishment of those Vitamin D stocks without needing to take a long-haul flight, once European Spring is upon us.
A sea view villa suite at Macakizi starts from €1,995 per night. +90 252 311 24 00/macakizi.com