You simply cannot beat a beach holiday in the Med, they have something for everyone, beaches, villas, the opportunity to explore local culture and taste local cuisine as well as getting active with water sports and much more. Most people probably think of Spain, Portugal and Greece as the destinations to book for Mediterranean sunshine, however it is always worth looking further afield, Turkey is making a welcome return and Croatia grows in popularity each year.
Mark Warner returned to Turkey in May 2018 with their new Phokaia Beach Resort, situated 60 miles north of Izmir airport in the northern part of Turkey’s Aegean region and near to the laidback local town of Foca. Foca’s harbour and narrow streets boast some lovely old restored stone buildings and inviting restaurants. There are six small islands facing Foca and among these are Orak and Incir, known as the Sirens’ Rocks mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey. Two of the region’s major historic sites, Pergamon and Ephesus, around 60 miles south and 90 miles north from Foca respectively, are absolutely worth a visit and on Mark Warner’s excursion programme.
Phokaia is an ideal spot, fronted by a beach arcing around a quiet bay, part sheltered by an offshore island, the near constant offshore breeze is great for water sports, from windsurfing and sailing to wakeboarding and water skiing. Other activities available include a cycling programme with both mountain and road bikes, tennis, kayaking, stand-up paddle-boarding, a full programme of classes from morning yoga to the light heartedly leftfield Zumba Bollywood and fun events such as social tennis and beach volleyball played whilst holding beers!
For those looking to relax, unwind and pampering there is a wellness area, including sauna, small gym, Turkish hammam, indoor heated pool and spa with five treatment rooms (please note massages and treatments are not included in packages).
Families will be well looked after, and childcare is a pillar of the Mark Warner brand, backed by qualified British nannies. Young ones from four months to 17 years are catered for, with childcare complimentary for those aged two to 17 but chargeable for toddlers aged four months to two years. Activity-focused day clubs range from Baby Club and Toddler Club to Indy Club for the oldest, with free evening care and entertainment for older kids and a supervised evening listening service for younger ones.
Dining options are good, with two restaurants and adjacent bars or head into nearby Foca for local cuisine. The reflection of the presence of ethnic communities in Izmir is reflected in the amazing seafood on offer, with mezes of prawns, scallops, crab and squid, accompanied with the most important condiments; garlic and olive oil. A charming feature of Izmir is the tradition of a flower for every season; artichoke for spring, zucchini blossoms for summer and figs for autumn, which are incorporated into the seasonal dishes.
Why not take a look at the Phokaia beach resort to find out more?
Croatia was all but forgotten for almost a decade following the war in the nineties that saw the break-up of Yugoslavia. However, it is now firmly back on the summer destinations map. And with its stunning coastline, unspoilt nature – it has eight national parks and beautifully-preserved centuries-old harbour towns, it offers a less commercial take on the sun, sea and sand holidays you would expect in Greece or Spain. So where exactly should you head for?
Croatia’s main pull has to be its stunning coastline, which measures 3,600 miles in all, if you count the blissful islands, of which there are said to be more than a thousand. Unlike many seaside destinations, Croatia has very little sand. Its grey-white pebbles and rocks mean that the sea is exceptionally clear, with great visibility for snorkelling.
With its warm Mediterranean climate, the coastal region also enjoys an ever-changing array of fresh seasonal produce, with flavoursome tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and courgettes available in abundance throughout the summer. In inland Istria, truffles are the local delicacy, and truffle hunting takes place in the autumn. The coastal regions of Istria and Dalmatia are famed for their fresh Adriatic seafood. You’ll find a host of dishes based on shellfish, as well as barbecued fresh fish, typically gilthead bream or sea bass.
Croatia’s best-preserved and most-valued architectural monuments and urban complexes are UNESCO world heritage sites. These include Dubrovnik old town, contained within magnificent medieval walls; Split old town, centring on Diocletian’s Palace, built by the retired Roman Emperor; Trogir old town, with its medieval houses and Romanesque-Gothic cathedral; the 6th-century Euphrasian Basilica with its glistening Byzantine mosaics in Porec; and the 15th-century Gothic-Renaissance cathedral in Sibenik.
There is plenty for those who want to get active, some of Croatia’s most impressive mountain ranges have been designated national parks, Risnjak, Paklenica National Park and North Velebit, all of which are criss-crossed by networks of hiking paths. Mountain biking, rock climbing and caving are added attractions. Rafting and canyoning are also on offer, most notably down the River Cetina near Omis and the River Zrmanja near Zadar, both in Dalmatia.
Check out the Croatia video to see what you are missing out on.
With Prestige Holidays you can stay near to Trogir, the old town is a totally pedestrianised historic walled city and is a designated UNESCO heritage site. Beautiful cobbled streets suddenly lead onto glorious piazzas and squares you hadn't noticed before. The original stone gates are still standing as are many Venetian palaces and the famous cathedral and bell tower is a must-see. There are some lovely pebbly beaches located across the bridge on Ciovo island, and Split is just 30 minutes away by bus or a relaxing hour by boat, both with regular reliable services.
As always if you are inspired to visit either Turkey or Croatia or anywhere else for that matter, please do get in touch.