Turkish golf mecca Belek, a dream destination?

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The small village of Belek grew in the last century from a minature town based on agriculture to a service city for golf and luxury tourism – with all the joining advantages and disadvantages.

Most vistors enter the ‘Turkish Golf Mecca’ from the west, after a flight to Antalya. Belek is just a 30 minutes cab ride from the airport and offers nothing else than 90% of all Turkish golf courses and pure luxury 5-star accommodation right at the sandy beach. Here you find one high-class resort next to the other. Basically it’s a chain of huge and luxurious hotel complexes which attract the guest (besides the golf) with beautiful weather, pine trees, pool landscapes, beach and hotel amenities that everyone can just dreams of.

The center of Belek is not very nice but only few people seem to notice or to bother; most of the guests barely leave the hotel premises, and when they do, they do it for one reason only: the golf!

Belek offers 18 golf courses as of now and it’s not surprising everything here seems to be related to golf somehow: you see signs to golf courses everywhere, signs to golf shops, signs to golf villas, golf facilities, golf travel agencies… just everything’s golf. Which is very interesting as the Turkish people in general are not interested in this sport at all. And I bet none of the native residents regularly enjoys a round at these ‘local’ sport facilities. For 99% of the people the hype about golf is just a way of doing a living. And it works well for some! With the expensive golf hotels there came golf courses which attracted people, more and more over the years, new courses and new hotels were built and it seems this trend is holding, eventhough there is no waterfront space left for new hotels! My ‘golf chauffeur’ (the guy who shuttled me to the courses) told me the other day they would need two more golf courses in Belek to accomodate the vast amount of people wanting to play in the winter season. In May, he said, that’s the end of the golf season, afterwards only a few are playing because it’s just too hot.

I wanted to come here for the same reasons as everybody else: weather, hotel quality and high-end golf courses, so I booked for one week to check that place out everybody is talking about. And boy I was not dissapointed, pretty lucky with my hotel, the Rixos Premium Belek, one of the biggest ones around here with sheer unilimited luxury if you can afford to pay the bill (I stayed in a standard room…) as I could imagine that one of the 24/7 fully serviced private villas on the property with private pools and private butler service are far from ‘easily affordable’. But what do you expect from a hotel with ‘premium’ in its name…

Coming back to golf again, the courses around here are not mediocre by all means, I can say that these courses are the most beautiful and most interesting ones I’ve ever played. It’s the combination of perfect designed and manicured golf courses, vast and luxurious club houses with everything available to please you pre- or post-round and the true Turkish hospitality and service, e.g. people assisting you dismounting bags from carts, offering club-cleaning or shoe-shine. Even when you are not using this service it definitely provides you with a feeling of ‘wow, these guys really care for me. What a nice feeling!’

Another word on the courses: these venues are world-class facilities, course design and quality that you barely find somewhere else. For sure there are other European top venues, but 18 next to each other?! Having said that, yes Belek is a dream destination for the avid golfer who knows how to strike the ball, appreciates both high quality courses and challenged play. The weather is a factor for sure. The temperature is hardly falling below 15 degrees in December/January and hence creates golfing dreams for 365 days a year. You should go sometime! It’s worth the 3 hours journey from most mayor European cities in my opinion!

I created reviews on the courses I played (Gloria New, Carya, Cornelia, Montgomerie Maxx Royal, Antalya PGA Sultan). Use the tag Belek 2013 to have a look at them.

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