Run, Don't Walk Here: A Review of the Bodrum Edition in the Turkish Riviera
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I've become quite fond of Marriott's Edition brand. After stays at its properties in Miami Beach, Shanghai and New York, I've found them to be youthful but refined, the on-property food-and-drink options have always been stellar, and the design of each property I've stayed at has been beautiful (and, yes, perfect for Instagram). While Edition has properties in "conventional" locations like New York (in both the Flatiron District and Times Square), London and Barcelona, the brand has also opened hotels in locations that are more off-the-beaten-path — at least for American travelers — such as Sanya, China, and Bodrum, Tu rkey.
The Bodrum property immediately caught my attention when it opened in the summer of 2018. Its dramatic setting on the Aegean Sea immediately drew me in, and the very Edition-typical minimalist rooms and impeccably designed public spaces sealed the deal.
When I decided on a European vacation with cousins for this summer, Bodrum, and its Edition hotel, shot directly to the top of the list. Americans flock to European summer hot spots like Ibiza, Mykonos and the South of France, but Bodrum is not exactly on their radar, although it's very popular for Turks and other Europeans looking for a sun-soaked vacation. I was excited at the prospect of visiting a new country, Turkey, as well as getting to experience the laid-back lifestyle of Bodrum, otherwise known as the Turkish Riviera. The best part of it all? It only cost me 50,000 Marriott points per night.
When the Bodrum Edition first opened, it was a Category 5 hotel, meaning free nights only cost 35,000 points per night. That was an absolute steal, and this year, when the property opened again for the summer season (it opened this year on May 1 and will close at the end of September), it had moved into Category 6, meaning free nights cost 50,000 points -- for now. Come Sept. 14, 2019, Marriott will be introducing its peak and off-peak pricing scheme, meaning that nights will cost anywhere from 40,000 to 60,000 points, depending on the algorithm that decides which nights are peak/off-peak or standard. Considering that this property is only open for one season, it's going to be very interesting to see where the days land on the peak/standard/off-peak spectrum.
Since I stayed before the change goes into effect, I paid 50,000 points per night for my four-night stay, which I considered to be a phenomenal deal. If I'd had to pay cash for a room, I would have had to pay upwards of 800 euros (around $885) per night. Oh, and there's no resort fee, which is a major win in my book. Plus, this property is eligible for the free-night certificates that come with certain high-end Marriott cobranded cards, such as the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. These certificates only apply for up to 50,000 points per night, so you can only apply one if you can find a night at standard or off-peak rates.
The Bodrum Edition is actually in a seaside town called Yalikavak. Bodrum refers both to the city of Bodrum and the Bodrum peninsula, where there are many towns and villages. The resort is just over 30 miles from Milas-Bodrum Airport (BJV), which surprised me with its large size and plentiful flights to cities across Europe. We took a taxi from the airport to the resort, which took 50 minutes and cost us just under $25. On the way to the Edition, we passed a number of other high-end resorts such as the Mandarin Oriental and Amanruya.
The resort itself is set on a peaceful bay and framed by dramatic hills dotted with white vacation homes, a scene typical of the Aegean coast. The Edition is a 10-minute taxi ride into the town of Yalikavak, which features a glittering marina featuring the docked yachts of Ukrainian billionaires (according to locals), plenty of shopping and restaurants featuring both Turkish cuisine and international fare, such as Zuma, a high-end sushi restaurant/club combo that's found in other global hotspots like Dubai, London, Miami and Las Vegas.
For less of the glitterati, head to Gümüslük, a much more laid-back fishing town about 25 minutes away from the Edition, featuring seaside fish restaurants and cafes to catch gorgeous sunsets.
We arrived around 2pm on a Wednesday and were greeted by friendly staff and a delicious ginger lemonade that was exactly the pick-me-up I needed after a very early morning.
I thought that arriving on a Wednesday would have increased the chances of an upgrade, but no luck for this Gold elite member. We were given our keys just a few minutes later and headed to our two-queen room, which was on the same level as the lobby.
The property is set on a steep hill, so while it was nice initially to have a short walk from the lobby to our room, once we were settled it became a nuisance. Our room was at the very top of the hill at the "beginning" of the property, while all the amenities were at the bottom of the hill toward the beach, so we had to be extra sure that we had everything we needed before heading down for the day, or else we'd have to climb quite a few stairs to get back up to the room, which wasn't exactly a quick process. The property provided golf carts to shuttle guests from the pool and beach back to their rooms, but we preferred to walk the majority of the time.
Beside the somewhat unfortunate location of the room, I loved just about everything about it.
Walking in, I could immediately see out to the beautiful flowers and trees of the property as well as to the ocean, though that view was somewhat obstructed.
To the right of the front door were the closet and the room's minibar and coffee station which featured a Nespresso machine.
To the left was the bathroom, which featured a double vanity, separate large soaking tub, a WC, a standing shower and toiletries from Le Labo, which I love. It all looked beautiful and checked my boxes for what I believe is a great hotel bathroom. However, there was one big flaw: The shower overflowed so badly that we had to lay down the entirety of the range of towels given to our room each day to stop the flood.
The bathroom was enclosed in glass, but there were curtains that you could draw around it so that you could have privacy. One of the curtains even extended all the way to the other wall of the room, effectively cutting the room in half. This allowed people to use the bathroom area and bedroom area simultaneously, with a degree of privacy. I thought this was a really practical touch for a beach resort, especially since I was traveling in a group.
The rest of the room was classic Edition all the way. The floor, rugs, drapes and wood trip were a neutral gray, while mostly everything else was white. The walls were spare, save for one piece of artwork above one of the queen beds and a sleek lighting feature above them.
Power was plentiful, with AC and USB outlets adjacent to each bed. Across from the beds were a desk and chair.
Waiting on the desk was a welcome gift of delicious cherries that I could not stop eating!
Next to the desk was a white chair that doubled as a storage unit, and then came the sliding glass door that led to the balcony.
While we didn't do much with the balcony besides sit briefly to take FaceTime calls from family members, it was nice to keep it open in the evening to get the cool summer sea breeze into the room.
Food and Beverage
Before diving into the eating and drinking landscape at the Bodrum Edition, let me just say that the hotel's breakfast is reason enough to visit this property. First of all, it was served until 4pm daily. Yes. All. Day. Brunch. Second, and even better than the late cutoff time, was the fact that it was included with our room rate. And, I'm not talking about a continental breakfast here -- this was an extravagant affair. It's a little unclear as to whether breakfast is always included for all guests, and I've read conflicting experiences from other guests, but we never signed a check for a breakfast, no matter how much we ordered, and it was not charged upon checkout. I'll take it!
It was apparent that the staff was very proud of the Turkish breakfast tradition and excited to share it with foreigners. To begin, there was an offering of traditional Turkish breakfast items like a selection of breads (including simit, which is similar to a bagel), olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, parsley, dried fruits, Turkish cheeses, butter, Aegean honeycomb, homemade jams and preserves, seasonal fruit (including those delicious cherries that were also my welcome amenity) and fried sucuk, a Turkish sausage.
Oh, and the restaurant from which it was served was stunning in its own right, too.
That was just the beginning. In addition to all of that, you could choose as many "main courses" as you liked. These included eggs any style, menemen (a scrambled-egg dish with tomatoes, peppers and onions), smoked salmon and avocado eggs Benedict, fried eggs çilbir style (served with warm yogurt, mushrooms, chili oil and nuts) and homemade granola bowls with Turkish yogurt, nuts, fruit and chia seeds.
We're not done yet. In addition to all of these unfathomably delicious breakfast foods, there was a full selection of fresh-pressed juices, wellness shots and Turkish coffee and tea. After late nights dancing until dawn, nothing was better than ordering just about everything on this menu and eating it well into the afternoon.
Breakfast at Kitchen was definitely a highlight of the on-property dining experience, but there were plenty of other options. At the pool and beach was the Brava Beach Club, which served pool- and beachside food and drinks. Since we spent most of our days hanging out either at the beach or the pool, we ate here quite a few times.
On the drink side of things, there were about 10 cocktails available at 85 lira ($15) apiece, in addition to two beers, a full wine list, soft drinks, juices, coffees, hot tea, iced tea and kombucha. I was a particularly big fan of the frosé, made with frozen rosé wine, lemon and strawberry, as well as the hibiscus-and-lemongrass iced tea.
In our nearly five full days at the resort, we had plenty of time to get through most of the snacks on offer. Highlights were the elaborate chips and guacamole (105 lira, or $18; though the chips weren't the best I've had), the sticky fried-chicken bites (80 lira, or just under $15), patatas bravas (65 lira, around $10) and pita bread with assorted dips platter (65 lira, or $10).
We did eat dinner one night at the beachside Morena, the less formal (and less expensive) sister to the property's signature restaurant, Brava. It was a little confusing since it used the same space as the Brava Beach Club during the day.
We started off our dinner at Morena with a pitcher of a gin, ginger, tumeric and soda (495 lira, or $85). It was light and refreshing, perfect for a balmy evening by the sea.
To eat, we began with two cucumber salads (50 lira, or $9, apiece) which were served with a sweet chili and coriander sauce; an arugula, roasted pumpkin, walnut, pickled pear-and-aged cheese salad dressed in balsamic vinegar (90 lira, or just over $15) and an order of sweet potato sticks served with sour cream and sweet chili sauce (65 lira, or $10).
There was a variety of fish, meat and vegetarian options for main courses. I chose the shish tawook (115 lira, or $20) -- grilled chicken served with lemon and garlic on a tomato pita -- for myself, while my cousins chose the salt-encrusted sea bream, which was served with butter, soy and chives (310 lira, or $55). The quality of the food was outstanding, and we all agreed that we just wanted a little bit more.
Like I mentioned, we mainly ate dinners off property, so I did not try the hotel's 24-hour room service, Brava or the on-site bar/club called Discetto. We walked in one evening, and it was completely empty -- I'm not sure if it just hasn't caught on yet or what, but it didn't look all that fun. However, I very much enjoyed the food and drink that I sampled at this hotel. And I still haven't gotten over that Turkish brunch.
Of course, the most prominent amenity at the Bodrum Edition is its beach. It's the focal point of the property, and it proved to be the place to be during the long, hot days. The beach club was open to the public (it even had a separate entrance), but it never felt too crowded.
It definitely did feel like a beach club, though. Each day a DJ set up for the afternoon, and most days they played exactly what you'd expect when you think of a chic European beach club -- a lot of deep house music. That's typically not my first choice when it comes to music, but in this atmosphere it totally worked.
Since the hotel was set in a bay, the water was exceedingly calm and perfect for swimming, though the entrance was rocky. There was a variety of water activities on offer through a third-party company, including Jet Skis, scuba diving and more, but I just stuck to plain old swimming.
The Turkish Riviera doesn't have a huge number of sandy beaches, and most are of the rocky, craggy variety so typical to that area of the world. However, the Bodrum Edition had a sandy beach -- and it was some of the whitest sand I'd ever seen. Rumor had it the hotel imported it from Egypt, but wherever it came from, it was amazingly soft and never got too hot. Also at the beach it had four cabanas that could be rented for the day, though we passed.
If the beach isn't your scene, you're in luck. The Bodrum Edition's pool was beautiful. It was a simple rectangle with an infinity edge and a super-cool wood deck, and the overall effect was really fantastic.
Coupled with the Edition's signature low-slung, white-cushioned lounge chairs, and you had a trendy yet timeless scene seemingly tailor-made for Instagram -- I have proof!
Just like at the beach, cabanas were available for rent at the pool, though we refrained from renting one as we didn't really see a value in it.
This hotel placed a lot of emphasis on fitness. The gym itself was very large for a hotel gym, and there were always trainers present and available for one-on-one appointments or leading group fitness classes. There were also daily yoga classes in the morning and evening that were held on a smallish lawn that overlooked the pool and beach. I told myself that I'd go to a class each morning because it looked so peaceful, but I either overslept or spent too much time at breakfast. Maybe next summer ....
Of course, the resort offered a full spa, which I didn't use. But I did catch a glimpse of some of the plunge pools as I walked down to the pool one day, and it looked heavenly. If you're a big spa person, I have a feeling you'd be very happy here.
The Wi-Fi worked well enough to stream Netflix in my room but struggled by the pool and beach.
Everyone I interacted with at this property was exceedingly friendly and worked tirelessly to make sure we were enjoying ourselves. Smiles were plentiful, and whatever we asked for -- from food to extra towels and shampoo -- was delivered promptly. I got sick on the last couple of days of my stay and I called the front desk to see if there was a nearby store that had sports drinks to help me get rehydrated (no, this wasn't just a hangover), and they delivered two blue Powerades to me with a note wishing me well. Staff members also gave out their WhatsApp numbers so that we could text any questions. This is something I really appreciated, especially when I wanted to find somewhere for dinner or a bar for afterward.
The Bodrum Edition is a special hotel in a place where time seems to move slower. It's an Instagrammer's dream, no doubt, but it gets the basics right, too. The staff is friendly and helpful, the rooms are chic, sleek and practical, and the public spaces are drop-dead gorgeous, but the vibe is relaxed and unpretentious, unlike some of the hotels you'd find in Mykonos or Ibiza.
There are plenty of high-end hotels in this area of the world, but I'd be hard-pressed to find one that's as good a value for your points as this one is. My advice: Save up your Bonvoy points and put them to good use for a summer vacation in the Turkish Riviera. You won't regret it.
All photos by the author.