Although most people know Turkey for its almost-guaranteed sunshine for 6 months of the year, it’s not always hot…in winter it gets cold…VERY cold. Generally the coldest month in Fethiye is February, in my experience. I remember one winter it was around -2 degrees, with icy puddles outside. This photo was taken in January last year, on what was actually a warm day, but the evidence of winter was plain to see on the mountains in the distance – lots and lots of snow. It looks like I was in the sea, but I actually took the photo whilst on a hill off of Karataş beach, looking back towards Koca Caliş – you can see Sunset beach club and Jiva hotel in the centre of the photo. The mountains look so impressive covered in snow, but also vast and intimidating, a very prominent feature of the landscape even though they’re so far in the distance!
Although I love visiting Turkey, I always say that it’s not really like a holiday for us, there’s just too many people to see and things to do and we end up rushing around here there and everywhere. When we were there 3 weeks ago though, Berkay suprised me by booking us a day/night in the 5* all inclusive Jiva Beach Resort hotel in Calis, to celebrate our first wedding anniversary.
Last October we visited Titanic Hotel in Lara Beach, Antalya, for one night and that was the first time I’d ever stayed in a 5* hotel anywhere, so I was curious to see how Jiva hotel compared.
When we arrived at the hotel, we went to check in and met a lovely lady on reception. After taking our passports and information, she looked at me and said ‘oh, you write a nice blog, that’s how I know you!’ which was surreal, it’s always weird when people recognise us! Our room wasn’t ready, but we were able to check in, use the facilities and eat lunch.
The lunch was an open buffet and it was amazing. When you tell people you’re staying in an all inclusive hotel, they’re always a bit worried about the food, they seem to have the idea that the same food is left out all day in the sun, and leftovers reheated and served up again for dinner, but that certainly isn’t the case here, and a lot of it was cooked in huge pans in front of us. There were tons of options just for lunch, jacket potatoes, soups, chips, meat, pizza, salad, fresh fruit, cakes, pudding.. I ended up having a very random mixture.
After lunch, we went for a walk around the hotel grounds. We used to live a 10 minute walk away from this hotel, and walked around the surrounding area almost everyday for years. We watched the progress from the outside, whilst it was being built, when it first opened in 2012 and when they extended it and added more rooms in 2014. What really, really suprised us is how big the hotel grounds are. It’s like the tardis, bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside! Aside from nearly 400 hotel rooms, there are 5 outdoor pools, an inside pool & spa, game room, patisserie, buffet restaurant, 2 ala carte restaurants and several bars.
There is also a small lake which the hotel is built around. Back when it was being built we were always a bit put off because of this – it looked like stagnant, green water and we thought it would attract a lot of mosquitos, but it is a really beautiful focal point. The hotel describes this as a ‘natrual lagoon’ which they protected when building on the site. It has a lot of reeds and lily pads, as well as fish, turtles, ducks and frogs living in it, you can hear the frogs croaking at night. There is a bridge crossing the lagoon and lots of seating areas all around, with paths lined with palm trees around the whole resort. The hotel also has it’s own section of beach, with sunbeds and umbrellas.
At 2pm, it was time to get our suitcases and head to our room. We had a standard pool facing room. The bed had a big ceiling fan above it which would be amazing in the height of summer. It had a chaise lounge in one corner, tv, a mirror/dressing table, mini fridge, kettle, huge mirrors, lots of wardrobe/hanging space, a safe and stunning bathroom with marble sink and shower. The shower was my favourite thing about the whole room – a ‘rain’ shower. I could have stayed in that shower for hours, it was so powerful and so relaxing. The balcony overlooked the pool area and by spooky coincidence, had the exact same table and chairs on it as we had bought in B&Q for our balcony at home here in England just a couple of weeks before hand! How odd.
There are lots of different types of rooms at the hotel and 367 rooms in total. Attic rooms, standard rooms,swim-up rooms. The hotel has a thin, long pool outside the length of the ground floor, and some rooms have steps down into the pool from the balcony – lovely! There is also a honeymoon suite room with a hot tub inside, and a ‘presidential villa’ with its own private pool with curtain across it. I walked past it in awe, really looked amazing. I’ve since looked it up on the hotel website and it looks even better than I realised – I suspect the price is also ‘amazing’ though!!!
After looking around the room, we changed into our swimming gear and headed down to the pool area. We saw that the water slides were open so we went straight over to them – the water was freezing, as it was so early in the season the pools hadn’t had a chance to warm up. Despite the cold water, the slides were great fun. There was a kids pool next to the slides, an adults pool the other side of the bridge next to a jacuzzi style pool, and a main pool which while we were there, hosted water volley ball and ‘animation’ dancers jiving to crazy frog around it every few hours…!
Underneath the pool area there are really nice toilets, lockers and showers. Handy if you have to check out of your room but still want to use the pool, or need somewhere to leave your belongings. The hotel also sells day passes, so you can pay a certain amount and get to use the facilities all day so these showers, toilets and lockers underneath are perfect for those guests too.
If the pool view becomes a little boring, and you fancy a change of scenery, the hotel has its own section of beach with sunbeds. We laid there for a while with a refreshing ice coffee.
After having enough sun for the day, we went inside to check out the spa. The Turkish bath was free to use yourself, but if you want bubbles and the proper experience, you have to pay. There was a free sauna, steam room and indoor pool too. The pool looked really relaxing, with a couple of sunbeds around it, mood lights and serene music, but don’t be fooled by the appearance, it was freezing, I couldn’t even stand in it it was so cold, so I’m not really sure what the point of it was. They have the usual massages and other treatments for an added cost, but we didn’t try any of them. They also had a free gym which looked well equipped, but who wants to use the gym on holiday, right? Hah!
Before dinner, we rushed to get ready and catch the sunset, our favourite thing about Calis. It looked especially beautiful with the boats in the foreground. We also used the opportunity to take a photo for our first wedding anniversary. The idea is, you take a photo of you holding your wedding photo, and then next year, take a photo of you holding the photo of you holding the wedding photo, etc etc. I hope we remember to do this every year and can see how we change over the years, and later on hopefully include children in our photos too!
At dinner time, we realised why the hotel gym exists – it must be to work off all the extra calories that you consume during the all inclusive buffet! The food was amazing, my photos don’t even do it justice but I was too busy building a mountain of food on my plate to take better photos! All sorts of food, including whole carved roasted Chickens, pasta dishes, fish, grilled meats, meat skewers, lahmacun, pide, pizza, chips, vegetables, stews, soups, sushi, rice, fresh salad, lots of various Turkish meze and traditional dishes, and the funniest thing – a whole chicken doner grilling away in the corner! Surely Turkey is the only place in the world where you’d find a chicken doner kebab roasting in the all inclusive buffet? Hilarious, but delicious! Berkay had 3 plates full, mostly meat! I limited myself and saved myself for dessert. Baklava, pudding, mini cakes and tarts, Turkish Lokma (similiar to donuts covered in syrup) and my favourite – beautiful cakes covered in brightly coloured icing and fresh strawberry, kiwi and banana!
As well as lunch & dinner buffets, the hotel also has a snack bar open every afternoon, an icecream stand open for 2 hours a day, and patisserie open 24 hours, all included as part of the ‘all inclusive’ concept. Local beer, wine, raki, gin, vodka and cocktails are included, as well as soft drinks, teas, coffee etc, but imported spirits and fresh fruit juices are extra. There are also two a la Carte restaurants which need booking for an extra cost too.
After dinner we went to the amphitheater to watch the entertainment for the night – a ‘Turkish night’ – I think we picked a good day! The only time I’ve ever watched any entertainment in Turkey was the night we stayed in Titanic hotel. I don’t know how I visited and lived in Turkey for so long without coming across any evening entertainment but it’s true! There was some more weird dancing to crazy frog, and then a really good traditional Turkish dance show, with men and women dancing to various music, drums, tap dancing, swords, whirling dervish etc! It was really good and lasted for about 45minutes. Berkay loved it, his face was beaming the whole time.
The next morning we had to wake up early to leave and go to the village, even though we were allowed to use the hotel facilities til 2pm. We did get to enjoy a lovely breakfast though – fresh simit, tomatoes, cucumber, salad, fried egg, boiled egg, cheeses, fried potatoes, sucuk (spicy sausage).. and sweet options too – fruit, fruit pies, pastries, pancakes with syrup, waffles with chocolate sauce… Because we were only in the hotel for one day, we had to make the most of it and eat EVERYTHING. Dessert with breakfast, yummy.
The whole place is so peaceful in the morning, the sea was still, beach empty, sunbeds empty. I sat and made the most of the last few minutes of 5* luxury, knowing that in a few hours time I’d be sat 4 hours away in Berkay’s family’s village, surrounded by farm animals and haystacks. Oh what a difference a few hours and a few hundred kilometers makes!
What really surprised me was how full the hotel was. We were there the last week of April/first week of May, and everywhere else was quiet, Calis was quiet in the evenings, the restaurants along the promenade fairly empty, but this hotel very busy – we inquired about staying for another few nights the following week and were told all rooms were full, they only had the more expensive suites available. It didn’t feel cramped though and there was no fighting for sunbeds, although finding a table at dinner time took a little searching! Regardless, it’s a beautiful hotel in a brilliant location and we’ll definitely be visiting again one day. A lot of the Calis beach hotels are 3* or 4* and a little run down, never really seem to have improvements or a lick of paint, so this was something a little different.
All those years we spent walking past it, watching it being built from the ground upwards, afternoons spent walking Boncuk past it, we never thought we’d actually stay there, and it was even better than we imagined.
Please note, Jiva resort did not sponsor this post, we paid for everything ourselves and they do not even know I am writing it!
Two days ago we went for a long walk up to the furthest point of Calış beach and back again.
We walked from our house all the way to Koca Çalış and up a hill at the far end of the beach – the views were lovely and I saw Calış/Fethiye from a whole new angle!
The walk from our house to the end of the beach was around 2.6 km, so we walked over 5 km together – not easy in the 40oc heat! We waited til 6pm to leave because we’d melt into a puddle on the floor otherwise. I’d never been so far into Koca Çalış before, the furthest we’d really been was Sunset Beach Club/Surf Cafe. I definitely wouldn’t want to live there as it’s too far from anything else. We came across some pretty multi-coloured holiday apartments though which looked lovely, it’d certainly be more peaceful there!
We took Boncuk too, we love taking her on long walks. The downside to taking her with us is that a lot of stray dogs approached us. At one point we walked past a restaurant with a dog roaming loose and it spotted Boncuk and started growling and barking at her, setting off a chorus of at least 4 other dogs – it’s quite scary, although most of the animals are harmless, you never know (we had a bad experience when she was a puppy, and I’ve been bitten by a street dog myself which meant I had to have rabies injections – not fun!) Having so many dogs roaming free is something that puts me off walking her on my own most of the time and we always have to plan our routes so as to avoid places where we know there are a lot of strays.
The Koca Çalış end of the beach appeared to be very popular with local people – there were lots of people swimming and having BBQ picnics which smelt amazing! When we reached the end of the beach we found a track leading up the hill and decided to climb it. It wasn’t too steep or difficult to climb, although there were a lot of sharp thorns and bushes which scratched our legs quite badly, but the view at the top was worth it. We let Boncuk off her lead while climbing up the hill and she loved it.
The sun was just starting to go down as it was around 7.30 by this time, so it was fairly cool (by cool I mean around 35oc!!) but we were dripping with sweat from the walk – we tried to take a ‘selfie’ together with the view in the background but we just looked ridiculous!
I think it would be lovely to come and sit up there with a drink and a snack to watch the sunset, or even to just sit down and watch the stars at night – quite romantic! Berkay was also eyeing it up as a potential fishing spot!
We couldn’t stay and admire the view for too long as Berkay had to get back for work, but it was nice to see Calış from an alternative view point, and lovely views across to the mountains too. Such beautiful scenery.
This evening we went for another walk – this time along the whole of Calis promenade to the furthest point of the beach.
In all the years I’ve lived here I’ve never been so far along the beach – we had been to Şat restaurant at the end once way back in October 2010, but it’s expensive so we never bothered going so far again – what a mistake that was!
I thought there must be something past Şat as I’d seen photos previously, so I convinced Berkay to carry on walking. “There’s nothing there, you can’t walk there it’s just the restaurant” he said… he was wrong!
Calis beach is quite long, it starts off wide in Koca Calis and the further along the beach you get, the more narrow it becomes. Eventually, near Şat restaurant, the beach becomes a narrow strip, with the sea one side and the canal the other. When we reached the end, just before the restaurant, we found a cute wooden bench on a platform over the water – it was so peaceful. We sat down and admired the views. The water was murky, it’s where the canal meets the sea so it’s not the cleanest.. it wasn’t very deep and I could see to the bottom – I even saw a few crabs waddling sideways under the water checking us out – I tried to take a photo but the water was so murky it was too difficult. It was such a lovely place to sit and chill out.
It was around 18.45 at this point and we had to walk home in time for Berkay to go to work, but I was determined to walk to the very furthest point of the ‘beach’, so we got up and walked further around. There were signs everywhere saying that fishing was forbidden, yet we saw several people fishing for both fish, and crabs – they had bags full so were obviously quite successful!
We made it to the very furthest point where it was impossible to go any further without getting wet. It’s where the water taxi’s from Calis – Fethiye travel and where the canal meets the sea. It’s sheltered so the water was very calm, so still it was almost like a mirror, I bet it’d be beautiful to walk along there just after sunrise in the early morning.
The most impressive thing for me was the view across to the mountains. I’ve mentioned before that when you’re on your way back to Fethyie and see those mountains you just know you’re ‘home’ – they’re part of the backdrop we see everyday, but seeing them from here made them look even more beautiful. In fact, I thought one of these photos was so beautiful I made it my new blog header, as you may have noticed!
Unfortunately we couldn’t stay and admire the view for too long, I’m not even 100% sure we should have been walking there in the first place, but we had to head back home for Berkay to go to work. As we were walking back some boats were boarding passengers at the jetty, and the sun was just beginning to go down.
I’ve really noticed how much earlier the sun is beginning to set now – at the start of Ramadan it was around 20.45, now it’s more like 20.20 – I wonder why the sun sets so early here, even in summer? It will soon be winter!