The Perfect Family Summer Holiday – Sorted | Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort, Turkey
Every year finding the perfect family holiday is a real mission. My children live with their mum and the two weeks I get to spend with them over the summer break is so precious to me. The last couple of family holidays hadn’t worked out too great, but this year it looked as if Saff had found the perfect location to keep everyone happy – the Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort in Turkey.
It appeared to have everything – super-fast WiFi for my Pokémon Go obsessed teenage son and an action-packed Adventure Park for his non-stop Duracell bunny of a younger sister. Plus there would be no stressful cooking, washing and cleaning up for Saff. As for me, apparently they had rollerblading waitresses serving drinks and snacks at the main pool.
So the next few paragraphs of this review of Regnum isn’t really what you’d expect of an ultra luxurious five-star all-inclusive hotel. Why? Because we very nearly cancelled the whole trip.
Regnum Carya is situated in Belek, a town on Turkey’s beautiful southern Mediterranean coast and to say that we were excited about our trip was the understatement of the year, we had already packed – five days before we were due to fly out. We are never that organised.
Then on the night of Friday 15 July, just as we were getting ready for bed, a news alert flashed up on my phone. The Turkish military were attempting a coup d’état against the government. I watched Sky News in horror as tanks rolled through the streets of Istanbul, finally by about 3.30am I couldn’t watch any more and dragged myself off to sleep.
The next few days were a little touch and go to whether we were actually going to fly out. We were already feeling apprehensive after the attack at Istanbul airport and this added to our fears. The biggest stumbling block was Oliver and his teenage angst going into overdrive, he was adamant that he wasn’t going. As mentioned before this was our family time, so one out, all out.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) hadn’t changed its travel advice, our airline was still operating flights into Antalya and the Turkish coastal resorts appeared to be totally unaffected. After four relatively calm news days Oliver decided rather maturely after a little talking round from Saff that he’d come. He texted ‘thinking about the whole scenario, I’m not going to allow what’s happening affect the fun I could have… so I still think we should go’. Phew!
So after our four-hour flight we landed at Antalya international airport where we were met by our driver (there’s complimentary VIP airport transfers with direct bookings) and led to what on first impressions looked like an inconspicious black van.
Then the magic started – a door slid open revealing one of the most luxurious interiors we’ve ever seen. Comfy leather seats, not one but two huge TVs, a phone, an iPad, ice-cold drinks, Turkish delight, mixed nuts and apparently a coffee machine (we didn’t see it ourselves.) The look of pure excitement on the kids faces was priceless, all of Oliver’s anxiety instantly melted away. Teenagers are so fickle.
This transfer was just a prelude of the luxury to come. Our ‘home’ for the next five days was a Baron Villa – a whopping 250m² of pure decadence, no chance of getting under each other’s feet here, a far cry from our motor home holiday the previous year. We were greeted at the door with a beautiful bunch of flowers, sparking wine, fresh fruit and most importantly cold towels – absolute heaven!
These villas had everything and we mean everything, including things you didn’t know you needed. A huge 120m² heated private pool, three dressing rooms, three bathrooms (complete with Bulgari toiletries), maxi-bars fully stocked with premium spirits, wine, beers and soft-drinks – all built, decorated and furnished to the highest possible standard. And the best bit, our very own golf cart, turn those excitement levels up to 11. We could barely contain ourselves and we’d only been at Regnum for about 30 minutes!
There are simply too many amazing elements to this resort and we really struggled to find any faults. I could gush forever about how amazing our holiday was but to stop this review turning into an epic to rival War and Peace, I’ve decided to give you a small cross-section of what this resort has to offer by breaking the rest of my ramblings into four (not so bite-size) sections.
1) EATING AND DRINKING
Being an ultra all-inclusive resort, Regnum Carya‘s dining options are excellent. The main restaurants are in the main building, the à la carte restaurants on the ground floor and the main restaurant – aptly called Gourmet, is down one level.
Breakfast: Our first breakfast was at a small outside dining area exclusively set aside for villa residents. This was a nice gentle introduction to a Turkish breakfast, a simple selection of breads, cheeses, meats and Menemen (Turkish-style scrambled eggs with tomatoes, onions, and peppers).
This was nothing compared to the real deal – the full on breakfast buffet in Gourmet, they served absolutely everything, you name it they had it. Our favourites: Me: feta cheese in crisp filo pastry, Saff: Rose jam with Simit (Turkish sesame bread rings), Oliver: Sucuk (a dense dry and spicy sausage) and Charlotte: real honeycomb (lots and lots of honeycomb – weird.)
Lunch: As breakfast was such a satisfying affair, having lunch didn’t usually cross our minds till about 3pm. Again there were numerous options, sure we could have eaten from the buffet in Gourmet every day but variety is the spice of life.
We loved eating at The Beach House, with its simple yet delicious local dishes. Gusto served up incredible grilled meats, the lamb chops stood out. For a real treat and to up the luxury factor (if that’s even possible), hire a Pier Cabana for €125 per day, from here you can order snacks (and drinks) to your heart’s content by the strenuous pressing of a button – oh it’s a hard life. On the pier the seafood pasta was particularly good and for those fussy/unadventurous eaters there’s always the burger and pizza options.
Dinner: This is when Regnum really shone. Again, Gourmet was an obvious choice, serving up everything from healthy salads to devilishly sinful desserts. The themed evenings are well worth a visit too, especially the visually stunning ‘fish night’, bottomless caviar anyone?
Do try out the four à la carte restaurants that are at your disposal, just don’t forget to book at the guest relations desk in the main lobby. Ristorante Tramonto serves up some amazing authentic Italian cuisine plus a few more unusual dishes, like my weird yet wonderful Gorgonzola sorbet with sour cherries.
For a fun night out grab a table at the Japanese inspired Chufang (set menus from €39pp). Sit up at the hot plate where Teppanyaki masters demonstrate their cooking skills and entertain the diners with utensil juggling, food flipping and flashes of fire. There’s also Ottoman – serving traditional Turkish cuisine, The Seahorse specialising in seafood and new this month – Grill do Brasil steakhouse.
Snacks & drinks: At Regnum you’re never too far from something to eat and drink. Dotted around the resort are numerous snack shacks and bars where you can grab an ice-cream, hot dog, beer or a cocktail.
It’s impossible to go hungry, even when you order a peach iced tea from your sun lounger it comes with a tub of Ruffles crisps, fresh cherries, mixed nuts, or all three! The kids favourite hangout was definitely the Macaroon Patisserie, they’d use any excuse to wander past to grab a Movenpick ice-cream, apple tart or chocolate pudding. The mis-spelling of macaron didn’t help convince the kids of the correct way to spell it though.
2) FOR THE KIDS
One of the biggest consideration of booking this holiday was keeping the kids occupied. Happy kids equals a happy holiday. Saying that, happy adults also means happy kids. Regnum has it all covered – kids clubs for 4-17 year olds with activities including table tennis, play stations, a DJ course, special non-alcoholic youth bar, arts and crafts, kids cinema, mini disco… The list just goes on and I haven’t even mentioned the pirate and castle themed playgrounds, soft play areas, arcade and bowling alleys.
Apart from the family pool, children (including big kids like me) have their very own Aqua World with water slides, wave pool and a crazy river ride. The cherry on cake has to be the Adventure Park with its climbing walls, freefall, zip line and adventure track.
It’s so hard for me to truly unwind on a family holiday, especially with a very demanding daughter like mine, at least Regnum gave us a fighting chance. The private pool in our villa kept the kids busy while we chilled on the sun loungers. Oliver and Charlotte also loved jumping into the sea from the pier cabana while we sipped on an Aperol Spritz from the Harbour Bar.
And while relaxing by the family pool the kids were kept occupied with the high-speed WiFi while the rollerblading waitresses brought us Pina Coladas and Mojitos, I see a trend emerging here. If you do get the chance to escape the sprogs (we didn’t) you could do worse than spend some quality ‘you time’ in the Greendoor Spa or a wander around the blissfully peaceful Botanical Gardens.
Daytime: If all that eating and drinking isn’t keeping you occupied, the Animation Team are on hand to make sure any thoughts of boredom are instantly banished. Whether its water polo, aerobics or even belly dancing lessons there is always something going on. If that’s not enough there are kids training sessions on Regnum’s 3 FIFA standard football fields (apparently Chelsea FC have practiced here), motorized and non-motorized water sports, tennis lessons, air pistol shooting, Zumba and Pilates.
Evening: Entertainment seemed to fall into one of two categories, ‘party-party’ and ‘sophisticated’. The stunning outdoor amphitheater is the place to go for live orchestral or operatic performances but for an excellent show and DJ set head, over to the events stage, pier or Rouge Nightclub. Our best night by far was the ‘Red & White’ party, complete with tight dance routines, the latest club anthems and glow sticks!
5) GOLF: It’s really not my thing but, as the resort’s name suggests, golf is obviously a big deal at Regnum. They have not one but two world-class courses, Carya Golf Club was designed by Peter Thompson Thomson, five times British Open winner.
But the really cool fact is that Carya Golf Club is the first club in Europe to feature floodlights. The National Golf Club is the venue for the 2016 Turkish Airlines Open attracting top players such as Rory Mcilroy, Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald – so it’s got to be good, right?
All of the above only just scratches the surface of what Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort has to offer, I could go on and on about just how luxurious and perfect our family holiday was (and I’ve gone on enough). The resort can hold around 1,500 residents at full capacity (with over 1,000 staff on the books) but it’s so big that it never feels crowded and you’ll always find sun bed by a pool or a seat at the restaurant.
Last year, Regnum hosted the 2015 G20 Summit, I should imagine that even the likes of Barack Obama and the other world leaders were suitably impressed by the resort. Well if it’s good enough for the leader of the free world then it’s good enough for us.
This is an incredible place served by amazingly friendly and dedicated staff – every single last one of them – from upper management to waiters to gardeners. Some who are obviously concerned about the tourism industry and their livelihood. We were asked numerous times to ‘put good things on TripAdvisor’ and to ‘tell the world that Turkey isn’t burning like the news implies’.
I’m not sure that our site will quite reach the world but what we can say is that if you are thinking of heading to the south-western coastal resorts of Turkey, do it! You won’t be disappointed. This truly was the best family holiday that I’ve ever had and, if we could, we’d revisit in a heartbeat. Any regrets? Yes, that we didn’t stay longer.
A week in August costs around £7,999 all-inclusive for a family of four.
Kadriye Bölgesi, Üçkum Tepesi Mevkii, Belek-Antalya
Book a room online
We stayed as guests of Regnum, this does not affect our review in any way.
We always write with complete honesty.