Taking up Residence at Turkey's luxury wellness resort
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Rhythmically gliding through cool turquoise water, the hot sun baking my shoulders, I finally begin to relax. I'm surrounded by vibrant green palms and ornamental grasses, and the soothing scents of white jasmine and soft musk fill the air.
Rivalling a tropical lagoon, this lake-sized swimming pool is part of adult-only, upscale holiday resort The Residence at TUI Sensatori Barut Fethiye. Located on the seafront with its own section of beach and private forest, it's 13km from Fethiye, near Dalaman.
The Residence is all bright white buildings, wooden accents and smoked glass screens arranged around the pool area. A winding lazy river cuts through the resort in sparkling shades of mint green, turquoise and navy, separating raised sunbathing terraces linked by secret walkways.
The overall vibe of the hideaway is peaceful, hushed and relaxed.
My open-plan bedroom is decorated in soothing hues of soft greys and pale blues. Adjacent to the bed, which is a huge, Princess-and-the-Pea-sized affair, stacked high with squashy pillows, there's a freestanding whirlpool tub with space for two. A marble bar area is stocked with premium branded spirits, and there's an option for an in-room cocktail-making class, if you really want to make the most of what's on offer.
I pour a flute of sparkling wine and head out to my private balcony to watch the sunset. The sky slowly turns into twinkling hues of lilac and rose, and a saxophonist begins to play gentle, downtempo jazz.
Simply swimming or walking around the resort is enough to induce relaxation. But anyone really determined to unwind can take advantage of a programme of wellness activities. As someone who suffers from stress and finds it hard to switch off, I'm excited to give some of these alternative treatments a go.
The first activity I try is gong bathing, which takes place under a cool canopy of trees next to the beach. An instructor guides us through several stretches, then asks us to lay in a position we find comfortable. Eyes closed, she slowly strikes a gong, which reverberates like rolling waves, beginning as a gentle vibration and eventually rising to a crash.
Ideal for people who struggle to meditate, the vibrations from gong bathing have a therapeutic effect as they flow through the body and mind. The sound also helps to drown out any outside noise, aiding concentration. I'm surprised by how easily I tune into the hypnotic sound of the gong, which ushers me into a mellow state.
My next activity is a mindfulness meditation session, taking place in a wooden cabana adorned with soft streams of voile flowing in the breeze. I lay down, soften my gaze and focus on our surrounding environment. The instructor asks us to register the sound of birds flying overhead and the scent of the plants that surround us. Struggling to focus my wandering mind, I think about the present and block out any other stray thoughts.
Yoga and meditation are both useful relaxation techniques, but nothing is quite as effective as a visit to the resort's Viola spa. The candlelit treatment rooms feature Jacuzzis, beds covered in thick towels, and shelves stocked with Elemis products and glass stopper bottles full of exotic oils. I pass the sauna, steam room and experience shower, inhaling the fresh, herbal and minty air.
I opt for a back, neck and shoulder massage, and am surprised to discover an area of tension in my lower back. Holding me in place, the therapist identifies the cause of the problems, and I feel a warm sensation flooding across my back as the pressure is released.
She cracks my spine in a variety of different points, before using oil and running her thumbs in deep grooves across my muscles, to ease out any knots. Afterwards, I lie comfortably swathed in big, soft towels, as I slowly come back down to earth.
The following day, I pack my bikini and head off on a private VIP Blue Cruise boat tour (£59pp/456 TL). I spend the day sunning myself on the boat's top deck as it glides across the sea. We dive and swim in private coves, luxuriating in the warm, sparkling waves, and enjoy a cooked Turkish feast aboard the boat, before disembarking in Fethiye.
Exploring the port's colourful side streets, I stop to gaze at items for sale in pottery shops, inhale the aromas of spice stalls, and can't resist sampling some of the sweet Turkish delight for sale. A visit to Mori Restaurant is the perfect finish to the day, as we dine at candlelit tables overlooking Fethiye harbour.
I spend my final day back at The Residence reclining on a beach cabana (£49 per day/383 TL). I don't even need to lift a finger, as our own private butler brings us platters of Turkish pide (a type of flatbread) and champagne. I settle back on the soft white bed and enjoy the murmur of the sea caressing the shore, feeling fully pampered and incredibly relaxed for the first time in a long while.
Need to know
TUI offers seven-night holidays to Fethiye, Turkey, staying at The Residence at TUI Sensatori Barut Fethiye on an all-inclusive basis. Prices from £984 per person when booked online. Price is based on two adults sharing and includes flights departing from Gatwick Airport on May 5, 2020 and transfers. To book, visit tui.co.uk or your local TUI holiday store.
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