For many decades, the Bodrum peninsula on the Aegean coast of Turkey has lured wealthy and influential Turks from around the country. As one of the most esteemed and respected hubs of the Turkish Riviera, a luxurious lifestyle has always been high on the agenda.
However, the best was yet to come when in 2006, the New York Times labelled it the Saint Tropez of Turkey, and elite social circles from around the world sat up and took notice.
American celebrities like Uma Thurman relaxed on mega yachts docked in just off the coastline and publications all around the world used words like decadence and hedonistic to describe the carefree, luxury indulgence that hotels, bars and restaurants of Bodrum offered to anyone who had the cash to splash.
Bodrum has cemented a reputation in the western world as the party destination of the summer. However, over the years, while the paparazzi were busy snapping pictures of celebrities like Beyoncé and Ronaldo, with aims to sell their shots to leading western newspapers, behind the scenes, something else was happening.
Bodrum and its wealth of luxurious indulgence establishments were also luring in rich and wealthy Arabs who splashed the cash without the paparazzi publicly trailing them. The Arabs brought with them a behind the scenes protocol that began attracting thousands of dollars in revenues and would continue to grow into a millionaire dollar industry.
Bodrum Attracts the Gulf Arabs
In 2012, the Turkish government lifted the reciprocity agreements in place for citizens of Gulf countries who wanted to buy property in Turkey. The market had suddenly opened to them, and it turned into a lucrative move for the Turkish real estate industry.
In 2013, Arabs collectively bought just over 3,000 pieces of property in Turkey and since then have risen to become one of the top buyers of Turkish real estate. One project attracting gulf Arabs was the Mandarin Oriental of Bodrum that in 2013 went on sale.
The Asian Mandarin Oriental brand, known for its five-star plus accommodation and service, opened in the Golturkbuku region of Bodrum that is known as the most expensive on the peninsula. Selling their apartments and villa for prices from 1 million USD upwards, in one day, they sold 15 buy-to-let residences to Arab investors, although under privacy agreements, they declined to say who the buyers were.
Not every Arab is so secretive though. Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud also had the paparazzi on their toes when in summer of 2017, he spent more than £500,000 on a week’s holiday in Bodrum.
Arriving at the airport with more than 300 suitcases for him and his entourage, he dropped massive tips at esteemed restaurants like Nusr-et Steakhouse in Palmarina, Yalikavak. The upmarket marina is one of the best in Turkey for accommodating mega yachts of the rich and famous.
Prince Nawaf al Saud, another member of the Saudi royal family also splashed the cash in 2016 by dining in expensive restaurants and holding parties with supermodels on his rented mega yacht.
Bodrum’s luxurious reputation meant it was now, not only the go-to destination for westerners but also a firm favourite of wealthy Arabs. Its popularity was going to go even more global though. The One Belt-One Road project meant Bodrum has also appeared on the Chinese radar as the place to invest.
Bodrum Looks Towards Asia
In summer 2017, one of Turkey’s leading construction firms Agaolglu announced they had cemented a deal with Chinese and Hong Kong investors to build a major tourism city on the Bodrum peninsula. Covering 12 million square meters, it will be Europe’s largest holiday resort but also include education and health facilities for people who choose to live there all year round.
So far, the only progression is a letter of intent, but many people, especially real estate investors, are eager for the blueprints, floor plans and prices to become public. It is entirely possible that given Bodrum’s esteemed reputation in the west, Middle East and now Asia, that the tourism city will also be a multi-cultural hub.
Paramount City: Bringing Hollywood to Turkey
The other highlight of Bodrum news in 2017 was the opening of the Paramount Hotel. The new hotel is like something out of a movie, and given that the owners are the one and only Paramount Film Studios from Hollywood, anyone booking in shouldn’t expect less.
With its docking jetty for private yachts, James Bond would feel at home with its latest female sidekick. The hotel does not have rooms, but suites and private villas include pools with a view and Turkish hammams.
Cabana, private helicopter tours, and limousine transfers are all just part of the service attracting international celebrities such as Nicole Kidman who opened the hotel in April. It is indeed a luxury lifestyle befitting anyone used to the glamour of Hollywood.
If all this talk of money and fame makes you feel out of your comfort zone, don’t despair though. The Bodrum peninsula is a global hub for the rich and elite of the world, but one of its key strengths is the diversity.
It also caters to the budget and middle range travellers and property buyers, and it always will. Affordable coastal resorts on the peninsula include Gumbet and Gokcebel, however, should you ever win the lottery, you do not need to go far to feel at home in Bodrum.
(Picture Credits: Paramount Luxury Hotel)