The road to Yalikavak marina is lined with ancient olive and almond trees rising from dusty scrubland. It feels as though you might turn off any minute into a primitive smallholding with a few scraggy goats and free-roaming hens. Instead, you arrive into a different world entirely, a place where gleaming superyachts jostle for space beside a pristine promenade lined with designer shops in which haute couture is “curated” and hung sparsely on rails.
The Bodrum peninsula, a thumb of land that juts into the Aegean Sea in the southwest corner of Turkey, just north of the Greek island Kos, is very much not what it seems at first glance. It’s dubbed the Turkish Riviera, and often compared to St Tropez for the glut of private villas being built up the hillsides around the coast, which sell off-plan for in excess of £3 million. The best bays have been claimed by international luxury hotel brands: The Mandarin Oriental opened in 2014, the Edition, Aman and Six Senses followed in 2018. A new Four Seasons is being built and there are rumours Bulgari is about to build on an unspoilt stretch of sand.
Yalikavak, Turkey’s first high-capacity mega-yacht marina, which opened in 2017, has largely been credited with kick-starting the boom in luxury tourism.