I have travelled many times with Mark Warner so I was delighted to see a discounted Travelzoo deal to its Sea Gardens Beach Resort in Turkey. As two of my friends had already booked at the full price, the opportunity was too good to miss.
The Sea Gardens Beach Resort was one of the most picturesque hotels I’ve stayed at with Mark Warner. Exactly as described, the hotel is "spread out across landscaped gardens and surrounded by pine forests that stretch down to the water's edge". It overlooks three bays and has its own private beach.
It’s difficult not to overindulge on an all-inclusive holiday, so it was good to see a reasonably well-equipped gym. I managed to burn some calories before dining in the buffet restaurant or my favourite Italian and fish speciality restaurant. My group started and ended most evenings with a drink at the Sunset Bar (included in the all-inclusive option), which is the most perfect setting. By day you can view the watersports, by evening you can watch the sunset and at night you can relax with a night cap whilst listening to the waves.
I felt like rather than spending the whole trip relaxing, this time I really had to take full advantage of the watersports tuition and aim to progress beyond sailing the Pico, which is a sailing boat for entry-level sailors.
From day one I camped out on the sailing pontoon and after finding my sea legs with a couple of outings in the Pico, I progressed to the Laser. For those in the know this is actually a proper sailing boat, raced by none other than the Olympian Ben Ainslie. I lasted 20 minutes before a slight increase in wind toppled the boat. If you have to capsize anywhere, the warm Aegean Sea is not a bad place, but for me it was time to move to the more stable Dart catamaran.
I chose to take two 1-hour individual sailing lessons, which meant by the end of the week I was skilled enough to take the catamaran out with my friend rather than an instructor. The conditions weren’t exactly treacherous and we did stick to green-flag sailing, but there was enough wind and waves for us to come back suitably wet to show we had conquered the sea. My efforts were not in vain and the week ended on a high with me winning the Catamaran Queen award at the sailing presentation. But I don’t think Ben needs to worry.
Depending on where you stay, your all-inclusive holiday can do even more than keep you fed and watered (to excess) for the duration of your trip. Many all-inclusive packages count non-motorised watersports amongst the free activities, so don't forget to investigate ways to get even more out of your holiday -- and counteract a bit of the expected over-indulgence.