We took a chance. After emailing a couple of places in 2 different towns in southwestern Turkey, Deb and I heard from Beliz at Karia Bel’ Hotel in the village of Bozburun. Located southwest of Marmaris, this boutique hotel was affordable, yet looked quite nice.
When we arrived at the appointed place in the harbor area to meet “the boat”, we were awed. We were whisked away on a small motorboat with our luggage. Skirting along the rugged, mountainous coastline, I looked at Deb and she looked at me. I saw the same look of astonishment on her face that was mirrored on mine. We had made a very good choice.
As the boat pulled up to the hotel’s wooden dock that was lined with sun loungers and umbrellas, Beliz, the owner of the hotel and our hostess for the next two nights, greeted us with a big, warm smile. Yes, we had made the right decision. Our suitcases were taken up the stone steps to our room which was large, simply decorated and featured a lovely balcony overlooking the Aegean Sea. We changed into our swimsuits and headed down to the main deck to relax in those inviting sun loungers. Pure bliss!!
That was four years ago. And when I think about Karia Bel’ and Bozburun, I long to return. I did end up returning 2 more times that year, in late May and again in late July. This is a place that captured my imagination and stole my heart – the beauty of the location, the simplicity of the hotel, the warmth of the people. I heard birds calling in the still of the night (the “clock” bird as Beliz called it) and saw so many stars – more shooting stars here than anywhere else in recent memory! I cried when I left in late May despite the fact that I had booked a return trip for 2 months later!
On those fateful return trips Beliz and I became friends. I even photographed some of the hotel for her. I took morning runs into the surrounding countryside, getting to know the locals (and some goats and chickens). Often I would see the staff of the hotel on their way to work on these early runs, walking on the dirt trail that leads to the hotel or on their motorbikes out on the main road. They always smiled and waved. The Turks are wonderful people.
Beliz has been upgrading the hotel over the past few years and has earned a reputation for having an amazing boutique hotel with excellent service and good food. She herself is a warm, welcoming woman with a big smile that will make you instantly feel at home. In fact, Karia Bel’ was a home – a holiday home – that belonged to her father. She dreamed of turning it into a hotel where she could open not only the house, but her heart, to travelers. Beliz wanted to share the gorgeous, natural setting of the house, which sits right on the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea, with others, so they too could relax and de-stress.
I would say Beliz has been successful. She has returning guests each year who all rave about Karia Bel’ Hotel and Bozburun. While it might be a bit “off the beaten path”, it is so worth the extra bus ride or taxi ride from Mamaris to get to Bozburun. And the boat ride, well, that’s just plain fun!
My one regret is that I never was able to take my mom here. She was enraptured with my photos and stories of this memorable place. I know she would have loved it even more in person. The next time I visit, I know it will be with a bit of sadness. But, I’ll take my mom with me – in my heart.