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My eldest has just started reception this year so we have only just moved into the cost that is paying for trips in the school holidays! We managed two weeks away in Greece in June earlier this year and were very sad to realise those were really our last days of enjoying cheaper, quieter holidays in term time.
Anyway onto the holiday in hand. When we started looking at the usual October destinations, Lanzarote, Egypt, Center Parcs, I was staggered at the cost so decided I needed to look at holidays slightly outside of the usual destinations and ended up chatting to Mark Warner about their all inclusive resort Sea Garden in Bodrum, Turkey. I’d always worried that it wouldn’t be nice enough weather in that part of the Med at the end of October but having just returned from a fabulous week on the Bodrum Peninsula I would definitely go again at that time of year.
We travelled to Bodrum on a non Mark Warner transfer day due to the availability of Northern flights to Turkey in October. We actually flew from East Midlands an airport two hours away from our house as the combined flight price was £650 cheaper than Manchester or Liverpool our closest airports (always worth checking different airports to save signficant amounts). We had booked a transfer to the resort through Akustik Travel and I can highly recommend them, they collected us at the airport on time with a clean, large mini van and the three booster seats (at no additional cost) they had promised for the girls. The journey was only half an hour and the driver had even brought water for us, definitely welcome after the flight. It’s worth pointing out that if you travel formally with Mark Warner you get included coach transfers with the price of your holiday, starting what, for this resort is truly an all inclusive holiday.
Before setting off from the UK the weather reports for our week away wasn’t looking too kind so I had packed raincoats for us all, however I was really pleased to arrive to sun and definitely no rain. We had a warm welcome at reception with Virgin cocktails for all and our luggage was taken to our room. We arrived just in time for kids tea in the restaurant so decided to head straight down there to get the girls some food rather than find our room straight away. The kids ate sausage and chips (more on the food later) and some chocolate pudding and we had a cold lager.
When we actually made our way down the hill to find our room I realised that previous reviews I’d read had not been exaggerating about the steps and steep slopes. The hotel is built into a hill and if you struggle with steps or walking too far this might not be the resort for you. That being said if you have babies in prams then it is definitely doable as we saw lots of families pushing prams up the hill (even if some of them were out of breath at the top.)
Our two rooms were interconnecting rooms on floor 3 of block one, which was right down on the waterfront with lovely sea views from the balconies. If you have little ones in buggies, or ones who complain when climbing up steps then a room on floor 1 or 2 might work slightly better for you. The rooms were large, both with separate walk in wardrobes so lots of places to put the luggage and all the general detritus you take on holiday as a family.
After unpacking a little we took the kids along to film club for 7.30pm. We had skied with Mark Warner earlier in the year and stayed at Chalet Aiguille Percee which had the same set up, so the kids know the drill; pyjamas on, mum and dad to dinner. When we got to film club and met the childcare team the girls were thrilled to find out that Jodie (their key worker from Tignes) was on the childcare team at Sea Garden and would be around over the course of the next week. Fantastic start. For more detailed information on the childcare our full review will follow tomorrow.
We made our way back up the hill to the the Amphora Buffet restaurant for dinner and found a sign telling us that for the next two days breakfast and lunch would be served in that restaurant rather than the beachside Laguna as they were expecting bad weather. The food was lovely, the wine flowed and we had a lovely first evening.
The next morning we woke to rain but it was only light. When we dropped the kids at kids club I was surprised to be asked for their swim stuff! We might not go in the sea if the rain is too heavy Emily said but it takes more than a little rain to put us off the pool! I was really impressed with the can do attitude.
Hubby and I were built of less hardy stuff that morning and retreated to our room to read books, I actually managed to read 4 books on this holiday. The rain did arrive pretty spectacularly later that day, but thankfully it was only short lived and the sun came back out on Saturday morning.
The days at Sea Garden followed a pretty similar pattern for us. Breakfast at 8, kids at Mini Club at 9, watersports for all of us in the morning followed by lunch and then some time in the pool, sea or kayaks in the afternoon. We all enjoyed settling into this new family routine.
One of the things that usually puts me off when considering an All Inclusive Resort is having to eat variations on the same food all week. Laguna and Amphora did provide some really interesting salad options that kept the meals varied for us, but to mix it up, there is an Italian restaurant La Cucina and Laguna serves fresh sea food some evenings too. My favourite food was however during our Turkish night in Mini Bodrum. At the top of the resort there is a street with shops and restaurants that once (twice in high season) turns into a bustling street with food and a fabulous lively atmosphere. The smell of barbecued food and the laughing and bustle of the evening was fabulous to be part of. I can only apologise that there aren’t any great photos of this evening, but you can find some on Kara’s review over on Chelsea Mamma.
The best bit of the holiday, and the bit we will return for was watching the kids develop their love of the sea. If they weren’t paddling in it, they were swimming or we, as a family were kayaking. I loved watching the kids learn to windsurf and sail during kids club, and Matt re-kindled an old love of sailing. He either took me out or hooked up with others to take larger boats out.
We had had a very busy couple of months in the run up to this holiday so the combination of the activities and the All Inclusive activities was enough to keep us entertained. We usually spend quite a lot of time exploring when we go away but this week it was all about trying to catch up with sleep, relax and spend time together as a family. This resort, its location and the activities allowed us to do all that.
We’ve put together a little video of our time at Sea Garden which I think shows how much fun we had!
If you would like to book a holiday with Mark Warner having read our review then you can obtain a discount of £50 pp by quoting KarenBlog50, this doesn’t apply to free child places and can’t be used in conjunction with any other offers. Full Mark Warner T&Cs apply.
NB: This post has been created in collaboration with Mark Warner but all view are our own.