“What if we could take people beyond destinations and reawaken their senses so they can disconnect, yet be reconnected … to themselves, others, and the world around them?” This was part of the Six Senses mission statement when they launched and it’s as relevant today as it was back in 1995. If you’re familiar with the brand’s philosophy you’ll know they pride themselves on away from it all locations which are an adventure to get to in themselves, remote escapes far from the madding world. Kaplankaya is no exception, only an hour’s drive from Milas–Bodrum Airport, but the sense of adventure begins before you’ve even arrived at your destination. Besides offering the highest forms of innovation and sustainability, Six Senses properties are truly representative of the unique and outstanding beauty of their locations.
For those honeymooners seeking seclusion and somewhere to completely unwind, this is about as restorative as it gets. While there are tempting day trips to Ephesus and the Turquoise Coast in the offing, it’s sorely tempting to stay put once you’ve checked in. Wherever you go, acres of space abound so there’s never any fear of your fellow guests, whose demographic is decidedly svelte poolside dweller meets hip gym junkie, invading your personal space. The place is utterly transformative – before long you’ll be lulled into a new mindset and will almost have forgotten about the outside world once you’re bedded in. How many places can say that?
Set the scene
With its off-the-beaten-path location, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the Australian outback: pine-fringed roads with olive trees dotting undulating basket of eggs topographic slopes; swerving past wayward cows roaming dusty tracks; processions of igloo-shaped stone huts; dissipated rocks interrupted by the searing minarets of spaceship- resembling mosques and roadside stalls selling that day’s freshly pressed olive oil. Folklore is important to the people of Turkey and none more so than in Kaplankaya, which means Tiger Rock. I challenge anyone not to be enamoured by a local legend, especially one that charts a rather wonderful local tale, that at one time, Anatolian Tigers roamed these arid lands. And rather handsome beasts they were. Once you arrive in the enclave of Milas, Six Senses Kaplankaya is a vast Mediterranean gated village which ensures maximum privacy and security for guests. Forming part of the breathtaking Turkish Southern Aegean, Kaplankaya, a 6km stretch of pristine coastline is home to seven distinct and secluded bays. An endless expanse of nature, landscaped to perfection so that it blends seamlessly into an undulating terrain of scenic paths, punctuated by soaring cypresses and wild olive groves – against a backdrop that sees the ocean and sky combine in one harmonious blue gradient as if they have been painted onto the horizon in a series of watercolour brush strokes. The proliferation of sea bass and sea bream-producing fish farms suspended in the adjacent bay, which I spied on my daily sunrise walks, not only reminded me of Galicia in Northern Spain but served as a reminder of why the seafood game here is so strong.
New York-based Clodagh Design, who were tasked with the aesthetics at Kaplankaya were at great pains to preserve the spectacular natural surroundings and heritage of the local area when re imagining the property. Upon arrival guests are ushered towards a spacious sky-lit lobby, then seated on a procession of split-level scattered ottomans arranged in a sofa-like manner for welcome drinks and Turkish delights. It’s a great vantage point to not only savour widescreen views of the distant horizon, framed by a series of panoramic glass panels but to gaze down on the succession of terraced mezzanine floors, connected by spectacular stairways leading down to the main restaurant and bar on terra firm.
Located on the Gulf of Gokova, just across the bay from Bodrum, Six Senses Kaplankaya is chiselled out of giant rock formations with green-roofed residences cascading down in a terrace-like procession towards the water’s edge. Of the 141 guest rooms – 75 in the main building and 66 Ridge Terrace Rooms – six are suites, all boasting panoramic vistas of the cerulean Aegean. Designed by Catalan architect Carlos Ferrater, residences range from three to seven bedrooms: each and every room and villa is specifically crafted to complement the surrounding landscape, utilising local, natural materials such as woven leather and flat-weave carpets. In keeping with the brand’s drive for the ultimate night’s sleep, softly-hued interiors have a grounding effect that’s conducive to restful slumbers, along with bedside lamps specifically designed to regulate circadian rhythms. In-room amenities include coffee machines and well-stocked minibars, while techies are equally well catered for with wall-mounted iPads for direct messaging reception, stabilising room temperature and lighting as well as Marshall Bluetooth speakers to stream your favourite playlists.
Food & Drink
The F&B game at Kaplankaya is particularly strong with a trio of restaurants whereMediterranean and Aegean-inspired cuisine is the overarching theme. While Sage & Sea doubles as a breakfast and dinner venue, Wild Thyme is the place to head for sundowners before it’s transformed into the most romantic of candle-lit dinner settings, while Mezze by the Sea is where everyone rocks up in their designer slides from the beach – for melt in themouth freshly caught fish and grilled chicken shish lunches, accompanied by the ambient tunes of the resident DJ. Special mention must go to the selection of Turkish wines available, which unlike their Greek neighbours remain relatively under the radar to the British palate, particularly the Kayra Allure Dry Rosé, crafted from the native Kalecik Karası variety, and a dangerously good Anatolian take on a Côtes de Provence.
Six Senses does a remarkable job of making it appear as though children are not present at all, with the exception of mealtimes when the little ones all suddenly descend to make friends with a doting procession of feline friends, not forgetting adorable Panda, the resident dog. It certainly keeps the little ones amused at mealtimes with processions of tidbits being passed under the table to mewing kitties and various games of hide and seek. Grow With Six Senses creates a fun-filled itinerary for children and there’s also a playground, indoor playroom and family-friendly beach.
“As far as we are aware”, says Director of Wellness Renate Hermes, Six Senses. Kaplankaya boasts the largest spa in the whole of Europe”. Spread across a colossal 10,000m², it is nothing short of sensational and is a magnate to visiting leading health practitioners from around the globe. I had the privilege of spending a divine hour of my stay in the Meditation Dome under the tutorship of Canadian fitfluencer Meghan Martin who gave me a fascinating introduction to breathing techniques to stave off anxiety, which I have to say was one of the most relaxing 60 minutes I can remember in a long time. I cannot recommend the Turkish Hammam Experience enough, if you do only one thing, make it this. The treatment takes place in what is a contemporary take on the traditional domed Hammam, where you lie stretched out starkers across a giant circular slab with only the flimsiest single-use thong to protect your modesty. And then you’re pummelled to within an inch of your life…or so I thought. That’s certainly what happened to me the last time I was inIstanbul anyway. But that’s another story, this version was all much more of a serene, sedate and gentle scrub that was almost meditative in the way it was played out. There I was cocooned in a whisked-up mesmeric cloud of foam bubbles my practitioner had incredibly and artfully crafted out of a bowl of soap and water. I cannot tell you how blissful and soothing it is to have successions of warm water poured over you in gentle ticklish rhythmic-like waves, like I had connected with water like never before.
As with all Six Senses properties, a respect for people and the environment underpins. Kaplankaya’s sustainable approach, as well as a deep desire to orchestrate stronger connections between the two. At its forefront, it mindfully positions experiencing life on a local level alongside local sensitivities: the company has always prided itself on how it engages with local communities, wherever possible striving to create job opportunities for the local population while sourcing food as locally as possible. The surrounding flora and fauna remain faithful to the region, while a reforestation programme sees the property co-existing harmoniously with nature. The property’s sustainability and environmental project harnesses funding for local communities such as refurbishing schools and supporting local children’s education paths.
The property began life as a Canyon Ranch in 2016, the self-proclaimed ‘trailblazing spa brand of integrative wellness’ our US readers will be more familiar with. But its popularity soon waned as nigh on everything was forbidden: alcohol, smoking and even kids – which was no fun at all and coupled with its remote location it proved to be just too restrictive. While it remained a spa hotel when Six Senses took over the reins in 2018, it boasted the all-singing, all-dancing amenities of a luxury resort with none of the above-mentioned contraband to upset the balance.
Bodrum, recently described by Condé Nast Traveller as the ‘most glamorous hangout in the Mediterranean’, quite some honour to have bestowed upon it, is an hour and a half drive away and Marmaris a further hour south. Both would make great two-centre holidays. One of the wonders of the ancient world, Ephesus, the most important Greek city in the times of the Ionian Asia Minor, houses the spectacular remains of The Temple of Artemis, can be reached in just under 2-hours in a northerly direction towards Izmir.
From £338 per night based on two sharing a Superior Twin Sea View on a B&B basis.
To book, visit: sixsenses.com
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