The hotel is available exclusively through "Friendship Travel" - a Belfast based company who organise holidays for people who for whatever reason find themselves travelling alone. They are not a "Lonely Hearts" organisation and neither is the hotel the venue for "Group Sex in the Sun" ( or at least not during the week that I was there, your mileage may vary )
Once you have fulfilled the stringent entry visa requirements at Dalaman airport ( You have £10? Welcome to Turkiye! For you my friend, SPECIAL visa...) pausing only to wonder what the Canadians have done to offend them ( they pay $60 ) you'll be met in the airport car park, shown to your minibus, given a bottle of cold water and whisked away to the resort of Olu Deniz via a newly constructed road and tunnel that knock about half an hour off the transfer time and brings it down to about an hour.
Olu Deniz is the gorgeous deep blue lagoon that you'll have seen on the front cover of every Turkish holiday brochure on the shelves. The village itself is down on the coast but as the area is one of outstanding natural beauty new building is pretty well forbidden. The road that climbs steeply up from Olu Deniz, over the hill and then down to the harbour town of Fethiye passes through the old village of Ovacik - which is where the Eva is located, about 3km from Olu Deniz itself.
Ovacik essentially consists of two long roads running parallel to each other, lined with hotels, restaurants and tourist shops. A newly built resort, Hisaronu, designed to take the overspill from Olu Deniz, is about 1km away from the hotel. There's no escaping the fact that Hisaronu is brash. gaudy, noisy and full of Brits on the P***. If you crave goldfish bowls full of cocktails with suggestive names, chips with everything ( especially with a kebab and some more chips ) and knock off designer watches and t-shirts you'll have found your own personal Nirvana.
The hotel itself is about five minutes walk ( quite steeply uphill on the return trek ) from the main road through Ovacik. It is pretty much your standard Turkish budget hotel with a bar, reception area and pool. The rooms are on two floors, mostly twin bedded although some have a double and a single. Air-con is available ( though @ £40/week it isn't exactly cheap ) and the rooms have double glazed windows keeping the noise down from the hotel next door whose pool is overlooked by rooms at the back of the Era.
It's simply shabby rather than shabby chic - there are no Cath Kidston fabrics here - the rooms are very basic with the sort of electrics that would keep a Health & Safety officer in bad dreams for a month. I switched on one of the bedside lights, the light bulb blew and plunged the whole top floor into darkness. ( and they never got around to replacing the bulb either... ) The shower has the usual wet room / toilet / bidet arrangement. The furnishings in the rooms themselves are basic basic. Then again, you won't plan to spend a great deal of time in there...
If you don't use the air-con ( and most of the guests didn't ) and sleep with the window open then you may well have your nights' sleep disturbed by drunken teenagers in the adjoining hotel making noises like howler monkeys at 3am. "He nevvvvaaaahhhhh!!!! He deeeeeeeeed!!!!! OH MY GORRRRRD!!! Perhaps I was just unlucky.
The Era offers an All Inclusive deal.
Breakfast is a buffet available till 10am with good coffee, fresh bread, the usual selection of fruity and cheesy things, boiled eggs and slices of unidentifiable land animal, cooked, spiced and sliced and described as "Turkish Salami"
Breakfast time is the time to order lunch - which will either be a freshly made sandwich or salad that will be labelled with your room number and kept in the fridge until you're ready for it. If you want to keep it for later ( midnight munchies, perhaps? ) then that'll be cool ( literally and figuratively).
Local beers, wines, spirits, ice creams and a water cooler are included - technically there are times when each one is on offer, such as ice cream from noon until 6pm - but in real life nobody minded if you fancied a Cornetto for breakfast. The only rule that was strictly adhered to was that after 10pm the bar staff charged drinks to your room.
Dinners ( five nights a week ) are served on a long communal table overlooking the pool. The food is actually as good as you'd get in any of the surrounding restaurants ( and better than many ) and the wine is very drinkable. Fridays and Saturdays are the chef's nights off. The hotel staff and reps will suggest restaurants to visit en masse but it's no trouble to find eating places to suit yourself, especially in the old part of Fethiye.
There is a wi-fi connection available for guests to use. The connection is sometimes a little flaky and the signal doesn't reach all the rooms but it's free and it functions.
Quirky bits.... mainly advantageous...
Friendship Travel host a chat room for guests past / present / future to enjoy. They also suggest that clients meet up in the departure lounge before boarding their plane as an "ice-breaker".
The pool is fabulous but if you aren't the best swimmer in town ( or not the tallest flower in the bunch ) you might need to know that it doesn't have a "shallow" end, simply a "deep" end ( 2m ) and a "not quite so deep" end (1m60 )
There's a much more extensive library of books than I've come across on previous stays in similarly sized hotels. Two whole bookcases full of everything from chick-lit to economics for dummies.
By the Reception desk there's a basket where departing guests leave their left-over sunscreens, moisturisers etc. so if you run out there's no need to schlep off to the supermarket. On the day I left there was a fine selection of cosmetics, shower gels and a half empty bottle of "intimate lubricant" which did nothing to dispel the nagging feeling that some other guests might have been having a little more fun than the rest.
If you have a late flight home ( or an ungodly hour next morning flight home ) then there's a courtesy room available free of charge. You might not get dinner but you'll get a bite of something or a "second lunch" to keep you going. This is important as the food concessions at Dalaman airport base their pricing structure on Michelin starred restaurants. 13 TL ( £5.50 $8.50 ) gets you a Big Mac ( not the meal, just the Mac ). The most expensive Big Macs in the world - based on regular restaurant prices - are those in Norway which cost 36NKr ( £3.75 $5.80 )
The hotel offers the usual bunch of excursions allowing guests to jump off mountains, ride in Jeeps and enjoy an enthralling tour of twelve islands in the bay. If you're the social type ( or just like jumping off mountains strapped to a total stranger whose wife may or may not have left him, taking the children with her the previous evening ) then you'll almost certainly have plenty of options. On the other hand if a dolmus* ride to Fethiye and a trip across to Calis beach on the half-hourly water taxi is more your idea of a day out.... or a 2km walk to Kaya village followed by a trek down the fabulous footpath to the lagoon...
*Ah, the dolmuses. For the uninitiated the dolmuses ( dolmus meaning "stuffed" in Turkish! ) are the minibuses that ply their trade between towns and villages all over Turkey. Over the years they have evolved from converted Transit vans with bench seats and the occasional goat pen into air-conditioned Mercedes-Benz minibuses with carpets and automatic doors. The fares have evolved along similar lines, there are no more 30p rides from town to town. 2.5TL ( £1 $1.66 ) gets you from Ovacik down to or back from Olu Deniz, 3TL ( £1.25 $2 ) covers the journey to/from Fethiye.
A pretty basic Turkish budget hotel but perfectly adequate for the purpose, bringing together a bunch of like-minded solo travellers who can enjoy as much or as little of each others company as they like.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The all-inclusive three-star Hotel Era in Hisaronu Turkey is a small, family-run hotel exclusively for single travellers. It has just 20 en suite rooms and guests enjoy sole occupancy of a double room. It has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and the focus of the hotel is the super swimming pool, surrounded by good-sized terraces with sun-beds for everyone. Authentic Turkish touches include the wood panelling in the bar, the hubble bubble pipe and the hammocks hanging in the gardens. A short stroll leads to small shops, bars and restaurants and a short dolmus ride leads to the Blue Lagoon. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Era Hotel Ovacik
- Hotel Era Turkey/Fethiye