I travelled with 4 children to Sea Garden with Mark Warner in August 2012. We had an absolutely fantastic holiday. I would thoroughly recommend it. In fact, three weeks after my return I had already booked for next year, which I have never done before (as did another family we made friends with). It was so friendly, the staff are great and because it is a family holiday it was easy to make friends. There was quite a big community of single parents. I would recommend the social dinner which I think is on the 2nd night - I didn't go in the first week as I find things like that a bit in your face, but when I went in the second week I wished I had. It is not just for singletons, but lots of families go too.
Mark Warner has an all inclusive package, and I chose the hotel because of this. Mark Warner has not taken over the whole hotel and there are other guests of all nationalities. Other guests are on different deals, and do not get to use the children's clubs or water sports which are exclusively MW. The resort extends beyond the hotel, further up the hill where there is a beauty salon, shops, ice cream parlour, bars, night club, evening club for teenagers etc (known as "Mini Bodrum"). And beyond that are time share apartments and another bay. The bars etc in Mini Bodrum are generally not included in the all inclusive package (except the teenage club, ice cream parlour and one bar). We used tokens to eat at a restaurant up there, but I didn't think it was that great. It is fun to go up there for an ice cream in the evenings with the children, and on Turkish night (where you have to use a token).
The resort is set on a hillside. There are four accommodation blocks. Reception is at the top of the hill. I know from other reviews that people have complained about the hill: I did not find it a problem at all, not even with the children. There is a shuttle (like a giant golf buggy) but its service was very intermittent. It goes right up to Mini Brodrum, which is quite useful for tired lets. We were in Block 3. Block 1 is right at the bottom, it might be noisy at night (although everything is shut by 12) and Block 2 backs out onto the gardens at the bottom. I didn't find the walk back to block 3 hard going, in fact it made it easier to get up to the main hotel as we were already half way! I think Block 2 is probably the best, after that I'd choose 3. 1 is too far away from reception (where one of the main evening restaurants is).
I thought the rooms were good quality, they did what they said on the tin. The food was pretty average, but fine. There are two main restaurants in the evenings. They are crowded and you can struggle to get a table if there are more than 4 of you, which was a bit of a pain. There are other restaurants, which you have to book, using tokens you are given at the start of the holiday. These other restaurants are a bit hit and miss: we didn't really like the one in Mini Bodrum, but really liked La Cucina. You get 2 (or 3?) tokens each for each week you are there. At lunch there is only one choice. Try to avoid sitting around the edge at lunch, because there are enormous hornets which come in through the open windows to feast on the food: they tend only to go the tables near the open windows. There is afternoon tea/coffee/cakes, and an ice cream stand near the beach every afternoon for the children. Ice cold bottles of water are available all day at the beach bar.
There are two bars, the beach bar at the bottom, and another at the top in reception (not much atmosphere up there). The beach bar shuts at 12 (the barman then goes up to be the barman in the Buddha nightclub at the top). There are other bars and a nightclub at the top (in Mini Bodrum), and a teenagers evening club.
The Mark Warner service was excellent. My children really loved the clubs, especially my 13 year old (surprisingly). I hardly saw her the entire holiday: she arranged to meet up with her friends in the evenings as well as spending all day with them (a good and bad thing!). The watersports were great. Adult classes were not always timed to coincide with the children's clubs, which was a bit of a problem, but the staff sorted that out, and we made friends who also helped with signing the children in/out (it is a very friendly resort).
I have a child who has an epipen and it was no problem (Club Med kids clubs will not take children with epipens). He has a nut allergy, so had to avoid some of the foods as Turkish cooking uses lots of nuts, but we did not find it hard going at all. He couldn't have any of the desserts, but in the evening we often went up to Mini Bodrum for an ice cream (the ice cream place is included in the all inclusive package).
Lost property is a bit of a shambles: we lost a children's ruck sack in the first week at the water sports place, with sailing shoes and a rash vest in it (and an ipod, grrrrrrr) which never turned up and I was very disappointed with this, but that's life. There didn't seem to be a central lost property collection. Other things we mislaid did turn up.
There is a Turkish night twice a week at the very top in Mini Bodrum, a bit of a climb but lovely when you get up there (you have to use your token, so only go once). It is very crowded, and again you struggle to get a table for a larger party. There are some shops up there too, and a hairdresser who will braid the children's hair.
I took my own snorkels and fins and there is not a great deal to see, but it was nice to go off every day. I also did a beginner's adult sailing course and had great fun out on the boats. I booked courses for the children, but wished I hadn't for three of my children, as it took them out of the clubs which they were really enjoying (the fourth was much keener to go to classes so was happy). The group courses are great value at £50 for a week. It is not necessary to book courses because the clubs are so great, with very varied activities and wonderful staff.
I didn't find there was any issue with mosquitoes or biting insects.
We went into Bodrum late one afternoon, on the local bus for dinner and shopping: had a great time but struggled to get a seat on the bus back (they are mini-buses), but we didn't mind standing and got seats after 10 minutes when locals got off.
I tried the spa for a leg wax (very thorough), but didn't have any other treatments up there.
We stayed for two weeks, because one never seems like enough. Most other people stayed for 1 week.
All in all a fantastic holiday and we all had a great time. I was very pleased with everything. I had read the reviews and did not have unreasonable expectations (eg I knew other reviewers said the food wasn't fantastic). The entire holiday exceeded those expectations and I was delighted with it. My first MW experience and not my last.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A paradise where the dreams of water sports enthusiasts and families come true. Children can play and discover new sporting activities on the beach, teenagers get together on boat trips, while parents relax in the Knidos Wellness Center. Sample culinary delights from many countries or go on excursions into history. Bodrum has a dry, mild climate, making it an insider tip for winter. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hapimag Resort Sea Garden Hotel Bodrum
- Hapimag Resort Sea Garden Turkey/Yaliciftlik