Inside Hillside Beach Club, the perfect hotel for parents

It’s fair to say, we’d hyped this trip up a lot. While we’d previously been abroad with family and friends, this was the first holiday we’d ever taken as a three with our 15-month-old daughter. Expectations were high.

What we were looking for was something to make our life as easy as possible, with guaranteed good weather and, most importantly, somewhere we could go and come back feeling better than when we left (read: less vats-of-sangria-on- the-sunbed, more healthy food and easy-to-fit-in activity). Believe me as well that we were under no illusions – we knew that traveling with a toddler was never going to be completely stress free. But we had an idea of ​​how we might get at least a semblance of downtime. We just needed to find the right hotel…

Enter Hillside Beach Club, a hotel which seemed to tick all of our (admittedly slightly demanding) boxes. Just a 3.5hr flight away from Dalaman in Turkey, this award-winning resort is built into the pine-covered hills of its own private bay and offers a five star take on your usual all-inclusive activities holiday. Each of the 300 rooms comes with panoramic Bougainvillea-framed views across the Med as well as a private terrace on which you can watch the sun sparkling across the bay’s turquoise waters.

The focus here is on wellness – in fact the hotel has ‘Feeling Good’ mantra embedded into its ethos – so that everything is set up to help you have a holiday that’s truly restorative. That includes being completely family friendly, too – Hillside is brilliantly thought-out for kids, from the epic entertainment to the never-ending activities and the abundance of highchairs, shatter-proof bowls and disposable bibs in the main restaurant. It’s basically set up for stress-free parenting.

Intrigued? Here’s what you need to know.

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Sound, what’s the vibe?

Hillside Beach Club is very much just that – a club for those in the know. In fact, of all the other guests I spoke to, we seemed to be the only first timers, with guests repeatedly making the pilgrimage back to this seemingly perfect hotel. One couple had been coming every summer for the last eight years, first with their teenagers, then in later years on their own. Another family had made their first trip to Hillside 25 years ago.

While the crowd is truly international – Germans, French, Russians, Belgians, and Brits were all in attendance while we stayed – the majority of the guests are wealthy Turks who have driven down for the weekend to soak up the scene at this luxurious resort. As such, expect to see plenty of designer gear kicking around on the beach. It’s all very glam.

But the wellness aspect is the element which really unites the hotel. On the way to breakfast, you’ll likely pass an ant-like procession of gym-clad guests heading back from their morning workout. But if that’s not for you? There’s also zero pressure – plenty of people use their time here simply to kick back, as proven by the fact that we were usually the first in the restaurant in the mornings thanks to our hangry toddler.

Talk to me about these activities then…

Yoga, archery, volleyball, darts, tennis, football, spinning, dance classes, Pilates… that’s even before you start on all of the water sports. To say the list is endless might sound like a cliché, but honestly, with so much on offer here listing them would probably take up the remainder of my word count.

So, I’ll stick to the highlights. For me, this was the morning yoga sessions on the shady decking overlooking the peaceful Silent beach. There’s something incredibly relaxing about practicing to the sound of lapping waves, and the gentle Hatha session ends with a cup of green tea and a quick massage courtesy of the Nature Spa practitioners. You’d be hard-pushed to find a more blissful start to the day.

Georgie tries the archery at Hillside.

I tried my hand at archery one day, but after discovering I’m not Katniss Everdeen, decided my time was probably better spent not putting other guests lives in danger. Meanwhile, my husband spent his child-free time windsurfing and light-boarding – the name given here to the hydrofoil surfboards on which you can cruise around the bay. You know, like the Silver Surfer, only with a dad bod.

As well as all the activities on site, there’s also the Hillside Outside scheme, where guests are encouraged to escape the hotel and explore the great outdoors. Think sunset hikes, treks to the nearby Kayakoy Ghost town and biking through the pine forests in the surrounding hills. But before you panic at the thought of having to mountain bike in sweltering Turkish sunshine, rest assured, there are also e-bikes on hand to help you explore without keeling over when the mercury soars.

Georgie and her daughter on the sunset boat trip

Of course, there are more relaxing excursions on offer, such as private boat tours to explore the 12 islands of Fethiye Bay. We took a boat trip to watch the sunset into the sparkling Med – a stunning albeit slightly stressful experience thanks to our daughter’s insistence on toddling up and down the deck at breakneck speed. But when she wasn’t trying to throw herself overboard, it was pretty glorious.

And it’s family friendly?

oh yeah As well as providing everything you could need, from cots to baby baths, strollers to sterilizers, there’s also an incredible kids club. From the age of 4, kids can be dropped off here to give parents that much needed child-free time to kick back and relax. Although, from what I saw, it’s the kids who are really winning, with age-appropriate fun to be had via sandpits, waterslides, and mini discos, as well as chocolate-making, DJing and basketball competitions.

Soaking up the sun at the beach

In the evenings, there are colorful, family-friendly shows performed each night in the hotel’s amphitheater. These tend to be dance spectaculars and perfect for kids, although you do get adults enjoying the proceedings too. I spotted several millennials getting very into Britney and the Beast, a show which combines the classic fairytale with Britney’s best hits. After all, who doesn’t love watching Belle, Lumiere and Cogsworth perform the Slave 4 U routine?

There’s also a dedicated baby park for under fours, although you have to stay and supervise your little ones. We only went once as our daughter was more than happy splashing around in the crystal clear waters at the hotel’s pebbly beach.

How’s the food?

While the list of activities are pretty impressive, it’s the food which is the real stand out offering at Hillside. The child-friendly main restaurant offers lavish buffets for each meal – think rows upon rows of delicious salads, freshly baked breads from the wood-fired ovens, a grill where you can request your choice of meat or the catch of the day, as well as plenty of traditional Turkish dishes to help you get a taste for the local delicacies. There is of course a dedicated Wellness Bar for health-focused guests, but with so much delicious local produce on offer, eating well here isn’t a challenge.

The wellness bar in the Main Restaurant

As for the kids? As well as an on-hand ‘baby chef’ who will whip up purees to order, there’s a dedicated bar filled with crowd-pleasing classics such as spaghetti Bolognese, stir fry and pizza to keep fussy little people happy (as well as my husband , who was busted topping up his plate here most nights).

There’s also a beach bar serving amazing a la carte Italian food to try, as well as the adults only Pasha on the Bay restaurant, which serves a tasting menu of traditional Mediterranean cuisine in white-washed Ibiza-style surroundings.

Is there a spa?

Actually, there are two. The Sanda Day Spa, a slick, minimalist space where you’ll find the hotel’s sauna, steam rooms and traditional Turkish baths, and the Sanda Nature Spa, a gorgeous, Balinese-inspired treehouse retreat where the treatment rooms each have tree trunks twisting through them. Overlooking Silent Beach, it’s the place to come for a peaceful hour of downtime.

The Sanda Nature Spa

I tried the Aegean Seed Massage, one of the spa’s signature treatments, which combines Asian and Swedish techniques in a 60 minute-long relaxing treatment. The oil used comes from the seeds of grapes, pomegranates, and figs – all antioxidant, mineral-rich, immunity-boosting Aegean fruit – and is meant to help improve circulation. Either way, I come out feeling incredibly zen, so it’s clearly an excellent use of toddler-free time.

Can couples come too?

For sure, and they don’t have to worry about being continuously surrounded by screaming kids, either. The main restaurant has a separate adults-only area to help give mealtimes a less chaotic, grown-up vibe, all the activities are separated by age and there is not just one, but two adult-only beaches to relax on.

Serenity Beach – one of the two adults only beaches at Hillside

Aptly named Silent and Serenity, these spots live up to their name, with Silent beach also having a no phones policy in place – a win for anyone looking to truly switch off. Meanwhile, Serenity Beach hides just out of sight of the main hotel around the bay. A tassel-bedecked boat departs every 30 minutes from the hotel’s dock to take guests there, but you can also make the 650m walk along the pine-shaded coastline to get there.

So how do I get there?

It’s around 4 hours to fly to Dalaman from the UK, with flights operating regularly from all major airports. From Dalaman’s slick new airport, it’s a 45-minute drive via private transfer along Turkey’s Turquoise Coast to the hotel. Top tip: Bring your own car seat – these aren’t provided as standard in Turkey. Once you arrive, there are golf buggies to whisk you to your room, as well as a funicular to take you up and down the hill if you’re in one of the higher rooms (or just fancy going up for the view).

What’s the verdict then for healthy mums?

As family hotels go, Hillside is pretty exceptional. As well as the countless thoughtful provisions for younger guests, the staff here are incredibly friendly and genuinely love kids. Meltdowns, for example, are met with an understanding smile rather than a grimace. We came back from our week here feeling remarkably rested and without the usual need to pop a button on our jeans during the flight home. With or without a toddler in tow, that’s surely a win.

A few points to note: our toddler luckily sleeps like a log, but if your child is a light sleeper, the nightly music from the beach might prove a little tricky. What’s more, there’s also a huge amount of stairs throughout the resort (it is on a hillside, after all) meaning this might not be the best choice for you if you have mobility issues.

But if you’re keen to find a hotel that caters for the whole family and offers a fighting chance of staying fit on holiday, Hillside is just what you’re looking for.

The details

Nightly rates start from £322 based on two people sharing a standard room on a full board plus basis. www.hillsidebeachclub.com/en.

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