Some years ago I saw photographs of the Adam and Eve Hotel in Belek, Turkey and tucked the details into my “bucket list.” I’m from Hawaii where Chris Hemmeter essentially invented the mega-resort template: hotels with large (and often dramatic) swimming pools, multiple themed restaurants, impressive lobbies, and pokey guest rooms. The Adam and Eve looked different: white floors, mirrored walls, and bright coloured lights.
The logistical problem, at least for me, was that Belek isn’t on the way to anywhere. It’s about 30 minutes from the modern Antalya International Airport (AYT), but flights to AYT tend to be from Nizhenevartovsk and Chelyabinsk rather than London or Birmingham. We couldn’t stop at Belek on our way to Australia — as we could Dubai, Bali or Hong Kong.
In late May I decided Her Ladyship and I could use a short break, and I tried to find a way to get to the Adam and Eve. Flights on scheduled carriers involve changes in Istanbul or Zurich, but then I found Thomas Cook Airlines. I’ve always stayed clear of what were once called “charter airlines,” but Thomas Cook flies directly from near-by Birmingham to AYT. Nonstop. Okay, the arrival and departure times aren’t great — arrival at AYT at 2:30 AM, departure at 4:20 AM — but the fares are virtually zero.
Flights and hotel booked online, we were off for six days at what the hotel’s website describes as a “room in heaven.”
The outbound flight was surprisingly good (other than Thomas Cook wanting to sell its passengers everything from lottery tickets to their “signature perfume” — Eau de Airport?).
I pre-booked an airport transfer via Ferdi Araz at the hotel at a cost of Eur 140. I e-mailed Ferdi to advise him of our arrival date and time:
I have now booked our flights, and we arrive at 2:30 AM on the morning of 3 June. We leave Birmingham (BHX) on 2 June at 8:20 PM, which is why I booked the room for the night of 2 June. So, to avoid any possible confusion, we technically arrive on the early morning of 3 June 2009 — but have booked the room on the night of 2 June so that the room will be available to us on arrival. I have had hotels, in the past, get confused by this. To put my mind at ease, can you please confirm that this is understood.
Burcu Top replied on behalf of Adam and Eve:
Our driver’s name is Ferhat. If you need his mobile number 0090 [deleted]. He’ ll pick up with Adam Eve board and your name in 03.06.09 early morning at 02:30 in Antalya airport.
Her Ladyship and I arrived in AYT on time (at 2:30 AM) but there was no sign of Ferhat. I tried his telephone number, but there was no answer. I called the hotel twice, but the folks there simply didn’t speak English. It seemed to make sense to simply take a taxi, and we were whisked off to a little yellow car and a friendly driver who’d never been to the Adam and Eve before — but happily drove down the deserted highway like Lewis Hamilton.
We arrived safely at the hotel and were escorted to our “room in heaven.” The hotel apologized: they had, in fact, messed up the dates. And they kindly gave us a complimentary transfer back to the airport on departure.
The Adam and Eve is fairly spectacular. I suspect that the underlying building is actually a fairly pedestrian structure: it appears to have been constructed inexpensively using a modular system. But the designer had the brilliant idea of covering virtually every interior surface with either mirrors or white resin paint. The exterior of the building is covered with (what else?) Astroturf.
I have no idea how large our room really was: with mirrors on all walls, it seemed to be huge. And with a little remote control (which didn’t work all that well) we could change the colour of the entire translucent ceiling from a flattering light pink to blue, red, green, a rainbow effect, or even something that theoretically pulsed with the music.
There was a Kama Sutra bed (that’s what I’m told they’re called) and a second bed in the room itself — and a third double bed outside on the lanai. We could pick our pillows from a pillow menu, there were robes and other amenities, and an enormous room safe.
In the morning we received a call from Svetlana. She introduced herself as our Angel, and she offered us a tour of the hotel at our convenience. Normally we shy away from anything that says “tour,” but we thought we’d give it a go.
The hotel has an Angel Club concept: the angels theoretically will help with dinner reservations, special requests, etc. There was even a rather tired looking angel, with somewhat worse-for-wear feather wings, walking around the reception desk.
In our experience there are two major flaws with the Angel Club concept:
- None spoke decent English. Svetlana was very sweet and helpful, and told us she actually teaches English. In the lift she didn’t know how to say “R.” She told us we needed to press the “Air” button? Huh? Is that near the Sky Hook?
- The Angels have been told — under penalty of goodness-knows-what — that they must answer the telephones quickly. So all face-to-face discussions with Angels are interrupted by frequent telephone calls, and the irritating notion that someone sitting in their room using their phone takes immediate priority over me. The Angels even carry cell phones, so even on our brief tour Svetlana was repeatedly interrupted. (We learned our lesson, and started to deal with the Angels by phone rather than in person.)
The hotel has a huge bar (they say the longest in the world — but Google says that honour belongs to the 405 foot 10 inch bar at the Beer Barrel Saloon in Put-it-Bay, Ohio) and a huge swimming pool (again they say the longest in the world — but the one in San Alfonso del Mar in Algarrobo, Chile is a jaw-dropping 1,013 meters in length).
All (almost) food is included as well as all (almost) drinks, including liquor. The only exceptions are “drinks in bottles” — which we found to mean wine from the wine list, instead of the house wine — and a very few a la carte items in the restaurants. There are even two mini-bars in the room: one with a green sticker (included) and one with a red sticker (not). The green mini-bar was filled with soft drinks, juice, etc. while the red mini-bar contained a couple of cans of Red Bull.
The food buffet in the main restaurant was awe inspiring. There was an enormous selection of excellent quality food at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Fresh fruit, salad, and vegetables to please Her Ladyship — and several stations were eggs, pancakes, steaks, etc. were cooked to order.
There are also several themed restaurants: Turkish, seafood, Mexican, Japanese, “Romantic,” and a Blind restaurant. You pay a small supplement to eat in these restaurants, presumably for the waiter service. We tried the Turkish and seafood restaurants and the food and service were excellent.
On our last night we tried the Blind restaurant, where you eat in total darkness. The idea is that waiters are either actually blind (the low-tech approach), or wear night vision goggles (the high-tech approach). The Adam and Eve Blind restaurant used its own approach: one poor guy who stumbled around in the dark about as poorly as we did.
The Blind restaurant involves a Eur 40.00 supplement. We were put into black rayon smocks, like you’d wear at a cheap barber, and fumbled — in a human train — into a hot dark room. In the distance there was the sound of running water: a leak? The poor waiter fumbled in the dark to show us our paper napkin and spoon: we were expected to eat with the spoon.
In one hour (ever sat in pitch dark for an hour?) we had a salad. Ever tried eating lettuce with a spoon? A mediocre salad: I think he just went to the buffet in the near-by main restaurant and picked it up. His putting ice in our water glasses in total darkness was an adventure. After a long wait following the salad we asked to please leave, and we had a nice dinner in the main restaurant — using forks, in the light.
One of the many nice things at the hotel are the pavilions. You pay a fixed price (I think it was Eur 30.00) and have your own large mattress in a large white cube. The walls and ceiling are canvas and can be adjusted. There are also a couple of hammocks. Every hour or so someone comes by with a large plate of fresh fruit, or an ice cream sundae, or a smoothie, or an excellent pizza. This was a great experience: the only small problem was that other guests, unaware that there was a surcharge for the pavilions, would move into adjoining cubes. The waiter would then shoo them away. By mid-afternoon he’d grown tired of doing so. This problem could be solved by a small fence (and gate) or hedge separating the pavilions from the other pool area. The sand on the beach, incidentally, is an unattractive brown, and filled with cigarette butts and what seems like years of detritus. Not the pearly white coral sands of Hawaii. More like a building site.
Our otherwise excellent stay was marred by an accident.
There is a huge indoor pool and spa area, and I wanted to go and have a swim in the heated pool. I’d just had my hair cut, so I was completely dry. I went into the gent’s dressing room, and Her Ladyship went into the adjoining dressing room. I removed my shoes and started to head for the door to the pool (you effectively walk through the dressing rooms). The floors are large white tiles, and part of the floor was soaking wet. In my bare — but otherwise dry — feet I slipped and fell on the floor, partially stopping my fall with my hand, but landing on my back with a thud. I couldn’t move.
Another guest in the dressing room came to my rescue, and he fetched spa personnel. They, in turn, fetched the resident paramedic. They continued to let people come into the dressing room and gawk at me on the floor. A doctor was summoned, and he arranged for a transfer by ambulance to the hospital.
This was all very upsetting for Her Ladyship and for me. The hotel wanted to send an “angel” with us, but we asked (instead) for a manager. They sent the “angel” manager, Huseyin Tuncalp.
The Aspendos Private Hospital x-rayed me and said nothing was broken. The A&E physician, Andullah Konak, said, “you’re fat, you stay in hotel overnight.” I agreed to his recommendation: who wouldn’t? Her Ladyship returned to the hotel with Mr. Tuncalp to get some clothes, books, etc., with the intention of spending the evening in the hospital with me.
While she was gone the hospital wanted to put me on a drip. This would also involve an injection of “ulcran” to apparently stop my stomach from producing stomach acid. Observation is one thing, but why the drip? I refused, much to their amazement. When Marjorie returned I said I wanted to discharge myself and go back to the hotel.
Mr. Tuncalp did not send a car to pick us up: I was later told that was because I didn’t say “please.” Instead he arranged for the hospital porter to return us in his own small car.
In my world if my guest is injured, I would do anything and everything to help. Instead the Adam and Eve approach was to call an ambulance, and then absolve themselves of everything. “We’re not responsible for the hospital,” was the unhelpful response I received the next day from Alper Ucar, the hotel’s arrogant general manager.
Mr. Ucar’s theory is that my feet were wet because I’d taken a shower, and because I already walk with a stick it must be my fault that I fell on the floor. He overlooked the fact that the showers are beyond where I fell, and the smooth ceramic tile floor was covered with water. After my fall the back of my shirt and pants were soaking wet. As I lay on the floor in the dressing room waiting for the arrival of the doctor, a cleaner was summoned and he feverishly mopped the rest of the wet floor dry.
Did we enjoy our stay at the Adam and Eve? Other than the horrible accident (entirely the fault of the hotel) and the Blind restaurant, the answer is a definitive ”yes.” The hotel is beautiful — although perhaps not to everyone’s taste — and the food and service were excellent.
But don’t expect the hotel to deal with anything out of the ordinary, or expect many people to speak even basic English. This hotel is geared up to deal with tour groups, mostly Russian, and the “angels” just don’t have the skills or the finesse to deal with FIT travelers. I asked for help purchasing Antep pistachio nuts: I asked by e-mail before we arrived, I asked the “angels,” and we even asked Mr Tuncalp (and said please). Everyone said “yes,” and nobody did a thing.
We ended up buying pistachio nuts at the airport.