THE Turkish Riviera is steeped in history and myths.
Our home for the week, the Cornelia Diamond Golf Resort and Spa, was gigantic.
It was so big it had its own bowling alley and award-winning golf course, plus a kids’ club spread over two floors with a full-sized soft play, disco area and a Lego room that would keep Alex happy for days on end.
We were in one of the 489 “standard” rooms which catered for the three of us, with Alex on a large sofa bed, and came with a mini bar full of snacks plus alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
The bathroom had a walk-in shower, comfy robes and a bath for leisurely soaks after long days in the balmy sun.
But as soon as Alex spotted the huge twisting water slides from our large balcony, we knew that downtime would be limited.
And his experience was only made better as the days passed with staff fully geared up for enthusiastic little ones — from the room cleaner who blew him kisses and brought him sweets, to a waiter who (after checking with us) led him across the restaurant to get an ice cream and a lifeguard who gave him a high-five every time he saw us.
The kids’ club, Cornie Kids World, was where the fun was truly at for Alex.
As well as play areas and even more energetic staff, there is a shaded section with pedal bikes and toy cars that youngsters have free use of — we were in there so much that Alex learned to ride a bike for the first time.
It’s not all aimed at kids though.
With eight pools, 12 bars, ten restaurants and a new Crassula ayurvedic detox and anti-ageing clinic, the resort is a blissful playground for adults too.
For us it was all about the incredible food — and boy were we spoilt for choice.
One morning, at breakfast, I counted 19 types of olives, plus eggs, seafood, salad, fruit and cheese as well as amazing Turkish delicacies like sigala borek, layers of filo pastry with cheese and egg cut into squidgy squares.
We liked the menemen, a tasty mix of scrambled egg, peppers and tomato, while Alex (who rarely eats any fruit and veg at home) tucked into figs, plums and watermelons with gusto.
Lunch is no different, bar being table service, with a menu including pizzas from their wood-fired oven, quesadillas plus a gigantic salad bar with the best garlic-filled hummus I’ve ever tasted.
It’s worth paying a trip to the a la carte Mediterranean restaurant, Hedera, for dinner too.
Overlooking the tranquil swimming pool, we gorged on crispy calamari and fresh local sea bass, before washing it down with the all-inclusive wine, a (very!) drinkable sauvignon blanc, Kavaklidere Ancyra.
If you do want to venture away from the house vino, there’s plenty of other booze on offer across the hotel, including the popular Aperol Spritz.
Cherry on top
This was my go-to every night, including on our glamorous evening at the hotel’s gigantic outdoor amphitheatre, which features a different show every evening with acts travelling from across Europe.
We were lucky to see performers that even Simon Cowell couldn’t scowl at.
Our favourite, though, was The Cotton Club which consisted of super-fit men jumping around on trampolines, looking as if they were training for the Olympics. Alex loved it — so did I!
For those that have had their fill of over-indulging, the hotel has a huge range of sports facilities, from tennis and squash courts to an air-conditioned gym.
Even though I had last done step aerobics back when leg warmers were in fashion, I decided to try an afternoon class overlooking the beach.
The friendly Russian teacher Viktoria made it so much fun that I went every day for the remainder of our break and it became one of the highlights of my holiday.
The hotel also has a golf course.
And although I am clueless when it comes to the sport, I did recognise the name of the man who helped design the hotel’s 27-hole championship golf course — Sir Nick Faldo — and the man behind its “David Leadbetter” Golf Academy.
This is a place where serious golfers come to play in a stunning setting, on grass that looks like a plush carpet.
Even if you aren’t a golfer, it’s hard not to appreciate how exquisite the club is with three courses, a shop selling all the fancy gear you need to look the part and a restaurant and bar with outside terrace where you can watch the army of staff tending to the grass, stunning lakes and fountains.
I went for a class, held a golf club for the first time in my life and was thrilled when I managed to hit a ball in vaguely the right direction.
Alex was too young for a lesson but the patient and kind teacher let him have a go anyway.
And that’s the real beauty of this place.
Every guest is made to feel special, whether it’s a daily high-five by the pool or a waiter that remembers just how you like your Aperol Spritz — the fact you can drink as many as you like for the all-inclusive price is just the cherry on top.
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