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Michael Buerk stays at the Caresse hotel in Bodrum Turkey

Kocabahce is its name but everyone, even the Turks, calls it the sailors’ paradise.

It is exactly that, a rustic restaurant and a homemade pier atop a pocket fjord in arguably the most beautiful bay on the Aegean’s most beautiful coast. It is just around the corner from Bodrum.

My wife and I have been sailing here for 20 years. We saw palm trees and oleander growing to frame the simple wooden building.

Sailor’s delight: BBC reporter Michael Buerk is back in Bodrum Turkey again, after sailing there for 20 years

We were greedy for the best meze in the Gulf and drank late night raki with Mehmet, the sad little man who put his heart and soul into this wonderful place.

He has a lot to be saddened by. The boats have largely disappeared. Middle-aged German tourist gangs make their way to Croatia. The British moved to Greece. The flotillas have fled.

It is not paradise lost, it is paradise forsaken.

Turkish tourism dropped by as much as 50 percent last year, and this year looks worse. But tourists don’t know much about Turkey, much less about geography, and are frightened by recent events. It doesn’t matter that the war in Syria is about 1,000 miles away, how far Ukraine is from us.

It doesn’t matter that the attacks were in Istanbul and Ankara, further away from a place like Marmaris than Cologne is from London. The truth is, resorts in Turkey feel free, calm, safe, and downright secular. Selfishly, this is all great.

The anchorages this year are largely deserted, the restaurants and traders enthusiastic, almost desperate. So we decided it was the perfect time to go to Bodrum, a city we avoided because it’s lively, trendy – Turkey’s so-called St Tropez.

Glorious: the white houses of the Bodrum harbor are enchanting.  The city is dominated by its Castle of San Pietro

Glorious: the white houses of the Bodrum harbor are enchanting. The city is dominated by its Castle of San Pietro

An added incentive was the chance to try out the newest and possibly more luxurious development.

We crushed our sloppy little boat on the dock of the Caresse hotel, between the hotel’s elegant gulet and its jet-set speedboat, with such a lack of skill that we nearly destroyed them both.

The welcoming committee hid any alarms behind steady smiles and came forward elegantly with welcome cocktails and cold towels.

It took five years and, according to locals, £ 116 million to build Caresse. The location is perfect. It is on the edge of Bodrum, located along a steep slope above the sea. It overlooks the most beautiful and unspoiled view of the Black Island and the Gulf of Gokova.

You can see it from almost all of the 67 rooms and nine suites, not to mention the infinity pools, the imported sand beach, the two restaurants, bars, and acres of the best Burmese teak decking that, alone, is said to have coast. 1.5 million pounds. It is definitely modern and high tech.

Caresse is faring better than many Bodrum hotels. But it launched when Bodrum was receiving a million tourists a year, and this drastic drop makes even the top end a (comparative) bargain.

Lavish: Michael stayed at the Caresse Hotel, which took around five years and £ 116 million to build.

Lavish: Michael stayed at the Caresse Hotel, which took around five years and £ 116 million to build.

The Caresse spa helped make it the European Resort of the Year. I’ve always been shy about massages. But Thai therapists with punches like jackhammers gave me the kind of quick brush-up that made my muscles sing again at sunset.

Bodrum itself was better than I remembered. Also attractive.

The white and blue-bordered houses are charming and the city is dominated by the Castle of San Pietro, built in the 15th century. It houses a fine exhibit of underwater archeology, including the wreck of a ship that sunk in 400 BC

Bodrum has long been the favorite city of Istanbul glitterati and foreign tourists who still go there. The crisis has done us all a favor. Night club party boats appear to have been one of the first victims. Our puny pound also goes a long way these days in Turkey.

The people have always been warm, the food excellent, the coast beautiful and dotted with antiquities, the ideal climate. Now it costs even less and you are spoiled for choice.

Travel facts

Red Savannah (redsavannah.com, 01242 787 800) offers seven nights at the Caresse Resort & Spa Bodrum from £ 1,096 per person, based on two people sharing a double B&B room.

Includes easyJet flights from Gatwick and transfers.

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