“I am sitting on a plane, enjoying a fabulous curry chicken served by a Turkish Airlines chef who looks like he has been put here directly from the set of a French cooking movie. Taking a bite of the succulent chicken I am drifting off, imagining what to expect from my first trip to Turkey. Endless beaches, great country side, a never ending well of architecture and history and of course sunshine, the ocean and perfect training conditions at the Gloria Sports Arena. After all I am following the call of the Gloria Serenity Spa & Resort with it’s adjoining Gloria Sports Arena to find out if the name of the resort is program. Can a week in Turkey turn my lifestyle of insanity into a moment of serenity?”
Arriving at the resort in Belek the first impression is – let’s try to be cool here – pretty good (in reality there might have been some high fives and fist pumps with my travel companion involved). The Gloria Serenity is a 35 minutes drive from Antalya airport and welcomes us with beautifully designed and really spacious rooms, the best full board buffet restaurant I’ve seen anywhere on the road so far – I can highly recommend sitting outside and just enjoy the ‘slam dunk yummie’ BBQ on a warm and breezy summer evening.
Insanity quickly turns into serenity when walking down to the direct access beach where I am enjoying a Turkish coffee in white lounge chairs, overlooking the reflection of the moon on the ocean water while listening to the waves underneath hitting the pier I am sitting on. A moment of perfection.
After a ‘sleep like a baby’ kind of night it’s time to check out some of the many offerings of the Gloria Sports Arena. Home to not only the Ironman 70.3 Turkey
happening this very weekend but also to many top professional athletes and age groupers from around the world. 29 Olympic medals were earned in Rio this year by athletes preparing at the Gloria Sports Arena. I am hopping into the Bod-Pod – every athletes worst enemy – and 3 minutes later I am convinced the machine must be broken….or I am actually in off-season shape. After checking out the underwater treadmill it is time to hit the ice chamber, something I’ve never done before. 5 of us are taking ‘the journey’ together. 10 seconds in chamber number 1 at -12 Celsius, 10 seconds in chamber number 2 at -62 Celsius and then 2 minutes in chamber number 3 at -112 Celsius. This ice chamber thing is a hell lot of fun and oddly enough due to the very dry air in the chamber the -112 Celsius are very bearable. Only 1 rule applies ‘What happens in the ice chamber, stays in the ice chamber’ Way too much fun with 5 people in there 🙂
After being blown away by the rest of the sports arena – detailed report on the sports arena with it’s insane facilities coming tomorrow – I am hopping on the shuttle bus to the Gloria Golf Course. I’ve been invited to play the 18 hole ‘Old Course’ Championship course. Only 1 of 2 Championships Courses at the resort + a stunning open air driving range and yet another 9 hole course. 45 holes overall.
It is a stellar day for golf with a light breeze coming from the ocean, the sun shining and temperatures around 30 Celsius. I had no idea what to expect from the course before starting it but hole number 1 blew me away already. A long par5 with an old tree line left and right and a huge water hazard to your left after about 270 meters played from the white tee. I am feeling the pressure a little as I am bumped up the line and get to start under the careful watch of 2 flights waiting behind me already. The drive is going nicely but with a slight hook and it drops in the semi rough at about 280 meters. I have a choice to make. Full attack on hole number one and try to carry the ball 230 meters over the water – maybe not from the semi rough. I am opting for a slight draw around a huge tree in front of my ball and place the ball middle fairway with a lob wedge onto the green. 2 Putts, Par and I am looking forward to a brilliant 17 holes to come. Check back for the detailed article on the Championship Course and it’s facilities on Thursday.
Fast forward and 17 holes and a short shuttle transfer later I am sitting at the resort’s SPA in the ultimate attempt to find serenity at the Serinity. This is turning into some serious RnR time as my travel mate Haddi and I are quickly inspired to try out the Turkish Hamam treatment. Trying to explain the effects of a Hamam treatment is pretty useless. Everybody who goes to Turkey talks about it and the best way I can put it is with the words of a friend who tried it the day after us “I haven’t truly lived until today”. Hamam is 100% relaxation and 50 minutes, a lot of foam, oil, water and massages later we are sitting in the quiet area, feeling like newborn and enjoying a final cup of Turkish tee for the day. For a moment I am not sure if I died somewhere along the way and ended up in paradise but then quickly realised that can’t be it cause I am most likely going to hell after death (but that’s a different story ;-))
It’s Sunday morning and I am finding myself down at the beach early at 7am already. We spontaneously convinced 3 ladies on our press trip – Angie
(you’ll find their travel report by clicking the links on their names) to participate in the relay of Ironman 70.3 Turkey today. An absolut blast considering they’ve had no interaction with triathlon ever before. After sending Angie off for the swim we are enjoying a morning coffee and the rising sun from the pier – another one of many picture perfect moments this weekend – and once she is out of the water and the other ladies are off onto the course it is time to continue the leisure program. At 24 celsius the salty ocean lies perfectly calm in front of us and invites for a nice little ocean swim on the Ironman course and since Haddi and I are wet already we decide that we might just turn into 13 year old little boys for a moment and we are attacking the waterslide park. From on top of a tower there is 6 different slides. Slides like we’ve never seen them before and hammering them down we are letting the inner child out. Some of the best fun had in a while and the bruised bones from overdoing it and turning watersliding into a competition as well as the loss of skin are 100% worth it.
After cheering our ladies along the run course around mid day and later to the finish line there is only one thing to do: Enjoy the sun, sand and ocean at the beach, a little nape and later a sun-downer on the pier again, sitting 2 meters over the ocean. Life could not be better.
The weekend ends with Gin Tonics and new found friends at the outside bar – and the feeling of never wanting to leave again.
For more pictures from the trip check out my Instagram and shoot me a message for more info on the resort or some special deals.