Your essential guide to a golfing trip to Belek
Thirty kilometers to the east of Antalya stands the 'Turkish riviera' of Belek, a land that needs little introduction to any discerning golf traveller.
Since The National sprang up in the mid-1990s, this 40km stretch has experienced a golf boom that saw more than 30 top-class hotels and a number of exceptional golf resorts spring up and populate the southern coast.
The economic downturn has slowed development and seen visitor numbers fall in recent years, but it hasn't diminished the experience awaiting you when you touch down at Antalya airport and make the short journey east to whichever of the all-inclusive, uber-luxurious resort awaits you.
It's true that there are fantastic resorts and courses closer to home than those in Belek, but few can offer the same levels of luxury and quality of golf course on offer here. With so many options, where to go, where to play and where to stay is a key question. What follows here are a few of our favourite options.
Open since 2008, Lykia Links has been the true standout, created under the watchful eye of Perry Dye, son of Pete, creator of Harbour Town Golf Links and Kiawah Island Ocean Course and a family of very discerning taste. Laid out over classic links landscape, taking you through natural sand dunes and over rumpled fairways, all 18 holes gaze out across the sea on what is one of the nest (also: toughest) courses in continental Europe.
Set around 30 minutes out from the eastern end of Belek's 'golf strip', the journey is without doubt justifiable. It's also the furthest you'll have to travel during your stay: no other course or resort is much more than 10 minutes away. Carya is another exceptional option, the first ever heathland course built in Turkey and another that will ask serious questions of your game.
Likewise the PGA Sultan at Antalya, Cornelia and Montgomerie Maxx – all Top 100 venues and exceptional tests. But there is serious strength in depth here. Gloria, The National and Sueno offer 99 holes that you could very happily play from morning until night, then set about doing it all again the following day. In truth, Gloria's Old and The National are both strong contenders for any respectable Top 100 list.
The latter is Belek's original course, kickstarting the revolution in 1994. Even now, 25 years late, it shows an appetite for evolution. Operating under the umbrella of nearby Carya – host of the European Tour's big- money event in December – Belek's uber- classy original has also recently added an impressive new nine holes, the Ada. But of course, when you come to Belek, the golf course is only half of the story. You are in a land of luxury hotels, a world of spas and swimming, of pools and pampering. It's hard to see past the Gloria Golf Resort, one of Belek's longest established hotels with all the luxuries you'd expect from a five-star affair.
Within walking distance, Sirene Belek Hotel is another magnificent option, another five- star ode to opulence that lies beside the beach and at the heart of Belek's many golf courses, including the PGA Sultan and Pasha courses at Antalya Golf Club (right) just over the road. Of course, one of the big advantages Belek has over other resorts closer to home is the weather.
Only really Cyprus and Morocco can compete with the virtual year-round golf it offers. From May until October there's barely a cloud in the sky. Even between November and February, the mild temperatures are perfect for golf. With those elements combined, it's very easy to see why Belek has forged its reputation – a reputation for quality few other places on the planet can match.
➤ Getting There: Turkish Airlines operate flights to Antalya from various UK airports.
➤ Time Difference: +3
➤ When to go: Belek is typically Mediterranean with hot summers and mild winters. April to June and September to November are the best – in terms of climate
Find out more here: www.bilyanagolf.com