Despite more difficult times, this huge success story remains one of the world's top golf destination
For the first time in over two decades, golf in Belek has not moved forward like an unstoppable tourism juggernaut over the past 18 months. Political distractions mean the area has had in the first taste of reality - that year-on-year growth isn't just something that happens automatically.
Countries in western Europe will be saying to Belek; welcome to our world. There is no point pretending 2016-17 were bumper years for Belek. Everyone knows there are a few less of us travelling there to play. Combined with the lack of Russian tourists, Belek has been relatively quiet compared with the usual scenes there. To those of us that have been this year, it has been glorious! But quieter does not mean quiet; you won't ever play a round and not encounter plenty of other golfers on the course too.
The hotels and golf courses will want more people though, and they can expect them. A few may have opted for destinations closer to home of late, but will they really get the same experience that they've become used to on the 'Turkish Riviera'?
Will they get the same quality of golf course? In Belek, it is never in doubt; the consistency of the courses is truly remarkable. It just never lets you down.
Lykia, often the top-ranked course, is one of Continental Europe's nest. Carya is too. So too the PGA Sultan at Antalya, Cornelia and Monty Maxx (below).
But dip beneath these Top 100 venues and you have Gloria, The National and Sueno. Find a course you won't enjoy among those 99 holes and you will be either ludicrously fussy or being economical with the truth. All are proper courses – can the same always be said for countries a little closer to home?
Gloria's Old and The National are strong contenders for any respectable Top 100 list too – and so, soon, might the new-name, new-look Titanic.
Formerly TAT International, the courses as well as the name is getting an upgrade, with European Golf Design's Gary Johnston carrying out a thorough overhaul. Belek is not intent on standing still, and hasn't been since The National got things underway in 1994. Now under the umbrella of nearby Carya - host of the big-money European Tour event in December - Belek's uber-classy original has also recently added an impressive new nine holes, the Ada.
The National actually backs onto the Titanic around its 5th hole on the opening nine, illustrating just how conveniently located all the great golf in Belek is.
Outwith the trip to Lykia (30 minutes from central Belek) you are otherwise never in a transfer for more than 20 minutes – it's usually more like 10.
And with so many more direct ights to Antalya, getting there in the rst place is gloriously straightforward (and cheap) too. Money is worth mentioning, for the value here is astonishing.
Exchange rates in Britons' favour makes the five-star Belek experience even more affordable than ever – and even before sterling got stronger, it was bewilderingly good value as it was! The luxury hotels – complete with spas, tennis courts, football pitches and a myriad swimming pools and water sports – are pristine. The food they serve, whether in the a la carte restaurants or the immense buffets, is sensational. It's all inclusive too, so your beers are 'free' too...
And then there is the weather –the reason Belek got a foot in the golf travel door to start with. Belek's 'season' extends beyond almost any other in Europe. Only really Cyprus can compete with the virtual year-round golf it offers. From May to October there will be barely a cloud in the sky – and it gets seriously hot in mid-summer. In October, March and April you will see the odd cloud and the odd shower but it is ideal golf weather.
From November to February you will get some heavy showers at times, but the temperature is beautifully mild for golf. And remember, these temperatures and this sun is only four hours away.
This is why Belek will quickly regain its momentum with golfers who travel for high-calibre courses under the sun.
➤ 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