With activity holidays surging in popularity, David Wilcock heads to Turkey to learn how to sail.
If there’s one thing you won’t find yourself doing at Club Adakoy, it’s lazing about. You may find yourself collapsed on a sun lounger in the afternoon, but that’s likely to be a form of well-deserved recovery.
The four-star resort in Turkey, opened for the first time last year, is a place where people get up early, determined to do something with their leisure time.
Adakoy is the latest addition to the Neilson family of resorts, geared strongly towards watersports, but also offering plenty besides.
It nestles in splendid seclusion on Adakoy Island (really a peninsular) across a wide bay from the resort of Marmaris in south-west Turkey.
Sailing, windsurfing and waterskiing are readily available and, with a slogan of “relax as hard as you like”, you can do as much or as little as you want, as these sports are all included in the price of the holiday.
You don’t have to worry very much about food, either, as the Club Board accommodation package includes daily breakfast and lunch, plus four evening meals in the week.
All Neilson’s BeachClub Plus resorts are designed with much more than the basic offering of the past, aimed at people keen to hit the water and do little else.
Club Adakoy won’t pressurise anybody to take part in activities, however. You can prostrate yourself in front of the Mediterranean sun every day if you wish, but with top-class facilities and trainers on hand, it seems ridiculous not to get out and about from the word go. It was certainly the first holiday I’ve been on where I have set my alarm for 7am and not regretted it.
Days here are broadly structured into two halves. Mornings, after a hearty breakfast (and it’s always hearty wherever I’m dining) are mainly about learning. If, like me, you’re a complete novice, the staff take you in hand and patiently take you through your chosen activity.
I decided to tackle windsurfing, having never attempted it before. There were four 90 minute lessons on the course and at the end of two, I was deemed competent enough to go out on my own.
By the end of the week, I was cursing the fact that the wind would not stay blowing in the right direction for me. Even at the beginning of June, the sparkling clear Med waters were warm enough to make a wetsuit unnecessary.
It was a similar experience for those who undertook sailing. The resort has its own extensive fleet of boats, from tiny dinghies sailed by one person, through catamarans designed for two and up to lively BB3s, which require more.
After classes, it’s time for a well-deserved lunch, and then you either go out and practise your respective craft or try another watersport requiring no tuition, such as kayaking (there are daily “safaris” around the bay) or stand-up paddleboarding, a gentle device which tests your balance and stretches your stomach muscles.
Waterskiing is also very popular. Two speedboats take people skiing or wakeboarding around the deep blue waters of the bay and several people I met were on the holiday mainly for that purpose. I was forced to retire ruefully after a series of graceless face-plants into the water, but one of my friends, who struggled with windsurfing, was a natural from the start.
All this activity takes place in a well-defined sailing zone off the resort, which is quiet and peaceful apart from the daily invasion of tourist cruisers from Marmaris. There’s always a safety boat on hand should anyone get into difficulty - or even if you’re knackered and want a lift back to the beach for a lie down.
If you’ve had enough of the water and want to try something different, the land-based activities stretch past simply propping up the bar, though that is an option if your arms and legs simply won’t do anything else.
But if you have any energy left, there are instructor-led mountain biking expeditions on most days, which range in ferocity from taking the ferry to Marmaris and gently promenading along the sea front and browsing the shops, to frankly insane jaunts up the surrounding volcanic hills that leave you breathless and practically broken, if that’s what floats your boat.
The resort also has a couple of tennis courts and a full-time tennis coach. Whatever your standard, you can turn up for a free group session or pay extra for a solo lesson. You can also hire out courts to play with friends and join in the weekly competition.
If you reach the point of complete exhaustion, or simply want some pampering, gentler pursuits include a visit to the spa and yoga classes (not included in the cost of the holiday), as well as daily wind-down stretching groups to straighten you out again. There’s even a small gym, though demand seemed generally small on an active watersports holiday.
The Kids’ Club is probably one of the main selling points of this holiday for young families. Though you might go away as a family, you don’t want to look after your children all day every day, so there is extensive childcare on site. It can start early in the morning, for parents who have booked in for early watersports lessons, or start later and run into the night, so parents who have looked after their children during the day can enjoy an evening of relaxation after taking the 10-minute boat trip across the bay into Marmaris.
Or you can opt for what I found to be a real highlight of the holiday: taking an evening cruise around Marmaris Bay in a vessel drawn from the resort’s fleet of 34-foot pleasure yachts.
Under the watchful gaze of a skipper, you spend several hours cruising around the extensive volcanic bay, enjoying some wine, maybe taking a dive into the cool waters from the deck of the boat and hopefully catching the beginning of the sunset.
Much as I enjoyed the exhausting watersports, there was something nice about getting away onto the water, dropping the anchor and just taking a deep breath, before returning to begin it all again.
Key facts - Watersports in Turkey
:: Best for: Waterskiing on the sheltered waters of the bay and yachting on the Mediterranean.
:: Time to go: Early May, when the weather - and water - is already balmy.
:: Don’t miss: If you master waterskiing, wakeboarding (a single, broad ski) takes it to the next level.
:: Need to know: To attract groups, Neilson can provide one free place in each group of four, which could be a winner in a penny-pinching summer.
:: Don’t forget: It’s a cashless resort done with payment by tab - but you need real money in Marmaris.
:: David Wilcock was a guest at the four-star Club Adakoy in Turkey run by Neilson Beachclubs, part of Thomas Cook, which offers seven-night stays in summer 2012 from £449, saving £200, in early May. Price based on two adults sharing a twin/double room. Peak season prices from £919. Package includes return flights ex-Belfast/Birmingham/Bristol/Cardiff/East Midlands/Gatwick/Glasgow/Manchester/Newcastle/Stansted, transfers, breakfast, daily lunch and four evening meals. Price also includes free tennis and watersports coaching for adults and children, and kids’ clubs.
:: Neilson reservations: 0845 070 3460 and www.neilson.co.uk.