Bodrum’s Eternal Blue
WHERE TO STAY:
Casa Dell’Arte Residence: At the end of a long, dark winter during a year when the snow has blanketed the ground in early November, this is where you want to be in April. This is where you want to emerge from hibernation and contemplate the beauty of an enchanted locale as it bursts into spring.
Created by the Buyukkusoglu family, a family with incredible vision and impeccable taste, Casa Dell’Arte Residence is a luxurious art hotel built around the family’s private art collection, which is now displayed in the modernist splendor of this sleek, marble sanctuary.
Named for the signs of the zodiac, the twelve guest suites are sumptuous residences furnished in a contemporary style and complemented by artworks from modern Turkish artists. White leather sofas and upholstered tulip chairs are paired with red cowhide rugs. If you’ve ever browsed the modernist pages of a Design Within Reach catalog and yearned to step into the display rooms, then this is your opportunity.
The owners’ permanent collection ranges from the works of Old Masters to 19th-century paintings alongside Fabergé enamels and contemporary Turkish painting. The atmosphere is akin to being a guest at a home curated by Bernard Berenson and Joseph Duveen.
An air of understated luxury pervades the entire property, thanks to the residence’s exquisite sense of proportion and line. A low-key entryway leads to massive ancient Turkish doors that open into a reception area beyond which is a lengthy swimming pool in a courtyard. In the distance, beyond another courtyard and an expansive white marble living room, is a broad marble staircase leading down to a lawn and onto an outdoor dining room that skirts the beach and a jetty built over the turquoise bay. Everything faces the water; everything leads to the water - or, as Homer put it best, "the land of eternal blue."
Located in the fisherman’s village of Torba, where boats depart for the ancient cities of Didymas and Miletus, homes to the Temple of Apollo and the Baths of Faustina, Casa Dell’Arte Residence is flanked by a three-bedroom private villa and a 37-suite luxury family resort. Torba Bay is surrounded by hills of green dotted with olive groves and lemon trees and Rosa rugosa. Nearby islands rise from the blue gray sea like shimmering chimeras. Guests seeking further pampering can avail themselves of the use of three private yachts.
Casa Dell’Arte’s tagline is "hotel of arts and leisure," and time spent in residence at the discreetly glamorous property becomes an exercise in artful leisure. The extremely professional staff are exemplars of hospitality and graciousness: attentive yet unobtrusive and never obsequious.
Late one autumn evening, well after midnight, I strolled from my suite, across the lawn and through the garden down to the water. Apart from a man fishing off the far end of the jetty, there was no one else about and as I stared across the bay, I was startled to recall anew that these were the very shores from which Homer had witnessed "the rosy-fingered dawn."
Casa Dell’Arte opens for the 2013 season on April 1.
LINK: Casa Dell’Arte Residence
WHAT TO DO:
Mausoleum of Halicarnassus: Yes, there are still remnants of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World - and one of them exists in an unobtrusive, nearly nondescript park in Bodrum, Turkey.
Once known as Halicarnassus during the time of Alexander the Great, the city known today as Bodrum was originally colonized by Greeks before falling under the reign of Persian King Mausolus, whose wife commissioned a huge monument from which the term "mausoleum" derives.
One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the monument tomb stood for 1,700 years before succumbing to earthquakes. Today, the foundation remains as a testament to the strategic locale of Halicarnassus and an elegiac reminder of Bodrum’s ancient history.
LINK: Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
(Travel feature continues on next pages: What to Do, Where to Shop, Where to Eat, Getting There...)