What is it? Barut Lara Resort and Spa, an all-inclusive five-star resort that opened a year ago this March.

Where? Just a half-hour drive from Antalya Airport on Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast.

Description: [BARUT_LARA_RESORT_AND_SPA.jpg]A spanking new, all-inclusive, five-star resort in sunny Turkey might sound like your idea of heaven. So it’s no surprise that Wendy Sloane, her three daughters and even her husband Duncan discovered they loved every minute of it.

To relax in a blissfully stress-free atmosphere, while the kids have the time of their lives.

Our small children, Josie, then four, and Tilly, two, were in kiddie heaven – and baby Clementine loved it too! Along with the beach, six swimming pools, water slide complex, cinema and Mini-Club, there was a kid’s disco night and a children’s playground with kangaroo-shaped toilets. For older folk there are squash and tennis courts, mini-golf, and a fitness room, along with water-skiing, wind-surfing, parasailing etc.

I’m old before my time. My husband Duncan and I spent every evening on our balcony enjoying the quiet while the kids snoozed. But for less boring souls, there’s a full ‘animation programme’ with activities such as bingo and the ‘Miss Lara’ contest. There’s also a nightclub and several wine-bar type restaurants with live music.

Josie and Tilly loved the free Mini-Club, which they made beaded necklaces and knitted dolls and played games with Daisy, a local 23-year-old in pigtails. Booking a baby-sitter or dropping the kids off costs extra.

The Spa gleams, with a large indoor salt pool and a very salty Thalasso pool. Treatments include body massages to accompany the Turkish Hammam, or steamroom bath, and the full range of facials and other anti-ageing specialties. I took the advice of a German tourist and had a fab haircut for L20.

Local activities: The market in Antalya is unmissable. We spent a day haggling for bargains, buying apple tea and belly-dancing costumes for the girls’ upcoming birthdays. They adored spying a fish almost as large as they were.

Wish we had known: How expensive decent baby food is. Not wanting to cart over 45 jars for seven-month-old Clementine, I naively planned on buying from the local supermarket. I ended up paying almost 60 quid for enough organic Milupa to last the week.

Our top tip: Don’t go if you’re on a diet. The food is amazing. Everything is buffet-style but the food doesn’t sit on plates collecting flies. Cooks often prepare meals in front of you (crepes, eggs, bacon) and the menus are fresh and inventive. And they don’t stint on selection: Josie didn’t like the frogs legs, while the quail was quite passable…

Kids say: Josie, four, says: ‘I want to go back to the Turkey because I want more ice cream!’

Getting There: Seven nights at the Barut Lara Resort and Spa costs from L2,692 for a family of four, on an all-inclusive basis, flying from London Gatwick on July 27. To book visit your local Thomas Cook store, call 08701 111111 or visit www.thomascook.com

About our stay: My children still think that Turkey is the place where everyone gets free ice cream just by asking for it. Which is why my eldest daughter Josie, then four, couldn’t understand why back in Blighty a choc ice wouldn’t magically appear every time she snapped her fingers. “Darling, we’re not on holiday anymore. Mummy has to pay for ice cream in London,” I kept explaining. “I want to go back to the Turkey,” she’d wail in response. Desserts weren’t the only freebie on offer at the Barut Lara Resort and Spa near Antalya, as we soon found out. None of us had ever been to a five-star resort before, and it was an eye-opening experience. Piles of clean towels were everywhere. Waiters were everywhere, proferring cold drinks and snacks at no extra cost. Polite, welcoming fellow tourists were also everywhere, talking nicely to each other instead of fighting for space on sun loungers. Our week-long sojourn was definitely a case of Turkish delight. We arrived in the middle of the night, just in time for two-year-old Tilly to vomit discreetly in the bus on the way to the hotel. From a distance, the area looked bleak and barren – a strip of sand alongside the beach filled with monstrously large hotels – and buildings under construction. Cranes dotted the landscape and we wondered if our mornings would be punctuated by the sounds of whirring machinery and hammering.[TILLY_AND_JOSIE_WITH_A_GIGANTIC_FISH!.jpg] Our fears were unfounded. The Barut Hotel was clean, airy and completely finished, with its own private beach and a series of swimming pools. We stayed in a gorgeous two-bedroom suite complete with kitchen, living room and child-friendly balcony. The staff were attentive but not overly so, with the pig-tailed girls who worked in the Kids Club seeming to genuinely like our little monsters. In need of relaxation, we spent most of our time at the resort itself, alternating swims with arts and crafts sessions, children’s discos, the on-site cinema and cramming loads of food down our gobs (thank God for Spandex). We spent an afternoon at the market in nearby Antalya, where cute Clementine in her Baby Bjorn and sunhat was a star. And we slept deeply, both in the nighttime and afternoons, when the heat of the day made everyone a bit worse for wear. [WENDY_TILLY_AND_JOSIE_BY_THE_POOL.jpg] This holiday was perfect – almost. For me, it will also be embedded in my memory as the scene of one of the scariest experiences I’ve ever had. For some reason, Josie decided she wanted to try floating in the shallow end – sans armbands. Tilly was watching from the deep end and decided she wanted to follow suit. Before I could shout “Call am ambulance!” she had jumped out of the pool, pulled both armbands off, and jumped back in, feet first. I began shouting “Don’t! Keep them on!” as soon as I sussed out the situation, but she didn’t want to listen. So I swam towards her as quickly as I could, reaching her just as she started to sink. I pulled her out, coughing and spluttering so thankfully still alive. We sank into a chaise longue just as one of the hotel staff, who had been watching the whole affair from afar, reached us and began enquiring if everything was all right. Needless to say, neither Josie nor Tilly got any more ice cream that day (actually, they each had a double serving). I’ve enrolled them in swimming lessons – and just bought some more armbands, just in case. *Wendy Sloane is the Travel Editor for entertainthekids.com, has 3 children and lives in London with her husband, Duncan

Created: 2006-04-12 10:35:18.670

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