Daily News of Life and times in North Cyprus goes around the world
By Margaret Sheard…..
We had learned from our friend Adem Bayman of his friend’s hotel, Çelebi Garden Hotel in Mehmetçik which is situated in a superb location for those who want to visit the Karpaz and surrounding areas.
We took a run out on a warm and sunny February day to meet Adem and he joined us to introduce us to the owner, Kemal Çelebi who was very proud to show us his hotel and we were very impressed with what we found. The hotel is on the outskirts of Mehmetçik with superb views and in a very quiet and peaceful location yet only a short walk into the centre of the village.
The hotel was built 5½ years ago, there is an 84 bed capacity in 23 rooms on 2 floors which caters for couples and also families. Kemal runs the hotel with 6 staff and additional part-time staff in the busy season. There are two chefs – Necati and Abdurrahman and we had the pleasure of meeting Necati while we were there.
The nearest beach is at Bafra which is a 5/10 minute drive but you may prefer to relax by the large swimming pool which incorporates a children’s pool and is set in the middle of the complex where there is a permanent stage for entertainment, an indoor and covered outdoor bar area and a separate very large restaurant also with an area for outside dining. There is also a children’s play area. Kemal organises entertainment with local performers and also traditional Cypriot folk music and dance evenings
The Karpaz area is very popular with those people wishing to have a relaxing break and to be able to enjoy traditional Cypriot hospitality and traditional Cypriot cuisine. For lovers of the culture and history of Cyprus there are so many places to visit in this part of the island and we were told that it is about 1 hour’s drive to the end of the Karpaz, 30 minutes to Gazi Mağusa, 20 minutes to Salamis and 30 minutes to Kantara, all of which are must places to visit. As well as journeying by car, there are many nature walks available for lovers of the countryside and also cyclists find this is an ideal area to pursue their hobby.
The Northern Cyprus Cycling Federation have used the hotel as a base in the past and due to the large number of cyclists involved, the hotel set up a camp for them in their grounds. It is hoped to increase the interest in cycling holidays at the hotel in the future.
Car hire can be arranged for guests and the hotel offers a service of collecting people from Ercan Airport and returning them after their stay and they can then hire a vehicle at their leisure to enjoy exploring this beautiful area
We were anxious to see the accommodation provided and Kemal took us over to the area where the blocks of rooms are situated which are surrounded by flower beds and newly planted fruit trees. Kemal pointed out a small shrub which had been brought by a regular guest from Ankara who asked for it to be planted and he could then see it growing each time he visited. The shrub is growing and has actually borne fruit, although none of us were sure exactly what it is. I am sure this guest will be delighted to see his plant when he next visits the hotel.
We looked at one of the ground floor rooms which was extremely large, with a bed, wardrobe storage, and a seating area with sofa and coffee table, large wall mounted TV, and a small refrigerator for drinks. The en-suite bathroom has a large corner shower, washbasin and toilet. The decor throughout the room is very tasteful as is the bathroom. We were very impressed with what we saw.
We then looked at one of the upper floor family units which comprised of 2 bedrooms and a bathroom off a private landing. Again the rooms were large, both with TV. What hit us immediately were the very tasteful touches of flowers on the double bed, and an artistic arrangement of the covers on the 2 single beds in the adjacent bedroom. First impressions go a long way when first entering your accommodation and I know I would have been thrilled. There is a small balcony off each of the bedrooms and the view from both rooms was just stunning. It is obvious that a lot of thought has been given to making the accommodation as attractive as possible for guests to be comfortable and enjoy their stay.
Each room has a water heater in the bathroom and Kemal explained that this was incorporated for the benefit of guests because of the frequent power cuts and water problems in the area. In fact there was a power cut while we were there but the generator immediately started so everything continued without a problem.
The hotel is open all year round and prices will vary depending on the season but we were told at the moment (February) it is 110TL per person per night which includes room, evening meal and breakfast, and seems very reasonable for a good quality hotel.
While strolling around the complex and looking at the amazing view, Adem pointed out the extent of the village which we could see in the distance. Adem told us that Mehmetçik has 1,750 inhabitants so it is a large village by Karpaz standards and also many of the houses remain empty for part of the year as these are owned by British and UK Turkish Cypriots who come for holidays.
The hotel also caters for wedding parties and other functions and can cater for up to 500 people, so an ideal venue for this type of gathering. There is very adequate parking at the front of the hotel and for additional parking for a large party there is another area across the road from the hotel. While we were looking at this Kemal pointed out the many trees at the rear of this area which include oranges, lemons, pomegranates and other fruits and also grape vines.
Kemal took us on a tour of the village and we were surprised to see how far it extended, although at one point we were shown where the village originally ended but now the properties extend far beyond this point. We looked at the cultural centre where the ladies of the village go to talk and indulge in their lace making and craft work. Nearby is an area where the community have planted seeds and when they start to germinate they will be taken by the villagers to plant in their own gardens.
There is much going on in Mehmetçik with a new cultural centre being developed on a former site of a Turkish Military camp. The village is also at a point where they meet the criteria to apply for membership of the Cittaslow Movement which will also make this an attraction to visitors.
This part of North Cyprus is so unspoiled and let us hope it remains so but these small villages all have a charm of their own and are steeped in history which many people never discover. We tend to visit the normal tourist attraction areas but a little sidestep into some of the villages of the Karpaz may result in some surprising findings. The Karpaz is not just for tourists, it is also a wonderful place to visit for those living here, whether they are Cypriots or expatriates who have chosen to make their home here.
I would recommend a few days exploring the Karpaz area and it is evident there are some lovely places to stay, one being the hotel we visited in Mehmetçik – Çelebi Garden Hotel. You will be welcomed to enjoy a traditional taste of the Karpaz in beautiful surroundings, freshly cooked traditional food and very comfortable accommodation.