Turkey’s Aegean region is hotly preferred for its warm sunshine and turquoise water in summer, yet the region is still a tourist attraction in winter with its thermal facilities. A variety of thermal spas in the region’s cities of Izmir, Denizli and Aydin serve guests seeking alternative treatments or a holiday with their families in a warm place.
Balcova: Thermal facilities in Izmir’s Balcova district named after the famous commander of the Trojan War, Agamemnon, and also reported to have healed the soldiers of Alexander the Great, are in great demand from Scandinavian countries, especially Norway. Burcu Aplak Arin, the chief physiotherapist at Balcova Thermal Hotel said the hotel welcomes about 6,000 tourists a year. Approximately 3,000 local patients apply to the facility due to orthopedic problems, cervical and lumbar herniated discs, and neurological diseases. “We have 10 or 20-day treatment programs. We also have foreign tourists, especially Scandinavian tourists,” Arin said. In the winter months, the thermal facility may even reach around a 90 percent occupancy rate.
Pamukkale: In Denizli’s towns of Pamukkale and Karahayit, local and foreign tourists enjoy the thermal facilities in the cold weather, while watching the visual feast of hot water in the travertines of Pamukkale. Gazi Murat Sen, Turkish Hoteliers Federation (TUROFED) Board Member, and Chairman of Denizli Touristic Hotels and Investors Association (DENTUROD), said Pamukkale, hosts visitors in winter for its thermal facilities as one of the rare places with a sustainable tourism over all 12 months. In Pamukkale, guests have the opportunity to treat themselves with a unique winter holiday at a ski resort. Sen said: “Guests are nested in snow during the day and are treated in thermal waters in the evening here.” The upcoming semester break has also increased bookings and the hotel occupancy rate in Pamukkale is expected to reach 100 percent in the following weeks.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Pamukkale attracts visitors every season for its cultural and natural richness. With the motto “Thermal is good,” the hotels in Pamukkale offer affordable holiday options to their guests. As stated by UNESCO, the combination of striking natural formations and the development of a complex system of canals, bringing the thermal water to nearby villages and fields, is exceptional in Pamukkale. “The springs are the source of a hydraulic system extending 70 km northwest to Alasehir and westwards along the valley of the Menderes River. Pamukkale forms an important backdrop to the original Greco-Roman town of Hierapolis and the cultural landscape which dominates the area,” UNESCO says on its website.
Although the weather is cold in the winter months, the guests make the best use of the thermal pools, and even if the temperature is below zero outside, locals benefit from thermal water at 36 degrees Celsius. Ismail Bartu, the manager of the thermal hotel operating in the Karahayit region, said from November to the end of February the demand for thermal waters particularly increases and people look for places where they can spend their leisure time and holiday, adding that they want to have a chance of being treated while spending their holiday in a warm atmosphere in cold weather.
Germencik: Aydin, which has key cities like Kusadasi and Didim for summer tourism, also maintains its mobility in tourism with thermal facilities located in the districts, such as Germencik and Buharkent in winter. Servet Soylu, the manager of Dag Termal in Germencik, said they were pleased with the mobility that started at the beginning of the winter season and have mostly welcomed tourists from Russia. Soylu further said that the thermal water is good for orthopedic fractures, cellulitis and kidney stones, and that local and foreign tourists accommodated in the facility have a holiday while also benefiting from these services. “We have a capacity of 122 rooms in total, which reaches an 80 percent occupancy rate on weekdays and 100 percent on weekends.” Soylu said, adding: “A majority of our guests coming from abroad are from Russia. Russian tourists view thermal water to be good for them and show strong eagerness to visit. The Russians whom we usually see in the Antalya region in summer prefer thermal water in winter.” Saying they are extremely satisfied with the tourist density, Soylu added that they have reached a 30 percent increase compared to previous years.
Source: Daily Sabah