Alaçatı reaping the wind to its advantage
WILCO VAN HERPENIt is always fun to go to Alaçatı, but I enjoy the place most during spring or autumn. This is, according to me, the best time to visit this cute, little place. There are not too many tourists, so you can walk around and breathe the authentic air of this little village. Alaçatı was no more than a forgotten village in 1999, the year that I started to live in Turkey. Much has changed during that time and part of it is because of a woman called Zeynip Öziş.
It was in 2000 that she saw a building for sale and decided to buy it. All her friends were wondering if Bakırköy (in Istanbul, Bakırköy has a famous psychiatric hospital) would not be better for her. Being a successful businesswoman, Zeynep wanted another challenge in her life. She wanted to realize a very old childhood dream. So Zeynep choose Alaçatı, not Bakırköy and…
One year later, in May 2001, Taş Oteli (the stone hotel) opened its doors. The Taş Hotel is a boutique hotel with an interior and exterior design that has a typical female touch. When you enter the hotel for the first time, you immediately get the feeling that the owner of this place must be a woman. Zeynep created a little piece of heaven on earth. Together with the staff of Taş Oteli, Zeynep gave the word “guest” a new meaning again. Zeynep was the first person (and woman) to open a hotel in Alaçatı, but it did not take long before other hotels opened their doors. In 2008 there were 59 hotels and today there are around 260 hotels in Alaçatı. Zeynep created a hype that was not seen before. Of course she did not do it alone.
Around the same time, there were three or four little galleries that opened their doors; one of them was Artura Galeri owned by Uğur Çalışkan. Besides little sculptures and paintings, Uğur started by designing bracelets and necklaces. These accessories became very popular among the many surfers who were some of the first people to discover Alaçatı. Uğur’s jewelry was specially designed by himself and did not rust like many other pieces of “souvenir” jewelry. Uğur used materials people use on sailboats and combined it with leather. This combination gave it a cool but non-macho look.
Success stroy of Alaçatı
So people like Zeynep and Uğur changed Alaçatı into what it is today. It’s funny, what would Alaçatı look like if these kinds of people had not decided to start their businesses here? Would it still be the forgotten little Rum village that once upon a time had a lively past or would it have been discovered anyway?
For sure, there is another factor that is important for the success story of Alaçatı and that is the wind. Even in summertime, when the temperatures can rise above 35 degrees, it can be quite chilly during the evening. Alaçatı has a famous wind, a wind that is loved by the thousands of windsurfers and kite surfers that visit Alaçatı. It was this group of people who discovered Alaçatı and its beautiful winds. The wind in the village is so good that Alaçatı has become one of the three best places in the world to do windsurfing. In recent times, some people have been complaining that after the Port Alaçatı project was finished, the winds have changed and are not as good as they used to be. For me, being an amateur, there is not much of difference, but I can imagine that the microclimate has changed after the completion of this huge project.
This time of the year the weather is very pleasant in Alaçatı. During the day, shorts or a nice short skirt will do and during the evening you do not need a sweater. For dining there is enough choice. Together with the increasing number of hotels in Alaçatı, the number of restaurants has increased. From traditional Turkish cuisine to culinary treats from all over the world, it is all there. But after dinner, I would recommend going to İmren and eating the famous Sakız Muhallebi. Take a little bit of vanilla ice cream next to it and you have the sweetest way of ending another nice day.