Another kind of tourism is possible
Dionysus, the son of Zeus, is the god of viticulture, fertility, wine and ecstasy in ancient Greek myth. Music, songs, dance and wine would always be in abundance in the places where he set foot.
For this reason, the rooms of the Dionysos Hotel, located in Alıç, in the Marmaris district of southern Turkey, were labelled with the names of various kinds of wine.
I went to the hotel this summer after a friend of mine recommended it. I had never heard anything about it before. Indeed, until two years ago it was closed to domestic tourism and only hosted foreigners. However, when the flow of foreign tourists to Turkey slowed down, Dionysos Hotel’s proprietor Ahmet Şenol decided to open it up to domestic tourists.
The hotel is comprised of a number of small houses and is located on a steep hill just beyond the ancient city of Amos.
If you are wondering how a hotel can be in total harmony with nature, you should check out the Dionysos Hotel.
First of all, you drive to the hotel through winding roads that encircle a gigantic canyon. It is difficult to even make out the hotel from the other side of the canyon, as its small houses are disguised by the surrounding nature. It is also hard to tell the stone houses from the rocks.
After working in his family business of metal production in the 1980s, Şenol came to Marmaris in 1989 with the dream of tourism. Back then there was not even a road to the area of his hotel, and visitors had to come in boats.
Şenol first entered hotel management in İçmeler, then moved on to Turunç when the former got too crowded. After a while of thinking, he imagined what he could do in the terrain where Dionysos stands today and realized his dreams: A hotel where they could engage in small-scale agriculture growing fruits and vegetables, where they could produce their own olive oil, and where settlements would be limited and bespoke.
After they laid the hotel’s foundation, they made sure to separate glass and plastic waste, filter water waste for garden irrigation use, and turn kitchen waste into manure. In subsequent years the hotel installed solar panels to reduce the consumption of electricity.
“Everyone’s problem is more or less the same these days,” says Şenol. “They want to flee from the city and achieve a more gentle, serene life. People coming from Istanbul at first speak loudly here but gradually get quieter after a few days.”
Dionysos is enclosed by a forest. There are, however, numerous trees and plants other than pine: Mulberry, fig, grape apricot, plum, lemon, orange, pear, cherry, lavender, sage…
“This place is already a forest, but we used the region’s trees while building this field, which we call ‘the garden.’ We have so many beautiful trees in this region,” Şenol said.
The hotel makes its own butter, yoghurt, pastrami and jam. It grows tomatoes, the real taste of which we long ago forgot in big cities, using seeds that are up to 100 years old. The hotel’s olive oil, prepared through cold extrusion, is highly addictive. But the hotel has no interest in commercializing these flavors; it is only interested in producing enough for consumption at the hotel.
Ultimately, the Dionysos Hotel will not be for you if you are someone who changes your bikini five times a day and wears high heels with your swimsuit, as the people there are not really interested in seeing others or being seen by others.