KARPAZ GATE MARINA IN NORTH CYPRUS: REVIEW
North Cyprus, or the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) as it’s also known as, is one of those parts of our continent that evades most travellers’ radars. Following its creation as a de facto state in 1983, it remains one of the more remote and unexplored regions of Europe.
So it’s certainly an interesting locational choice for an exclusive €120 million development, on the island’s Karpaz peninsula, incorporating the country’s first international standard marina and a brand new 52-room boutique hotel.
The first thing that strikes you as you step through the revolving door of the hotel entrance is the visual remarkability of its inner atrium. Its striking maritime-themed design is particularly impressive, with huge sail shapes decorating the ceiling and in the check-in and bar area a large compass floor design.
The vision behind this concept comes from Israeli managing director Liza Singer, who wanted to recreate the experience of being onboard an opulent sailing yacht, and has very much succeeded in executing that vision.
She tells me over dinner on my first night there why North Cyprus was her chosen location.
“On purely geographical terms, just looking at the map, we are in a very strategic place in Europe. We’re sitting in the Mediterranean, in the Eastern part, close to Europe.
“This part of the world was ripe and ready for a development like Karpaz Gate Marina. It’s a truly unique area. We wanted that geographical uniqueness, to stand out, and not just blend in with a lot of hotels on the coast, one after the other after the other.
“Here we can create our own ‘microcosmos’.”
Karpaz Gate Marina hotel reception area
Liza saw a large gap in the market here for the international sailing community.
Immediately opposite the hotel is the palm tree-lined promenade and 300-berth marina, which opened in 2011: the first in Cyprus to achieve a 5 Gold Anchor Platinum accreditation from the Yacht Harbour Association, joining an elite group of trusted high-level marinas around the world.
“We are very much a boutique marina,” explains Liza. “And we are extremely proud to have been awarded the 5 Gold Anchor status, which we’ve upheld since 2013.
The hotel’s nautical theme extends into all of its 52 rooms, which includes four family corner cabins each with two ensuite bedrooms, and four larger suite cabins with a separate living-room, additional sofa bed and guest bathroom.
They are all attractively decorated with blue and white and sailing visuals, teak deck flooring and whitewashed wood ceilings. All rooms offer a view of the sea, marina or garden, from the terrace (ground floor) or balcony (upper floor).
And with no neighbouring hotels or passing foot traffic to speak of, you are a guaranteed a peaceful night’s sleep here.
In the light of day Karpaz Gate Marina comes into its own as a destination within itself. The Beach Club is a private beach area with a 33m infinity pool, a watersports centre, beachfront cabanas, and a restaurant that also hosts periodic DJ events for guests who like to party.
In the hamam at Karpaz Gate Marina
Then there is The Gallery, an exclusive area for hotel and marina guests, whose facilities include an indoor pool, jacuzzi and gym, and a couple of well-appointed meeting rooms for any business visitors. Finally, a luxurious hamam offers a traditional bathhouse, saunas and treatment rooms for massages.
On the dining front, Hemingway’s Resto-Bar on the promenade is a convivial all-day restaurant and bar purveying international and traditional Cypriot cuisine. The Turkish meze breakfasts are particularly enjoyable there in the morning sunshine, and by night it becomes an elegant dining venue, with live music and jazz nights enlivening proceedings at weekends.
Make sure to treat yourself to a ‘Chef’s Table’ culinary experience, which showcases the best of modern and traditional Turkish dishes, including paper kebab, stuffed quail and root vegetable salad. The house wine, exclusively sold at the resort, is also first class.
It’s pleasing to know that the menu’s fruit, herbs and vegetables are grown onsite, in a dedicated nursery next to the beach club, and I also learn that over half the resort’s total electricity usage is supplied by its own solar plant, so the ecological credentials here really are commendable.
If you want to spread your wings beyond the resort, you are spoilt for choice of peaceful, unspoilt beaches, including Golden Beach: the most remote on the island. The nearby tip of the peninsula is a protected natural heritage area where wild donkeys roam freely and are happy to pose for photos.
If hiking is your bag, there are hills and peaks aplenty to challenge all levels of experience, while historical sites of the region include Apostolos Andreas Monastery, Buffavento and Kantara Castles, and the ruins of Agios Philon.
If you prefer some more metropolitan action, the cities of Famagusta, Nicosia and Girne, are all easily reached by car. Casinos are a popular leisure option here, if you fancy a flutter.
To conclude, Karpaz Gate Marina truly is a unique location in this part of the continent, and is genuinely a destination in itself with its array of facilities, private beach club and superlative restaurant, making a stay in its impressive new hotel or exclusive marina one you won’t be forgetting in a hurry.
If you’ve never been to the northern half of Cyprus before, make this place your maiden visit.
Cabins at the hotel start at €155 on weekdays and €175 at weekends. Packaged experiences are priced €600-700 per person. See www.karpazbay.com for further details.
Getting there: 1hr 40mins transfer from Larnaca airport, which can be arranged via the resort’s concierge service, who also assists with car rental, tours, activities and transportation around the island. A complimentary shuttle bus service also transports guests to Yeni Erenkoy village, or with pre-booking to Famagusta, Nicosia and Kyrenia, and other places of interest on the peninsula.
Address: 12 Yeni Erenkoy, 99850 Ayia Trias, North Cyprus