Travel: Bodrum

Jet Set Bodrum
By Simon Mills
31 October 12

Right up until the Seventies, Bodrum was a quiet Aegean sea fishing village of just 3000 people. Until that most decadent of decades, Bodrum’s most high-profile, celebrity visitor had been Hayreddin Barbarossa, the badass, buccaneering admiral of the Ottoman fleet whose uncompromising and violent seafaring ways ensured domination of the most coveted naval trade routes during a large period of the 16th century. Three hundred years later, another type of buccaneer arrived in Bodrum and changed its social profile for ever.

With his beautiful wife Mica, Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic Records, born in Turkey but resident in New York and quite possibly the best connected man in rock’n’roll history with a Rolodex of friends and work associates that spanned (over six decades) Mick Jagger to Kid Rock, Andy Warhol to Bette Midler, Louis Armstrong to Led Zeppelin, built a holiday home in Bodrum. They used ancient stones from the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, filling the house with works by Matisse, Magritte, Hockney and Picasso and with the famous people that the press dubbed “the cat pack”. Ertegun preferred to playfully refer to his guests as “some very nice jerks”

In their summer “konak” (the former tenants had run the house as discothèque – oh, the irony) the Erteguns lived like a pashas and entertained like a sultans; 10 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms, a brace of boats for cruising the clear blue waters of the twinkling bays, a staff of 20 and guests that included Mick Jagger and Princess Margaret. In a grand stroke of flamboyant, jet-set largesse, Ertegun had successfully re-invented Bodrum as Turkey’s St Tropez, an Aegean Ibiza. It was all, “too, too divine” as Mica liked to say.

Ertegun died in 2006 aged 83 but his house – pretty, modestly fronted, in the thick of the action but, of course, bereft of Mick and Bianca and the wild Seventies partying these days – is something of landmark on the shore road of now bustling Bodrum. Catch a cab down town to the local super club however, and Ertegun and Jagger’s gregarious spirit lives on at the dancefloor and VIP areas at the Halikarnas nightclub.

The Halikarnas whirl began in 1979. Ertegun entertained house guests Princess Margaret, Bette Midler and Dustin Hoffman and Mick Jagger in the open air VIP area over looking the port. Sting, Michael Caine, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino and Claudia Schiffer would follow in years to come.

30 years after it opened, the 5000 capacity Halikarnas has been redesigned (mostly white – Nikki Beach meets disco Greek) expanded and reborn with a new restaurant, The Secret Garden, designed by Jade Jagger a top chef in Nicolas Le Toumelin, live floor shows directed by Arthur Gourounlian (also responsible for Jean Paul Gaultier catwalk defiles) and a DJ line up that includes appearances by Paul Oakenfold and David Morales.

Designer Jade Jagger first came to Bodrum with her parents, when she was six years old, staying no doubt, with the Erteguns. “I have always loved Turkey and have many happy memories holidaying here,” she says. To sprinkle a bit of Seventies fairy dust on the huge venue Jagger jnr. has collaborated with club proprietor Suleyman Demir to create a gold VVIP booth “with the most amazing crystal chandelier that makes the space look spectacular.”

The idea of a world class restaurant at a large outdoor nightclub overlooking a deep harbour that plays host to megayachts owned by Bill Gates and Roman Abramovich “makes perfect sense,” Jade will tell you sagely. “Next year we will build a super yacht beach club at Halikarnas.” Anchors away for summer 2013, we say.

Bodrum travel guide:

STAY: At the beautiful Kempinski Hotel Barbaros. It’s a few miles out of Bodrum but you can arrive at Halikarnas in style by taking a boat across the bay. The Six Senses hamam spa is incredible and the perfect way to recuperate after a big night on the dance floor. There’s also a beach club and a superb Italian restaurant. Roman Abramovich likes to take a cocktail at the poolside bar of an evening.

Rooms from £100.

RELAX: On the decks and jetties of Macakizi, Turkbuku. This is the best boutique hotel, chill out zone and seaside disco diner spot in the area. Have a dance to the resident DJ or a massage”¦or simply stay horizontal as jet-skis straffe the bay in the distance. Heavenly

Rooms from £175.

DINE: At Kocadon restaurant a few minutes walk away from the Ertegun’s place in down town Bodrum and enjoy locally sourced, modern Turkish food.

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