The Turks weren't eager to have W. use their bases, but don't take that personally; they'd be happy to have the rest of America take full advantage of their pristine beaches, frenzied discos and dollar-loving economy. And there's plenty of reason to do so, because Turkey is an intriguing blend of the First and Third worlds. Our driver at the airport asked, "You American?" And when we warily copped to the charge, he excitedly said, "Go, Manchester United!" Another cabbie understood no English (he could hardly divine our desired destination), but sang along, expletive for expletive, with Eminem on the radio. The next song was a hypnotic Sufi chant.
That happy confluence is in full force at the Ada Hotel, on a hill overlooking the Aegean, just up the road from Bodrum, Turkey's ritziest resort town. The Ada is a new hotel, built in hopes of siphoning off the high-end overflow from Bodrum. It's small, only eight rooms and six suites, so the emphasis is on privacy, solitude and sprint-to-the-bar-and-back-to-the-pool-with-your-drink efficiency from the staff. The Ada has an enormous Jacuzzi, just enough of a gym to keep you squeezed into your bathing suit and a white-glove spa, the highlight of which is a pristine Turkish bath.
The local action off-site is at the cove at the bottom of the hill. There we found the standard complement of boats, booze and endomorphs who must have been very drunk when they put on those thongs. This was not the resort beach culture we're accustomed to, though, because there is no beach. That is, no sand. The Turks have gotten around this by building long docks leading out to what are, essentially, posh swimming platforms.
Although it was tempting to never stir from our chaise lounges, duty—and Bodrum—called, so we grabbed a cab. Bodrum is a sun-and wine-drenched resort by day, but it jolts to life at night with open-air restaurants and throbbing discos, which seem to be the big draw. (The large harbor is choked with anchored yachts; we dubbed this flotilla the Spandex Armada.) But don't assume it's all tight white jeans and mirror balls. The Museum of Underwater Archaeology is chock-a-block with antiquities pulled from the Aegean. (Perhaps indicative of how much alcohol is imbibed in the clubs, there's a helpful sign out front: OUR MUSEUM IS NOT UNDERWATER.)
A trip to a disco may be all the archaeology you can stomach, but if you're interested in another ancient but infinitely more enlightened culture, Ada's staff will book a day trip to Ephesus, one of the largest and best-preserved ancient cities on the eastern Mediterranean.
As we sprawled by Ada's pool one very lazy afternoon, we overheard a woman say to her husband, "There's not much to do here, but that's the point, isn't it? Totally relaxing. Totally secluded. It's beautiful, romantic...." She paused to watch the sun set on yet another flawless day. "This would be the perfect place to bring your mistress." We agreed with her assessment and, in silent envy, applauded her mate for having such an understanding and accommodating spouse.