Travel to Turkey from Europe and North America has increased dramatically during the past years as visitors flock to this extraordinary nation that successfully combines ancient traditions with modern amenities. A dramatic illustration of this is the area of Cappadocia, a short plane trip from Istanbul on Turkish Airlines.
Featuring a mysterious, unearthly expanse of ravines, canyons, mountains and valleys, Cappadocia was formed millions of years ago from soft volcanic lava and ash. Centuries of wind and water created oddly shaped tall pillars of lava know as fairy chimneys. The landscape is clad in blankets of snow in winter, and abounds with red roses, wild oleaster, vineyards and orchards surrounded by gurgling foundations and freshwater springs in the spring and summer. Cappadocia is a surprising, delightful discovery no matter the season.
What makes Cappadocia unique from any other place in the world is its history of human inhabitation. Cappadocians are mentioned by Herodotus, the 5th century BC Greek historian. Master stone carvers, monks, early Christians and others carved monasteries, houses and mansions connected by an intricate networks of underground tunnels, even entire cities, cut deep into the rock.
This is the setting for Argos in Cappadocia, a labor of love 15 years in the making, resulting in a world-class luxury hotel carved out of the caves and underground mansions of Cappadocia. Martha Stewart featured the hotel in her “Adventures in Turkey” television special, based on her personal stay at the property. Additionally, Argos in Cappadocia welcomed the producer, directors and leading actors of the recent movie Ghost Rider 2, which featured scenes filmed in Cappadocia. The group of 30 included Oscar winner Nicolas Cage, Violente Placido and Idris Elba.
Imagine a hotel built from ancient ruins – the enchanting blend of two thousand years of history, passionate devotion to authenticity and traditions of hospitality and cutting edge imagination, design and technology created Argos. For many guests, it is one of most romantic and unusual hotels in the world.
Accommodations consist of five restored underground mansions connected by tunnels. In reality, these are caves that open onto balconies, terraces and secluded courtyards, often with splendid views of neighboring Guvercinlik Valley and the enchanting fairy chimneys. Capturing the feel, color and texture of timeless stone and wood, each accommodation is distinctively and individually designed, decorated with Turkish carpets, artifacts, candles and decorative objects set in wall niches. Most rooms feature a working fireplace as well as the latest technology, including wireless Internet and excellent sound systems. The Splendid Suites ever have their own private in-suite swimming pool.
Guests enjoy fine dining in Seki, the 100-seat indoor and outdoor restaurant which serves local and regional dishes along with international fare. Argos’s huge wine selection, housed in its caves, showcases bottles from award-winning Turkish vineyards as well as wines produced at the hotel’s own vineyards in Cappadocia .
Exploring Cappadocia with the help of Argos’ 24-hour concierge service brings guests to landmarks such as the Goreme Open Air Museum with its 30 rock-carved churches and chapels containing frescoes dating back to the 9th century. Hot air balloon trips over the lunar landscape are a popular option. The spectacular sunsets on Mt. Erciyes, the tallest of Cappadocia’s three volcanoes, offers yet another once in a life time experience.
Argos has been recognized by leading travel authorities. Travel + Leisure readers voted it among the 45 Best Hotels in the World in 2010. TripAdvisor gave it the highest possible score in awarding the Certificate of Excellence and it was a finalist in 20ll for the “Most Romantic Hotel” category from Conde Nast Johansen, which also gave it a Green Award in 2010, the only hotel in Turkey to gain both of these prestigious awards.
Contributed by Mary Frances Duffy