An all-inclusive hotel with a water park on the Aegean coast, and inspiring monuments to visit close by, satisfy both SIOBHAIN FURLONG and her son
I COULD hear the squeals of delight before I even saw my nine-year-old son Lorcan whoosh out of the waterslide for the umpteenth time.
We had discovered holiday heaven at the Aqua Fantasy Aquapark Hotel & Spa in Kusadasi, Turkey, a four-star all-inclusive resort with unlimited access to the neighbouring water park, with its 30-odd slides, lazy river and wave pool.
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With names like Viper and X-Treme, I was a little wary of joining my son on one of the slides but I was so glad I did.
Soon we were whizzing down the flumes at breakneck speeds of up to 50 miles an hour.
Set in extensive grounds among pine-clad hills, six miles from the bustling resort of Kusadasi, the water park reminded me of Disneyland with its rainbow-coloured slides and the fairytale castle-like turrets.
With a whirlpool bath, gym, sauna and steam room and a long list of beauty treatments at our neighbouring hotel, the resort was a haven for parents in need of some pampering.
However, I was having far too much fun being young again to worry about relaxing.
The food was good too. As well as an all-inclusive buffet restaurant we were keen to try some of the five on-site à la carte restaurants.
We tucked into some delicious ravioli at Mario's Italian restaurant and the freshest tabouleh salad and tasty falafel at La Meze.
We were also spoilt for choice when it came to evening entertainment, with nightly outdoor shows and live music.
Lorcan bopped the night away with some friends he made at the children's disco.
After an action-packed day we enjoyed sitting in the bar with complimentary drinks for Lorcan and me.
Some nights we retired early to our family room in one of the two on-site hotels. Our World Hotel room was spacious with luxurious soft carpet and an Oriental minimalist style.
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It had everything we needed with satellite television, air conditioning, wi-fi, tea and coffee facilities and a mini-bar.
The hotel also had a children's club.
After a few days spent discovering the delights of the water park and chilling out at our hotel, I managed to tear Lorcan away to explore the beautiful town of Kusadasi which reminded me of the French Riviera with its palm tree-lined promenade and sandy beaches.
The bustling Grand Bazaar is also a great place to pick up souvenirs. Afterwards we loved sitting by the harbour and watching the sunset.
Feeling peckish we headed for Planet Yucca, a lively open-air restaurant with resident musicians including an electric guitarist. We had great fun as Lorcan joined in and danced with the staff. The waiters paid so much attention to him, making him feel really special.
There was also a huge choice of food on offer, including Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Mexican and Italian.
Lorcan opted for fajitas while I chose a Chinese curry and rice, which was lovely.
For a more traditional Turkish night we tried the open-air restaurant, which is set in the Caravanserail. Built in 1618 near the docks, this imposing Ottoman castle was restored in 1966 and has a wonderful historic courtyard.
The entertainment was fantastic and Lorcan had never seen anything like the hypnotic whirling dervishes.
We also watched belly dancers as we tucked into a tasty three-course Turkish-style dinner. It was a superb night out.
Another time we took a half-day excursion to Ephesus, the best preserved classical city in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Lorcan and I admired the temples and relics and the spectacular Celsus Library, with its statues still intact. We strolled along the column-lined marble street to the Great Theatre, which is a magnificent 24,000-seat amphitheatre where Saint Paul once preached.
We also saw the House of the Virgin Mary, who is believed to have spent her last days in Ephesus.
It was great to see Lorcan so enthusiastic about history. He was particularly thrilled at having learned about the Nike symbol, originating from the Greek goddess of victory, and looked forward to telling his teacher about his findings.
For me this felt like another victory - making learning fun.
Reluctant to go home, tired but happy, our holiday had come to an end but we really had found a Turkish delight.
First Choice (0871 200 4455/ www.firstchoice.co.uk) offers seven nights at the Aqua Fantasy Aquapark Hotel & Spa from £2,060 (family of four sharing), all-inclusive. Price includes return flights from Gatwick and transfers. For departures July 7, 2011.
Turkish Culture and Tourism Office: 0207 839 7778/ www.gototurkey.co.uk