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Long rated by travel experts as having the best developed beaches in the Med and Aegean, and Istanbul being a world’s top ten cultural destination, Turkey now can boast some very good ski resorts, as I found on a visit last week, writes John Hill.

A four-hour easy drive east into Asia from Istanbul sits Bolu region and its snowy Koroglu mountains, which have six ski resorts, all incredibly busy as we arrived at the start of half-term.

With Europe suffering from poor snowfalls, we were desperate for our ski fix and raced straight from our on-piste hotel Dorukkaya in Kartalkaya straight onto the home runs on easy pistes for warm-up runs.

Overnight snow falls had blanketed the area and soon we were joined by eager piste bashers as well as more serious exponents – and even mountain climbers.

Kartalkaya’s  45 miles  runs suit all skill levels and the resort boasts six hotels and mountain bars, making this a favourite destination for locals and international visitors.

Our hotel the Dorukkaya, was not only splendidly placed for the slopes, which they owned (this being usual in Turkey) but had excellent facilities such as a warm swim pool, and a spa with a gym and a hamman.

Then there was the food – a really large dining area with  table after table of fresh local fare as well as international delicacies, and as a follower of the Mediterranean diet I was able to pig out and stay slim and even indulge in the surgery deserts the Turks love and excel in.

BOLU, in the Black Sea Region, has a history dating to 1200 BCE and spanning the Hittite, Roman, Eastern Roman and Ottoman Empires.

Some 65 per cent of its land is forested, bestowing the region with  magnificent forested landscapes in wintertime white.

Kartalkaya has good conditions for alpine skiing, ski touring, and cross-country skiing from December till end March. Bolu is nearest city, which is a 4-hour drive from Ankara Esenboga Airport on a new 3-lane motorway and 5 hours by car from Istanbul Airport or Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen. You can also visit Kartalkaya with daily bus tours from Ankara airport and both Istanbul airports– resorts have a bus transfer to airports.

Kartalkaya Ski area altitude is 1,850-2,200m, with runs fanning out from five hotels (bed capacity 1,600).  All accommodations boast restaurants, swimming pools, nightclubs, and bars. Ski equipment rental and instructors are available. Two chairlifts, 14 T-bars, and four baby lifts, servicing 38 runs. 

Kartalkaya, suitable for all grades of skier, is best for families and younger skiers as there are two European-standard snowparks. That said it was pleasing to see so many elderly guests simply sunning themselves on a winter break and enjoying the good life. The resort is popular with those seeking a winter retreat close to ?stanbul, as it  features well-groomed slopes and a welcoming atmosphere and its relative proximity to the capital  makes it a convenient option for a weekend getaway.

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