What It’s Like to Stay at Kaya Palazzo Ski & Mountain Resort, Turkey’s Answer to Aspen

Welcome to Checking In, a review series in which our editors and contributors rate the best new (and revamped) luxury hotels based on a rigorous—and occasionally tongue-in-cheek—10-point system: Each question answered “yes” gets one point. Will room service bring you caviar? Does your suite have its own butler? Does the bathroom have a bidet? Find out below.

Kaya Palazzo Ski & Mountain Resort

The exterior of Kaya Palazzo Ski & Mountain Resort
The resort has 142 rooms.

Describe the hotel in 3 words: Cozy. Glamourous. Aloft.

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What’s the deal?

From ancient baths to Dolmabahçe Palace, Turkey is choc-full of rich history and raw beauty. But if you already know about the Ottoman Empire, the delicious meze, and the Bosphorous (the international waterway allowing passage between the Black Sea and Mediterranean), why not try something a lot different; for example, the skiing.

Just three and half hours outside Istanbul are the Köroğlu Mountains. There, at 6,561 feet above sea level, you’ll find the nation’s best lodge, Kaya Palazzo Ski & Mountain Resort. The mountaintop getaway offers access to 15 exhilarating slopes in Kartalkaya, alongside 142 guest rooms and suites with a view. It’s also the country’s only resort with three luxurious chalets that you can book with 24-hour butler service, a wood-burning fireplace, and private slope access.

Turkey’s first artificial snow machine is put to use in the area, surrounded by a verdant forest—guaranteeing you’ll be able to land free-skiing Booter and Alley-Oop tricks safely. Several dining establishments, plus two bars are also accessible to guests for après-ski bites and entertainment. But the posh amenities in select rooms might be enough to keep you bedside, too.

The best room

A chalet at Kaya Palazzo Ski & Mountain Resort
The resort’s chalet’s sprawl.

Designed by architects of Kaya Holding, the nine-story hotel offers 142 rooms, plus three ultra-luxurious chalets. The King Suite, complete with two spacious beds and baths, is the best accommodation for those looking to stay inside the main property. Its private sauna and jacuzzi are what make it unique, as they aren’t found in most other rooms. The living area, separate from the primary, is another great feature to the light-filled suite that fronts a regal design highlighted by stunning outdoor views.

The King Suite at Kaya Palazzo Ski & Mountain Resort
The King Suite is royally comfortable.

But if you are traveling to the property as a couple or simply crave unfettered privacy, we recommend the grand chalets that span two floors with four bedrooms and ensuite baths. These larger-than-life quarters come with 24-hour butler and shuttle services, plus breakfasts made daily to your liking daily. A backlit wooden display highlights the living room with a soaring ceiling, while the nearby outdoor jacuzzi overlooks Kartalkaya’s powdery mountains. There’s even a massage room for decompressing.

The Rundown

The slopes at Kaya Palazzo Ski & Mountain Resort
The slopes and the ski instructors are the resort’s best asset.

Did they greet you by name at check-in?

No, but I was warmly received with smiles and my luggage was carefully attended to.

Welcome drink ready and waiting when you arrived? Bonus point if it wasn’t just fruit juice.

Yes, I was handed a glass of Champagne—which is great for celebrating. But after reaching the hotel’s high altitude, a glass of water seemed much more appealing.

Private butler for every room?

I wasn’t so lucky to have an Alfred on call, but guests of the luxury chalets do.

Is the sheet thread count higher than 300?

The linens used in the rooms have an 82-thread count and are made of 100 percent Turkish cotton sourced from Kahramanmaraş on the southern side of Turkey. This wasn’t a huge issue for me, especially after spending afternoons on the slopes, but I will say they were not as sumptuous as you might expected from a resort of this caliber. Additionally, bath, hand and foot towels are made of 100 percent Turkish cotton from Aydın and Söke on the Aegean side of Turkey.

Is there a heated floor in the bathroom? What about a bidet?

By day two I realized there was a bidet in my compact bathroom. There are also no heated floors, but I wasn’t fussed about it thanks to good central heating. With that said, the bathroom was not great—there were dirty towels I noticed, a small hole in the wall, plus uncapped toothpaste set atop a painting. Off putting, to say the least.

Are the toiletries full sized?

Yes, full-sized Bulgari hand soap, lotion, shampoo, and conditioner are featured in the rooms—but they are locked in to designated spaces to prevent removal. I wasn’t a fan of this, plus, I noticed they were never completely filled from the start of my stay. Other toiletries such as a tooth brush, toothpaste, and shaving kit are also made handy and come in travel sizes.

Is there a private pool for the room’s exclusive use?

Pool, no. Jacuzzi, yes. Set in front of a window, I used the jacuzzi in my Deluxe Suite twice après-ski and really enjoyed it. While inside, you not only get a relaxing view of the room’s open-air design and tall ceiling, but also the snow-topped mountains and the occasional wild dog napping or passing by.

Is the restaurant worth its salt?

Kaya Palazzo Kartalkaya houses two dining establishments inside the main resort, plus two bars, that includes: Palazzo Buffet; Swiss Fondue Restoran; Lobby Bar; and the Chill Out Bar. The open buffet serves up a five-star assemblage of foods such as Ezine White Cheese, part of traditional Turkish breakfasts, plus other local favorites like Yaprak Dolma and Balaclava, alongside international cuisine, including sushi.

Dipping breads into gooey fondue on the lower-level of the two-story Swiss Restoran was nice, but neither its food or vintage-style interiors captivated me. I was more enthralled watching snow fall from inside the space. The Chill Out Bar is possibly the most unique of all, featuring a striking center display engulfed with circular seating where you can smoke, watch the game, or enjoy appetizers.

A five minute walk from the main resort is Palazzo Lounge where you’ll find a more lively ambience. There are also artworks by local artists such as Sezen Özdemir and Gunez Caglarcan. After being seated on the second level, attentive hosts dressed in tartan shirts and jeans share favorites from five menus available by Serafina, Develi Kebap, Yada Sushi, plus the Palazzo Steakhouse and Palazzo Patisserie. Delicious bespoke menus including staples like kebab and Pide can be curated for the table, as well as cocktail/mocktail offerings. I was highly impressed, daily.

Is there caviar on the room service menu?

Distinct room service menus are available to main resort and chalet guests, but caviar is not listed on the menu. You’ll need to call room service and request it a day prior to ensure the freshness of Oscietra and Beluga offerings. Other guest favorites on the menu include the Palazzo Cheese Burger and Avocado Toast.

Do you want to spend Friday night in the lobby bar?

The Palazzo Lounge at Kaya Palazzo Ski & Mountain Resort
The Palazzo Lounge is where everything happens.

Yes and no. To kick off the evening, yes. A massive white wall featuring 3D panels and a wood-burning fireplace at the center of the space is encircled by leather and suede seating. Wood floors, exposed brick walls, and a unique backlit ceiling bring the communal space to life with luxurious flair.

It’s a chill spot to meet up with family, get some work done, or read for sure. But what’s a ski trip without varying degrees of excitement? The Palazzo Lounge offers just that with bass-heavy DJ sets, hookah, and an assortment of local spirits like Tekirdağ’s Altın Seri, a highly favored Turkish Raki from the Aegean, Thracian and Marmara regions of Turkey, plus wines by names like Doluca and Barbare to get you on your feet.

Would you buy the hotel if you could?

As it is, no. Although I do see it as a unique winter destination, I would not buy the resort due to the number of maintenance issues I feel are be overlooked. Moreover, being the only Black person on-site was slightly uncomfortable. For me to invest, more marketing towards my community, as well as other minority groups, would need to be amplified, because the only images that came across my bedroom TV screen were of white women and men living la dolce vita. That’s fine, but it can’t be that hard to factor in other races that enjoy luxury experiences.

The Verdict:

The lobby at Kaya Palazzo Ski & Mountain Resort
The lobby is richly decorated.

Kaya Palazzo Ski & Mountain Resort is ideal for families and large groups. If you’re a sporty couple, the chalets are your best bet for uninhibited privacy—not to mention easy ski-slope access. To get the bad out of the way, it’s not high up on my list of luxury stays because of the lack of attention to detail that stems from the rooms where, as mentioned, I came across unclean bathing products and presumably leftovers from other guests. A thoroughly clean room is the bare minimum to a great stay, in my book.

But that shouldn’t mean there aren’t a handful of great experiences I’ve returned home with from the sky-high resort. This includes the patience that Kaya’s friendly snowboard instructors showed me as I practiced heel-side turns and more on the bunny hills, Palazzo Lounge’s drool-worthy spreads, and taking in sights of the powdery mountains apres-ski among other tourists and locals alike. ATV’ing through the mountains, which can be arranged, was another highlight worth mentioning.

Like many places, it’s not all bad or good. But having experienced another of Turkey’s luxury hotels in Istanbul, I’d say there’s more work to be done.

Rate: from roughly $450. Chalets start at roughly $5,533 per night; King Suite from $2,213.

Score: 5

What Our Score Means:

1-3: Fire your travel agent if they suggest you stay here.
4-6: Solid if you’re in a pinch—but only if you’re in a pinch.
7-8: Very good. We’d stay here again and recommend it without qualms.
9-10: Forget booking a week. When can we move in permanently?

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