Jet-setting celebs lend star power to launch of luxury Turkish hotel

It apparently takes half an hour to cross the Mardan Palace's five-acre swimming pool in a gondola. The new five-star establishment on Turkey's southwest coast is being billed as the ultimate luxury destination 

Some of Hollywood's biggest names checked in when a luxury Turkish hotel opened its doors at the weekend.

Among them were Sharon Stone, Mariah Carey, Tom Jones, Richard Gere, Seal, Monica Bellucci and Paris Hilton. They'd flown into Antayla on Turkey's southwest coast on Sunday for the launch of the five-star Mardan Palace - billed as the region's most expensive hotel.

Awaiting the celebrity 'guests' was a lavish, 560-room establishment featuring a 12,000-square-foot spa, with 24-carat gold-leaf body wraps and champagne-extract baths on the menu. It also has a private beach made from 9,000 tons of sand imported from Egypt sand and a five-acre swimming pool - which it takes half an hour to traverse in a gondola - plus a sunken aquarium containing thousands of exotic fish.

And the festivities that had been laid on to greet them were as lavish as the new establishment. Six hundred guests were treated to a circus-inspired performance by acrobats on tightropes, para-gliders who descended from the sky carrying a letter of the hotel's name, and dancers performing in giant transparent balls on the surface of the pool. All of which was followed by an hour-long fireworks display.

The night's entertainment was equally starry, with Tom and Mariah both stepping in to perform after diners had tucked into an eight-course banquet.

Built by Russian billionaire Telman Ismailov, the Mardan Palace has suites from £11,500 a night.

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