For Devout Turks, 'Alternative' Tourist Resorts Hotels catering to a new class of prosperous, observant Muslims are cropping up around Turkey.
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For Devout Turks, 'Alternative' Tourist Resorts

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For Devout Turks, 'Alternative' Tourist Resorts

For Devout Turks, 'Alternative' Tourist Resorts

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

And NPR's Ivan Watson visited one of the Islamic tourist resorts.

IVAN WATSON: On a scorching summer afternoon at the Tulip Hotel, Turkish pop music is blaring, and guests are playing water polo in the pool, which overlooks the blue Mediterranean Sea.

(SOUNDBITE OF SWIMMING POOL)

WATSON: The segregated pools are a prerequisite for most of the guests here, says Ahmed Altinuglu(ph) and his wife. She wears sunglasses and what some people call a burqini - a plastic full-body swimsuit with a hood that covers everything but her face, feet and hands.

M: (Turkish spoken)

WATSON: The Tulip Hotel is what Turks call an alternative tourist resort. Mustafa Kemal Canfedai, the marketing director here, says the hotel recently converted to this format to cater to the country's increasingly prosperous class of observant Muslims.

M: (Through translator) We saw a demand for this kind of hotel because religiously conservative people are an important new economic group in Turkey. That's why we decided to open this business.

WATSON: It's a dramatically different scene from the public beach in the nearby town of Alanya, where hordes of European and secular Turkish tourists party in bars and sunbathe topless in the sand.

(SOUNDBITE OF BUFFET)

(SOUNDBITE OF BEACH)

M: I'm a teetotaler. I don't smoke. I don't drink alcohol at all. I wouldn't, you know, like such places.

WATSON: Nigar Goksel, editor of Turkish Policy Quarterly, says four and a half years of AK Party rule have emboldened the country's rising class of religious Turks.

M: So you see a new group of people who haven't cut their ties with the values that they were brought up with and the traditions that their parents had, yet have become empowered in terms of education and economy and with AKP also in terms of politics. They do not feel that they need to compromise in order to be accepted into mainstream society.

WATSON: Ivan Watson, NPR News, Alanya, Turkey.

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