Meet in Is­tan­bul

The al­lur­ing Turk­ish city is well placed for stag­ing un­for­get­table gath­er­ings

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE - By Ian McCur­rach

The al­lur­ing Turk­ish city is well placed for stag­ing un­for­get­table gath­er­ings

Is­tan­bul has long been pop­u­lar as a tourist des­ti­na­tion, but thanks to sig­nif­i­cant in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment and its ge­o­graph­i­cal po­si­tion on the cusp of Europe and Asia, this an­cient metropolis has also emerged as a lead­ing des­ti­na­tion for meet­ings, in­cen­tives, con­fer­ences and exhibitions (MICE). In May 2012, the In­ter­na­tional Congress and Con­ven­tion As­so­ci­a­tion ranked Turkey’s largest city the most pop­u­lar in the world for meet­ings of 500 del­e­gates up­wards. Tolga Tuy­lu­oglu, di­rec­tor of the Turk­ish Cul­ture and Tourism Of­fice, says: “Is­tan­bul’s suc­cess as a MICE des­ti­na­tion is thanks to its pur­pose-built in­fra­struc­ture, var­ied in­cen­tives and great flight con­nec­tions.”

Is­tan­bul is cer­tainly well set-up for large-scale events – it has seven pur­pose-built con­ven­tion cen­ters and three ex­hi­bi­tion cen­ters, all large enough to ac­com­mo­date the big­gest of in­ter­na­tional gath­er­ings. But it also has an ex­cel­lent range of ho­tel fa­cil­i­ties for more mod­estly sized meet­ings, with a grow­ing num­ber of op­tions for such events.

Five-star properties to have opened last year in­clude the 259-room Le Méri­dien Is­tan­bul Etiler, which has three ball­rooms (the largest hold­ing 600 for a ban­quet), and the 210-room Wyn­d­ham Is­tan­bul Kalamis Ma­rina ho­tel, which has a 410-ca­pac­ity ball­room.

Mean­while, the 186-room Shangri-La Bospho­rus opened in May with two ball­rooms; the larger can ac­com­mo­date 1,000 and the other has a ca­pac­ity of 200. And at the end of this year, a 180-room Raf­fles ho­tel will open in the mixed-use Zorlu Cen­tre. Here is our pick of meet­ings venues and ac­tiv­i­ties in the city. PERA PALACE HO­TEL JUMEIRAH A land­mark ho­tel for the city, this 1895 – Jumeirah be­gan man­ag­ing it last year. As well as boast­ing a lengthy list of fa­mous guests – in­clud­ing Ernest Hem­ing­way, Agatha Christie and Greta Garbo, all of whom have suites ded­i­cated to them – it’s a place city’s in­au­gu­ral fash­ion show in 1926, elec­tric el­e­va­tor in Turkey – a stun­ning ma­hogany fab­ri­ca­tion with in­tri­cate cast iron fresco doors. The sense of his­tory and un­der­stated lux­ury of the 115-room prop­erty make it the per­fect venue for mem­o­rable events with a touch of old­fash­ioned glam­our.

Mu­rano glass chan­de­liers adorn the Grand Pera ball­room, which of­fers at sun­set and seats 120 guests for a ban­quet. The Pasa and Ay­nali rooms each serve 45 peo­ple for din­ner. The new Galata room is 2,300 square feet and di­vides into three. The ho­tel is in the Pera dis­trict, three miles from the old city and a short walk to Istik­lal Street, the city’s main shop­ping prom­e­nade. 52 Mes­ru­tiyet Cad­desi; jumeirah.com

MAR­MARA ESMA SUL­TAN PALACE Lo­cated on the shores of the Bospho­rus in the Or­takoy dis­trict, this beau­ti­ful glass and iron struc­ture is housed be­hind the crum­bling façade and ru­ins of a his­toric palace. Once home to Esma Sul­tan, daugh­ter of Sul­tan Ab­du­laziz, the 32nd Ot­toman ruler, it has been used var­i­ously as a Greek school, a stor­age de­pot and to­bacco ware­house. It re­opened in 2001 as a cut­ting-edge, WiFi-equipped The ground level can seat 250 peo­ple the­ater-style, while the up­per ac­com­mo­da­tion can be pro­vided by the nearby 376-room Mar­mara Tak­sim ho­tel, which has its own im­pres­sive meet­ing fa­cil­i­ties – some 20 rooms hold­ing be­tween 40 and 500 peo­ple the­ater-style in each. Mar­mara Esma Sul­tan, Mual­lim Naci Cad; es­ma­sul­tan.the­mar­mara­ho­tels.com; Mar­mara Tak­sim, Tak­sim Square; tak­sim.the­mar­mara­ho­tels.com

SUMAHAN This bou­tique ho­tel opened in 2005 and is geared to hold in­ti­mate high-level meet­ings. Housed in a for­mer 19th­cen­tury Ot­toman dis­tillery, it is sit­u­ated right on the wa­ter­front on the up­per reaches of the Bospho­rus, close to Cen­gelkoy on the Asian side of Is­tan­bul. Each of its 24 rooms and suites has con­tem­po­rary de­sign, ever-chang­ing river views and WiFi. The prop­erty has a ded­i­cated meet­ing room for up to 30 at­ten­dees and cor­po­rate clients like to book the whole ho­tel for re­cep­tions and board meet­ings. Dur­ing the sum­mer, larger par­ties make use of the 250-ca­pac­ity out­door ter­race over­look­ing the river. Kuleli Cad­desi 51, Cen­gelkoy; sumahan.com

GRAND CEVAHIR HO­TEL AND CON­VEN­TION CEN­TRE Only 15 min­utes’ drive from Ataturk air­port and ten min­utes from the Old City, the Grand Cevahir has 323 rooms and 22 meet­ing spa­ces – the largest board­room is for 60, the small­est for 12 – and all are WiFi equipped. The Cevahir au­di­to­rium holds 1,013 peo­ple and al­lows si­mul­ta­ne­ous trans­la­tion of up to eight lan­guages, while the pil­lar-free Cevahir Ball­room holds 1,700 guests for a ban­quet. There are two restau­rants serv­ing Mediter­ranean and in­ter­na­tional cui­sine, as well as an ex­ten­sive spa, a Turk­ish bath, sauna and steam room. Daru­laceze Cad­desi 9, Sisli; gch.co.tr CI­RA­GAN PALACE KEMPIN­SKI Lo­cated on the banks of the Bospho­rus 313-room ho­tel, housed in a palace dat­ing back to 1863, is ar­guably one San­i­tas spa with a ham­mam bath, and four deca­dent restau­rants. There are 16 meet­ing spa­ces – the small­est holds 16 board­room-style, the largest 1,100 theatre-style. Tak­ing Tra­di­tional Turk­ish cook­ing and pot­tery classes can be ar­ranged, as can trans­fers by limou­sine, boat or he­li­copter trans­port. Ci­ra­gan Cad­desi 32; kempin­ski.com/ is­tan­bul

HIL­TON IS­TAN­BUL back in 1955, yet it is still one of the most pop­u­lar op­tions for con­ven­tions in the coun­try. Sit­u­ated in more than 15 acres of gar­dens, it has 499 rooms with pri­vate bal­conies, many over­look­ing the Bospho­rus. There are 27 meet­ing rooms and a ball­room with a ca­pac­ity of 200 ban­quet-style. Other fa­cil­i­ties in­clude a

spa, in­door and out­door pools, steam rooms and Turk­ish bath. It is 45 min­utes from Ataturk In­ter­na­tional air­port and a en­ter­tain­ment dis­tricts. Cumhuriyet Cad­desi, Har­biye; is­tan­bul.hil­ton.com

HALIC CONGRESS CEN­TRE The Golden Horn’s his­toric dis­trict is home to the Halic Congress Cen­tre, which opened in 2009. With its eclec­tic mix of tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary ar­chi­tec­ture – think mul­ti­ple minarets, el­e­gant domes and ma­jes­tic arches – it city’s con­ven­tion cen­ters. It spreads out over 1.1 mil­lion square feet and a ca­pac­ity of 3,008) and meet­ing rooms housed in four build­ings linked by large halls and foy­ers.

The Halic sec­tion holds 10,000 peo­ple ban­quet-style, while a 1,000-ca­pac­ity ball­room of­fers views over the Strait of Bospho­rus. Two re­cently built tun­nels con­nect the cen­ter to down­town in seven min­utes. Sut­luce Mah. Eski Karaa­gac Cad­desi; hal­iccc.com

IS­TAN­BUL CONGRESS CEN­TRE (ICC) The Is­tan­bul Congress Cen­tre is the largest fa­cil­ity in the cen­ter of the city and opened its doors to great ap­plause in 2009, when it hosted 15,000 del­e­gates at the An­nual Meet­ings of the Boards of Gov­er­nors of the World Bank and In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund.

The im­pres­sive fa­cil­i­ties, with plenty of glass and nat­u­ral light, are de­signed for large-scale in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions, prod­uct launches, meet­ings and exhibitions. There are 22 3,705 guests in the largest, as well as three huge au­di­to­ri­ums. All are equipped with state-of-the-art tech­nol­ogy. The two-story Rumeli build­ing can be booked on its own or in con­junc­tion with the main venue op­po­site and has a rooftop ter­race of­fer­ing city views. Taskiskla Cad­desi, Har­biye; iccis­tan­bul.com For more in­for­ma­tion visit icvb.org BT

Left: Sumahan, Is­tan­bul Above: Pera Palace Jumeirah; Ci­ra­gan Palace Kempin­ski

From left: Halic Congress Cen­tre; Is­tan­bul Congress Cen­tre

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