Turkey Travel Guide
Welcome to Funky Friday, a new segment we’re trying out which features one photo that we think singularly expresses a hotel’s inner psyche. We look for – and find a lot of – wacky, wild and wondrous designs that seem to have one thing in common: a Type A personality. So why not have a bit of fun as we all wrap up our week by taking a quick look at some hotels that quite frankly, want our attention.
We kick off Funky Friday in the lobby of Le Méridien Istanbul Etiler. It’s kind of hard not to notice the larger-than-life starburst patterns, created by artist Mustafa Hulusi. While we cannot say for certain what the meaning is behind this stroll down psychedelic lane, one clue may lie in that Hulusi himself couldn’t come up with a name for his work (“Untitled”).
Whatever the artist’s intentions may be, Le Méridien Istanbul Etiler clearly want modern art of be a part of the guest experience. The hotel has partnered with Istanbul Museum of Modern Art in their "UnlockArt" program and offer free entrance to guests who present their room key. (This program is actually in effect at all Le Méridien hotels.)
Now, stare straight into the center of any starburst and repeat to yourself, “I love HotelChatter.com and recommend it to everyone I meet …I love HotelChatter.com and recommend it to everyone I meet.” Feel better?
[Photo: Le Méridien Istanbul/Facebook]
The answer to our question when Philippe Starck’s yoo Hotels would make its debut is here: January 2014. Just last week, yoo2 Taksim Square opened the doors to its 59 rooms and suites in the heart of Istanbul, across from Gezi Park.
Yoo2 is the more affordable of two yoo Hotel brands, with yoo Collection aimed at the luxury market. While we heard last year that Acqua Boracay in the Philippines would be the first yoo Collection hotel to open (in 2015), it is not listed in the directory of upcoming hotels, though a separate website is very much up and running. Additional projects include will include yoo Collection Lepang, Bali, yoo Collection in the British Cotswolds, and yoo2 Sinapati, Jakarta - all scheduled for 2016.
Okay, it won't be too much of a secret now but we just need to spread the word that Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay has released some perfect new spa treatments geared toward men. That's right, us guys finally get to experience the good stuff when it comes to a little pampering and rejuvenation while on vacation.
Nestled on the cliffs overlooking pristine Barbaros Bay, the hotel helps you forget all the dramas at home, regardless of gender. An idyllic spot for the utmost R&R can only be made better with a trip (or two) to the spa that sports the same views of the sun-bleached beaches and sparkling Mediterranean waters.
Men can choose from a three-hour, 40 minute series of treatments that are male-friendly and just "fussy ' enough. First things first, a typical Turkish treatment known as a Hammam cleansing with Kese scrub that is considered the heritage of the Ottoman Empire to open pores and exfoliate the body. From there, the boys will head off into a deep tissue massage, then facial, finishing off with a mani and pedi. (sans polish, of course)
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With plenty of new hotels heating up the scene in Turkey (Fairmont, Nikki Beach Resort, Four Seasons, to name but a few), it's no surprise that Shangri-La's shrewd crew of hotel planners wanted to plant their flag as well.
Over the weekend, the gorgeous Shangri-La Bosphorus officially opened its doors, with 186 guest rooms, a spa, and a three-story dome-shaped atrium capped with a skylight as well as a "massive Bohemian chandelier that rains crystals for two storeys." Oh, those Turks.
Fairmont announced this week that its first location in Istanbul, the Fairmont Quasar, will open in 2016 as part of a mixed development complex in the Sisli District (near the Trump Towers). Two 41-story towers will house the 210-room hotel along with leisure, commercial, and residential units, including four stories of office space and luxury retail at the base of the complex.
Both the hotel and the residences will be managed by Fairmont Hotel and Resorts, and the owners will be awarded VIP status and privileges at Fairmont properties around the world as an extra perk of ownership. For leisure guests, the hotel will feature a Fairmont Gold club level, several restaurants, 2,000 square meters of function space, and a Willow Stream Spa.
The Fairmont Quasar is the most recent project to be announced by the brand in the Black Sea region, joining the recently opened Fairmont Kyiv in Ukraine, the Fairmont Baku in Azerbaijan (opening spring 2013) and the Fairmont Pekin in Moscow (opening 2016).
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A couple of things need to be said here: One, wow -- Turkey is on fire right now, and two – so is this Miami-based hotel brand. Nikki Beach Hotels & Resorts likes a good beach party, and soon you’ll be able to join the revelry and then sleep over in not only Bodrum, Turkey, but in Greece, Croatia, Cyprus, Thailand and Lebanon as well.
But back to Turkey, where this boutique hotelier, who also has a host of Beach Clubs that specialize in catering to swanky sophisticates who take their enjoyment of life very seriously, has announced that they’re opening the Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Bodrum in early spring 2014.
Bodrum is about 500 miles south of Istanbul, and people can get downright poetic about the beautiful bays of Torba and Türkbükü and the whitewashed quaintness of the city’s buildings. But don’t be fooled; at night it sheds its innocent demeanor and becomes party-central. The Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Bodrum will open on the shores of Torba, only about four miles from Bodrum’s city center if you should feel the need to ever leave the resort.
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The newest hotel to join Relais & Chateaux isn't actually that new at all—in fact, it's made up of dozens of caves and stone dwellings that date back thousands of years. As you can see from the photo above, Museum Hotel in Cappadocia, Turkey is a modern, luxury five-star property with seriously old roots.
The entire renovation project took four years, and there are even some nifty photos on the hotel's website showing the dramatic transformation from archaeological site (apparently, the Hittites, Persians, Romans and Ottomans all dwelled here at one point) to a 30-room boutique hotel, complete with restaurant, bar and outdoor pool.
There's a new spot for stylish digs in Turkey's happenin' metropolis with the new Marti Istanbul Hotel. After a soft opening in the middle of last year, the hotel is ready to show travelers what makes them tick in their entirety with every space open and ready to wow guests behind every corner.
Tucked away in the heart of Istanbul, the Marti showcases the local Taksim culture. Considered the cultural and commercial area of the city, the sleek 11-story property is located within walking distance of dozens of galleries, boutiques, restaurants and bars.
Each of the 270 rooms are designed by famed Turkish eye-for-style, Zeynep Fadillioglu, and play with both Ottoman design and contemporary design. Cast in either a purple or blue hue, the rooms create a comfy living space for those that prefer a calming feel. Meanwhile, suites feature a hammam-style marble basin surrounded by richly textured mosaics to really get the true Turkish experience.
The bulk of Shangri-La’s proliferating hotel portfolio might be in China (54 locations and counting), but this year will see two major openings in Europe, tripling the group’s presence on the continent, which currently is limited to Paris. A lot of the attention is going to the much-hyped Shangri-La at the Shard, but if all goes as planned, Istanbul will beat London to the punch with the arrival of the Shangri-La Bosphorus in May .
Right on the edge of the Bosphorus strait, on the European side of the city, the hotel is housed in a former tobacco factory and warehouse from the 1930s. How do you fit 186 of the city’s most spacious guest rooms and all the luxury facilities of a Shangri-La hotel into an historic seven-story building while protecting its landmark facade? You go underground, digging a hole seven stories deep (or six, depending on where you look on the hotel’s website; we hope they’re not still figuring that one out).
The new Hilton will be close to this museum
Something’s going on in Turkey these days, with hotels announcing openings every month (or so it seems...). Now, Hilton Worldwide has announced that a new Hilton will be opening in Istanbul in 2013 around the the late summer/early fall period.
The Hilton Istanbul Bomonti Hotel & Conference Center is, right now, set to be the largest hotel in this bustling city with 829 rooms. 829! That’s a lot of heads on beds for a city that’s not Vegas.
Still, Hilton is strategically opening up properties in the area. The Hilton Istanbul Bomonti will be their sixth hotel in Turkey, with the most recent hotel opening being their first ever dual branded property –- the Hilton Bursa Hotel & Convention Center and Hampton by Hilton Bursa.
No, it’s not, and more than that, it’s a treatment that challenges your sense of personal space.
But let’s start at the beginning. During our recent trip to Istanbul this year, it seemed that it would almost be a crime to not have a Turkish hamam in Turkey. So we headed to the Amrita Spa at the five-star Swissotel The Bosphorus hotel.
With a health club and indoor pool attached, we knew that this spa was a good choice because it was filled with locals as well as tourists. There was already a good vibe at the check-in counter, where you could see a dimly-lit pool within the inner sanctum of the spa. With our escort, we walked deeper inside until we reached the changing room with all its many amenities: showers, sauna, private rooms, etc. Once we were wrapped in our towels for modesty’s sake and ushered into the hamam, our coverings were removed and modesty was now forever damned. This was the exact point when the hamam experience became interesting.
There are some pretty swanky hotels found across this great big world, and Swissôtel Living in Istanbul is definitely one of them.
Swissôtel chose to launch their new extended stay concept hotel in cosmopolitan Istanbul, whose vibrant history is engraved in its culture. But as important as its traditions still are, Istanbul is definitely not a city stuck in the past, as evidenced by the makeover of this former residence and office rental building. Before the company took over the management of the property, located right beside its five-star Swissôtel The Bosphorus, the place was badly in need of a reno. After a top-to-bottom gut a la Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, it opened as the über-modern and luxe Swissôtel Living.