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A tryst with luxury
January 2015 920

RAFFLES could be Istanbul’s most exciting new hotel, the perfect embodiment of the new young face of an ancient city – a beacon above the Bosphorus and an oasis of calm and cool. 

“September 1 was our birthday,” Tarek Mourad, general manager, Raffles Hotel Istanbul Zorlu Centre, tells TTN. “It was a very exciting birthday, and although I knew it was going to be a very good looking baby it surpassed all our expectations. Guest feedback has just been amazing.”

Raffles Hotel Istanbul reflects the city’s rich heritage in its light and airy interiors designed by Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA). Utterly contemporary, full of texture and distinctly Turkish, the hotel is embellished with a gorgeous collection of specially commissioned artworks. Many of these are by Turkish artists, others by artists inspired by this magnificent city: tactile sculptures and contemporary interpretations of classic patterns, pieces inspired by fabulous Byzantine jewels – all bringing the ancient and modern together. 

“Most hotels here tend to use the Ottoman era,” quips the general manager. “I think it was a smart move by the owners to represent Turkey in a more contemporary, appealing and unique way.”

Raffles Istanbul offers its guests 132 guestrooms and 49 suites. “Our smallest, standard room is 62 metres up to 90 square metres. All of them have big balconies with floor-to-ceiling windows, which means you have amazing views even from the bed. We can serve our guest a candle-lit dinner in their balcony, and I promise nothing beats that.”  

Mourad … guest feedback

Raffles Istanbul has 3,000 sqm of spa and wellness facilities offering traditional treatments with three Turkish hammams, two couples suites, and seven luxuriously appointed treatment rooms, as well as male and female relaxation areas with saunas, steam rooms and Jacuzzis.

“We have products from Organic Pharmacy – this is the first time this product has been in a hotel,” explains the proud general manager. “We also have Gazelli Gazelli Skincare, made out of white oil in Azerbaijan, but manufactured in Western Europe and only sold in Harrods.”

A room with a view at Raffles Istanbul

The hotel has outdoor pools that offer stunning panoramic views of the city, a yoga and pilates studio, personal training, Technogym equipment, and two hair and nail salons.

“We are also the only hotel that has a heated helipad on top of the hotel. So you can come to our hotel by car, sea or air!”

So far most of the hotel’s guests hail from the Middle East. “We did anticipate this because Turkey is one of the top destinations from this market. But what we did not anticipate was the number of repeat guest from the Middle East within the first two to three months. And they were mostly leisure travellers, some who have visited five or six times already.” 

The hotel is located within one of the most upscale residential areas in Istanbul overlooking the Bosporus and the Marmara Sea, the skyline of Asia and urban Istanbul. “And then of course we are part of the Zorlu Centre, which consists of four luxury towers. One of these is our hotel, and the other three residential. We have the Zorlu Shopping Mall, which is one of the best top luxury shopping experiences in Istanbul with international and local brands.”

With food and beverage options and auditoriums within minutes of the hotel, guests don’t really need to leave the complex at all.

“We work with the travel trade. They are our bridge to the client so we cannot survive without them. They do a great job to get us linking us with potential clientele, so, of course, we have to ensure that we give them what they deserve for their services not only in monetary terms,  but more important to me is to provide their guests with a tailor-made experience that is second to none.

By Kim Thomson


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