Hospitality management group Swiss-Belhotel International continues its expansion with a management takeover of an iconic five-star hotel and spa in Bursa, Turkey. Çelik Palace was privatised in 2007 and constructed as an extension of the Atatürk palace, for Turkey’s first president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
It is now been renamed Grand Swiss-Belhotel Çelik Palas.
TTN spoke to Gavin M. Faull, chairman and president of Swiss-Belhotel International, for details on the property itself and the group’s ambitious expansion plans.
'We are excited to enter Turkey with such a historically prestigious five-star hotel and spa, and bring Swiss-Belhotel International’s global service and professionalism to this market.'
FIRST TIME IN BURSA
Grand Swiss-Belhotel Çelik Palas is the first five-star hotel in the city of Bursa and the brand’s first foray into Turkey. The property has 164 rooms, of which 23 suites are in the premises of the main Atatürk palace itself. The hotel was renovated in 2010 and boasts of sophisticated interiors, while keeping its historical prestige intact to suit even the most discerning guests.
The highlight of the rooms is its balconies overlooking the city – a privilege that no other hotel is equipped to provide. The hotel is spread over a wide area with a backdrop of the famous Uludağ Mountain giving it a relaxing resort feel for both leisure and corporate guests.
'The Swiss-Belhotel International brand is more than a symbol of elegance and excellence. At Grand Swiss-Belhotel Celik Palas, we promise to deliver positive memorable experiences to our guests in the company of uniquely qualified people who are passionate, professional and hospitable.'
Grand Swiss-Belhotel Çelik Palas boasts top quality facilities including six food and beverage outlets, seven indoor function rooms, one outdoor poolside function area and a wellness centre with the one of the largest natural thermal pools in Bursa, Turkish bath, massage rooms and an outdoor swimming pool.
PLANS FOR THE GCC
'We are a small expanding company but we’re very strong in Asia, especially in Indonesia – where we seem to be opening a new hotel every six weeks – but also in Australia and New Zealand, Philippines, China and Vietnam,' says Faull.
The opening of a regional office for Europe in Athens earlier this year, comes with a promise of three management contracts in the continent by end of this year.
'Within the next six months, we may see two or even three properties in Dubai.
'The company has targeted managing 250 hotels and resorts around the world by 2022. We will easily have 20 operations by the end of 2016 and we are looking at 50 hotels in the Middle East by 2020.'
Projects in the GCC pipeline include two in Saudi Arabia – Swiss-Belhotel Riyadh (2016) and Swiss-Belboutique Tahliya Riyadh (2016) – with a third announcement on its way soon; one in Erbil – Swiss-Belhotel Erbil (2015); another in Oman – Swiss-Belinn Ghubrah, Muscat (2015); and another in Qatar –Swiss-Belhotel Stenden (2015).
Swiss-Belhotel also signed a management agreement for a five-star property in Bahrain earlier this year. Owned by Sheikh Salman Bin Abdallah Hamad Al Khalifa, the five-star Swiss-Belhotel Bahrain is scheduled to open in 2016. This the brand’s second venture into the kingdom, with Swiss-Belhotel Seef Bahrain already in operation.
Other current projects in the GCC include two large hotels in Abu Dhabi (Swiss-Belhotel Corniche Abu Dhabi and Swiss-Belresort Ghantoot), one in Kuwait (Swiss-Belhotel Plaza Kuwait) and another in Qatar (Swiss-Belhotel Doha).
Given the push of mid-market hotels evident in Dubai and the region at large, Swiss-Belhotel is keen to expand its horizons with other brands, such as the newly launched Zest Hotels, which looks all set to become a renowned budget hotel brand in Asia.
'It’s pocket-friendly while not compromising on quality. The basic philosophy of Zest is to establish a new, unique and straight forward hotel product crafted for the national and international markets. Hotels under the Zest brand will be of international standard but affordable, modern and minimalist, and aimed at the budget-conscious business traveller.
The first Zest hotel to open is Zest Hotel Bogor, Indonesia, and there are about a dozen more in the pipeline for Java, Bali and other locations in Indonesia. 'We are planning to start expanding the Zest brand internationally. We have to make sure we have the formula right, and when it is, we will see it open up in the GCC very soon.
'In fact, we may be working on some new brand ideas on these lines as well,' says the president.
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