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TurkeyFebruary 2, 2009 By: Nick Gosling Travel Agent
Mixed among Istanbul’s ornate mosques, ancient historic sites and lively pedestrian streets, cafés and markets is an underlying Turkish hospitality that is hard to rival.
The revolving loft at the Marmara Antalya offers a 360-degree view of land and sea
Straddling the Bosphorus River and the continents of Europe and Asia, Turkey’s hottest city has a little bit of everything: exciting nightlife, world-renowned historic attractions and many modern and fashionable hotels and restaurants.
Turkey is home to nine UNESCO World Heritage sites. In 1985, four historic structures in Istanbul were added to the list: the Suleymaniye and Zeyrek Mosques, the Walls of Constantinople and the city’s Archaeological Park.
Istanbul is Turkey’s most popular tourist city, and European and Asian tourists descend upon it each year, particularly in the autumn (August–October) for the warmer weather, or spring (March–April), an ideal time to see the Turkish countryside in bloom.
One of the city’s more popular historic sites is the Sultan Ahmed, or Blue Mosque; approximately 21 million, or 90 to 95 percent of the country’s tourists, visit the mosque each year. The best time to visit the mosque is before midday prayer, followed by stops at the Topkapi Palace, once the home of the Sultan and his family and now an Imperial Treasury; and the Hagia Sophia, once the world’s largest cathedral and now a museum.
Guests of the Marmara Antalya can get some sun before heading off to the mountains to ski
Tip: If cruise ships are in port, your clients will want to visit the sites in reverse order to miss the crowds. A trip to the Blue Mosque should include a stop at the site of the largest Greek Hippodrome in the world, outside the mosque’s main entrance. The ancient horse-
racing track is home to the Obelisk of Theodosius and the Walled, or Constantine, Obelisk.
The Marmara Istanbul Hotel, in the heart of Istanbul’s “New City,” combines Turkish hospitality and style with the elegance of a traditional hotel. Clients will find the hotel’s 377 deluxe guest rooms and 46 Club Rooms, decorated in blue and white with ornate furniture and panoramic views of the city, charming and well furnished. Room rates range from approximately $220 to $355 for a single room and $240 to $375 for a double. The best sunset- and Bosphorus-view rooms are 1723, 1623, 1221, 1421, 1621 and 1721.
Guests of the hotel’s 46 Club Rooms (which include 24-hour personal concierge service and Jacuzzis in the Flying Carpet and Executive Suites) also have access to the 360-degree, panorama-view Marmara Club Lounge, where they can use telescopes to get a better view of the city.
Agents can contact Baris Kaya ([email protected], 011-90-21-23-34-84-15), Marmara’s marketing manager, for international and corporate projects, for booking information for all of Marmara’s six hotels and three residence hotels.
Design is important to the Turkish-owned Marmara chain, explains Kaya. A design group works on each hotel separately to create a unique setting. “For those who would like to experience Turkish culture and Turkish food, the Marmaras are the right address for them,” says Kaya.
Bazaars in Turkey offer visitors a unique shopping experience
In Istanbul’s Taksim Square (think New York City’s Times Square), Marmara Istanbul is a short walk from the popular pedestrian avenue Istiklal Street, where your clients will find several traditional eateries and nightclubs. Less than two miles away, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is one of the largest covered markets in the world (6,000 shops on close to 100 acres) and well worth a visit to purchase souvenirs. Tell your clients to avoid buying jewelry and rugs at the Bazaar, however—chances are they’re not authentic.
The Marmara Pera is the Marmara Istanbul’s hip, younger cousin. Situated in downtown Istanbul’s historic district, the Pera is a short walk from shopping areas and museums.
The 1930s- and ’70s-themed hotel, outfitted in contemporary decor, has 200 Superior Rooms and three Junior Suites. Rooms 1601, 1401 and 1701 have sunset views of the Golden Horn. Single rooms are priced at $288 plus tax, while Doubles are $314 plus tax. Clients will enjoy the Pera’s rooftop Mikla restaurant, where they’ll have views of the city through floor-to-ceiling windows as they dine on Turkish specialties prepared with a Nordic touch by Swedish Chef Mehmet Gürs.
Fun in the Sun
Are your clients looking for some sun on the beach? Send them to Turkey’s southern coast and the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Antalya is quickly becoming Turkey’s premier destination for tourists seeking a seaside vacation and an outdoor adventure. Only an hour and a half from the Taurus Mountains and great skiing, your clients can ski and sunbathe on the same day when they stay in Antalya.
The Antalya region is rich with historic sites dating back hundreds of thousands of years. Clients will want to explore the Greco-Roman city of Perge, with its stone baths and high gate towers, and the Greek theater of Aspendos. Dating back to 155 A.D., Aspendos is considered the best-preserved theater of antiquity and is still used for concerts and operas today.
The world’s first and only 360-degree revolving hotel building is the seaside Marmara Antalya. The 24 club rooms in the Antalya’s revolving building make a complete rotation every two to 22 hours, depending on the speed. The spacious rooms are accentuated with beach furniture and sun beds and different views of the sea, mountains and hotel gardens during the day through the room-length windows.
Rooms at the Marmara Antalya's 15-story main building are ideal for business clients
Antalya’s stationary 15-story main building has 208 rooms ideal for business clients; 76 are sea-view rooms and 26 are land-view rooms.
The hotel’s open-air lobby and restaurant is a new Marmara concept called the Marmara Tuti. The open common area is a combination dining room, library, game room, lounge, business center and rock-climbing column. Rooms range from $230 for a single in the Revolving Loft to $289 for a double, and $175 for a single room in the Main Building and $210 for a double.
For guided tours of Turkey, United Travel Services Inc. features dozens of different excursions to hundreds of different historic sites, museums and tourist attractions at locations throughout the country, as well as yacht charters and incentive events.
Turkish Airlines flies direct between New York’s JFK International Airport and Atatürk International Airport in Istanbul. Clients overnighting in New York can stay at the Marmara’s only property not located in Turkey, the Marmara Manhattan. The 88-suite, 20-room hotel on the Upper East Side features a Penthouse Suite with a 360-degree view of Manhattan and wrap-around terrace. The Suite occupies the hotel’s entire top floor and can be rented out for private parties. The Manhattan’s most popular rooms are the 783-square-foot Deluxe One-bedroom suites with fully furnished kitchens and living rooms. The most difficult time to book at the Marmara Manhattan is during the months of October and December.