Like you, I travel fairly often for work and, while I'm all business when it comes to what I need to get done -- scoring those interviews, writing up stories, scoping out sites -- I also want to have a little fun if I can, too.
I'm not alone: Mixing business with leisure -- something that's been coined "bleisure" as of late -- is hardly a new concept. Who doesn't want to carve out some time to actually enjoy and explore the destination you've traveled to for work? Well, that's exactly what I did on a recent business trip to Istanbul, and Swissôtel The Bosphorus Istanbul proved to be just the right fit for both of my pursuits.
The hotel, which originally opened in 1991, sits among the gardens of the Dohlmabaçe Palace, and is ideally situated close to the city's Congress Valley district, but it's also close enough that the historic Old City and hip Beyoglu neighborhoods are only a 10- to 15-minute cab ride away.
Currently, the 497-room hotel is undergoing a major $78.1-million renovation project, but that didn't hamper my stay in any way. While the East Wing is currently under construction, the hotel's stately -- and scenic -- West Wing is fully open. This wing, which has 167 Classic Rooms, 28 Corner Rooms, three Suites, and seven Lofts, offers incredible views of the gardens below, as well as the Bosphorus River.
The fully renovated rooms here are sleek and contemporary and, best of all, comfortable and spacious. My favorite features, aside from the incredible views, were the numerous USB and electrical ports available, as well as the spacious marble bathroom.
The West Wing is also home to Pürovel Spa & Sport, my other favorite hotel feature. The 43,056-square-foot spa and fitness center is one of the best I've ever been to. The cardio/weight room is very large, and it faces an indoor swimming pool. There's also a classic Turkish hammam in the spa area that all guests -- not just those receiving spa treatments -- can use.
When I met with Ahmet Özkan, the hotel's director of sale and marketing, he summed up Swissôtel The Bosphorus Istanbul perfectly when he told me, "We're a business hotel, but you feel like you're at a resort when you stay here with us. This is like an oasis. It's not your regular convention hotel."
That's exactly what I was able to do during my stay. When I wasn't busy going to scheduled meetings and appointments, or filing stories, I used the hotel as my temporary home base -- a place to relax and unwind, and a perfect jumping-off point for exploring the fascinating city it calls home.
Meetings & Incentives
Meetings and incentive groups are a common fixture at Swissôtel The Bosphorus Istanbul, says Özkan. The maximum group size that the hotel can accommodate is for 450 guest rooms.
Back in 2011, the hotel hosted the World Economic Forum and has served as a host hotel for larger conventions of up to 10,000 attendees. Özkan said that the property is popular with international associations (especially medical-related ones) and corporate meetings and incentives. Some U.S. companies that have hosted corporate meetings and incentives at the hotel include Ford, Coca-Cola, and Shell. He added that approximately 20 percent of the hotel's business comes from meetings, and 15 percent from corporate business travel. Most meetings, he said, take place at the hotel during the winter and spring months.
During my stay, the majority of the meeting rooms at the property were under renovation, but by next year, all of the spaces -- which total 63,507 square feet -- will be completely renovated and ready for use. The spaces include three ballrooms, and 28 function rooms.
In addition to serving in-house meetings and groups, Swissôtel The Bosphorus Istanbul's culinary team can also do off-site catering for groups of up to 300. Özkan noted that the team has catered private events at the nearby Dohlmabaçe Palace as well, and that it's not uncommon for groups to use the palace's 645,835 square feet of gardens for gatherings.