There’s lots of activity at the Sura Design Hotel and Suites. Busboys rush by with fresh flowers as hotel staff put the finishing touches on this new addition to Istanbul’s short list of distinctive boutique hotels. It’s about to have its “soft opening” and there’s excitement in the air. This elegant 60-room hotel is right in the middle of Istanbul’s hottest area, Sultanahmet, and within walking distance of everything that makes the city an architectural and historic treasure. Topkapi Palace, Haghia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Archeological Museum, Basilica Cistern, and the Grand Bazaar are within a ten-minute walk. The area is alive with shops, cafés, and restaurants. There isn’t a better location for a visitor to stay if they want to hit the hot spots of Istanbul. For the discerning client who wants comfort, contemporary elegance, and personal service, Sura Design Hotel and Suites is a quiet oasis in this exotic, energetic city.
Using a twist of phrase, “If they come, I will build it,” Sura Design Hotel and Suites was conceived. Ibrahim Kaygisiz, owner of an international jewelry company, welcomed business associates to Istanbul, only to find it difficult to book them into the kind of hotel he would want to stay at himself. So as any entrepreneurial businessman would do, he decided to build his own hotel. Turning to his designer/architect son, Mustafa Kaygisiz, he commissioned a hotel with distinct contemporary design features – and the Sura was born – the first of nine hotels he is now building around the country. Today the hotel has references to its owner’s profession with floors named for gemstones: Amber, Turquoise, Lapis, and Silver. Each floor offers soundproof rooms with a specific color theme and stylish, uniquely-designed spacious interiors. Luxury linens, terry robes, marble bathrooms, a phone charger/radio, wi-fi access, and coffee machine are available in each room. Amber rooms are yellow and gold and exude elegance; Turquoise rooms purport to relax and ease peace of mind; Lapis rooms are rich, dark blue and “ignite passion and romance”; and Silver rooms are black, silver, and pink, reminiscent of the opulent colors of the silk road. All rooms have balconies with café tables and chairs, some overlooking a courtyard garden and the Blue Mosque beyond. Others face the narrow cobblestone street the hotel opens on, its patisserie and outdoor café lining the sidewalk below. The hotel restaurant, Gurme Kebap, seats 300 indoors and 60 outdoors, with an outdoor heating system that allows for al fresco dining all year round. Not only does the restaurant serve fresh traditional Turkish specialties, all meats are raised on the owner’s organic farm 65 kilometers from Istanbul. The newly opened Café Sura serves traditional Turkish pastries and coffee with both indoor and outdoor seating. A meeting room/banquet hall for 300, a smaller one for 60, plus a garden area add potential for corporate and private events. A gym and a restored historical hamam (Turkish bath) are available, as will be the soon-to-open business center and rooftop terrace.
“Istanbul tourism is growing and our economy is strong,” Cenk Sabuncuoglu, Sura’s poised, well-spoken general manager, told Travel World News. Cenk, a twenty-two year veteran of Istanbul’s hospitality industry, has worked for Ramada, Princess and Dedeman hotel groups. Today, as Sura Hotel’s GM, he is confident the hotel will soon see full occupancy from tourist and business travelers. The numbers prove him right. According to European hotel performance statistics from TRI Hospitality Consulting, a London based industry surveyor, hotels in Istanbul enjoyed an almost 50% profit growth during the first six months of 2011. “Turkey is one of the fastest growing hotel markets in Europe and has been a focus for much development in the past few years,” explained David Bailey, director of TRI. “Despite this expanded supply, hotels are continuing to perform strongly and Istanbul has easily the most profitable hotels in our survey,” he continued. Two years ago, according to Sura’s general manager, hotels were empty half the year. But Turkey’s economy entered a rapid process of recovery and today hotels are full year round, thanks to its now strong economy, a stable government, and good business contracts and investments. “Business travelers fill up hotels when the tourist season ends,” Sabuncuoglu explained to Travel World News. The Sura has facilities for business meetings and is not far from Istanbul’s Convention and Exhibition Center.
“We are determined to give quality service to our guests,” Sabuncuoglu continued. All employees were trained for three months prior to the hotel opening and a quality control company checks the hotel every two weeks. The hotel offers a number of specials including a City Break Package (stay 4 nights in garden deluxe room, pay for 3; one way airport transfer; a free dinner after seven night stay); the Explore Istanbul Package (3 nights in garden deluxe room; round-trip airport transfer; welcome cocktail and discount to restaurant); and the Honeymoon Package (3 nights in garden deluxe room; chocolate and wine in room; round-trip transfers; free 3-course dinner at Sura restaurant and welcome cocktail.) Following the soft opening weekend, the hotel is fully booked. “We project 70% occupancy this year and 100% next year,” Sabuncuoglu added confidently. Hotel marketing is extensive, with ads in newspapers, brochures, catalogs, club brochures and the work of two PR agencies. FAM trips are being planned three times a year with Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa. Turkish Airlines sells packages using Sura Design Hotel and Suites and offers a free night at the hotel after three Turkish Airline tickets are purchased in one year. In March of 2012 their first FAM from the U.S. will be offered. US agents get 15% commission for stays of up to three days and a generous 21% commission for stays of more than three days. Rooms start at $260/night including breakfast. Reservations can be made through online reservation websites or directly through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sura Design Hotel and Suites, www.surahotels.com