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Istanbul FAM Trip

February 16th, 2012 by Aimee


I have always fancied a trip to the vibrant city of Istanbul but never seemed to make it there. When our Managing Director suggested Istanbul as the next destination for one of our client fam trips I jumped at the opportunity. Istanbul is a fantastic city steeped in culture, history and nightlife. Divided in two by the beautiful Bosphorous Strait, it is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, Europe and Asia and the influence of both can be seen throughout this vibrant city.

With only a 4 hour flight from Heathrow Istanbul is a great short haul destination for any conference or incentive event. Our group of twelve were hosted by Dekon and partnered by our friends from MM & Co. Our base camp for this trip was the Ritz Carlton Hotel, which in my opinion was absolutely sumptuous, which is what you would expect for a hotel voted Best International Business Hotel by Condé Nast Travellers Readers' Awards 2009!

This wonderful five star hotel is in Taksim Square and stands in the centre of this fascinating city. Bathed in Ottoman-inspired splendour that pays homage to the rich historical traditions of Turkey, it features 244 well-appointed guest rooms, including 23 suites and 57 Ritz-Carlton Club Level rooms. With vast meeting space, luxurious Spa  and fitness centre it has everything that you expect a modern 5 star hotel to have. A perfect location for any event!

What Istanbul can also offer is plenty of variety in terms of places to eat, activities available and places to visit. Most visitors to Istanbul will immediately be struck by the quantity of mosques, and in our short time there we visited Haghia Sophia, which dates back to AD537 and has previously been a orthodox basilica, a roman catholic cathedral and a mosque; Topkapi Palace which is a large palace that was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years; and then the  Blue Mosque, Istanbul’s most famous landmark which was constructed by some of the same stonemasons who later helped to construct the Taj Mahal in Indian. We also visited the 1001 Column Cistern which is now used as a drinks reception and gala dinner venue. But be warned, as the name suggests there are one or two pillars that interfere with your line of sight!!  Finally no visit to Istanbul could exclude a trip to the  Grand Bazaar! And as in the scene from the Life of Brian….haggle!!

The rest of the time on this trip was spent eating and drinking at some of Istanbul’s most coveted restaurants. We had superb lunches at both the Ritz Carlton’s restaurant and then at the
Develi Restaurant which is a traditional Ottoman restaurant who served us with the most amazing mezze and traditional kebabs.

In the evening we were picked up from Kabatas Pier on a brand new luxury cruiser (not easy to get on and off in high heels!) to take us for a short cruise up the Bosphorous to our pre dinner drinks reception at the exclusive Esma Sultan – wow this place is absolutely breath-taking!! Our final night’s dinner was at G-Fish Restaurant at SuAda – a man-made island on the Bosphorous Strait where Istanbul’s socialites come to sip world-class cocktails and enjoy the finest sushi and fish dishes Istanbul has to offer. With a beach and swimming pool with a 360 degree panoramic view SuAda is truly amazing!  

Although we were only in Istanbul for a little over 48 hours we really did get a true feel for this magnificent city. You would need to spend a lot longer here in order to truly discover all Istanbul has to offer, we enjoyed just a bite size experience but I would totally recommend Istanbul to anyone considering going there, and as a conference and incentive destination this is a definite must! 
Istanbul is one of many destinations that we have explored this year with our clients and we are staging others later this year and next year.

If you are keen to come, and you are a serious organiser of meetings, incentives, conferences or events then either register your interest on our home page or contact me on 01753 839671 or aimee@penguins.co.uk and we’ll get you along.

Tweet @PenguinsEvents with your thoughts on Istanbul as a conference or incentive destination.



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