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Istanbul : the Golden Horn does fear abundance

For over five years now, Istanbul has been the arena for constant hotel development. And yet, this construction site is far from complete because this growth did not upset the market– the RevPAR grew by 41% on the period 2006-2010 despite an 11.2% drop recorded last year – and Istanbul continues to offer new opportunities for growth. According to HVS, hotel room value is growing steadily, from 156,000 euros in 1993 to 256,000 in 2000 and 318,000 in 2009, to climb to its current sixth position in Europe ahead of Milan and Moscow.The tourist neighborhoods of Sultanahmet and the Grand Bazar on the European Shore or the business neighborhoods that are in a full growth period such as Levent, Etiler, Maslak or Sisli on the other side of the Golden Horn, the Asian area that is under renewal: in Istanbul hotel groups are finding a playground that is propitious to multiplying openings. Rare are the groups among the world leaders who are not present there, who established themselves in the vicinity of Taksim Square or in the neighborhood of Besiktas during the wave of development in the early 1990s. Since then they have continued to expand their network. One example among many others is Radisson Blu, which had begun its network in the city with a convention hotel at the international airport Atatürk. It continued to grow its network in 2006 with a leisure-focused hotel on the shores of the Bosphorus and will soon establish itself in the Asian business center Atasehir. Each of these locations corresponds to a different clientele segment. But all these locations also offer opportunities for each of the categories whereas the city attracts low-cost and upscale tourists, businessmen with tight budgets and also increasing numbers of delegates attending conventions, and managing directors and other international stars.Thanks to this variety, IHG could pursue opening a broad array of its brands, which will soon range from InterContinental to Holiday Inn Express with the arrival of a mixed property under the brand Crowne Plaza in 2011 at Bayrampasa, on the outskirts of Istanbul. Very active in Turkey, Hilton is also unfurling its brands in lower categories. Hilton Garden Inn and Doubletree by Hilton will benefit from the rising strength of the Asian Shore where two hotels should open next year in the Maltepe neighborhood for Hilton Garden Inn and in Moda-Kadiköy for Doubletree. These two brands will also be present on the European Shore with a Doubletree already open near the Grand Bazar and the university, and a Garden Inn in the works near the Maslak and Sisli business centers.Trendy properties showcase the evolution of the city. As the European Capital of Culture for 2010, Istanbul is more fashionable than ever. Boutique hotels have sprung up everywhere in the chic Besiktas and Nisantasi neighborhoods on the European Shore with flagships such as Design Hotels Bentley, Sofa and Witt. On the Asian Shore, others benefited from one of Istanbul’s particularities: many opportunities for converting old buildings. The A’jia opened in a former Yali (Ottoman-style mansion of rich pashas) and the Sumahan on the Water in a former raki distillery. Lifestyle hotel brands are part of this driving trend. It is noteworthy that W Hotels made its first appearance on European soil in Istanbul in 2008. The brand established itself in the Akaretler Row Houses built in 1870 to accommodate personnel and officials working at the Palace of Dolmabahce. This real estate revitalization in the Akaretler district was led by the businessman of all trades Sedar Bilgili, who also owns the boutique hotel A’jia. The W will soon receive competition from another big name on the boutique segment - Ian Schrager – who is also making his initial foray onto the European market there with Marriott. The hotel Edition is also expected for the end of the year.In a city that according to Forbes magazine has almost as many billionaires as London, luxury certainly has its place. The oldest on this segment is the Ciragan Palace by the Kempinski group, which was progressively joined by new players such as Les Ottomans or Four Seasons. Istanbul, moreover, is one of the rare cities able to boast having two properties from the Canadian group. The latter, after converting a former prison in the Sultanahmet neighborhood, transformed the Atik Pasha’s yali. This 65-room jewel, with its more business and group-oriented vocation, opened in 2008, the same year as Park Hyatt Maçka Palas, a former Art Déco palace. The next group in the starting blocks is Shangri La which in 2012 will take over the site of a former tobacco factory along the Bosphorus near Dolmabahce, in the Besiktas district. In light of this strong competition, the Pera Palace has just received a facelift. Besiktas Shipping Group invested 25 million in reviving the former luster of this celebrity that had been built to accommodate travelers on the Orient Express. A sort of relay between the 19th and 21th centuries.

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