Thinking Traveler: Istanbul

News - Thinking Traveler: Istanbul

June 13th 2013

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending a Hotel Investment Conference in Istanbul. My hotel just happened to be situated almost on Taksim Square and yes, there were demonstrations, big ones. Unrest first focused on opposition to construction plans to the public thoroughfare which would reduce the size of Gezi Park, one of Istanbul’s few green spaces. Since my departure, the movement has sustained a gradual crescendo and seems to have developed into something more. The square is a tribute to the Turkish Republic and Taksim means ‘divide’, which certainly has a poetic symbolism.

Istanbul 6
As a result of the unrest during my stay it struck me how important it is for developers to keep in mind their responsibility towards promoting conscious living. That is, to create spaces that nurture and enhance communities and their surroundings and to offer local people economic and social benefits that they can see and enjoy. An excellent example of conscious living in practise is The Tourism Council of Bhutan. A community empowered, rather than disenfranchised by gaining control of tourism and ensuring development takes place with sensitivity to the local communities, nature and people.

Istanbul 7
Development should always aim to be about safe-guarding, whilst at the same time nurturing. This is of mutual advantage, which is why I feel that our yoo2 brand embodies these values, drawing on a sense of place, connecting with and being influenced by the local.

Although my stay in Istanbul was to some extent intertwined with the water cannons and tear gas it in no way lessened my enjoyment of and admiration for what has been and still is one of the greatest cities in the world; powerful during centuries and impressive during the past decade. Istanbul is a fantastic city and not only from an architectural stand-point. 

Tram3 Walking the city is a great experience, though driving the city is a nightmare! The tram is by far the smartest, fastest, most efficient and economical way to travel through the centre.

During my stay the idea of marrying our YOO design personality with the values and character of Turkish hospitality became a compelling one. Everywhere I went I was welcomed with a big smile and an open heart. Negotiations are a fine art; expected and so carried out with pleasant, courteous overtones. In my career and in my current travels I have visited many big cities on many continents and I feel we could all learn a lot from the warm, polite and helpful Turkish hospitality I experienced. Hospitality and warmth in the face of unrest and disruption always commands my respect.

Istanbul 3I left knowing full well that I will return, as I am looking forward to one day establishing a YOO hotel in this wonderful, vibrant city.


Photography by Pascal Terjan, Baard Skaaden, Moyan_Brenn, Greenwich photography


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