FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

İstanbul Draws Meeting Goers from Around the Globe

by Richard Newton

Mar 20, 2021

© FOUR SEASONS ISTANBUL AT SULTANAHMET

March 2021

In the year 381, when a global council of Christian bishops convened, there was only one logical place for them to meet. From all corners of the Christian world they converged on Constantinople (now İstanbul) in what could be regarded as one of the world’s first MICE events.

For millennia, this city represented the geographical center of the human world. Situated on both banks of the Bosporus, the channel that links the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, the city straddles the continental divide between Europe and Asia and stands as a crucial staging post between Northern and Eastern Europe and all points south.

Through the rise and fall of empires, through the shift from Christianity to Islam and through a change of name, İstanbul’s strategic importance remained constant. With the advent of the modern MICE sector, the city instantly established itself as a major destination.

İstanbul’s claim to be the crossroads of the world was reaffirmed with the October 2018 opening of the new Istanbul International Airport, 21 miles northwest of downtown. With an anticipated annual capacity of 200 million passengers by 2028, it would be one of the world’s busiest aviation hubs.

© SJANKAUSKAS | DREAMSTIME.COM

İstanbul boasts a wealth of state-of-the-art MICE venues. By far the largest is CNR EXPO, close to the old Atatürk International Airport (closed in 2019 and now serving general aviation and cargo). This large facility, with eight exhibition halls totaling more than 1.6 million square feet, will continue to benefit from the Metro and other transport links originally established to serve the old airport. Three additional halls in the complex are operated by World Trade Center Istanbul.

Downtown, the seven-story Istanbul Congress Center, or ICC, situated a short walk from the central Taksim Square, offers 115 fully equipped meeting rooms; nine meeting halls with capacity of up to 1,300; and an auditorium that can seat 3,705 people.

Next door to the ICC, Lütfi Kırdar International Convention and Exhibition Center, known as ICEC, includes 45 versatile meeting rooms; a 2,000-seat auditorium; and magnificent views from its hillside location down to the Bosporus.

The Haliç Congress Center is picturesquely located beside the Golden Horn, the estuary dividing the European side of İstanbul in two. Although slightly off the beaten path with regard to tram and Metro links, visitors can easily reach the center by bus or taxi and, uniquely among the major venues, also by ferry (the adjacent Sütlüce ferry stop is part of the city’s busy ferry network). The center comprises several buildings, each boasting auditoriums and meeting rooms. The Erguvan Restaurant, overlooking the water, can accommodate up to 200 guests.

As you would expect of a major international city, İstanbul is well-served by high-end international hotel chains, many catering to the MICE sector. The Grand Hyatt Istanbul, located downtown close to Taksim Square, offers 21,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space. The nearby Ritz-Carlton features similarly flexible event space (with panoramic views of the Bosporus) and provides a Technology Butler to ensure everything runs smoothly.

The city boasts two Four Seasons hotels. The one in the historic Sultanahmet district proves an ideal incentive base for visits to such iconic attractions as the Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia, while the other, occupying a larger site on the Bosporus shore, has a range of halls and rooms for meetings and events. From the hotel’s waterside terrace you can watch the comings and goings on the busy waterway — a reminder İstanbul has always been, and continues to be, one of the world’s great meeting places.

© SERGII FIGURNYI | DREAMSTIME.COM

UNIQUE VENUES
On the surface and beneath, the Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans all left their mark on İstanbul. The great Byzantine cathedral, Hagia Sophia, proves the ultimate example. Originally built in the sixth century, it was turned into a mosque in the 15th century, converted into a museum in 1935 and again designated as a mosque in 2020. In the shadow of this great building sits one of the city’s more unusual venues, a 16th-century bathhouse, the Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamami. Small groups can enjoy bath and massage offers followed by a meal in the atmospheric courtyard restaurant (please note the bathhouse itself is segregated into male and female sections).
ayasofyahamami.com

The Sait Halim Paşa Mansion, an ornate Ottoman palace on the European waterside of the Bosporus, offers a prestigious venue for weddings and corporate events. With 13 function areas, the mansion can accommodate small groups or cocktail parties of up to 1,600 guests.
saithalimpasa.com

Among İstanbul’s great subterranean attractions are its Byzantine cisterns — underground reservoirs — dating back to the fourth century. The Basilica Cistern is the largest and most famous, a must-see visitor attraction. The second-biggest, now known as the 1001 Direk Cistern, has been drained of water, subtly modernized and transformed into a characterful venue capable of hosting up to 3,000 people.
yerebatansarnici.com icvb.org.tr/venue/yerebatan-cistern

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

#globility

Insta Feed
Press Releases
Aug 1, 2021

WhereverFamily Announces Winners of Fourth Annual Awards

WhereverFamily, a web publication, a trusted travel source for the modern family and part of the FXExpress Publications, Inc., family of publications, which includes Global Traveler and trazeetravel.com, announces the winners of its Wherever Awards for the fourth year.

Sports Industry Awards returns to Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah for 8th Edition

The biggest names in the Middle East sporting community will gather for the Sports Industry Awards as the event returns for its eighth edition. SPIA recognizes the achievements of individuals, organizations, facilities and campaigns that contributed to the development of sport in the region.

Press Releases
Aug 1, 2021

Trazeetravel.com Announces Winners of its Annual Awards

Trazee Travel, a web publication and part of the FXExpress Publications, Inc., family of publications, which includes Global Traveler and whereverfamily.com, announces the annual winners of The Trazees. This is the seventh year for the web publication’s awards.

Sponsored
Aug 1, 2021

4 Reasons to Visit Greece Now

Greece offers travelers an overabundance to explore and enjoy. Here are just four of the many reasons to visit Greece now.

Elevate Your Travel Experience with AirPass

As more travelers return to the skies, American is here every step of the way to ensure an elevated and seamless journey. Experience flying freedom with AirPass, American’s all-inclusive, pre-paid travel membership program.

Daily
Jul 30, 2021

American Airlines Uses Science-Based Targets to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

With more companies around the world becoming more environmentally friendly, American Airlines recently announced it committed to set a science-based target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This move will sharpen the company’s strategy for reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 and aligns its path with the global imperative of limiting temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

eFlyer Deals
Jul 28, 2021

Treat Yourself to a Post-Lockdown Detox at Baros Maldives

Baros Maldives, situated on one of the only natural private islands in the Maldives, created a three-day detox program for guests. On day one, guests enjoy a scrub and detox massage, with day two including a private yoga session and full-body detox wrap. Day three brings a detox bath followed by a lymphatic drainage massage.

Finest Punta Cana is Where You Should Stay Next

You probably didn’t know you needed to visit the Dominican Republic until you learned about the new, beautiful, modern, all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana.