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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla is opening its acclaimed doors Oct. 22 to celebrate its fifth and most exciting season. The resort will introduce new programming including culinary, fitness and music.
The Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Convention 2021 will be unlike any other convention before it, as we come together in person for the first time since the business travel industry drastically changed and look forward to rebuilding and reshaping the future. GBTA Convention 2021 will bring all of us together to learn from experts and each other, in-person at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 17–19. The safety of our attendees is our top priority. View health and safety protocols.
Seabourn recently announced the name of its second new ultra-luxury purpose-built expedition ship: Seabourn Pursuit. The name reflects the passion of expedition travelers to seek out and explore natural wonders and destinations through activities around the globe.
Though the Chicago area has been my home for decades, the view from the Water Tower Suite on the 26th floor of The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago made me gasp. I had admired Chicago’s dramatic skyline many times, but never from this angle. Through expansive windows, the skyscrapers of 900 N. Michigan Ave. and the John Hancock Center, now named 875 North Michigan Avenue, rose to my right. Far below, the landmark Chicago Water Tower nestled in a ring of trees. One of the few survivors of the Great Chicago Fire, a turning point in the city’s history being remembered on its 150th anniversary in 2021, the Gothic Revival relic resembled a fairy-tale castle in a children’s playset.
History and culture are etched into every corner of Greece. Beginning with its language, the oldest written language still in existence, and moving from the traces of passing civilizations and religions to pre-historic findings and works from many movements, there’s a wealth of culture to discover on your next trip to Greece.
President Biden signed H.R. 2278, bipartisan legislation to designate a September 11th National Memorial Trail. The trail route will link the National September 11th Memorial and Museum in New York; the Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia; and the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
In April 2021, I was skimming Facebook when an ad for a blind-folded dining experience popped up on my newsfeed. The event was hosted through a company called Fever that offers fun, interactive events in major cities and virtually for people to enjoy. Intrigued, I clicked the link to learn more. The description made the event sound exciting and mysterious. When I give someone a present for their birthday, the holidays or a wedding, I like to give the gift of an experience that the recipient can learn something from. My boyfriend’s 30th birthday was in June, when the event was to be hosted, so I thought this would be a great surprise for him.
GBTA’s Convention 2021 will bring the business travel industry together for the first time in a long time. Once again, you’ll learn and connect with experts and each other, along with discussions with leading thinkers, entrepreneurs and change makers addressing the issues that matter most.
It’s time to start dreaming of your next trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through Austin, Texas, with us.