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 this year with the opening of the new Istanbul International Airport, 21 miles northwest of downtown. With an annual capacity of 150 million passengers, it is intended to become 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 Ataturk International Airport (slated for closure once the new airport is up and running). 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 established to serve the soon-to-be-defunct 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, the Lütfi Kirdar 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 that divides 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 of which cater 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, the Byzantines and the 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 and converted into a museum in 1935. 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 packages followed by a meal in the atmospheric courtyard restaurant (please note the bathhouse itself is segregated into male and female sections).
The Sait Halim Pasha 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.
Pleasant weather, autumn foliage and vibrant flowers are among the many delights awaiting nature lovers at botanical gardens and arboretums across the United States. However, some of these green spaces take on additional color this month and through Halloween when enterprising gardeners, landscape architects, management and other creative minds cast a spell with themed environments running the gamut from spooky to utterly bewitching.
Many small- and medium-sized businesses face time and budget constraints when organizing corporate hotel travel for employees. To address this problem, IHG® Business Edge emerged as a cost-free business travel solution for small- to medium-sized enterprises, offering travel managers exclusive access to enticing perks, handpicked educational resources and comprehensive company travel metrics. IHG Business Edge connects our loyal customers to our portfolio of 5,800 hotels and resorts across 18 brands in more than 100 countries.
For travelers who love all things autumn, Crystal Springs Resort, New York City’s closest destination resort, features special offers and experiences to meet the demands of everyone’s fall bucket list. Located only 80 minutes outside New York City in Sussex County, New Jersey, Crystal Springs Resort offers a quick getaway to enjoy fall foliage. Are any of these new offers or experiences on your bucket list?
It’s time to start dreaming of your next trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey with us through these historic (and famous) cemeteries in Europe.
IHG Hotels & Resorts is thrilled to announce the launch of a new mobile product feature for members: IHG Wi-Fi Auto Connect. This feature is now available exclusively in the IHG One Rewards mobile app for both iOS and Android users and will automatically connect IHG One Rewards members to WiFi upon arrival at more than 5,000 IHG hotels worldwide — no separate passwords or log-ins needed. This is in addition to the exciting benefits of being an IHG Business Edge member. IHG Business Edge provides small- and medium-sized businesses access to a user-friendly portal that displays comprehensive spending and savings data while providing the convenience of direct booking with a guaranteed discount.
At the entrance to the fishing village of Les Goudes, a 40-minute drive south of Marseille facing the Mediterranean, is Tuba Club. Nestled in a historic seaside building,with its laid-back restaurant and sun-splashed terraces it is a perfect hideout for locals and international visitors who can actually find it.
There’s no doubt the northern lights are awe-inspiring and spectacular. Unfortunately, they’re also fickle and fleeting, and despite your best-laid plans of checking this item off your bucket list, sometimes Mother Nature’s luminescent show just doesn’t cooperate. But one cruise line has a new fail-safe in place.
Don’t risk losing all the money you’ve spent if you must cancel your trip at the last minute. Allianz Travel Insurance can give you:
Think you need a degree in sailing to enjoy a yachting holiday? Dream Yacht Worldwide, a leader in yacht charters, wants you to relax and enjoy the journey. Newly expanded to include the British Virgin Islands, Martinique, Tahiti and the Seychelles, the "Easy Crewed” offered by Dream Yacht Worldwide also include charter options in Greece and Croatia.