From Istanbul to Hampshire with Four Seasons
15 November 2022
In the last few weeks Becky was lucky enough to be invited and experience two of The Four Seasons’ magnificent properties and stayed at the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus & Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire. Read about her adventures:
48 Hours in Istanbul
I arrived in Istanbul early Friday evening and was greeted with a VIP fast track service to get through the airport quickly. A nice touch were the lovely hand tied posies of flowers.
The Four Seasons Bosphorus is a lovingly restored, 19th-century Ottoman palace. The hotel is impressive from the moment you walk in, with it’s sweet citrus fragrance, stunning floral displays and a very eclectic and interesting art collection throughout the hallways.
After the tour, I had time for a quick change for dinner and my room was so lovely I could have stayed in there all evening. A King sized bed put on earth straight from heaven, with pillows so soft it’s like sleeping on clouds. In addition, the bathtub is so deep and luxurious that I made sure I had a bubble bath every single day to make the most of it.
The Welcome Dinner
The dinner: WHAT a welcome. We started the evening with a champagne drink’s reception on the beautiful patio terrace overlooking the Bosphorus. While the fire pits were roaring to keep us warm, Turkish drummers set the tune to the backdrop of the city lights reflecting in the water and the bridge between Europe and Asia lit up in blues and purples. Next, the evening dinner was the ultimate feast and took place in a marquee with long banquet tables where we experienced the passion, amazing food, and mood that Istanbul has to offer. Throughout the evening we were entertained with incredible dancers, and performers and even got up to join in with some Turkish line dancing. A truly unforgettable & magical evening.
On Saturday, we had a very inspiring start to the day with the incredible Four Seasons team. We were set up on sofas with coffee tables in a section of the sophisticated Bosphorus Ballroom: the Lobby level ballroom has floor to ceiling windows overlooking the terrace and water with an adjoining pre function area to enjoy your refreshment breaks.
To start, we received a very insightful update from Kirsten Deleersnijder, The Vice president of sales and marketing for Europe, Middle East & Arica. Kirsten talked us through, industry trend, insights, exciting future openings, an update such as Puglia, Mallorca & Venice and about their new private yacht that is available for charter. We were also talked through Four Season’s new branding ‘LUXURY IS OUR LOVE LANGUAGE’. A rebrand that sees Four Season’s taking a bold step with brighter colours and playful marketing videos showcasing some lovely true stories of guest experiences in the hotels globally. I would absolutely recommend you taking a peek at these fun videos online which include a little girl being brought a pony to her room, or the team recreating a snow scene and snowball fight for a family in their suite, who has never seen snow before.
Then we had a fascinating and inspiring talk from Simon Casson, who is the president of Hotel Operations of Europe, Middle East & Africa. After Simon took to the stage, the whole audience gripped to his every word. He shared very real and vulnerable experiences of how he came into his notable position as President of Hotel Operations. He also gave some amazing advice for managing stress and wellbeing throughout your journey in life & work.
Following our talks, we had a networking session with the fabulous sales teams, from many locations across the word. During which we were given an insight into their beautiful range of properties.
Finally, the evening started in Europe where we boarded a boat on the Bosphorus in Europe and set across the water for dinner in Asia. The night was full of fun, cocktails, fantastic bowl food and food stations. Everyone let their hair down to the 90’s discos and had their tarots read on the bottom deck!
On Sunday we explored Istanbul. I chose to take a morning tour which offered a deep dive into the City of Istanbul. My favourite stop was visit to the Cistern, an ancient underground water reserve. The sheer grandeur of the Cistern is incredible, it was constructed using 336 columns, many of which were salvaged from ruined temples, and each has its own unique carving and features. The added up-lighters under the archers changed colour and lit up the building and the modern artwork beautifully.
At the end of our trip, we visited the stunning Four Seasons Sultanahmet, located in a three-story, neo-classic prison building with a landscaped courtyard. We were shown the beautiful rooftop terrace & bedrooms before we were taken to enjoy a tasty buffet lunch in the terrace restaurant with a fascinating spiritual performance by the Whirling dervishes.
A Huge thank you to the whole team in Istanbul for such a special and unforgettable experience. The ‘Luxury is our love language’ brand was clear to see throughout the whole stay, with the most thoughtful gifts and level of service we experience.
Hounds in Hampshire
After Istanbul, I headed to Hampshire where I sent in my dog Chester, AOK Head Venue Sniffer to see if the Hampshire Hotel would meet his very high level of expectations and it certainly did not disappoint.
This magnificent country escape, is set in a restored, 18th-century manor with 500 acres of picturesque grounds and a stunning backdrop of the rolling hills. On our first walk we saw three deers running across the fields as the sun was setting… bliss!
At the hotel we were lucky enough to be staying in the executive suite, and felt like royalty. Chester had a personalised welcome message left for him on the mirror, alongside dog bowls, a pouch of food, and a comfy bed which he immediately snuggled up in. The Suite is beautifully furnished with English Décor in neutral tones with accents of spring colours. Unsurprisingly, the bed felt like the heavenly cloud I remembered from my visit in Istanbul, with a luxurious bath, twin sinks and a rain shower in the ensuite. All the little details in the room have been so thoughtfully planned out, from the bone China mugs, to the white company bathroom products.
During the day I met with Ewan for a show round of the event space. Through the neutral tones and the softness of the décor, even the breakout spaces without natural daylight offer a fresh and bright space to enjoy a full day of meetings in. In addition, the Ballroom was carefully planned with several floor to ceiling double doors along one side of the space that connect to the foyer. So that the elegant pillar-less ballroom can seat up to 300 delegates theatre and offers natural daylight. The guests also have the luxury of being able to use the connecting terrace for lunch breaks and evening receptions with the stunning views across the gardens.
A Venue Finder Reunion
Following my show round, Four Seasons were kind enough to welcome our lovely AOK Venue Finder, Hollie and her baby boy Frankie for lunch in their Wild Carrot Restaurant. Even Frankie was impressed by the restaurant and spent his time mesmerised by the wallpaper, and gorgeous details around us. We both went for the club sandwich, and I can honestly say, the best club sandwich I’ve ever eaten! We were thrilled to hear, both the lovely Lindsey and Ewan from the Four Seasons sales team were on property that day, to meet with us all and show some extra love to Frankie and Chester. The team had very kindly taken the time to get us personalised gifts, with the sweetest white dressing gown with bunny ears for Frankie and the softest green blanket for Chester, both of which had their names stitched onto.
Thank You Four Seasons
Four Seasons never drop the ball with their genuine care and thoughtfulness to ensure that you not only have a wonderful stay with excellent service, but go above and beyond, to make you feel like an important guest and take the time to build valuable connections.
Thank you once again Four Seasons for not one but two exceptional stays. Your team is simply incredible.