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Istanbul recommended as a group destination

Frances Green

Verdict of UK event agents after a 3-day trip

A party of eight UK event agents, all representing different companies, have just returned from an educational visit to Istanbul. They were the guests of Jumeirah Pera Palace Hotel and MEP Destination Business Solutions. ITCM has been able to talk to two of the delegates about their impressions of Turkey’s capital city.

Frances Green, who has recently founded Green and Pleasant Events, was on her first visit to Istanbul. ‘I have always been fascinated by ancient Middle Eastern cities’, she says, ‘and looked forward very much to seeing Istanbul. I was not disappointed. I loved it. Generally it was less crazy and more organised than I had expected. Jumeirah Pera Palace was just the right hotel for us. It is a 5-star deluxe property, but it felt more like a stay in someone’s grand mansion. It has every modern amenity but they have preserved so many old artefacts. We rode up in a famously preserved original gated lift and we were able to see the room in which the author Agatha Christie stayed and wrote her book ‘Murder on the Orient Express’. Everything was just as it was in her time and there was even an old-fashioned typewriter on the desk.

‘I enjoyed walking around the city centre and visiting iconic visitor attractions such as the Blue Mosque. There was no end of unusual venues. Quite astonishing was the 6thC underground Basilica water cistern. It was so extensive and would be brilliant for an evening event.

‘Food is so important nowadays when arranging group visits. Istanbul can offer fabulous cuisine. The meze method of serving is so suitable, because it allows members of groups to choose exactly what they fancy and how much they want to eat.

‘We felt very safe in Istanbul. The East Mediterranean region has its problems, of course, but there is no evidence of that in Istanbul. I would not hesitate to recommend it as a destination.

‘We were hosted on our visits by Eda Özden, whose parents founded MEP DBS and still manage it. It is very obvious that MEP is extremely well connected and can open any doors for a group. MEP can give you the experiences that money can’t buy, where it’s who you know that counts. That is exactly the kind of DMC I always look for’.

Gerry York
Gerry York, Director of the very well established FMI Group, has been to Istanbul many times, but this was his first visit for about eight years. ‘Istanbul was cleaner and less congested than I remembered it’, he told ITCM. ‘There are also many new facilities, such as splendid new hotels. Our hotel, the Jumeirah Pera Palace, still retains its historic image, but has obviously benefited from a big investment. It is a 5-star property in the very centre of the city and so a wonderful base for seeing all the main sights. It had a very friendly feel to it.

Istanbul can offer fascinating ancient tradition combined with modern amenities. Groups can enjoy not only its ancient history and culture, but also its brilliant modern night life. The Bosphorus, the stretch of water dividing the city and separating the two continents of Europe and Asia, is a beautiful setting and is a backcloth for a wide choice of grand old palaces that can make fabulous venues for gala dinners and the like.

‘Turkey is a modern state and very much more western in its general ambiance than most of the neighbouring territories. Going around Istanbul, there was no inkling of the trouble in the region that hits the headlines, so I would recommend it as a destination for group events’. ‘Anything else you would like to add?’ asked ITCM.

He replied: ‘Simply that I have worked with MEP for over 20 years and I am very happy to continue that relationship’.

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