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Old Aug 2, 06, 10:25 am   #1
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Arrow W Istanbul, Turkey [Master Thread]


W Hotels Heads for the Heart of Istanbul, Where Fashion, Food and Art Meet Storied History
Wednesday August 2, 10:22 am ET

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 2, 2006--W Hotels Worldwide, the fastest growing luxury hotel brand in the world, announced today plans for a new hotel in Istanbul, Turkey. The W Istanbul will embody a multicultural, multireligious city, situated at the point where Europe meets Asia, where centuries meet contemporary arts and where tradition meets trends.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT - News), the parent company to W Hotels, entered into a management agreement with Akaretler Otel Isletmeciligive Turizm A.S., a company controlled by Mr. Serdar Bilgili, a prominent Turkish businessman, who will develop the property. With its east-west roots, the W Istanbul will complement the other four W hotels planned for this region, in Barcelona, Athens, Dubai and Doha. Starwood will manage the hotel.

Scheduled to open in late 2007, the W Istanbul will serve as the centerpiece of the redevelopment of the landmark Akaretler Row Houses in Besiktas. The historical Row was constructed by Sultan Adbulaziz in the l870's to house workers of the Dolmabahce Palace, a symbol of the magnificence and decadence of the 19th-century Ottoman Empire.

Architect/designer Geomim, one of the most creative firms in Turkey, has been chosen to combine this authentic Ottoman-style design with the unique signature design elements for which the W brand is celebrated, including the Living Room experience, where guests and locals can socialize, relax and unwind or recharge in a communal setting. Located in the Besiktas district of Istanbul, known for its destination restaurants, bars and cafes, the W Istanbul will be in close proximity to the Bosphorus Strait and Nisantasi, the city's most fashionable shopping district. The hotel will also be a stone's throw away from the Museum of Painting and Sculpture and a short drive to the Old City, the Blue Mosque and the Istanbul Modern art museum.

"Istanbul's dynamic mix of history and modernity make it a fantastic backdrop for W," said Ross Klein, President of W Hotels. "The surfacing of world-class restaurants, art galleries and luxury retailers in the city contribute to Istanbul's emergence as a favorite international business and leisure destination."

"Istanbul is one of the most exciting cities in the region for all of Starwood's leading lifestyle brands, and we are thrilled to be reentering the market with W which is a perfect match for the energy and style of the city," said Roeland Vos, President of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Europe, Africa & Middle East.

The W Istanbul will have approximately 130 rooms, including suites and duplex suites, many with their own private gardens. Guests will indulge in the W signature beds with feather-top mattresses, 350 thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets and goose down comforters. They'll also be treated to Whatever/Whenever service, the hotel's 24-hour concierge that can provide whatever guests want (from a pair of running shoes to private jet service), whenever they want it. The third floor common areas will offer views of the Bosphorus, the renowned waterway straight between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara.

Mr. Serdar Bilgili is a prominent Turkish businessman and notable figure in Istanbul's social and sporting communities. He is active in textiles, construction and hospitality and owns the highly exclusive and successful boutique hotel, Ajia, on the banks of the Bosphorus. Mr. Bilgili is perhaps best known for his role as President of the Besiktas football club from 2000 to 2004.

W Hotels is a global lifestyle brand with 20 properties in the most vibrant cities around the world. Inspiring and indulging its guests with thoughtful, refreshing and stylish experiences, signature restaurants, bars and destination spas, W has become the fastest growing luxury hotel brand in the world. Each hotel offers a unique mix of innovative design, comfort and cultural influences from fashion to music to art and everything in between. Recent openings include W's first property in Asia, W Seoul - Walkerhill and its first property in Canada, W Montreal. W Residences, offering the W lifestyle at home, have been announced for Las Vegas, Hollywood, South Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Philadelphia and Hoboken. W's first residential property, W Dallas Victory, opened in June of 2006. Internationally, W has announced plans for hotels in the Maldives, Barcelona, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Santiago, Athens, Doha and Dubai. For more information, visit www.whotels.com.

Source: W Hotels Worldwide
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Old Oct 29, 07, 3:07 pm   #2
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Update on the W Istanbul?

Does anyone have any information regarding the W Istanbul? Specifically, are they still on track for an April 1st, 2008 opening? Any ideas on category
(4 or 5) or when reservations will be accepted?

Many thanks!
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Old Oct 29, 07, 4:38 pm   #3
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It was supposed to open on January 1, 2008, and the opening was just delayed about a month ago to April 1, so it is looks like it is not going to open as originally scheduled. There probably will not be another update until February or March. The W in Doha just got pushed back from January 1 to the summer. They won't announce SPG affiliation or category until rooms are for sale.
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Old Dec 18, 07, 12:58 pm   #4
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I just booked an award stay at the W Istanbul for an October 2008 trip. It's a category 5. I'm sure there will be other posts after the April 1st, 2008 opening, but I'll be sure to post some comments when we return.
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Old Mar 7, 08, 2:00 pm   #5
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Does anyone know whether the W Istanbul will have an outdoor pool? The info on the starwood site is very sparse.
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Old Mar 7, 08, 2:04 pm   #6
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Originally Posted by westers View Post
Does anyone know whether the W Istanbul will have an outdoor pool? The info on the starwood site is very sparse.
From what I can tell, there won't be a swimming pool at this property.

Best regards,

William R. Sanders
Online Guest Feedback Coordinator
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

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Old Mar 19, 08, 11:22 am   #7
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Have a last minute trip to Istanbul coming up April 4th -- booked the W on points. Will let you know how it goes.
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Old Apr 5, 08, 1:47 pm   #8
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Anyone stay at the W Istanbul yet.....

Is it really open?

We're booked there on for 5 days starting April 17th. I'm wondering what to expect. Any feedback?
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Old Apr 6, 08, 2:06 pm   #9
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I just completed a three-night stay here. It's been open since around 04/01, with the complete opening in early May (so I hear). I would give it a mixed review overall.

The best part of the hotel is the setting. It's in Besiktas one block off the Bosphorous down the hill from Macka, within striking distance of both Taksim and Ortakoy (probably half-way between the two). It's arguably the best place to be in Istanbul as a tourist (assuming that you don't want to be in the old city). The building and street that it's on are gorgeous -- they redeveloped two blocks of old row houses, which come together in a "V" where the hotel is. The buildings are painted sort of a brown with white trim, with striking white lighting on the outside. My room had a terrace, from which the views were also beautiful (of a street, mind you, not a skyline or the Bosphorous). The rest of the buildings are, or will soon be, upscale stores and services. The architecture is really something.

The lobby is typical W -- dark, with modern furnishings and pulsating music. It's pretty small as well. There's a small check-in area, then you go up a ramp through a curtain to a second lobby, which has another single desk (a conceirge perhaps) and the elevators. All of the floors and walls are black. The layout is strange, as I suppose the hotel is on a steep hill. There are sort of staggered half-floors, and some of the rooms are so split. There are four floors overall. There is no pool, but a "day spa" which I didn't visit.

My first room (more on that later), which was billed as an "upgrade," was long and narrow, with the typically modern, avant garde, furnishings. The room size was OK; maybe a bit bigger than the average room at the InterContinental, Hyatt, or Ritz-Carlton. The sheets were extremely comfortable and towels plush. The TV was strange -- it was in a wall unit that was basically a brick wall, with sculptures on the left and/or right sides of the mounted TV and the whole thing covered with smoke-colored glass., about nine inches away, parallel to the wall. This was a lens over the TV that made viewing less clear. And, since the TV was on the opposite side of the room from my bed, it presented a volume challenge for some channels. There was also a large work area with a table lamp, and only European style 220V power plugs. Channel selection was average, but they had pay-per-view movies, which is unusual for the city.

The lighting system consisted of buttons for "wake," "work," "sleep," "wonder" (red mood lighting), etc. The room also featured two VoIP phones, one cordless, with menu options for ordering room service, getting an internet (wireless, TYL 33 per day) password, and other features. The room had an iPOD docking station and Bose stereo unit with a CD with mood music.

The bathroom was also typical W -- very elegant and modern. The shower was a large room with two options, a hand-held wand or a rain-type showerhead on the ceiling, whose diameter was enough to entirely cover someone showering. It was very nice. There was also a cord, like one that you would use to close blinds, hanging from the ceiling of the shower. I pulled this as hard as I thought I should, but couldn't figure out its purpose. (One note: There is no door on the bathroom. The shower and toilet were in separate small rooms, but the sink area between them was just off of the bedroom.)

The hotel has an attractive, modern two-level restaurant and bar. I didn't patronize them, but they had a nice drink menu with typical silly Istanbul prices (YTL 29 for a cocktail). The menu was a type of Asian-fusion, that didn't look too interesting. Off of the lobby there is a room with low sofas and tables, which serves as a lounge I suppose.

The one major issue that I had was with the climate control system. When I entered the room, it was unbelievably hot (29C), with no way to control it! It had a typical on/off/auto menu and temperature control, but none of them worked. When I tried to turn it on, nothing happened. When it was off, it would go on periodically for no apparent reason. I opened the windows and accepted it the first night. The second day, various rounds of technicians couldn't fix it (despite several promises), so I moved to a different room at the offer of the manager. The second room was more or less the same as the first, except more square. In the second room, the temperature was reasonable, but they told me please not to touch the climate control unit. Not a great solution, either. Let's chalk this up to the newness of the facility.

I made a lot of service requests, and the staff was very responsive. In the course of my temperature travails, I spoke with someone from the "welcome office" and a manager, who were both articulate and helpful.

When I checked in, the first agent had difficulty. I had separate reservations for successive nights that I wanted to merge, but she didn't grasp this. It was apparent that she was reading from a script. Eventually someone else came over to help. Three separate officials greeted me, introduced themselves, and wished me a pleasant stay. I assume that this is because of the newness of the property. It's noteworthy that the service was quite opposite to the usual aloof, "I am too hip to actually help you" attitude of W's in the U.S. at which I have stayed. I asked if they had a shoe shine, and they said, no, but we will take care of it for you, which they did promptly (at a charge of YTL 10 -- not horrible, but most peer hotels in Istanbul have complimentary shoe shine). I also asked at various times for an iron and board, power plug converter, newspaper, cheese plate, and other amenities, which always came promptly. (I will be curious to see what's on my bill.) At one point I asked for a few bananas, and they came along with a strawberry smoothie, which the person who delivered it said were compliments of the house.

Housekeeping was fine, but a few minor gripes -- they didn't replace the lotion, nor the wine glasses (even though I had a half-drunk bottle of their wine corked on the tray). But overall I felt that they did a good job.

So, in sum, I would say that I received the typical W facilities (including some nifty features in the room), and better-than-expected service, but one major glitch that I hope will be resolved in the future. It's worth a try.
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Old Apr 6, 08, 4:37 pm   #10
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mecabq, thanks for the detailed description of your stay. I'll be there for one night at the end of the month. I really appreciate having some idea of what to expect, since this is a brand new hotel. I will be flying in and out of IST, any suggestions for a car service?
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Old Apr 8, 08, 12:23 pm   #11
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I have never taken a car service from the airport, because the prices that I have been quoted by the hotels were ridiculous (like 150 euro). I didn't ask at the W, however. There are also booths at the airport, with also very high rates (80 euro, if I remember correctly at one that I checked). I have never researched the option of pre-booking a car service from some other non-hotel provider, which would presumably be possible for less.

A taxi from the airport to the W should be YTL 40-60 (about $31-47 at today's exchange rate), depending on the traffic. My ride from the hotel to the airport yesterday was YTL 46 with virtually no traffic. If you really want to save money, take the Turkish Airlines Havas bus to Taksim for YTL 9, then either walk if you have no luggage (15-20 minutes down the hill) or take a taxi from there (about YTL 5-10).

Also, a few amendments to my trip report:

-- I misspoke when I said that the walls and floors in the lobby were all black. On my way out I noticed that I had exaggerated. The outer lobby actually has gray marble floors and mostly gray walls. Overall, I found the lobby decor elegant.

-- Most of the room service items that I mentioned in my report (cheese plate, bananas, one of the two bottles of wine that I ordered) were not on my bill. I don't know whether this was because they were just too disorganized to charge me, this was an accommodation for my troubles (although no one acknowledged that), or they were part of the Platinum package, but I didn't ask. (Or maybe I will see another charge for them later.)

-- They welcomed me as an SPG Platinum member when I checked in and asked me what I would like for my Platinum amenity -- bottle of wine, $10 mini-bar credit, 500 points, or free movie if I remember correctly. I told them that I would like to inform them when I checked out. When I did so, I mentioned that I would like the mini-bar credit, which they granted. So that whole process worked efficiently.

-- I had one other hiccup. The wireless internet in the room went down for a good chunk of the morning on the last day. An annoying aspect is that the VoIP phone went down too (I guess the whole Local Area Network in the hotel went down), so I couldn't call to report it. (Also, I failed to mention before that when I changed rooms on the second day, they apparently failed to initiatilize the new room so neither the TV nor the phone worked. So, I had to go to the front desk.) The front desk agent basically shrugged his shoulders and said that it was a new hotel and still getting its systems up and running.
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Old Apr 8, 08, 5:32 pm   #12
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If you are not overburdened with luggage, the cheapest way to get into the city is on the metro/tram. It leaves right from the airport. Take it to Zeytinburnu where you connect with the tram. The tram goes to Kabitash. You can just walk north along the same street for a few blocks and you are right at the W. It is 2.60 New Turkish Lira for the whole trip and you don't have to worry about getting stuck in traffic.
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Old Apr 9, 08, 5:56 am   #13
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Thanks for the detailed review, mecabq. I am looking forward to staying at this property when I visit Istanbul. Can you please comment on the Living Room scene - the vibe, crowd, quality of bartenders, is it a happening place to hang out etc?

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Old Apr 10, 08, 11:26 am   #14
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Originally Posted by QF009 View Post
Thanks for the detailed review, mecabq. I am looking forward to staying at this property when I visit Istanbul. Can you please comment on the Living Room scene - the vibe, crowd, quality of bartenders, is it a happening place to hang out etc?

I'm sorry, I can't. Besides wandering through in the early evening just to inspect the venue and the menu, I didn't spend any time there.
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Old Apr 14, 08, 1:07 pm   #15
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I just spent a week there -- had much the same experience as mecabq.

Ultra-friendly, NOT typical too-hip W staff. Slightly disorganized, but caring. Odd, not very annoying housekeeping differences like shampoo not replaced or towel not changed.

And one incredibly annoying problem: three different people tried to get through to me in the room at least ten times total -- and I received one call. ARGGGGHH. Massive headache, enough to make me write a complaint letter.

Had two great meals at the Spice Market, their restaurant -- the first one free because it was so new. Wouldn't recommend the steak, though -- very gristly.

If you are headed to Sultanahmet/Old town area, walk down to the waterfront highway and catch a cab there -- you'll save yourself ten minutes of aggro due to the one way streets and terrible traffic.

And be sure and have correct change for the taxi -- don't fall for the "you gave me a 5, not a 50" bs that some taxi drivers will try and pull (these are mostly the ones who hang around the tourist hot spots waiting for a mark -- if you see a driver near Topkapi looking in no hurry to be anywhere, he's likely on the prowl).
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