Focus: Breaking Travel News interview: Mine Tan Balto, general manager, Somerset Maslak Istanbul

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Somerset Maslak Istanbul has been recognised as one of the leading hospitality players in Europe by the World Travel Awards. Here Breaking Travel News chats with Mine Tan Balto, general manager of the property, to find out more

Breaking Travel News: Congratulations – Somerset Maslak Istanbul has been honoured with the title of Turkey’s Leading Serviced Apartments at the prestigious World Travel Awards. How does it feel to have won?

Mine Tan Balto: In true transparency, although this is the second consecutive year winning this prestigious award, our thrill and happiness knows no bound.

It is inspiring to know that our work has yet again been recognised on such a remarkable global platform, especially as the first and only operational property by the Ascott Limited in Turkey.

We are humbly grateful to the organising board – World Travel Awards – for this honour.

With the fluctuating market scenarios and challenging times, the past 12 months have not particularly been smooth, but the hard work, dedication, loyalty, empathy, and hours away from family, especially from our front liners have payed off.

The appreciation aspires us to take the unknown roads that are yet to come and turn the next 12 months to the best we have ever had.

BTN: How useful are accolades such as these in promoting the property to an international hospitality audience?

Mine Tan Balto: As a hotspot destination, Turkey has welcomed international guests for a very long time.

Inevitably over the years, the country has built a fierce market across different hotel categories.

Reaching that global standard of hospitality is perfection in process for us, a constant evolution.

We continually implement new ways to elevate these experiences. Yet, it is 100 per cent certain that a recognition of such calibre and global stature, levels up the perception as well as expectations of our guests, which we are elated to meet.

BTN: Can you tell me a little about Somerset Maslak Istanbul – what is that separates the property from its competitors in the region?

Mine Tan Balto: Somerset Maslak Istanbul is part of the luxurious portfolio by leading international lodging brand – the Ascott Limited.

Perched perfectly within the new 1453 modern community, the property is located in the modern satellite city of Istanbul.

With a peculiar business model that encompasses the indulging services and amenities of a hotel, complemented with the privacy of well-defined private apartments, the property is home to both long and short stay travellers.

However, optimising on our feature strengths, extended stays are the core of our offerings.

When one steps into an apartment at Somerset Maslak Istanbul, there is an almost immediate affect of familiarity.

Our spacious living and dining spaces that overlooks breath-taking views welcome natural light and are adorned in sheer sophistication.

From fittings to décor, each room is then furnished with modern amenities and graceful interiors.

A home-away-from-home business approach has allowed us to be one of the very few properties that kept its door open for guests even during the peak of the pandemic.

Moreover, as part of our brand’s global initiative to continue elevating confidence amongst our guests, we were the first serviced residence in the country to receive the accredited Bureau Veritas certification.

This was in line with our ‘Ascott Cares’ programme, a commitment to global standards of safety and health.

At Somerset Maslak Istanbul, we also believe in nourishing the passion among our team members with regular activities.

This is to ensure they come to work with a sense of purpose every day, because ultimately people are key to driving success.

BTN: How would you describe the mood in Turkish tourism in late 2020 – is there a hope for some kind or normality looking ahead to next year?

Mine Tan Balto: In Turkey, despite the uncertainty with cases constantly on the rise and 30 per cent of the hotels still closed, we can see a slight pick-up.

Travel and tourism started to re-open as of mid-July at the start of the holiday season in the country. With safety protocols strictly observed in Turkey, September was significantly a good month in terms of occupancy levels.

The bookings were primarily corporate guests, along with leisure travellers enjoying the never-ending summers in Turkey.

Booking lead times are still short but there is business on the books.

Open hotels range from 40 to 75 per cent with average daily rate impacted by the depreciation of the Turkish lira, positive RevPAR resulted to a negative year-to-date.

With regards to the figures, we saw a serious occupancy recovery in the months of August and September.

We believe that the long duration of the leisure season in Turkey combined with ‘Safe Tourism Certification’ in place as well as the right and timely actions in place, offered a very significant advantage in this respect.

International visitors maintain their key status for the Turkish tourism sector.

Due to the ongoing travel restrictions, no serious rise in foreign visitor numbers is expected for the rest of the 2020 so we do/will base our action plans on the locals mostly.

We believe that the positive impact of bringing the pandemic under control and the complete lifting of travel restrictions on international visitor numbers will only come through in the first quarter of 2021 and the recovery trend will continue over the next two-three years.

Accordingly, room prices and occupancy rates are expected to rise as of the second quarter of 2021.

More Information

Somerset Maslak Istanbul, managed by the Ascott Limited is strategically located in the new Maslak 1453, the largest lifestyle development in one Europe and one of the main business and leisure districts in Istanbul.

With the prestigious Istinye Park mall and a wide range of entertainment, culture, arts and sports facilities surrounding the serviced residence, this is where expatriates and well-heeled travellers can enjoy a balanced lifestyle.

Find out more on the official website.

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