Conrad Istanbul to put a fax in every room


ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Conrad International's biggest advantage, asserts hotel manager Joep Bakx, is the location.

Bakx is not boasting, however, about the hotel's proximity to tourist attractions.

The Conrad is not particularly near sites such as the Covered Bazaar and the St. Sophia Museum, which have much closer hotel neighbors.

Nor is Bakx referring to the view Conrad guests can enjoy from the 14th-floor terrace and executive lounge that overlook the Bosporus strait.

Instead, Bakx is talking about the five-star property's proximity to the stock exchange and to the bridge that connects the city's European and Asian sides.

By that measure, the Conrad is better placed than other hotels here, especially given the city's incessant traffic jams.

And for the Conrad, which puts great emphasis on attracting business travelers, that suits it just fine.

About 80% of the hotel's bookings come from business travel, Bakx said, although the hotel does make a pitch for incentive travel and leisure bookings pick up in the summer and around Christmas.

The hotel's capacity makes it ideal for conferences.

It offers 625 rooms and a ballroom that can accommodate up to 1,200.

Business-friendly services include fax machines that should be available in every room by August; four executive floors; the Cyber Concierge for 24-hour computer support, or the Total Business Package that offers a single nightly rate covering nearly all of the hotel's meals, drinks, services and business amenities.

The Istanbul property has some other business-centered improvements in the works.

By August, the hotel said it expects to be able to offer guests "offices" -- key-accessible meetings rooms the hotel will make available to them for a couple of hours, with desk space for the computer and other office needs.

The hotel also is planning an expansion of the computer facilities in its 24-hour business center.

Another bonus: Conrad hotels participate in the HHonors guest reward program.

The Conrad International Istanbul touts itself as offering "European style with American comfort," which fits with its client mix -- about 25% American and 40% European.

Local touches include local flowers in lounge and business areas, and some Turkish decor, art and carpeting.

The hotel offers six types of suites and has four nonsmoking floors.

Internet access is offered in the business center, although, after half an hour on line, the fee gets expensive.

The health club is first-rate, with about 10 treadmills, bikes and stair climbers.

The hotel has a junior ballroom for smaller gatherings as well as nine meeting rooms and two boardrooms.

Finally, in the category of "things you don't want to think about but should know," the hotel was built on a rock and is designed to withstand an earthquake of up to 9.0 on the Richter scale.

The Conrad was not damaged by the major August 1999 earthquake that had its epicenter 65 miles southeast of Istanbul.

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