Dusit’s global expansion continues with new project in Turkey

Dusit Thani Residences joins sprawling Maslak 1453 development in Istanbul

Fast-growing global hospitality company Dusit International has signed a management agreement with Abduljawad Holding Co., an investment company headquartered in Saudi Arabia, to operate the Dusit Thani Residences Maslak Istanbul, Turkey, which will open as part of Maslak 1453 – a commercial, business and residential hub set over two million square metres on the European side of the city.

Located just 4km from the Bosphorous, 15km from Taksim Square, and 20km from the city’s Third Airport, which is now under construction, Dusit Thani Residences Maslak Istanbul is Dusit International’s first project in Turkey and is designed to offer a unique hospitality experience in Istanbul.

The property, which is being developed by experienced property developers Agaoglu, will comprise over 300 luxurious apartments inspired by contemporary Southeast Asian design and driven by Dusit International’s signature gracious service. While serviced apartments will make up the majority of the property, there will also be a branded residence with units leased to tenants on a long stay basis. One-bedroom, two-bedroom, three-bedroom and four-bedroom apartments will all be available, each one spacious and fully furnished with high quality fixtures and fittings throughout. Rooms on the upper levels of the 41-storey building will provide stunning views of an adjacent forest.

The family-friendly property will feature a swimming pool, meeting rooms, lobby lounge, residence lounge, deli, a large gym outfitted with the latest equipment and a spa. Guests will also have easy access to a wide range of bars, restaurants, shops, theatres and other lifestyle facilities that make up the sprawling Maslak 1453.

With easy access to the TEM highway and Istanbul Metro, a rapid transit railway network that serves the city, guests can explore and experience everything this culturally-rich destination has to offer, including sightseeing cruises on the Bosphorus Strait, an immersive walk around the city’s historic areas to learn about Istanbul’s history as Constantinople, capital of the Roman Empire; tours of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia Museum, Topkapi Palace, and much more.

Ms Suphajee Suthumpun, Group Chief Executive Officer of Dusit International, said, “We are delighted to partner with Abduljawad to bring the Dusit brand to Turkey for the first time. This is an important step in our global expansion and puts us in a good position for further development throughout Europe, the Middle East and beyond. We look forward to delivering our unique gracious hospitality to guests when the doors open in 2018.”

The Chief Executive Officer of Abduljawad Holding Co. said: “The Maslak 1453 project is one of the most talked about projects in Istanbul and will be a unique tourist destination in its own right. We are confident that, with Dusit’s experience operating hotels, resorts and serviced residences in key markets around the world, the Dusit Thani Residences Maslak Istanbul will become a beacon of gracious hospitality for visitors from all around the world.”

Dusit International currently operates 29 properties around the world and has 45 confirmed projects in the pipeline across four distinctive brands: Dusit Thani, dusitD2, Dusit Princess and Dusit Devarana. Dusit Thani Residences Maslak Istanbul is scheduled to open in August 2018.

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Photo 1 – Representatives of Dusit International, Abduljawad Holding Co., and Agaoglu Group of Companies at the signing ceremony of Dusit Thani Residences Maslak Istanbul, held on 1 December 2016 in Turkey. Pictured: (second from left) Mr Burak Kutlug, Member of Executive Board – Agaoglu Group of Companies; (middle) Mr Ali Agaoglu, Chairman – Agaoglu Group of Companies; (third from right) Mr Ehsan Fareed Abduljawad, Chairman – Abduljawad Holding Co.; (second from right), Mrs Suphajee Suthumpun, Group Chief Executive Officer – Dusit International.

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Photo 2 – Dusit Thani Residences Maslak Istanbul, Turkey

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Exploring British Columbia

I recently hosted a trip to Vancouver and Whistler for a group of five UK and European media, each journalist specialised in the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions industries. We flew with Air Canada who offers a direct service to Vancouver from Heathrow and a number of other European capitals.

This was my first trip to Canada’s west coast and I was delighted to be staying at The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver for the first few days. One of three Fairmont hotels in the city, it is located in the heart of downtown. The iconic property is truly stunning and has a history of hosting royalty and Hollywood A-Listers. Known to some as the ‘Grand Lady’ and to others as ‘Castle in the City’, the historic hotel oozes charm, sophistication and style.

After a relaxed afternoon enjoying the hotel’s leisure facilities, we met at Notch8 Restaurant and Bar which is located in the lobby of The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and combines new- and old-world charm with a splashy style reminiscent of the era of grand railway hotels. The elegant menu features classic cocktails and timeless dishes, inviting patrons to linger and watch the world go by.

The next morning the group were treated to a delicious breakfast aboard a luxury Yacht moored in Vancouver Harbour. The view from the Pacific Yacht Charter vessel was truly spectacular and in the full light of day it made us appreciate just how beautiful the city is. But it was the helicopter flight later that day that really blew me away. The SKY Helicopter tour provided a unique perspective above Vancouver and the remarkable scenery that surrounds it. From this height it was clear that the city is conveniently compact but each neighbourhood has its own unique architecture and distinctive offering.

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During our visit to Vancouver we were able to check out the city’s world-class Aquarium as well the impressive Vancouver Convention Centre. But my favourite activity was a city walking tour provided by the company TourByLocals. It was a great opportunity to soak up the city’s super cool and very welcoming culture. Boutique shops, artisan markets, family run restaurants and talented street performers; downtown Vancouver really is a melting pot of cultures and peoples that did not fail to impress the whole group.

The drive north from Vancouver to Whistler only took an hour and a half. We stayed at the ornate Fairmont Chateau Whistler, which is nestled at the base of Blackcomb Mountain and offers modern luxury in a tranquil setting. The resort town is famous for its skiing and the 2010 Olympics, but we discovered it offers so much more than just winter sport!

Whistler has a population of just 10,000 but welcomes some two millions visitors a year. With two majestic mountains, a vibrant base village, epic skiing and snowboarding, four championship golf courses, world-class shopping, restaurants and bars, hiking trails, spas and arguably the best mountain bike park in the world, it’s easy to see why the town is so popular.

One of my favourite activities in Whistler was zip lining at Cougar Mountain. A company called Super Fly use a unique system that allows two guests to ride side-by-side, each on their own cable during an incredibly scenic experience. In what can only be described as a like flying, all of us overcame our initial fear and simply went for it, it’s is a must for any itinerary.

With our feet firmly back on the ground we visited the nearby Audian Art Musuem. The impressive contemporary building is Whistler’s newest cultural hot spot and houses a permanent collection of artworks from British Columbia and hosts exhibitions from leading museums from around the world. I particularly enjoyed the First Nations collection as well as the pieces by the post-war painter Jack Shadbolt; in my view his ‘Butterfly Transformation Theme’ oil painting is exceptional.

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Sadly our trip was only for a few days but it had certainly provided a flavour for the great culture, shopping, dining and outdoor activities on offer in western Canada. It is also clear that British Columbia has a superb range of venues suitable for exhibitions and conferences of all genres and sizes.

 

 

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48 Hours in Lisbon

I recently escorted a fam trip to Portugal on behalf the Lisbon Visitors and Convention Bureau. The two night whistle-stop tour of the capital city was designed to showcase some of Lisbon’s best event facilities, accommodation, cultural attractions and nightlife. While I know and love Lisbon well, it was the first visit for several of the eight UK MICE industry guests that were joining me.

We took a morning flight with Portugal’s national airline Tap from Gatwick, in just two and a half hours we left rainy London behind and had arrived in beautiful, sunny Lisbon. We headed straight for Saint Georges Castle, one of the oldest forts in the region. Set on a hill top overlooking the whole city, parts of the stone structure date to the 2nd century BC, an onsite museum provided the group with a fascinating insight into Lisbon’s rich history.

After a delicious cod lunch (a local favourite) at the family run Casa Do Leão restaurant, we headed for our hotel. Our accommodation for both nights was the luxurious DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Lisbon, where we were given a fresh-baked cookie on arrival. Set in the Saldanha area of Lisbon, the modern property is just a stone’s throw from the city’s major tourist attractions, shopping districts and within easy reach of the beach.

After checking-in and freshening up, we had the opportunity to take an old-style tuk tuk trip around the historic quarters of Lisbon. Open to the elements and with a top speed of about 40mph, we raced through the cobbled back streets of the city. The driver of my vehicle clearly loved his job and made the thrilling journey feel like a rollercoaster ride; whizzing past old houses, boutique shops and traditional street stalls.

Then before dinner, at the nearby five star Hotel Tivoli, I joined the group on a short river cruise aboard the majestic sailing boat Westenwind (pictured). With a capacity up to 33 guests, the ship is an 80ft Klipper, typical of those used on the rivers of The Netherlands in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Sailing up Lisbon’s River Tagus provided stunning views of city from a unique perspective. One of our guests said it was fascinating to think that the same stretch of river was used by the great Portuguese explorers on their way to Asia and the Americas.

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We spent much of the second day in the quaint fishing port of Cascais and in the province of Sintra. The strikingly beautiful area benefits from a rocky mountain range, lush greenery and mile upon mile of pristine beaches. Named ‘Hill of the Moon’ by its Celtic settlers and ‘Mons Lunae’ by the Romans, Sintra is also home to an extensive natural park that includes Europe’s most westerly point. My favourite part of the fam was the transfer from the Hilton to Sintra, when we rode in brightly coloured vintage convertible Beetles (pictured). The open top classic cars were the perfect vehicles in which to enjoy the stunning scenery along the Atlantic coast.

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That evening we ate at Restaurante Kais, back in central Lisbon. The former warehouse is one of Lisbon’s coolest nightspots; its contemporary design reflects its industrial past and the internationally inspired menu uses only the finest locally sourced ingredients. I opted for the delicious Tenderloin Tornedó in cheese sauce served with mashed potatoes and pure butter; one of the best meals I have ever had in Portugal!

After checking out of the hotel the next morning we embarked on a ‘Go Car’ tour of Lisbon. The new concept provides an entirely new way of exploring the city in nifty yellow convertibles. The tiny cars talk to you as you take a self-guided tour complete with commentary; incredibly the vehicles have a personality and even a sense of humour! Then, before departing for the airport we had just enough time to take an exhilarating speed boat tour in and around Lisbon’s historic docks. The outing provided a great contrast to the tall ship experience earlier in the trip, and was the perfect way to bring our visit to an end.

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Discovering Ottawa

During the Summer I escorted five product managers on a fam to the city of Ottawa. It was my first trip to the Canadian capital and I along with the rest of the group were looking forward to an itinerary that would showcase Ottawa’s cultural attractions, eclectic gastronomy scene, nightlife and outdoor experiences.

The Air Canada flight departed Heathrow late morning and took less than seven hours, having us arrive in Ottawa mid-afternoon. Ottawa’s airport is conveniently compact and located just a few miles from the city. From touch down to arriving at our city centre hotel took less than 45 minutes.

We stayed at the luxurious and contemporary Westin Ottawa, which is ideally located near the historic Parliament Buildings and is just a stone’s throw away from the bustling ByWard Market district.

That first evening we ate at the fashionable Social Restaurant, about a five minute walk from our hotel. The décor oozed cool and sophistication, while the food was a delicious mix of European and traditional Canadian fare. Washed down with several helpings of locally brewed craft beer, by the end of the meal I felt the group had gotten to know each other and I could tell they would be great travelling companions!

The first full day was spent exploring the beautiful Parliament Hill and nearby Rideau Canal, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We learnt about the founding of modern Canada and found out how Ottawa was chosen as the capital city. The architecture is truly stunning and the British colonial influence is clearly visible in the gothic structures. My favourite part of our guided tour was a visit to the Library of Parliament. The impressive chamber is only part of the Parliament Buildings that survived a catastrophic fire in 1916 thanks to a quick thinking librarian. Later that day we enjoyed a fascinating ‘Aboriginal Experience’ on nearby Victoria Island. Here we learnt about First Nations customs and cultures through imaginative story telling.

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The next day we took part in a cultural tour that included some of Canada’s finest national institutions. As the capital city, Ottawa is home to countless would class museums and galleries, to rival those of London or Paris (but without the huge crowds!). We visited the impressive Canadian Museum of Nature, The National Gallery and my favourite, The Canadian War Museum. Then that night the group met back at Parliament Hill to watch the impressive ‘Northern Lights’ laser and light show, which runs nightly during the summer months.

We spent the next couple of days exploring Ottawa’s outlying neighbourhoods, markets and restaurants. I was really impressed with Wellington West, a cool and quirky district that reminded me of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury or London’s Hoxton. Peppered with boutique shops selling antiques, vintage clothes and second hand records, it was a real contrast to downtown Ottawa.

On our last day we went white water rafting. The whole group embraced it and were up for traversing all the white knuckle twists and turns. The thing that I really loved about it was the stunning scenery, just a few miles out of Ottawa’s city centre and it felt like we were in picture perfect wilderness!

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Before flying home we had a chance to check out a local football game, as Ottawa Fury took on Edmonton at nearby TD Place. It was an impressive stadium, and unlike back home, rival fans were enjoying the game together. It created a great atmosphere and real party like buzz. Despite leading 2-0 at half time, sadly Ottawa Fury ending up drawing the game!

The whole group fell in love with Ottawa, as did I. Beyond the stunning museums, galleries and beautiful architecture, we realised that there is a whole other side to this diverse and welcoming city just waiting to be discovered.

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Ottawa to ring in 2017 with style

In 2017 Canada marks its 150th birthday, with holidaymakers invited to join in the countywide, year-long celebrations. The main focus for national events will be the capital city Ottawa, where 12 epic months of big, bold, immersive and moving experiences will be on offer. 2017 is set to kick off in style with city organisers planning a huge New Year’s Eve party that will light up Ottawa on a scale to surpass all previous years.

Events on 31 December will begin in the early evening with a vast family-friendly New Year’s Eve party that will see the lighting of a symbolic and spectacular gas-powered cauldron in Marion Dewar Plaza in downtown Ottawa. The cauldron, which runs on clean energy, is approximately 16 feet high and 13 feet wide and will burn continuously throughout 2017. The tri-sided installation – an artistic adaption of the Ottawa 2017 logo, will be located in a garden bed that lines the city’s memorial fountain next to the historic Laurier Avenue. Ahead of the lighting, students will form a human chain through Ottawa’s downtown core to symbolise youthful optimism.

Later that evening, official proceedings will move to Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, where a series of special events to welcome in the New Year will take place. ‘Canada 150 Kick Off’ will see crowds gather on the Hill for live music and entertainment that will be broadcast live across Canada. Then at precisely 8.17pm; or on a 24 hour clock 2017, a 20 minute long a pyromusical fireworks display will light up both sides of the Ottawa River.

Canada Day fireworks at Parliament Hill

Also planned is a free Scottish themed New Year’s Eve Hogmanay party, set to take place at Ottawa’s Lansdowne’s Aberdeen Pavilion. It will feature traditional and modern Scottish music, Highland dancing, Scotch tasting sessions, outdoor skating and a fireworks display at midnight. Or for those in search of a black tie event, the Ottawa New Year’s Charity Ball at the Ottawa Conference and Event Centre will offer dancing and an elegant four course meal.

 Plan your trip to Ottawa: www.ottawatourism.ca

#myottawa

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Ottawa diners to reach for the sky in 2017

Next year Canada will celebrate its 150th birthday in style with a vast programme of events taking place across the country. As the capital city, Ottawa is set to be the main focus with 12 full months of big, bold, immersive and moving experiences that will complement national celebrations and annual events and festivals. The latest addition to the programme is a thrilling ‘Dinner in the Sky’ experience that will see diners hoisted 150 feet above the Ottawa skyline.

The sky high dining concept was launched in Brussels in 2006 and has since been featured in 55 other destinations including Paris, Las Vegas and Dubai. It works using amusement park technology that pulls a long 22-seat table into the air by crane, then guests are served dinner in the clouds by fearless waiters. Diners are strapped safely and firmly into their seats throughout and the entire contraption is covered by a canopy to protect against rain and even birds.

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Ottawa’s Sky Lounge will be located in the city’s downtown core and will be operated by the Québec-based company Dîner Entre Ciel et Terre. Guests will get to enjoy unparalleled views of the capital, including stunning vistas of the Ottawa River, Parliament Buildings and historic Rideau Canal.  There will be multiple sittings on offer over the course of a week in August 2017, with five dinners and six tapas-cocktail events every day.

The Ottawa 2017 organising committee has invited local restaurants to take part in the high flying, fine dining project, with more than 30 establishments having registered an interest. Location details and ticket information will be announced shortly with tickets expected to go on sale next month. For more information about Ottawa 2017 and the programme of events scheduled please visit www.ottawa2017.ca .

To plan your trip to Ottawa visit www.ottawatourism.ca

 

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Ottawa Tourism Set to Make WTM Debut

Ottawa Tourism is delighted to announce that it will be exhibiting for the first time at the World Travel Market (WTM) at London’s ExCel Centre 7 – 9 November. Their presence at the UK’s largest travel trade show comes ahead of a momentous anniversary year in 2017, when the capital city will play centre stage for Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations.

Founded in 1971, Ottawa Tourism has been bringing visitors, media and conventions to Ottawa and Canada’s Capital Region for 45 years. The not-for-profit, membership-based organisation, works together with more than 370 tourism-related member businesses to showcase the city’s superb cultural offering, world class accommodation and cutting edge dining and entertainment options.

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Now in its 37th year, WTM attracts more than 50,000 travel professionals from 182 countries spanning 38 sectors. At the show, Ottawa Tourism will have a dedicated section on the Destination Canada stand (Canada’s national tourist board) and will be promoting the capital’s diverse visitor offering to UK media and travel trade. In addition Ottawa Tourism will look to capitalise on the huge programme of events set to take place in the city next year as part of Canada’s sesquicentennial anniversary celebrations.

Jantine Van Kregten will be Ottawa Tourism’s lead delegate during WTM, where she will conduct a series of high-profile journalist interviews and tour operator meetings.  Van Kregten has lived and worked in Ottawa for more than 25 years and has served as the Director of Communications for Ottawa Tourism since November 2003. For the last three years she has played a crucial role as a member of the ‘Ottawa 2017’ planning team.

Created by Ottawa Tourism and supported by a number of community partners, the Ottawa 2017 Bureau is planning 12 full months of big, bold, immersive and moving experiences that will complement national celebrations and annual events and festivals.  Van Kregten will be on hand at WTM to provide all the latest news about this special anniversary year and Ottawa’s extensive programme of events.

To request a WTM on stand interview with Ottawa Tourism, please contact Tim Blostone on tim@axistravelmarketing.co.uk or call +44 (0)208 6862300

This year Ottawa Tourism makes its WTM debut. Visit us on the Destination Canada Stand: NA400

For more information about Ottawa visit: www.ottawatourism.ca

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