Among the glistening backdrop of the Bosphorus in summertime, World Report joins Madame Ahu Kerimoğlu Aysal to sip a macchiato and discuss the dream of luxurious Istanbul becoming a reality.
From the jaw dropping diamonds which decorate her person, to the tale of her upcoming trip to space, Ms Aysal is both awe inspiring and amazing. Hotel Les Ottomans
is a dream which took seven years to create, she tells us, and has been both a labour of love and a turning point for boutique luxury in Turkish tourism. In the authentic surroundings of this historical Ottoman mansion, World Report is starting to realise that the brand of tourism in Turkey will be developed through the amalgamation of east and west, culture and design, which hotels like Les Ottomans have succeeded in styling.
“Women can see all the details that men can’t,” Madame Ahu says, “and that is why the hotel is exceptional – I have an eye for the details, and I pick and choose the finest in hand-made interiors from around the world.”
And it certainly is the personal touch which has attracted the world’s top celebrities to Istanbul and to the hotel itself. From Kevin Costner and Julio Iglesias to Paris Hilton, the great and the good of the glitterati jet set have not only stayed in the hotel but become friends with Ms Aysal as they enjoy the pleasure of their surroundings in what she says is a “never say no” environment, which welcomes guests from all over the world to relax and enjoy the best that Istanbul has to offer.
In an eclectic mix of premium attributes gathered on extensive travels, Les Ottomans has embraced the unusual and delightful; for example a treatment in the Vinotherapie Spa by Caudalie which includes a bath consisting of salt water flown in from Israel. It is this kind of exceptional choices which embody Ms Ahu Kerimoğlu Aysal.
The choice to be the first Turk in space is not one to be taken lightly and until discussing this in detail with Ms Aysal and her team, one must wonder if in fact she is serious; however after thirty minutes or so of conversation it becomes clear that not only is the lady serious but she is ready for lift off. After three intensive international training sessions, it is certainly against the odds that Madame Ahu has remained steadfast in her quest.
Recounting her last parabolic flight experience, “many of the passengers had to be taken straight to hospital when we touched down, but I was fine – that is why I certainly am happier to be going on a two man voyage rather than in a group. I know I am strong,” she says.
As an ambassador for the capability of the private sector in Turkey, Madame Ahu reached her echelon in the tourism sector commencing her journey in Antalya in 1985 as she set up a Club Med style resort and later the country’s first Thallasotherapy hotel. Choosing to share the magnificent mansion she acquired with the world rather than keeping it as a private home, the strictly Feng Shui Les Ottomans attracts the wealthy not because of price point, but because of that glamorous je ne c’est quoi which swathes the building and its astounding owner.