Istanbul – MENA Herald: With Istanbul ranked as one of the world’s fastest growing destinations for international tourism, hoteliers in the city at the crossroads of two continents are preparing for an influx of UAE and other GCC residents during the spring vacation period.

Rui Reis, General Manager, The St. Regis Istanbul, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Inc. says visitors from the GCC states are particularly significant in the market. In the months after opening in April 2015, GCC holiday-makers accounted for almost 28 percent of guests at the St. Regis Istanbul, with Saudi Arabia alone accounting for more than 15 percent of the hotel’s business. By comparison, fewer than 12 percent came from the major EU member states.

“From our brand’s origins as one of the most famous hotels in New York, The St. Regis Istanbul has proved very popular among discerning guests from the United States, but the GCC collectively is our most important market,” said Mr. Reis. “Istanbul is well established as a popular destination among Middle East travellers, while St. Regis itself is also a recognized name in the region, with captivating addresses in the GCC in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the UAE, and in Qatar. Guests from the Gulf instantly recognize the name St. Regis as a byword for the bespoke luxury experience.”

Istanbul now a first choice for luxury travellers
Steeped in history, culture, and the architectural legacy from more than 1,500 years as an imperial capital from Roman to Ottoman times, the vibrant metropolis has firmly reclaimed its position as one of the world’s great cities, both for business and pleasure.

According to the MasterCard Global Destinations Cities Index, Istanbul was the fifth most visited city in the world for 2015, behind only London, Bangkok, Paris and Dubai, rising from seventh on the index the previous year, with a projected 12.56 international overnight visits. The annual growth rate in visits was the fastest of any international city at 11.4 percent, and it ranked tenth in terms of spending by overnight visitors at USD 9.37 billion.

“Istanbul has long been popular with visitors, but for many tourists it was an exotic destination rather than being considered among the major cities, such as London, Paris or New York,” said Rui Reis. “This has changed dramatically in recent years, and the city is now clearly ranked among the major locations for global tourism.” GCC guests’ large appetite for luxurious accommodation

For travellers arriving from UAE, Istanbul is considerably closer than destinations in Western Europe. While cities such as London or Paris are popular with GCC national during the summer period, and many expatriates return to their home country during the longer holidays, Istanbul is an ideal alternative for the shorter break from late March to early April.

Luxury in One of the City’s Finest Locations
The St. Regis group opened in Istanbul in April 2015, entering a booming market for luxury accommodation in the city. Located in the sophisticated Nişantaşı neighborhood, known as the “5th Avenue” of Istanbul, the address is set within a popular shopping and residential district, and is one of Istanbul’s most exclusive neighborhoods. The area features high-end fashion boutiques, popular European-style cafés, bars restaurants and nightclubs, as well as narrow streets lined with Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture.

Designed by award-winning Turkish architect Emre Arolat, the alluring address offers a modern interpretation of Istanbul’s glamourous Art Deco era, with breath-taking, floor-to-ceiling views of the Bosphorus from each of the 118 guestrooms and suites.

Following in the tradition of the St. Regis brand’s legendary New York hotel, The St. Regis Istanbul features the famed hallmarks of St. Regis hotels including the signature St. Regis Butler Service, bespoke guest experiences and luxury accommodations tailored to global travellers. Trained in British tradition, the butlers provide ever present, yet unobtrusive service while anticipating guest needs and customising each guest’s stay according to his or her specific tastes and preferences.