The rise and rise of Turkey's hotel industry

While news reports show tourist numbers have dipped over the last couple of years in Turkey, the view from the inside is different.

Over the past two years, as many Europeans eschewed Turkey, the country found a new market in tourists from the Middle East. These new tourists, with their appetite for luxury accommodation, have driven a boost in hotel investment across Turkey.

Read more: can Turkey's tourism bounce back in 2017?

Hilton Sarigerme

Investment surge

In the first half of 2017, hotel investments across Turkey rose by 13.5 percent - a total of US$481 million. According to Turkey’s Hoteliers’ Association, investors received incentives to build 101 new hotels across 38 provinces, adding 16,000 beds to the current 1.25m around the country.

Antalya attracted the most investment in the first six months of the year, followed by Istanbul and the Aegean areas of Izmir and Mugla, which encompasses Fethiye and Bodrum.

Despite a surge in investment, there’s still plenty of room for newcomers as Turkey continues to expand its tourist opportunities into new regions, and into diverse hotel experiences, like boutique hotels or hotels offering visitors niche activities.

The factors behind Turkey’s hotel growth

  • Aside from the recent blip, Turkey’s tourist numbers are growing each year, and the country attracts 30 million visitors each year.
  • Although Turkey’s a large, diverse country, only a small proportion of it is utilised by tourists. With expansion into new areas comes a need for increased tourism infrastructure.
  • Areas like Antalya are rapidly diversifying their tourism, attracting new kinds of tourists including health tourists and sports tourists.
  • Istanbul is the country’s fastest-growing city, and attracts 11.8 foreign and domestic annual visitors. Its geographical position means it’s the world’s fifth most visited city, and a global congress destination, with 130 annual congresses. Demand for accommodation has risen greatly over the past decade and will continue to rise along with Turkey’s fortunes.
  • The rise in Black Sea tourism - especially amongst Middle Eastern visitors - means a localised boom in hotel investments.
  • Arab visitors are creating a new market for tourism and investment.

geothermal tourism in Turkey

The six kinds of hotels you’ll see in Turkey

1. Geothermal

With 1500 thermal springs, when it comes to geothermic tourism, Turkey is in the top seven countries in the world, and the first in Europe. Bed capacity in geothermal spa resorts is around 55,000. The most well known destination is Pamukkale, but there are many more dotted around the country, and many are still in the early stages of their tourism development.

boutique hotel Cappadocia

2. Boutique

With their emphasis on unique style and bespoke service, Turkish boutique hotels are able to command a higher per-night rate than standard, cookie-cutter hotels. Like elsewhere in the world, this sector is booming in Turkey. Found in just about every major city in Turkey as well as smaller towns, these smaller, luxurious hotels are preferred by visitors seeking something a little out of the ordinary.

Golf hotel, Belek Turkey

3. Niche-interest hotels

In a bid to extend the tourist season into the cooler months, and diversify income, a number of Turkey’s hotels offer packages catering to a certain type of tourist.

Health tourists: in Istanbul and Antalya, health tourism is booming. Hotels are working with health providers who offer a package to clients including flights, medical treatment and accommodation.

Business tourists: again, in Istanbul and Antalya, each a well-established centre of finance and business, hotels are offering conference and office facilities. As well as Turkey being ideally placed between Europe and Asia, Turkey’s manufacturing industries are growing, with many countries are capitalising on the low costs of labour and land outside of Turkey’s main centres. This is attracting more commerce and business tourists.

Wellness: Turkey’s spa, yoga and wellness hotels are becoming recognised around the globe for their top facilities - and their high-profile clients. Mainly located on the Mediterranean coastline, they cater to luxury tourists.

Sports: Golf tourism is a growing industry in Turkey, with a huge number of golf resorts centred around Belek, in Antalya. Belek has a large number of hotels offering golf packages to tourists, as well as catering for visitors coming for international golf tournaments. The last few years have also seen a number of football and other sporting clubs training in Antalya over the winter months.

4. Black Sea hotels

Trabzon, in Turkey’s Black Sea region, has seen a large increase in the number of Turkish hotel investments. Seven new hotels are planned for the area, which attracts tourists from the Middle East. These projects add to the 19 newly-launched hotel projects that have opened in the area over the last 18 months. By 2019, the number of beds available in Trabzon will reach 10,000. It’s likely the region will follow Antalya’s lead to try and diversify its tourism, since the region’s average annual occupancy is 50 percent.

Paramount Hotel Bodrum

5. Branded hotels

Turkey’s first international-branded hotel, the Hilton, opened in Istanbul 60 years ago. For a long time, international brands concentrated on Turkey’s largest city. However, buoyed by the country’s growing economy, attention was drawn to Turkey’s developing regions, in particular, the south coast. Bodrum is Turkey’s southern centre for luxury hotel development, and some of the globe’s top luxury hotel brands including Rixos, Paramount, Banyan Tree and Pera.

Richard Meier Homes, Bodrum

6. Branded hotel-style residences

Capitalising on the popularity of global brands, these big-name branded properties are available to purchase as single units offering owners a lifetime of luxury hotel facilities in their own residence. There’s a high concentration of branded properties in Bodrum, the capital of luxury hotels in Turkey. A number of people buy these properties as lucrative investments, banking on the fact that tourists with money in their pocket will provide an excellent income stream.

Five Turkish investment hotels

There are a bewildering number of hotels for sale in Istanbul. We think this boutique hotel, (left) located in central Beyoglu, stands out nicely. With an elegance that dates back to the 19th century, the carefully renovated mansion is tasteful, stylish and private, allowing guests a peaceful haven in the busy central city. It was renovated by an artist, who wanted to create the most beautiful boutique hotel in the city. It's clear they achieved their goal, and their legacy is a boutique hotel that will surely attract a stream of guests seeking an authentic experience in Istanbul.

Located in stylish, green Kas, this boutique hotel (right) located on the sea shore would make an ideal niche-tourist destination. With potential for offering wellness, spa or yoga retreats, you can capitalise on the incredible location as well as Kas's reputation as a bohemian centre, a town that attracts yoga and health enthusiasts from all over the world. Kas has an air of exclusivity that lends itself well to private, upmarket hotel accommodation like this hotel.

Located just down the road from Kas, in Mediterranean favourite Kalkan, this lovely boutique hotel is another great option for offering guests luxury accommodation in one of the most well-known tourist resorts on the coastline. Kalkan has made a name for itself in the past decade as a prime location for rental property, and it's one of the highest priced resorts in Turkey. It naturally follows that anyone offering upmarket boutique accommodation in Kalkan will reap the benefits of this luxury market. Again, the potential is there to develop the hotel as a centre for spa or wellness. The appetite for Kalkan property is large, and resale opportunities are excellent in this Mediterranean town.

Here's a chance for the right investor to grab a slice of central Istanbul. Located in Taksim, one of the city's most famous locations, this hotel is a stone's throw from the Blue Mosque, Taksim Square and hundreds of excellent cafes, restaurants and other attractions. Priced to move, the boutique hotel is ideally placed for investors to capitalise on its central location. The value of Istanbul hotels has risen fivefold over the past 15 years, and there is still room to move - and plenty of scope to capitalise on the increasing numbers of tourists visiting Turkey's largest and most vibrant city.

If you're more interested in the idea of owning a property rather than a complete hotel, but would like all the facilities available to a five-star hotel, these superbly designed Bodrum homes are ideal. Just minutes from a world class marina, these beautifully designed hotel-style villas have possibly the world's best infinity pool and all the luxury fittings and extras you'd expect at this price tag.


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Smartly priced seafront Homes Istanbul

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