Türkiye - Serap Akkus

Bailliage of Türkiye
Istanbul, July 1, 2024

The human touch and Four Seasons luxury are what this hotel is all about
" The Hotel Manager position is definitely interesting: it's a bridge between the General Manager and everything else »

After seven years away from Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet, Officer Maître Restaurateur Serap Akkus is “back home again” - and this time she is running the show. “The Hotel Manager position is definitely interesting: it’s a bridge between the General Manager and everything else,” she explains of the role that keeps her hopping and in constant touch with the team, suppliers and especially the guests.

Serap’s time with the last is notable for helping her stay up on the hotel’s experience as well as the luxury hospitality scene in Istanbul and beyond. “I don’t have even one minute of free time during the day, but if I do, I’ll spend it on more time with our guests,” she says. “They’re the ones who are travelling and they have a lot to share about their experiences that we can use to improve their stays and our programming.”

Her relationship with the team is key. With only 65 guest rooms and a distinct ambiance of tranquillity, the historic property housed in a former prison in the heart of Istanbul’s old city is on the small side for a Four Seasons city address. It still takes 250 people to keep the operation humming. Serap’s approach to management is all about communication, with a focus on meeting with and listening to employees to discern their needs and concerns. It’s how she figures out ways to move them and the operation forward.

“I don’t ever want to take a team member’s role from them, but rather assure them that we’re all in this together. They need to know I’m with them all the time.”

Serap returned to the Sultanahmet property in 2021 as a renovation opened fresh opportunities for her to employ her management and marketing skills. Enhancements included a new Turkish hammam; an expansion of the beautiful Nova Terrace on the rooftop to offer outdoor dining year-round whatever the weather; and new landscaping to heighten the romantic mood of the hotel’s long-cherished courtyard.

Born in Istanbul into a family of financiers - “my older brother and younger sister followed both of my parents professionally” - Serap started working in hospitality at age 16 because she liked being different and had become fascinated by an American television series with a hotel theme. It was never a job or a business to her. “I did it from my heart because I liked seeing the emotions in people as they enjoyed themselves.”

The hotel scene in Istanbul at the time was a far cry from what it is today, with only one school offering management training at the luxury level. That was all Serap needed: “I wanted to be a leader, so when I heard the school had an opening, I jumped at it.”

After graduation, Serap quickly found her way to the Four Seasons in Sultanahmet, starting as a restaurant server and working her way up to Food and Beverage Manager over 18 years. She departed in 2014 to take an opening position at another luxury hotel, intent upon broadening her experience and seeing how other companies do Food and Beverage. “I learned a lot all right, almost too much, but my heart has always been with Four Seasons, so I knew I’d be back.”

Return she did, landing at Four Seasons other Istanbul address along the Bosphorus. As Director of Food and Beverage, Serap spent four years managing operations for seven restaurants and lounges, as well as banqueting in 30,000 square feet of event space, plus options for catered tours and cruises. There is a lot of competition for group business along the Bosphorus, so she was always busy looking for ways to keep their events on top.

Now back where she began with Four Seasons, Serap is content if extremely busy and has no desire to work anywhere but Istanbul. “I love to travel, but all of my life and my family is here,” she says of the city she has always called home.

“The hotel business is no longer just about beds, dining and spas”, she adds. “It’s about the culture, activities, and local way of life outside the hotel. I’m part of the culture here, and it’s a part of me. That goes a long way for the guest experience I help provide.”

With much appreciation to Serap for permission to use text and photos from the Four Seasons Press Room

Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet
Tevkifhane Sk. No:1
34122 Istanbul

Tel: +90 212 402 30 00

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