CPP-LUXURY.COM has recently interviewed Arzu Topcu Civak, General Manager of Susona Bodrum, LXR Hotels & Resorts, a luxury brand of Hilton. Mrs. Civak started her career in hospitality in 1998 and since 2011 has held the General Manager position at several luxury resort hotel properties in Turkey.
What motivated the re-launch of your luxury property under Hilton’s LXR brand?
Before we answer this question, allow me to first provide some background on the brand. LXR Hotels & Resorts is a luxury hotel brand largely driven and inspired by its local surroundings. Each hotel in the portfolio provides a unique and locally immersive experience, distinguishing itself through an unrivalled commitment to personalised and intuitive service, and unique aesthetic design. This, of course, is all backed by the power of Hilton and its award-winning loyalty programme, Hilton Honors.
As an example, let’s take a look at The Biltmore Mayfair – LXR’s flagship property in the UK. Everything about that property emanates classic London but with a modern twist – from the 20th century grandeur, the contemporary architectural detail in the hotel design and quintessentially British amenities, to the leather-encased cabinets and monogrammed bathrobes. Every aspect of the hotel has been created with respect to where it is located on the map.
The same principle applies to all LXR properties, be it the existing Habtoor Palace (Dubai) and Zemi Beach House (Anguilla) or the brand’s upcoming hotels in Kyoto and Las Vegas. Each draws inspiration from its surroundings and location not only in design, but also the guest experience.
Enter our resort, a stunning property situated along the Aegean Coast and inspired by the sea. From the hotel’s beautiful architecture and its ability to offer an exquisite gastronomic journey of Turkish flavours, to personalised local trips and bespoke spa treatments, we felt the property perfectly resonated with LXR’s promise of offering a singular travel experience native to its place, history, and tradition. This, along with Dogan Group’s (our owning company) longstanding relationship with Hilton – having launched the very first Hilton property outside of the US more than 60 years ago – made LXR Hotels & Resorts the natural choice for our hotel.
We then wanted to capture the enchanting spirit of the resort in an equally mesmerising name, one that is synonymous with the magic of the sea. And what better than the legendary Susona, the playful daughter of the fabled sea god in Turkish mythology. Thus, Susona Bodrum, LXR Hotels & Resorts was born.
How is Bodrum positioned as a luxury destination?
Bodrum, described as “the Land of the Eternal Blue” by Homer, boasts a wealth of culture and history. Located on the Southwestern coast of Turkey, along the stunning Aegean Sea, the peninsula is known as the Turquoise Coast.
The town’s charm attracts a diverse population of vacationers who stroll along its long palm-lined waterfront, while elegant yachts crowd the marinas. The New York Times has dubbed Bodrum as the “St. Tropez of Turkey” for its luxury hotels, beach clubs, food scene, and the abundance of super-yachts drifting in its turquoise waters.
In recent years, the destination has experienced several high-profile openings of luxury hotels – the mose recent one of these being our very own Susona Bodrum, LXR Hotels & Resorts.
Which are the main competitive advantages of Susona Bodrum, LXR Hotels & Resorts?
Susona Bodrum offers travellers a chic new destination along the Aegean Coast which stays true to the natural beauty and spirit of Bodrum. The resort is located near Torba, an exclusive enclave perfectly placed for visiting the town of Bodrum, the Bodrum Castle, nearby picturesque fishing villages, and plenty of islands and inlets. It is also conveniently within proximity to the Milas Bodrum international airport.
Susona Bodrum boasts a private beach, a world-class spa operated by Spa Soul, and 76 delightful suites and villas, a substantial number of which offer private pools – allowing guests to enjoy a truly memorable escape. Every element of the property is connected to its surroundings, with a focus on protecting and preserving the environment and using locally sourced products where possible – in line with Hilton’s broader Travel with Purpose strategy. Guests will also be treated to indulgent amenities from Atelier Rebul’s Mandarine Collection, made from the fruity and citrus fragrance of Bodrum mandarines, blended with aromatic flowers and musk.
Meanwhile, the resort’s five jetties offer a myriad of opportunities for guests to enjoy the azure waters of the Aegean Sea, with a host of seaside gourmet dining experiences to choose from including Frankie Beach Club Bodrum and Malva Restaurant – more on this below!
Tell us more about the consumer profile you are targeting?
Susona Bodrum targets the affluent, yet adventurous traveller who prioritises a hotel’s unique character, effortless personalised service and the extraordinary destination itself. Our guests seek a captivating design and vibrant social scene, are intellectually active and most importantly crave authentic experiences.
With the challenges of the pandemic how is the consumer profile different, if in any way?
The pandemic and related travel restrictions have undoubtedly had a global impact on the consumer ability and confidence to travel. As a result, we have seen increased demand from domestic staycationers looking to book our luxurious suites and villas for an extended period – guests yearning for an escape but within the comfort and convenience of their home country.
As borders begin to re-open and travel restrictions ease, we are starting to see overseas travel make a comeback. International travellers have started to venture our way, and we have already hosted more than 20 different nationalities in the resort since opening on the 1st of July – demonstrating the strong demand for travel to destinations such as ours. We believe that as restrictions continue to ease and we move towards recovery, we will see more of this trend as passionate wanderers from all corners of the globe are finally able to live out their unshakable desire to explore the world and make their travel dreams a reality.
To what extent is Susona Bodrum a luxury lifestyle destination? How important are the dining and wellness components?
From experiential programming and wellness to F&B, the entire guest journey at Susona Bodrum has been created with its local surroundings in mind.
For example, our gracious hosts not only delight guests by scouting out the best relaxation spots on-property and preparing perfect settings for sunset viewing, but also by delivering locally immersive experiences, such as personalised trips to explore Bodrum’s rich heritage and culture. These include visits to the town’s famous hand-crafted leather sandal workshops, local wine tasting at nearby vineyards, and a journey into the world of Turkish carpet making at Etrim village. With Susona Bodrum hosts working to create the perfect itinerary, guests can absorb all that the hotel and its surroundings have to offer.
Meanwhile, Susona Bodrum’s Spa Soul is an oasis of relaxation and provides guests with the definitive sensorial experience. Each guest undergoes a systematic analysis of their individual needs and is prescribed a combination of authentic treatments that will leave them feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
When it comes to dining, guests need look no further than the resort. Susona Bodrum houses Malva Restaurant and Frankie Beach Club Bodrum, restaurant concepts that wholeheartedly embrace local products and use the finest locally sourced ingredients. Both dining venues aim to showcase the rich and wide food range of Aegean Cuisine.
You also launched a new Malva & Frankie Beach Club. Tell us more about the concept and the creator?
Frankie Beach Club Bodrum and Malva Restaurant are new F&B concepts created exclusively for Susona Bodrum by Kaya Demirer and the team behind the celebrated Frankie Istanbul. Kaya’s high-end vision has shaped the gastronomic experience at both venues, which is perfectly complemented by live entertainment and the resort’s beautiful coastal surroundings.
Frankie Beach Club builds on Frankie Istanbul and brings the popular culinary experience to Bodrum. Guests can indulge in a range of delectable cuisine prepared with fresh and local ingredients, as well as world-class cocktails and fine wines, against the beautiful backdrop of the Aegean Sea. Diners can also enjoy a Power Lunch, which features magnificent food presentations paired with magnum wines, all the while listening to the club’s resident DJ play uplifting beats warming up to live music entertainment in the afternoon.
Malva Restaurant is a boho-chic culinary destination that offers a mouth-watering range of slow-cooked dishes that feature a fusion of handpicked ingredients. After dinner, guests can linger into the night to enjoy relaxing live tunes, including international and Turkish covers of jazz, soft funk, and soul.
Whether looking for a place to enjoy a delicious meal paired with refreshing drinks and a spectacular view or a magical fine dining experience, guests will find the perfect culinary journey awaiting them at our resort.
What are your expectations this year for the length of the season?
Bodrum is generally a seasonal destination that, just like other parts of the world, has been impacted to some degree by the pandemic. We plan to remain open until end of September, however we are hopeful that with all measures taken into action across the industry to accommodate the new operating dynamics, we will soon be able to extend the season back to its former length of more than six months.
Tell us more about the safety and hygiene measures you have been implementing to protect both staff and your guests from Covid-19?
At Susona Bodrum, the safety of our guests and Team Members is our top priority. That is why the resort is part of Hilton CleanStay, Hilton’s new industry-defining standard of cleanliness and disinfection in Hilton properties around the world.
Developed in collaboration with RB, maker of Lysol and Dettol, and Mayo Clinic, Hilton CleanStay allows guests to enjoy an even cleaner and safer stay. New standards include a Hilton CleanStay Room Seal to indicate that a room has not been accessed since being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, increased frequency of cleaning all public areas, and flexible housekeeping options.
In addition, Susona Bodrum has received the ‘Safe Tourism’ certificate issued under the authority of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
In this way, we can continue to deliver a profound hospitality experience to our guests while providing them with peace-of-mind from check-in to check-out.
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