6/30 Experiences I’m Curating for a VIP Day in Istanbul

Experiences I’m Curating For A VIP Day In Istanbul

With Paris behind me, the next adventure at the Women’s Leadership Lab is the annual sail. I recorded an audio for you here if you would like to listen in, versus read.

Last year, we sailed the Dalmatian Coast (Croatia.) This August is Turkey. We fly to Istanbul first as Turkish Airlines doesn’t offer direct flights to the southern part of the country, where the boats are moored. We spend 2 days in this city straddling the Bosphorus and connecting Europe and Asia. 

Folks often ask: What happens when you create a VIP day for a client in another city? Well, the women leaders work on telling their personal story in a powerful way, often because they are now the face of their company or cause. Others work their thought leadership strategy.  However,  it would be a waste to come all the way to a place as exotic as Istanbul and sit in a board room.  So I craft an immersive experience around the strategy sprints, that includes a spa, a cultural visit and a culinary experience.

In this blog post, I list:

  • The restaurant I’m looking forward to
  • The shops I’m looking forward to
  • The spa I’m looking forward to
  • The historical experience I’m looking forward to

The restaurant I’m looking forward to

Umran Beba spoke at the Women’s Leadership Lab when she was Chief Diversity Officer at Pepsi. Album here. We have become friends since. She’s of Turkish origin, so I asked abot her ‘can-not-miss’ attraction in Istanbul. Her favorite is 2023 Michelin star recipient Feriye for the amazing views of the Bosphorus.  Chef Birkan Erköylü heads up the kitchen. Instagram account. The sea urchins are a ‘can’t-miss’ at Alaf Kuruçeşme. Chef Deniz Temel says his cooking tells a story about his nomadic roots.


The shops I’m looking forward to

As you know, I teach personal branding to women and teach them to create thought leadership. 

I am a woman in need of a new bathrobe. My Google searches led me to Jennifer, of Jennifer’s Hamam, located in Arasta Bazaar No: 135 Ogul Sokak. This is someone who is more than ‘just a shop owner.’ She offers plenty of searchable written content, elevating the brand built around her shop.  She’s written a book, sharing her philosophy. She travels through Turkey, visiting villages where they handloom her cotton, using organic ingredients and authentic dying processes. She has a great Instagram presence sharing the robes I was looking for. 


The spa I’m looking forward to

I’m still thinking about the painting in the Musee Dorsay, featuring a Roman bath house scene. Bath houses, or Hammams, in Istanbul are a tradition dating back to the Ottoman empire.  

We head to Çukurcuma Hamamı. It burned down once, when it was made of wood. Now the interior features only marble. I picked it because only five guests are allowed in at a time and it’s one of the few mixed-gender hammams in Istanbul today so Matt can join me.   


The historical experience I’m looking forward to

The Hagia Sophia  is an architectural marvel.  Built 1500 years ago, it was a Christian establishment in its original iteration.  Emperors from the Byzantine empire were crowned at Hagia Sophia. It burned down at least twice because part of it was made of wood. It was rebuilt for a third time, but only to succumb to the Ottoman empire rule in 1453.  Since Islam was central to their religion, the Hagia Sophia was renovated to became a mosque. From 1935 to 2020, it took on a third life: A museum operated by the government.  In July 2020, the Turkish Council of State and President Erdoğan reclassified it as a mosque. 

We bought tickets with a historian for a 1 hour tour on https://www.headout.com/ for Cost: 14 Euros each

More Posts