A good fit boss makes all the difference, as those working with, say, Roger Federer, know only too well. A couple of hours after he got off the plane from Thailand, that good-fit guy Leonardo Baiocchi, boss of that luxury hotel by the water, Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus, was in the gym getting a bit of guidance from one of the personal trainers.
But, the gal dares to suggest to Mr Baiocchi, do you really need a personal trainer to tell you you should probably get out of the suit and tie, which of course are undoubtedly Brioni or Zegna or something else delightfully Italian, before doing justice to the expensive Italian (Technogym) elliptical you are posing on so professionally….?
This 170-room hotel, which works so well in tandem with its sibling, Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet, is for discerning travellers who care about lifestyle, and not only keeping fit and healthy but getting more so the whole time.
The gym is really spacious, they have plenty of everything and the staff are charming. Walk a few yards to the adjacent spa and, as the yoga-type painting on one wall shows, working-out flows into the spa side seamlessly.
The gym is 24 hours but, guess what, the spa and the lovely, significant indoor pool, with its Roman columns, are both open from 0630. There is also an extensive outdoor pool, open during the summer months only.
Leonardo Baiocchi is an imaginative guy. When he arrived he bought bamboo by the bushel, or however you buy bamboo in bulk. Some he stuck behind the ornamental pond at the wellness area arrival, more went behind the reception desk, yet more around the pool.
For some reason I could not see any bamboo in the room where Serife showed how amazing a facial and neck massage could be – the spa uses Natura Bissée and Sodashi products, and it is delightfully free of little tinkling bells and things like that. They offer you an apple, cherry and cinnamon drink on arrival, to make you feel even better.
But this is a 170-room hotel, anyway, to make you feel better. Look at the view from 1206, one of the tall-ceiling rooms in the main building, once the Antik Pasha Palace. You look out across the Bosphorus at Asia, the other side of this international waterway.
It is said that Turkey’s perceptive and ambitious Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, wants to do a canal parallel to it, to give an alternative route between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. If that ever came about it would be a domestic waterway and Turkey could charge tolls. On the Bosphorus, no tolls are possible.
Yes, you know you are in Turkey when you look out at the Bosphorus. Above your head, your ceiling has Turkish curlicues painted on it. Decorations include some charming clay models of stylised Ottoman kaftans – and the lavender bag on one of the satin hangers in the closet is also kaftan-shaped, embroidered with more curlicues.
Canny travellers stay first at Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet, for sightseeing, culture and shopping, and then they head down here, to Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus, for wellness, recovering, and, of course, amazing food (however many different kinds of smoked salmon do they have on the enormous, and fabulous, breakfast buffet?).
Aqua restaurant flows to the terrace, by the side of the Bosphorus, in summer. When it is not hot enough to eat out, the interior restaurant is enlivened by looking out at a living wall, just a couple of yards away. This is now illuminated in bright gentian day-glo lighting by night (did anyone dare to say that luxury hotels are boring?).
A six-foot model, female this time, tiptoes past in six-inch Louboutins. She is part of a car launch (sure not a mechanic?). Someone puts his hands over my eyes. It is Vito Mollica, head of the stoves at Four Seasons Hotel Firenze.
He is here in Istanbul for a week-long promotion, and he has called by to say hello. There is a surprise every minute….