Serap Akkus

Hotel Manager
“The human touch and Four Seasons luxury are what this Hotel is all about.”


Four Seasons Tenure

  • Hired 1996, now since 2017
  • First Four Seasons Assignment: Restaurant Server, Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet

Employment History

  • Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus; St. Regis Istanbul; Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet; Istanbul Ramada Hotel


  • Istanbul, Turkey


  • Diploma, Hotel Industry School, Istanbul

Languages Spoken

  • Turkish, English

After seven years away from Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet, Serap Akkus is “back home again” – and this time she is running the show. “Hotel Manager 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, of course and especially, the guests.

Akkus’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 traveling, and they have a lot to share about their experiences that we can use to improve their stays and our programming.”

Also key is her relationship with the team. 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, but it still takes 250 people to keep the operation humming. Akkus’s approach to management is all about communication, with a focus on meeting with and listening to employees to discern their needs and concerns and figure 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.”

Akkus returned to the Sultanahmet property in 2021 as a renovation opened fresh opportunities for her to employ her management and marketing smarts. Enhancements included a new Turkish hammam for the wellness and spa experience; an expansion of the beautiful Nova Terrace on the rooftop to offer outdoor dining before views of the iconic Hagia Sofia year round and in all kinds of weather; and new landscaping to heighten the romantic mood of the Hotel’s long-cherished courtyard.

Born in Istanbul into a family of financers – “my older brother and younger sister followed both of my parents professionally” – Akkus 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 Akkus needed: “I wanted to be a leader, so when I heard the school had an opening, I jumped at it.”

After graduation, Akkus quickly found her way to Four Seasons in Sultanahmet, starting as a restaurant server and working her way to Food and Beverage Manager over 18 years. She departed in 2014 to take opening position at another luxury hotel, intent upon broadening her experience and seeing how other companies do F&B. “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, the busy strait that forms the boundary between Europe and Asia. As Director of Food and Beverage, Akkus spent four years managing operations and talent for seven restaurants and lounges, as well as banqueting for 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 I was always busy looking for ways to keep our events on top.”

Now back where she began with Four Seasons, Akkus 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.”