Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet
- Tevkifhane Sokak No. 1, 34110 Sultanahmet-Eminönü, Istanbul, Turkey
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 1997
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Front Office Trainee, Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet
- Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet
- Istanbul, Turkey
- Associate’s Degree, Hotel Management, American Hotel & Motel Association, Istanbul University; Associate’s Degree, Faculty of Business Administration, Istanbul Bilgi University
- Turkish, English
“Know the city really well and deliver it from the heart,” says Selim Çalik, relating his formula for success behind the Concierge Desk of Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet – or any concierge desk, for that matter. Right at home at the only hotel within the only hotel company portfolio he has ever known, Çalik believes whole-heartedly in the mission and capability of concierges to take guest stays to another level.
With its intimate, 65-room size, the Sultanahmet property and its setting amongst the famed sites of the Old City of Istanbul perfectly suits his passion for guest interaction. Çalik and his team members are able to attend to people’s needs at a gentle pace, he says, often spending time over coffee and conversation to discuss their desires, inform their city view, and carefully plot itineraries to ensure they get the most from their time in the gateway between Europe and Asia.
Çalik’s knowledge of Old Istanbul runs a deep. Over two decades with Four Seasons, he has become exceptionally well versed on the historic, cultural, and culinary offerings of the area. What he doesn’t know he can find out in a snap from other concierges through the local chapter of Les Clefs d’Or – “keys of gold” – the international professional organisation of concierges, which has 100 members at five-star hotels in Istanbul.
“Resources are key in this business,” he explains. “We have to update ourselves all the time. When a restaurant becomes unavailable, we have to know it. When a new restaurant opens, we have to be sure the staff speaks English, the atmosphere is suitable, and the food is Four Seasons quality.” Çalik prefers to tour new establishments and speak with owners himself. “But if I can’t,” he says, “I’ll reach out to others who have.”
Always a diligent student, Çalik pursued a hotel management degree at Istanbul University and landed a training position with the Sultanahmet property. He was impressed with the Four Seasons from the first interview. “I was asking questions. They were giving answers. Their philosophy of hospitality was about making people happy.”
He started in the Front Office, and the more he got into the groove, the more he realised how much Four Seasons appealed to him. Though he pursued a second degree in business and economics with plans of getting into sales and marketing, as time went by, he knew he’d found his thing on the Hotel floor. “Solving problems and seeing people smile was very fulfilling. It just felt right.”
What would Çalik suggest for a day in the Old City? “That all depends on the guest,” he answers with a laugh, before ticking off must-visit sites such as the Hagia Sophia.
Then there is shopping at the Grand Bazaar, the world’s largest covered market, with 4,000 shops located just minutes from the Hotel. Guests will occasionally request accompaniment on shopping excursions, and with the pace at the Sultanahmet property, Çalik and the Concierge team are able to oblige.
“They’ll see something they like and call us to advise on authenticity and negotiate a good price,” he says. “The personal touch is everything for us. At the end of the day, when my guests put their heads on their pillow, I want them to say, ‘What a day that was!’”
Though happy in the Old City through the workweek, Çalik admits he’s “not really a city guy.” On days off, he likes to head spend time with his wife and son relaxing in the Princes Islands in the Sea of Marmara. “We have a little 8-meter boat we use for fishing and we can swim in the clear waters.” Interacting with guests may be Çalik’s passion, “but time with my family is a pearl to me.”