News Archive Search
A hotel developer 'rises' from science and carpets to hotels
After hotel development projects such as Magic Life Hotels in Marmaris and Bodrum, and Aegean Dream Hotel Resort in Bodrum, Bozatlý International has come to Istanbul with a $45-million investment in the city's new Holiday Inn. Bozatlý is now undeniably one of the main players in Turkey's tourism development industry. Bozatlý told the Turkish Daily News that rising in Turkey's hotel industry has been one challenge he does not regret. But his life and Turkey's tourism transformation have experienced equally radical changes.
Bozatlý's entrepreneurial streak sprang initially from pure necessity. It all started when he went to the United States as a rotary fellow to study mechanical engineering at Colorado State University and then later engineering and aeronautical engineering at Virginia Tech. In school, he would subsidize his tuition payments by bringing carpets from Turkey on his way back from visiting family. He explains that in those days Turks could take a limited amount of foreign capital out of the country. The carpets were a source of instant money once sold in the United States. "It was illegal to take out foreign currency so I used to take a carpet and sell it to make money for school," said Bozatlý.
At Arkansas University while teaching as an assistant professor in mechanical engineering, Bozatlý met Bill Clinton, former U.S. president. Two years later he was in Seattle working on airplane wings at then Boeing headquarters in the aerodynamic research group. He was one of 50 researchers among the 100,000 employees. His PhD work was sponsored by NASA and is referred to now by his peers. The CNB model (named after the names of the three co-authors Craig, Neity and Bozatlý) is considered a model for increased energy efficiency in airplanes.
His heart, however, was not in the scientific community, but in entrepreneurship. By then he had set up a carpet shop in Seattle's' Pioneer square in a store the size of a corner grocer. The small rug store later turned into Bozatlý Rug Company now based out of New Jersey. "I decided to give the scientific world a break after two years and make some money," explains Bozatlý. "I had limited capital and taught at Seattle University sophomore level statistics to engineers," he said of just one of his jobs to support his family at that time. Looking back, he has no regrets. "I could never go back to the scientific world. I became successful and it was challenging and the challenge moved me."
In the late eighties during the presidency of Turgut Özal, tourism in Turkey started developing as a sector. Turkey barely used to figure into the tourism map of European and U.S. tourists. The industry reflected this on the ground with the bare minimum in hotels. Bozatlý said developments were leaving and he wanted to get into the tourism business. He started by leasing 100,000 square meters of land from the government in Marmaris. The stipulation they set was that he bring with him a U.S. investor. "These were hard days," he remembers. Bozatlý brought prominent U.S. architect Ralph Anderson, who had also contributed to the preservation of Seattle's historical center. "I convinced him to design the hotel and then become my partner," said Bozatlý with a chuckle. "He was really moved by Turkey's beauty."
Everything that could possibly go wrong with that project went wrong, recalls Bozatlý of the project that turned out to be tough to finance. After three years, in 1992, the hotel finally opened. Partnering with Austrian businessmen looking for a presence in Turkey, it opened under the brand "Magic Life." In 1993, Bozatlý and his family moved to Turkey permanently. With his Magic Life partners wanting to expand, the fresh entrepreneur got involved in hotel development, finding the buildings and tackling the negotiation process. By 1994 Anderson sold his shares and Magic Life had proven successful. In 1996 "we built the biggest resort village in Bodrum with 1,000 beds," said Bozatlý. "It's across from the Greek island Kos. You can see the lights at night." The next big project was a water factory, Elmas Su, exclusively distributed by PepsiCo out of Bodrum.
In 2003 Bozatlý's firm started the Aegean dream resort completed in 2004. It was a 550-bed, 5-star hotel with an ultra all-inclusive system. Since its opening it has won awards from guests, said Bozatlý. By this time it was undeniable that Bozatlý International had become a tourism development and management company. "We are now at a stage where we can take a project concept, architecturally develop it, construct it and then manage it." In his own company Bozatlý is more involved in the development and construction side of the business and says he leaves the management part to the management committee. "As an engineer I'm more interested in the development. My job is more or less finished here," he says of the Holiday Inn that opened in Istanbul in November.
With 20 years of hotel development and management under his belt he is on to more exciting and selective projects such as the development of a Holiday Inn in Kiev, Russia or the Bodrum beach residences. "We have to find new ways to develop southern Turkey," he says of the "saturated" tourism industry serving the coasts. He and his team are designing a complex that consists of a boutique hotel with residences around it. Residence buyers will have the full scale of hotel services at their fingertips; from Champagne and rose petals in the middle of the night, to room service, medical care or airport service. "It's a unique project," he said.
So did Bozatlý find a sense of challenge he had hoped to get out of Turkey's tourism industry? Sure, he says, even if sometimes that means waiting for the right opportunity. "With challenge comes the waiting-it-out period," he says. "Everyone should try to open new paths. Our first project took three years to complete, and that was 20 years ago. I like to open paths. I don't like taking the road most traveled. I like excitement."
Lessons from a pro
Bozatlý breaks down his secrets of success in Turkey's tourism industry as such:
Source: Turkish Daily News
Visit our sponsors