Serkan Vanlı, the owner of Hich Hotel stated that “Konya has no sea, but thanks to Rumi, there is an ocean of knowledge and love. We have built our position in Konya tourism on this idea and will continue to develop it”.
*We would like to introduce Hich Hotel a little more closely to our readers. Could you give brief information about your hotel?
- Hich Hotel Konya is a boutique hotel project. After the restoration work that lasted for about 2 and a half years, the restoration of 2 out of the 3 parcels was completed and started to serve with 13 rooms, an indoor restaurant area and a garden restaurant area. The restoration of the 3rd parcel still continues. With the completion of it by November, the number of rooms will increase to 19.
*Hich Hotel has won many international awards as well as being selected as the most romantic hotel in Europe and Turkey. How did you achieve this?
- Hich Hotel Konya has been a project since the day it was opened, with its restoration, decoration and love for its employees. The location of our hotel is very important for being selected as Turkey’s most romantic hotel and Europe’s 19th most romantic hotel. We are right next to Rumi and almost all of our rooms sees Rumi’s dervish lodge and the rose garden.
I consider that the most important factor in the formation of such a climate of love in Hich Hotel Konya is our location right next to the Lodge.
*I think the awards that you have received increase your responsibility. Will you have projects that will contribute to tourism of Konya in this way in the future?
- These and similar awards we have received are actually a starting point that we think must be sustained. Therefore, the awards we receive trigger us to achieve better. When Konya tourism is evaluated in terms of its potential, it deserves to receive this and similar awards. If we provide the right quality of service and implement facilities with the right qualifications, I think much more important awards will be received. In this sense, we have some new works that we are currently working on as concept consultancy and at the project stage, as well as in the implementation phase.
*Can you talk about the pandemic period and the measures taken by your hotel?
- I consider that our country is passing the pandemic period with a capability and effective measures far above the world average in general. This evaluation includes both my personal observations and the feedback of our guests from various countries of the world. Honestly, we had a lot of conversations with some of our guests in which they expressed that they were positively surprised by the measures implemented in Konya and in our country, and that there was no sensitivity at this level in their own country.
As Hich Hotel Konya, we started the first month of the pandemic period by making some additions to our service standards and by applying a different practice especially in certain areas. We have developed a hospitality concept that we follow with 11 separate checklists, and we registered this hospitality concept in the brand and patent institution with the name of Means Contentment (Gönül Rahatlığı). We have also carefully implemented all of the legislation and circulars published by all relevant ministries. Apart from this, we have been accredited to the Safe Tourism Certificate program of TüvAustria Inspection firm, although the Ministry of Culture and Tourism does not require it in terms of the number of rooms. And currently, we provide services by applying all the requirements of both our Means Contentment (Gönül Rahatlığı) concept and the TüvAustria Safe Tourism Certificate program.
*When we consider the hotel potential in Konya, where is the hotel management of Konya according to the level of Turkey?
- Accommodation contains many different branches. There are many differences between beach hotel management and hotel management focused on cultural and religious tourism. For example, compared to coastal tourism regions, Konya has no sea, but thanks to Rumi, there is an ocean of knowledge and love. We have built Konya tourism on this idea and we need to develop it further. Hz. Mevlana’s philosophy is a value that went beyond Konya and Turkey. His lodge is a magnificent landmark and wherever you go in the world, when you say Rumi, people immediately create a climate of love. Therefore, Rumi is the most influential factor in Konya tourism. Sille and Çatalhöyük are also very important. The city has many mosques, madrasas and other historical beauties. Its districts, especially Akşehir, Beyşehir and Eregli, are candidates for being tourism destinations. Therefore, compared to other Anatolian cities, Konya is very advantageous in terms of the variety of values that are subject to tourism. Many tourism businesses in Konya are aware of this richness, and all of them are sensitive to produce good service, qualified hospitality and do their job properly. As a natural result of this, especially in recent years, Konya has brought brands and highly qualified managers to tourism, whose names are praised in international platforms.
*Transportation to Konya from metropolitan cities became easier with high speed train (YHT). In addition, in recent years, health tourism has started in Konya. How do these two developments affect Konya?
- The high speed train is a very useful kind of transportation for our city. We are proud that our city is connected to Ankara, İstanbul and Eskişehir via a high speed train network. We consider the issue from the point of tourism, but no matter how we think it, the importance of such services made available to people is enormous. It has also made a great contribution in terms of tourism. High Speed Train services both shorten the distance between cities and provide travelers a very comfortable journey; because the physical structures of the trains are very beautiful and they are designed and equipped with the latest technology. At Hich Hotel Konya, we often recommend train travel to our guests, to be honest; my first choice for travel is also train travel. The subject of health tourism is an issue that should be evaluated on its own; because Konya and many regions of Turkey are among the most advantageous places in the world in terms of health tourism, both by nature and by their qualified businesses. Especially in recent years, Turkey has become one of the most important leaders of the world in the field of health tourism. Therefore, I find this development in health tourism very valuable both in terms of being an opportunity to convey our unique culture and natural beauties to much larger masses and in terms of its contribution to the country’s economy.
*From which countries tourists come to our city the most?
- With the pandemic period, the statistics of the last 2 years are not very meaningful, frankly. But I would like to answer your question specifically at Hich Hotel Konya. Before the pandemic, approximately 70 percent of our guest profile consisted of foreign guests. The country with the highest share was the USA. The biggest reason for this is that the Masnavi of Rumi remained on the list of the most popular publications in the USA for many years. Except this, we have many guests from all over the world. We see that our guests who have visited mystical centers in various parts of the world come here. We have hosted more than 150 citizens of different countries so far, and a 13-room business, this data is quite unusual. I think this is an indication of how active Konya and Rumi are in the world.
*Do these statistics show that you have brought a new idea of hotel management to Konya?
- I think the quality of service provided by our Hotel is important in the emergence of such diversity, but it would be unfair to express it only with this. In the creation of this profile, the climate created by Şems-i Tabrizi and Rumi, cannot be ignored. We are working hard to make the best contribution to the hosting of our city in this sense. I would like to share some information on this subject. Tripadvisor is the world’s largest and most respected travel portal. In this portal, we received awards and ratings such as first place in Turkey, 4th place in Europe, 11th and 19th place in Europe, 9th place in the world in different categories and in different years. Since the year we opened, we have been listed in the Best Service category every year consecutively. But we have never acted with the claim that we have brought a new understanding of hotel to Konya. Our only and unchangeable point of view was how we can convey the unique and naive elements of our culture to our guests, how we welcome them in the best way, and how we say goodbye to them in the best way. Our point of view is obviously quite simple, but it has a serious depth. Just like the hidden magnificence of the Seljuk Empire, which Konya was the capital of, in architecture, art, and lifestyle. The awards and ratings I mentioned above are largely formed by the feedback of our guests staying at our hotel. This is our biggest happiness about these awards. We consider the details of these awards as a tool to understand how our service quality is and to know what actions we should take if necessary.
*Besides those coming from outside the city, are there any people in Konya who are curious about your hotel and want to stay?
- We have many guests from Konya. Recently, they say to their guests from outside the city that there is such a hotel in Konya; you have to see and stay. We also have guests who want to spend time with their families in a different atmosphere. This makes us really happy. I am from Konya and I have been living in Konya for long years. We have some concerns about Konya. It is because we love our city and its values very much. Konya is the leading figure in our happiness.
*What do you think about the price policy of the hotels in Konya? How is the rate compared to other big cities in Turkey?
- When we compare our city with the Cappadocia region, as it is a very near province, the prices of the hotels in Konya have a very economical average. If we compare the facilities of the same quality, Konya has a more economical price average by about 1/3 compared to Istanbul. I would like to convey the following details regarding this subject in particular for Hich Hotel Konya. Among the awards we received from Tripadvisor, there is a category that expresses the “price policy applied according to the quality of service it provides”. We became the 9th in the world in this category. We have reached this level among approximately 85,000 businesses from all over the world.
*What would you like to say as a conclusion?
- I completely believe that Konya will be the shining star of Turkey in near future. The infrastructure of the city is developing further, both in terms of tourism and industry. Our people are very warm and hospitable. We have to be positive and look positively. As long as this total effort continues, Konya will reach a much more important level.