Alyx Around The World is our name for a special Have Family Will Travel series by Oliver Martin, marine biologist at Tahiti’s Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora. With his one-year-old daughter Alyx and partner Laurence Georget, he is crisscrossing the globe checking out Four Seasons hotels and resorts. The aim: to find out how staff at each hotel teach kids about the local natural environment. (When he’s not traveling, you’ll find Oliver working to restore coral reefs or swimming with whales of French Polynesia.)
Why would anybody choose such a big, crowded city to tour with their 14-month-old toddler? Well, Istanbul, Turkey—between Europe and Asia—is the opposite of Bora Bora (my home), that’s for sure! But I was convinced that the diversity of ethnic backgrounds, food, architecture, colors and weather would make a positive impact on Alyx and her two cousins… in those few years of childhood when we just can’t remember much, but what we do experience is already forming who we are as human beings. Alyx, warmly dressed, loved vibrant Istanbul and its two Four Seasons—both havens of serenity.
The two Four Seasons hotels are in two different worlds: One, Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet, in Old Istanbul (Sultanahmet refers to the historic old town district) close to the Blue Mosque and Sainte Sophia; the other one, Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at the Bosphorus, right on the Bosphorus strait with a view of Asia.
I chatted with Erhan Yurtsever, the Director of Rooms at Four Seasons Sultanahmet. He is a dad, has been with Four Seasons in Istanbul for 14 years, and was the first of many locals who would grab Alyx and start hugging and playing with her!
OM: I have this feeling that toddlers are kings here…
EY: It’s one thing you will see all over Istanbul, people will smile a lot at Alyx—kids are more than welcome here.
OM: All this architecture of different styles in one city. It’s incredible.
EY: It’s like a real, live Disneyland and Four Seasons Sultanahmet is right at the center. Children are welcome in mosques, churches, bazaars and the boats going back and forth on the Bosphorus.
OM: I’ve seen hundreds of fisherman along the strait. How to experience it with the family?
EY: Take Alyx and her cousins to check a few out: the locals will be happy to show them the fish they’ve caught and all the jellyfish cruising by. They are different—mainly the Mnemiopsis leidyi (warty comb jelly or sea walnut); in Bora Bora, it’s the Cassiopea (upside-down jellyfish)—and the Bosphorus is slightly colder! (Around 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) vs. 84 degrees F (29 degrees C) in December.
OM: How about the Grand Bazaar?
EY: It’s crowded. But with the baby carrier, it’s a great place for her to smell her first exotic spices, and taste her first kebab with an ayran (Turkish yogurt drink). She’ll be surprised by all the vibrant colors of the hundreds of shops.
OM: I took Alyx and the cousins to experience a traditional hammam (Turkish bath). She stayed with a tellak (attendant) while her older cousins enjoyed their first Turkish bath.
EY: For the steam room, I guess she’ll have to come back in a few years. And the Spa at Four Seasons Bosphorus has a great pool for all guests.
OM: What do you think about a boat ride to the Asian side?
EY: The wharf is a five-minute walk from Four Seasons Bosphorus. It’s an original way for a first step into Asia!
Read “Alyx Around The World” Episode 1: Bora Bora.
Oliver Martin is marine biologist at Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora. A French native, Oliver spent most of his youth in Africa and Asia, where he was inspired by his father’s work in aquaculture. Now Oliver is the driving force behind marine conservation and education efforts at the resort, including using the resort’s lagoon as a testing ground, exploring coral grafting techniques and studying fish behavior. Guest education and interaction are key in Oliver’s efforts to preserve the delicate environment for generations to come. He lives in Bora Bora with his partner Laurence Georget, who also works at the resort, and daughter Alyx, one. In his free time, he enjoys swimming, writing and long walks on the reefs.
View all posts from Oliver
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