Istanbul: Breakfast with Pinar Kartal Timer
By Andreas Augustin
Pera Palace owner Demet Sabanci, Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Pinar Kartal Timer
Pinar Kartal Timer is the General Manager of the iconic Istanbul Pera Palace Hotel. Pinar has accompanied the hotel through its historic renovation and restoration process (2006–2010). As the hotel is a national monument with an Atatürk Museum Room open to the public, the work was closely surveyed by art historians. The hotel became famous for claiming that Agatha Christie had written Murder on the Orient Express there during a stay in the late 1920s. In our new book you can read how it really was.
At the breakfast table we talk about other things, becausePera Palace Hotel is again the destination for everybody who visits Istanbul. If you don't get a room there you at least have a drink in its famous Orient Express Bar. Agatha Christie and Graham Green have made the hotel famous. And Pinar Kartal Timer manages the Grand Dame at the Bosphorus.
The brilliant book PERA PALACE HOTEL Istanbul > to the book here
Andreas Augustin (Q.) Good morning, dear Pinar, and thanks for your time. We are celebrating two successful years of our book PERA PALACE ISTANBUL with a late breakfast at your Agatha Restaurant.
Was it actually your idea to name this restaurant after one of your most famous guests, Agatha Christie?
P?nar Kartal Timer (A): Agatha Christie was one of the most important guests of Pera Palace Hotel, Jumeirah. She contributed a lot to the international fame of the hotel. We would like to tribute to her memory and therefore called the restaurant Agatha. It is also a very strong and charasteric name remaining in the mind of people.
Three quick questions to warm up:
Q. What's your motto in life?
Everything is possible as long as you really want and work for it.
Q. What do you want to have accomplished in the next ten years?
I would like to see Pera Palace Hotel, Jumeirah in the top 5 historical hotels of the world.
Q. And your preferred breakfast?
Regardless at a buffet with 250 items or at home, my breakfast always consist of Turkish tea, bread or simit, white cheese, sliced tomato and olive oil.
Q. Is a historic hotel different from others?
The philosophy of hotel operation is the same however you should be extremely careful with the furniture and the building itself. The maintenance is an ongoing activity. It is also sometimes difficult to find operational equipments reflecting the era. Your responsibility feeling is high as you are operating in a museum hotel and you are feeling responsible for not destroying the nostalgic ambiance and enhancing the look. All our team members should know the history of the hotel by heart so they can be able to answer the related questions.
Q. What did you change when you took over?
When I started, the hotel was under restoration and construction. Excluding the lobby area even physically everything is changed. Concepts and service according to these concepts, corporate ID, PR and marketing are all changed accordingly. In short we have changed whatever you can imagine to reach our objective which was to bring back Pera Palace Hotel to its sumptuous days.
Q. What would you never like to be changed at you hotel?
Anything related to the nostalgia of the hotel should be kept as it is. I was very fortunate working with the academics who were really very experienced.
Q. Is it too much or too little courage that sometimes makes you fail?
I like to take calculated risk in my life this is also reflected to business. I would not say that I experienced failure both in business and personal life. There are no regrets in my life, as I know even the worst things are reason for something very good.
Q. What was your “dream-profession” when you were a kid?
I wanted to be a pediatrician till I was 15 years old. Then I decided to be an executive in international trade sector. However I studied Hotel Management at University and with my first training I knew that I would be a hotelier. Being the host in Pera Palace Hotel was always in my heart as a lover of Istanbul and as a passionate hotelier.
Q. Do you prefer to enjoy beauty rather alone or in company?
Hotels are the perfect example for team work. The joy is bigger when you share. It motivates a team to go further. If I would be a person who would like to enjoy things alone I do not think that I would be successful in this sector. It is the same in the family I would like everybody see whatever I like.
Q. Which was the last show that really impressed you?
Cirque de Soleil, H2O was perfect.
Q. Do you fall in love with people or ideas?
I felt in love with my husband because of his intelligence. I think ideas and good heart are important for me.
Q. Do you prefer development or tradition?
A part of mine is very conservative and the other part is very rebellion. I would say that I am keen on developments without damaging tradition.
Q. When you start a project do you prefer enthusiastic partners or experienced ones?
It really depends on the project. If I would have a choice I would like to have both. Experience without enthusiasm would be too dictating and boring.
Q. If you had the choice, would you follow the same career or would you lead a different life?
I would definitely follow the same career without hesitation.
Q. What sort of music do you enjoy?
Nowadays I am listening to a new CD of Kursat Basar, who is a very famous Turkish writer and who is also playing saxophone. I have also to admit that the concert of the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin this season in Istanbul was a life time experience. They played Beethoven and Ravel, they were too good to be real.
Q. How often do you reflect about your own life?
Q. How do you balance business life and private life?
I have a strict line in my mind. I do not think about business when I am at home and the same is valid when I am at my office I do not think a single moment about home. That’s why sometimes I am forgetting the time and staying till midnight in the hotel. I have a happy family with 2 kids they all respect my business. However when I am at home I am a wife and mother. Cooking, playing with kids. My sign is Gemini I think this double characters are playing a role in it.
Q. Which hobbies are absolutely essential for you?
I have no hobbies. My work and my family are filling my life. Maybe after I retire ...
Q. How many languages do you speak and which ones?
I can speak English, German and Turkish.
Q. What was the most important advice you ever received?
Q. For the same budget, would you rather afford the smallest room in the best and most famous hotel of a destination or the best room in a lower-class hotel?
I would prefer the smallest in the best hotel.
Q. When you visit other hotels what do you observe/judge in the first place?
I first look to the cleanliness of the hotel and to the attitude of the team.
Q. Can you give us an impression of your next month's agenda?
I will travel to London to see some journalists and I also have a meeting with an interior designer. I will be in Istanbul for one week and then travel to Dubai to complete my orientation with Jumeirah.
Q. What would you like your best friend to say about you at your funeral?
I would like to be remembered as a honest, good hearted and positive person and a caring mom and friend.
Q. Do you have kids?
I have 2 fantastic kids. My son Yigit is 15 and my daughter Zeynep is 12.
Q. Would you ever bungee jump?
Q. What is your least favourite thing about yourself?
Working too hard and being perfectionist, which sometimes makes my life and the ones around me difficult.
Q. And who was the last person you just talked to on the phone?
A few quick ones (one word/phrase answer only please):
Where were you born?
Which book are you reading?
I am reading at the moment a book of my favorite writer Paulo Coelho called Elif.
Pinar Timer (left) with writer Paulo Coelho an his wife.
Black&white or colours?
My favorite color is red however black and white are the colors I like a lot as well.
Furs or synthetics?
SMS or Email?
E-mail is easier for me.
City or countryside?
I would prefer to live in the city however I like weekend escapes to the countryside.
Reading or watching?
Tea or coffee?
Cats or dogs?
Open air or inside the music hall?
Introverted or extroverted?
Pera Palace Hotel facts:
Opened: 1892–2006, and again after extensive renovation in 2010.