by Michael J. Shapiro | July 01, 2011

Turkey is a country of great variety. It is at once steeped in ancient history and very modern, a nation both Asian and European, one that offers idyllic beaches as well as mountainous terrain and ancient cave dwellings. Recent years have brought a flurry of investment and infrastructure improvement, adding new appeal for meeting planners.

Cosmopolitan hub Nowhere is the development more rapid and noticeable than in cosmopolitan Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, where new hotel announcements have grown increasingly common.

The chic, 77-room Edition Istanbul opened in April, the second property to debut from the new Marriott International and Ian Schrager collaboration. A 13-story tower in the Levent neighborhood, the urban resort offers a 20,000-square-foot spa, a 3,000-square-foot event space, a nightclub, a private screening room and a restaurant from the Cipriani group.

Meanwhile, the 133-room Radisson Blu Golden Horn will be the city's fifth Radisson Blu when it opens in the first quarter of 2013. The property will be in the upscale Pera neighborhood, on the banks of the Golden Horn, the inlet where the Bosphorus marks the border between Asian and European Istanbul. A restaurant, an indoor pool and 8,600 square feet of meeting space are planned for the property.

Next to the Radisson Blu site, the historic Pera Palace last year wrapped up a three-year, US$28 million restoration project. The 115-room "museum-hotel" added a 4,000-square-foot spa, which includes a traditional hammam (Turkish bath), an indoor pool, a Jacuzzi and a fully equipped gym.

Raffles was recently announced as the brand that will operate a US$175 million luxury hotel in the multiuse Zorlu Center development. The 180-room Raffles Istanbul Zorlu Center is due to open in the fourth quarter of 2012 with a 32,000-square-foot spa, two swimming pools, two restaurants, a heliport and a ballroom that can host 1,200 people.

Already under construction is the 212-room Renaissance Istanbul Bosphorus Hotel, slated to open early next year. The property, which will be on the European side of the river, promises a rooftop bar with stunning views, a restaurant and a fitness center.

Capital gains Ankara, the country's capital, has seen new developments as well. The Cer Modern debuted last year, an art museum and exhibition center complete with conference space and a multi-purpose lounge.

Last month marked the opening of the 418-room JW Marriott Hotel Ankara, featuring 11 meeting rooms and more than 49,000 square feet of meeting space.