PHOTO COURTESY OF VRBO
More travelers than ever seem to be eschewing traditional hotels and considering lavish vacation rentals for more authentic and comfortable experiences.
Vacation rentals, from cottages to castles, can elevate the overall experience of traveling while avoiding that unsettled feeling of being away from home. Travelers can relish in the privacy of their own space and choose a rental that offers the peace and downtime traveling requires, all the while taking advantage of the same amenities and luxuries offered at a hotel or resort.
“The best luxury rentals can offer fine architecture, artwork, and furnishings that can rival the decor of any 5-star hotel, but without the transient feeling of being in a hotel. It’s as if you’re living in a place that is meant to be lived in, which can emphasize the sense of a place,” says Carol Perehudoff, an award-winning travel writer based in Toronto for the travel site Wandering Carol.
Whether you’re staying for the weekend or a few weeks, skip hotel rooms that can feel secluded and away from the excitement and embrace the idea of your own schedule and space.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF VRBO
An Authentic Experience
Luxury travelers are looking for a more authentic adventure when they visit a new place. They want to experience profound architecture, personalized activities, and the overall culture in an area. “Travelers can have an all-inclusive resort-like experience with the added bonus of space and privacy to completely relax and spend quality time with their loved ones,” according to Alison Kwong, travel expert for Vrbo (Vacation Rental by Owner). Renting a vacation home immerses you in the surrounding culture to create your home away from home. “Oftentimes a vacation rental can be a better all-around experience. We use high-end vacation rentals as a base of operations for custom-built adventures,” says Dan Austin, the president of Austin Adventures.
Vacation rentals make authentic travel seamless. Visit hard-to-reach places or lesser-known destinations in a home rather than a hotel. Easily submerge yourself in a residential area rather than skim the surface of the commercialized options typically available for tourists. “You’re often staying in neighborhoods where residents live, rather than in tourist zones,” says Perehudoff. She describes one luxury vacation rental in Venice as being “as much of a cultural thrill as visiting a famous museum or palace.”
Space and Privacy
Space is a significant component to consider when vacationing with family and friends. There are endless rentals that sleep large groups comfortably, which means your party can stay together without feeling crowded or overwhelmed. “Vacation homes are ideal for traveling with family because they allow everyone to stay together under one roof,” says Kwong. Similarly, Austin says, “you can create a better “gather” type of environment … to create bonding moments.” He notes, “one of the biggest benefits is privacy.”
Lounge by the pool, fit in your morning workout, enjoy an afternoon snack, or take a midnight swim all in the privacy of your own space. Forget overcrowded hotel pools, spas, and restaurants when you have easy access to your own private pool, at-home theater, sauna, and other amenities.
Freedom with Amenities
Forget dining on a schedule or mid-morning interruptions. Renting a home offers the desired freedom on a vacation that runs on your own schedule, without sacrificing any of the luxuries. “Travelers can still enjoy special amenities, like private chefs, daily housekeeping and concierge services that organize itineraries full of activities personalized for guests and their families,” says Kwong. Everything from welcome baskets to day excursions and transportation are available.
The Right Choice
Vacation rentals can provide accommodations for groups without the financial strain of booking several hotel rooms. Family and friends can split the cost of a home with the added bonus of endless amenities at your fingertips. “Travelers are increasingly drawn to vacation homes instead of hotels or resorts when going on family or group trips because vacation homes provide the same value at a compelling rate. When renting an entire vacation home, travelers also have access to more space and privacy, better amenities, and the chance to stay in some truly unique properties that aren’t available just anywhere,” according to Kwong.
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Vacation rentals are perfect for large parties who want to create gather experiences without feeling crowded.
Hotels can become a necessity rather than a welcome addition to your travels. Vacation rental companies have their own special niche, while the overall goal of each is to craft a unique, authentic experience for travelers.
Companies with a Purpose
Vrbo is based on the more traditional sense of a vacation rental. Families and friends are offered the privacy that large gatherings crave. Forget overloaded resorts and stuffy hotel lobbies. Instead, stretch out in front of your own fireplace with a book, make a cocktail in your private kitchen, and head out to the pool or spa where you and your guests can relax in privacy.
“Over the last 25 years, Vrbo has grown into a global community of homeowners and travelers with more than 2 million unique properties around the world, ranging from cabins to beach houses and every kind of space in between,” says Kwong. The site began in 1995 and has only expanded over the years, now offering easy-to-use technology to plan a dream vacation.
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Rental sites offer the opportunity to stay in one-of-a-kind homes all over the world for a unique experience.
“One of the newest features Vrbo has added to the site are virtual tours, which pro-vide immersive, 360-degree views of vacation rental properties directly from the listing page,” according to Kwong. “Vrbo makes planning a trip together feel as effortless and enjoyable as being on one. Recently introduced, trip boards is a collaborative tool that allows multiple people to share, vote and collaborate about their favorite properties. That way, everyone is involved in the decision-making process and travelers feel confident that the vacation rental they choose is suitable for everyone.”
The trusted brand Airbnb is one of the more well-known services when renting a space, whether it’s for vacation or business. The luxury facet of the company, Airbnb Luxe, offers a trip designer for personalized activities that are specifically crafted for you and your guests. In tandem with activities and amenities, these ultra-luxury properties appeal to those with an interest in design and have been carefully chosen for that very reason.
PlansMatter is a platform that provides architecturally significant hotels and vacation homes for rent. For those with a special interest in spectacular architecture, travelers can choose from the likes of Pole House, a home in Australia that is suspended 40 meters above Fairhaven Beach; Vila Vals in Switzerland, which is built directly into the mountain scenery; the circular Solo House in Spain, and many more. “One of the highlights of a vacation rental is being able to get away from the crowds and enjoy more natural surroundings,” says Perehudoff. This is a component that can be overlooked when the simple convenience of a hotel is presented.
PlansMatter provides comprehensive information about architects and the properties that will boost the overall experience from the very start of a trip. Everything needed to decide, from photos and customer reviews to blueprints of the home, even a chance to read about the architects, is available.
Vacation rentals are growing in popularity today as a smarter way to travel for groups and for those searching for an authentic experience, but the concept has long attracted savvy and avid travelers. Founded in 1986, Windows on Italy carefully selects prestigious villas and apartments throughout Italy. From Florence to Rome, the countryside to the seaside, rentals with private pools, frescoed lofts, antiques and more will enchant travelers. The brand is another that focuses on one-of-a-kind, top-tier properties that heighten the overall travel experience.
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Experience profound architecture when staying in homes such as this gorgeous Scottsdale, Arizona property.
This editorial originally appeared in The High End Winter 2020.
Imagine traveling to anywhere in the world for the most incredible, once-in-a-lifetime trip. Imagine experiencing the culture of the community that resides there, the thrill of seeing a new corner of the world, and the beauty of nature around you. Now imagine being able to give back in the process. Companies are sprouting up, giving individuals the opportunity to have an exceptional trip while giving back to the community they travel to.
Photos courtesy of Off Season Adventures
Off Season Adventures allows clients to travel to destinations such as Uganda, Tunisia, Ethiopia and more — all while being immersed in the communities they’re giving back to. Tanner C. Knorr, the owner and founder of Off Season Adventures, has always had a vision of giving back, saying that “if we all contribute just a little bit to the communities and environments while we’re traveling, the world would be a better place.”
Off Season Adventures is unwavering in its belief of making the communities its clients travel to a better place than before. Earlier this year, the company installed a solar panel water pump system in the village of Kakoi, located in Tanzania. Because of this work, 15,000 people now have access to clean drinking water.
Photo courtesy of Off Season Adventures
Photo courtesy of Elevate Destinations
Not only do these companies give back in considerable ways, but the extraordinary landscape of the destinations and the connections made with the communities that reside there are already reasons to book a trip. Dominique Callimanopulos, the founder and president of Elevate Destinations, believes the most rewarding aspect is simply the connections made between the travelers and the community members of the area. “It tends to be really an exchange, it’s not just one way,” she says. “I think the travelers get at least as much out of the exchange.”
She recommends Africa more so her clients than any other destination, as she describes it as “just like nowhere else. There are very few places you could see such amazing beauty of untouched landscape.” She emphasizes, however, that Elevate Destinations is not into “one-off” visits and investments — and that the company is deeply invested in long-term community development of the destinations clients travel to.
Photo courtesy of Elevate Destinations
For some companies, there is also a focus on the environmental impact of traveling to the provided destinations. andBeyond, a company dedicated to providing luxury travel with a deep focus on environmental sustainability, offers private tours of the stunning landscapes in Africa, South America and Asia.
Photos courtesy of andBeyond
Clients are finding these trips to be evermore fulfilling and meaningful. Not only are they giving back to the communities they travel to, but there’s an underlying consensus — they get back even more in return.
Luxury real estate company, Engel & Völkers Snell Real Estate, recently announced its newest partnership with Lifestyle Asset Group, an exclusive vacation home company. The new collaboration creates a strategic bridge between the two companies, offering a select number of shares from Engel & Völkers Snell Real Estate’s choice portfolio. With the alliance, Engel & Völkers Snell Real Estate continues to “solidify its dominant position in the Los Cabos market,” according to a recent press release.
“By aligning our services with Lifestyle Asset Group we are ensuring that the marketplace’s luxury homeowners have a dynamic sales solution at hand. We can now provide the most sophisticated and effective collective ownership services for families to affordably own vacation homes,” says Vanessa Fukunaga, President and CEO of Engel & Völkers Snell Real Estate.
Photo courtesy of Engel & Völkers Snell Real Estate
The partnership will ensure a smart solution for buyers and sellers in the Los Cabos’ luxury second home market. The buyers have the ability to make a logical investment with a clear exit in place so they know when their capital will return after eight years of time in their beach getaway. Sellers will have the advantage of selling their property at or above its market value with no additional cost.
Over $50 million worth of luxury real estate is being offered on the peninsula. Both Engel & Völkers Snell Real Estate and Lifestyle Asset Group are looking forward to a successful vacation home partnership.
For those who love consistently warm weather throughout the year, Florida is known for its tropical, relaxed atmosphere. The palm trees and sunny days transport you to the Caribbean — especially in a residential amenity like Laguna Solé.
Laguna Solé is a massive 7-acre, man-made swimming lagoon large enough to fit 21 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The crystal clear water imitates the Caribbean while its ultrasonic filtration system uses 100 times fewer chemicals than a regular pool.
The lagoon is located in the heart of Solé Mia, known for being the “city within a city” that’s being built by two of the most powerful real estate dynasties in America, the LeFraks and Soffers. The LeFraks developed LeFrak City in New York and Newport, New Jersey, while the Soffers are known for developing much of what Miami is today.
The lagoon is accessible by residents and guests of the Shoreline, Solé Mia’s newest two residential towers located right next to the lagoon.
The $4 billion city of Solé Mia is known for its residential amenities that are elevating the standard of residential living — and Laguna Solé is the most recent and extravagant example.
Photos courtesy of Solé Mia.
Many travelers want to experience adventure while discovering a remote, exotic destination. But the hassle of long flights and extensive travel can often be a deterrent. For those who want to explore the world without wasting a huge chunk of time on travel, here are some exotic getaways closer to the U.S.
For those who want Bali’s ancient ruins, pristine jungles, tranquil seascapes and laid-back lifestyle, try Belize. Located along the tranquil Caribbean Sea, travelers will be able to experience preserved Mayan Temples, lush jungles, rainforest canopies, archaeological sites including the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, and the second largest barrier reef in the world and ultimate world-class destination – The Great Blue Hole.
Photos courtesy of Belize Tourism Board
For those who want Ibiza’s ultimate party scene and beach retreat with world-class DJs, try Cancún. Cancún has long been considered one of the top beach quick getaway vacation destinations in the world with sparkling, turquoise blue water, Ancient Mayan sites, mouthwatering cuisine and a pulsing nightlife.
Photos courtesy of Melody Maker Cancun
Try Mexico City.
For those who want Barcelona’s historic streets, world-class museums and mouth-watering culinary offerings, try Mexico City. Cosmopolitan and cultured, Mexico’s largest city boasts a flourishing culinary scene and a cultural renaissance with similar vibes to the Catalan capital. Explore the mysterious Teotihuacan pyramids, become immersed in Mexico city’s vibrant culture, taste local bites and visit Michoacán’s craft workshops.
Photos courtesy of Original Travel
Want the Galapagos Islands?
Try Kauai Island.
Known as Hawaii’s “Garden Island,” Kauai Island is filled with tropical rainforests, emerald valleys, and unbelievable mountains. Perfect for adventurists and foodies, Kauai has all the activities and restaurants that guests can ask for. Go ziplining through Kauai’s lush valleys, surf along the heavenly Hanalei Bay, or hike Waimea Canyon aka The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.
Photo courtesy of Aqua-Aston Hospitality
Want Siquijor, Philippines?
Try Miches, Dominican Republic.
Those seeking a vacation destination with stunning waterfalls, lush palm groves, secluded beaches and Insta-famous swing sets without 24 hours of travel time can head to Miches, Dominican Republic instead of Siquijor, Philippines.
Photos courtesy of Club Med
Upon entering Puerta Cortés — a 500-plus-acre property in La Paz, Baja California, I was immediately intrigued by its essentially untouched landscape and its proximity to the marvelous Sea of Cortez.
Puerta Cortés, is surrounded by the world’s richest body of water — home to rare sea life such as whale sharks, dolphins, grey whales, humpbacks, orcas, sea lions and more. Nearly 40 percent of the world’s sea life is represented in the Sea of Cortez, making it a prime destination for snorkeling, scuba diving, and sea life exploration.
With seven marinas, Puerta Cortés demanded that I spent a day out on the water to discover Isla Espiritu Santo, swim with whale sharks, and explore sea lions habitats. I followed my day-long boating excursion with an ocean-view dinner as the sun set on the water.
El Cortés Golf Club
Only two hours from Cabo San Lucas, La Paz offers an experience that heavily contrasts the bustle of a major city. Downtown La Paz offers an authentic Mexican city experience, while Puerta Cortés exudes an unparalleled feeling of privacy, serenity and comfort.
“I love the fact that even though you are in the city, you have this feeling that you are not really in a city,” says President of Ascendancy Antonio Davila, who admires the small town feel of La Paz.
El Cortés Golf Club, boasting sweeping views of the Sea of Cortez from 17 of its 18 holes, is accompanied by a cliffside Clubhouse with views unlike any other. The perfect destination for a Mexican-style breakfast, the Clubhouse evokes a peaceful atmosphere — complete with a calming morning breeze coming off the sea, views of the course’s lush greenery and the crystal blue Sea of Cortez, and an assortment of growing cacti to complete the mountainous desert landscape.
After spending a morning at the golf course, I headed to Blue Cortés — the signature beach club at Puerta Cortés — to enjoy an afternoon soaking in the sun, relaxing in the infinity pool, and indulging in fine international cuisine while poolside.
Located only two hours from Cabo San Lucas, La Paz offers an experience that heavily contrasts the bustle of a major city. Downtown La Paz offers an authentic Mexican city experience, while Puerta Cortés exudes an unparalleled feeling of privacy, serenity and comfort.
“I love the fact that even though you are in the city, you have this feeling that you are not really in a city,” says President of Ascendancy Antonio Davila, who admires the authentic, comfortable and small town feel of La Paz.
When Davila visited the property with his wife six years ago, he immediately fell in love with the serene landscape of La Paz.
“My wife and I were amazed by the fact that La Paz wasn’t better known, because we just found it to be the most beautiful place we’d ever seen,” he says. “I was mesmerized by its beauty, spectacular scenery and extraordinary amenities.”
Last year, Ascendancy — a Mexican-based family office and asset management firm — purchased the property and launched a $5 million renovation, which should be complete within the next 12 to 18 months.
Currently the property offers two residential options — Las Colinas and Vista Mar, and Ascendancy is negotiating the construction of two, five-star hotels. The property will also soon sell cliffside, ocean-view lots. Other upgrades will include additional restaurants, an expanded on-site market, and a complete face lift for the beachfront.
“Puerta Cortés is an exclusive hideaway for those seeking unparalleled, coastal living and adventure in one of the most privileged locations in the world. I have met so many well-traveled visitors and residents who have seen and experienced some of the most incredible destinations in the world and have decided Puerta Cortés is where they want to be,” Davila says.
The biggest draw of Puerta Cortes “to me is the gateway to the Sea of Cortez, its beautiful colors and wonderful sea life.” Davila says his favorite thing about living in La Paz is “being about to go out on the water with my family and experience all of the beautiful sea life. I love the quality of life that my family gets living here.”
Photos courtesy Puerta Cortés
Consistently ranked among the world’s top places to visit, Mexico City is a global capital welcoming more than 12.5 million visitors each year with its renowned cuisine, vibrant culture, rich history, unique neighborhoods and modern-day travel offerings.
Over the years, the city has become a sprawling metropolis bursting with a vibrant personality blending old and new. Each of the distinct neighborhoods, or “colonias,” attracts tourists from all over the world to experience their unique culture.
The Roma neighborhood is home to Mexico City’s trendy creative class. Bursting with colors, the streets are filled with restaurants, galleries, bars, foodies, artists and eclectic bed and breakfasts. The neighborhood is the namesake and filming location for Alfonso Cuaron’s internationally acclaimed movie, “Roma,” which won three Academy Awards in 2019.
Located just a few blocks from the house where “Roma” was filmed, Ignacia Guest House is an ideal bed and breakfast for the visitor who wants to embrace the art and culture of the city. Blending history, Mexican artisan tradition and the city’s contemporary culture, Ignacia Guest House opened its doors in February 2017. The name is derived from the housekeeper who looked after this 1913 casona for over 70 years, Ignacia.
The bed and breakfast allows visitors to immerse themselves in the city’s culture. Each morning, the guest house’s chefs make a trip to the local market to purchase organic, local ingredients for the day. The design of the house itself also proves to blend a contemporary design and a reflection of the city’s timeless culture. With its chromatic color palette and unique interior furniture, the bed and breakfast creates a contemporary living space without losing the charm of the city’s culture.
The Ignacia Guest House is a quintessential example of a spot where visitors can expose themselves to the beauty of Mexico City and all it has to offer to tourists from around the world.
Photos courtesy of Jaime Navarro
For years, the coastal town of Port Aransas, affectionately called “Port A” by its residents, has seen visitors from other areas of Texas and from all throughout the U.S. In fact, the amount of visitors so far in 2019 has exceeded last year’s numbers by 40 percent.
This influx of new visitors is only expected to rise with the new festivals Port A is involved in over the summer. The location has long been described as an ideal fishing destination, and the 84th Annual Deep Sea Roundup is a reflection of just that. As the oldest fishing competition on the Gulf Coast, the Deep Sea Roundup, taking place from July 11 to July 14, brings people from all over to enjoy fishing in this relaxed atmosphere. Also attracting fishers from across the nation is the Texas Legends Billfish Tournament, taking place from August 7 to August 11.
The Beachtoberfest is a seven week-long festival involving a 5K run, a music fest, fishing tournaments, chef competitions, craft beer tastings, an art walk and other events as well. Also located at Port Aransas, the festival is taking place from September 13 to October 27.
Port A’s underrated food scene will also be showcasing itself during the Texas Super Chef Throwdown Series, occurring from September 18 to October 21. Consisting of 30 chefs from all around the state, the event qualifies the winning chefs to the World Food Championships in Dallas, Texas, consisting of 450 chefs competing from around the world.
All these events, taking place in Port Aransas, are a reflection of the culture and lifestyle in this coastal town — one where breathtaking luxury meets a casual atmosphere and invites all families to join in on the festivities.
Photos courtesy of Cinnamon Shore
Barbados’ most luxurious harbor-front and beachfront resort and luxury real estate properties, Port Ferdinand and Saint Peter’s Bay offer prime real estate and accommodation on the Platinum Coast, the West Coast of the island, which is not only renowned for its calm and clear waters, but also the exclusive selection of restaurants and resorts. Located outside of the hurricane belt, where the West Indies meets the Caribbean sits Barbados – a diverse island, full of rich British history, delicious rums, and of course, white sand beaches along a blue-green sea.
Photo courtesy of Saint Peter’s Bay Oceanfront Residences.
Port Ferdinand Yacht & Beach Club Residence:
Starting at $2.1 million with a collection of two to five-bedroom luxury harbor-front villas, Port Ferdinand Yacht & Beach Club Residences offers homeowners luxury living in a full-service marina and yachting community. Providing a wealth of amenities including 60’ yacht slips, 100’ dockside storage room for each residence, waterfront eateries and bars, expansive Sandbox Tree spa and fitness center and 1.4 acres of pristine beachfront, the resort is perfect for anyone seeking a truly unique and luxurious Caribbean getaway. A new stylish bistro by Barbados’ finest chef, Larry Rogers, Dockside at 13˚/59˚, has also recently opened at Port Ferdinand, offering high quality meals using fresh quality ingredients in a relaxed dockside setting. Port Ferdinand is also home to the newest Nikki Beach Club!
Saint Peter’s Bay Oceanfront Residences:
Located a mere 3km away is Port Ferdinand’s sister resort, Saint Peter’s Bay. Consisting of a unique collection of three- and five-bedroom beachfront homes and penthouses for homeownership and rental, St. Peter’s Bay Resort & Residences boasts a private and discreet environment for all its esteemed guests. With residences starting at $1.6 million, the luxurious, but deeply relaxed beachfront resort, offers villa-style homes spread over 150 ft of pristine beach with crystal clear water – encapsulating Barbados’ appeal in one of its most exclusive settings.
Inspired by the silhouette of a tulip, Turkey’s official flower, a 70-story architectural masterpiece will soon grace the Miami skyline with dynamic living and hospitality experiences within a multi-purpose tower, delivering sophistication, convenience and the finest fusion of brands.
Okan Group — one of Turkey’s leading companies and a significant developer — has announced the official sales launch of its first U.S. development in Downtown Miami’s urban core: Okan Tower. Uniting a diverse collection of mixed-use elements in one vertical destination, the project will present a 316-key hotel by Hilton Hotels & Resorts, 64,000 square feet of ‘Class A’ office space, 236 additional condo-hotel units starting on the 36th floor, and 149 condominium residences, plus 4 penthouses, starting on the 51st floor.
Located at 555 North Miami Avenue, Okan Tower will bring a new, defining form to the city’s iconic horizon. Exclusive sales and marketing for the development is by ONE Sotheby’s International Realty.
“We are thrilled to be launching sales for this much anticipated new development. The reputation and prestige synonymous with the Okan brand, paired with the company’s financial strength, communicates great confidence in the market,” says Daniel de la Vega, President of ONE Sotheby’s International Realty. “Okan Tower’s team of power players and overall vision affords this project a unique edge in Miami’s real estate landscape, and we are proud to be part of this venture.”
Billionaire businessman and Okan Group Chairman Bekir Okan greatly credits Miami’s vibrant energy and international fusion in his decision to name the city for the tower’s location. In between travels around the globe, Mr. Okan frequents his South Florida residence, which furthers his desire to allow the company’s roots to bloom in the Magic City, tied closely with the Hilton Hotels & Resorts name.
Considering the global footprints of Okan Group, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Sotheby’s International Realty, Okan Tower’s world appeal will take its sales team across continents to showcase the product, including the U.S., Turkey, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. According to Miami Association
of Realtors’ latest South Florida International Real Estate Report, South Florida continues to strongly draw foreign buyers, who purchased $7.1 billion of area residential properties in 2017 – up from $6.2 billion the year prior – and accounted for 35 percent of closed sales.
Paying tribute to the Turkish culture, architect firm Behar Font & Partners was appointed to design Okan Tower and the striking curvature of its façade. Anticipated to attract international investors, the project’s condo-hotel units will be delivered turn-key within studios, and one and two bedrooms, from 447 to 1,245 square feet. Residential offerings will include condominiums ranging from one-to-three bedrooms, plus a den, with floor plans from 698 to more than 2,071 square feet. Two floors of duplex-style penthouses will feature expansive layouts, from 1,873 to more than 2,142 square feet.
World-class amenities will not be spared, with Okan Group carefully curating a menu of offerings that truly matter to the target demographic. This includes high-speed elevators with separate access points for the various mixed-use components, a sky pool with panoramic views of the bay and city on the 70th floor, Hammam spa, state-of-the-art health and fitness center, multipurpose room, and outdoor lounge. Additional features will be a playroom for kids, chef and gastro kitchen, a resident movie theater, and private area for owners with wine cellar and cigar room, as well as an activated rooftop restaurant on the 67th floor.
Okan Group brings to Miami nearly five decades of experience and a long-established reputation in Turkey and other parts of the world. The company has expertise in a variety of industries, including construction, tourism, education, health, and hospitality.
Photos courtesy of Okan Tower.