The portrait of an industrialist
Head of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Kütahya, a Central Anatolian city, Nafi Güral is both an industrialist and a tourism investor. A leading ceramics and porcelain producer of Kütahya, Nafi Güral believes in the future of “thermal tourism.”
Güral and I had a chat at the NG Hotel in Afyon, a promising venue in thermal tourism. He said, “The boss of my dreams is a boss who doesn’t work.” According to Güral, the ideal situation would be for the boss to hand over all the business to professionals so he sits at his desk and “generates ideas.”
Güral does not see himself as an “Anatolian Tiger,” because he has taken over the business from his father and because they have 17 factories only in Kütahya, and also because the company is among the first 100 in Turkey, categorically, they cannot be counted as an “Anatolian Tiger.”
Just like other Anatolian industrialists I have met, Güral can never leave his hometown for long, even though he has investments in various parts of Turkey and has a home in Istanbul. This is at the cost of staying away from his wife and four children.
He was quite sincere when he explained, “It is good for me to see the land I was born in and grew up on, the stone I scraped my knee on. I like talking to people I see on the road.” One of Nafi Güral’s three daughters, Hediye Güral Gür, is the head of the executive board of NG Hotels & Resorts. The other daughter, Sema Güral Sürmeli, is responsible for porcelain and ceramics production design, the youngest daughter Gülden Güral is responsible of online sales.
Nafi Güral has seven grandchildren from his daughters and son and his biggest passion is to go on long and adventurous trips with his wife and grandchildren. They have most recently gone to the North Pole with their grandchildren; next is Africa.
The tourism venture of the Güral’s has started with a hotel their father opened in Kütahya. In the 1960s, when foreign engineers who came to Kütahya for the ongoing construction of the nearby thermic power plant, they had no place to stay. The industrialist father Güral decided to open a hotel.
Today, the group has “Güral Harlek” hotel in Kütahya and two more hotels in Sapanca and Afyon under the brand NG Hotels & Resorts. The construction of a hotel in Istanbul will start in the coming months.
The occupancy rate in both Sapanca and Afyon is around 70 percent. Hediye Güral Gür believes the “wellness” sector will contribute more to the economy. We came across Japanese tourists at the NG Hotel in Afyon.
Afyonkarahisar thermal waters also have an interesting history. In addition to the traces of the Hittite Civilization, the hill Kocatepe, where Mustafa Kemal launched the “The Great Offensive” on Aug. 26, 1922, is also there. One hour from the city, the Frig Valley, which looks like Cappadocia structurally, is worth visiting.
This city, which is trying to make a name with its thermal waters, is unfortunately best known for its sausage and clotted cream.
Nafi Güral, who is from Kütahya, has made major investments in Afyon and he is keen in generating new ideas. He will surely contribute to the branding of this city together with other tourism investors in the region; as long as local administrators also believe in the “branding” of Afyon.