Under the Treaty of Lausanne signed on July 24, 1923, Turks from the Crete and Lesbos Islands and Macedonia were settled in Ayvalik as per the Turkish-Greek Population Exchange. One of the emigrant families settled in the district were the family of Hüsnü Rıfkı Kazaz (Emigrants of Crete). Under the Population Exchange rules, Hüsnü Rıfkı Kazaz was given olive groves and some properties in Ayvalik in exchange of the properties he left behind in Crete. One of these properties is the old soap factory that serves as the Orchis Hotel today. The building was originally built as a small soap factory by Stavrides in 1891 and Hüsnü Rıfkı Kazaz used it with the same purpose for a long time and sold it to Ahmet Muhtar Ataman, Mehmet Bahaattin Erman, and Zehra Dilman in 1939. Official records of the Ayvalık Land Registry Office started to be kept in 1943. The soap factory, which had been considered 3 separate properties (a soap factory, a depot, and a warehouse) previously, was consolidated under one title deed as a single property in 1943. The soap factory was sold to Bekir Özbek and Abdi Öner Cömert in 1969. Bekir Özbek and Abdi Öner Cömert also used the building as a soap factory and sold it to Ahmet Rıfat and İbrahim Ethem in 1972. Upon the death of Ahmet Rıfat and İbrahim Ethem the same year, their heirs sold the building to Cumhur Sevinç Özer (grandson of Hasan Ağa, a Lesbos Exchanged citizen, a.k.a. Kırlangıç (Swallow bird)) in 1972. Cumhur Sevinç Özer had an additional floor constructed on top of the building, which had been one-floor only when he bought it, and started to use the downstairs as an olive packaging workshop and the upper floor as a depot.
A Brief History of our Hotel
The building was converted to a tin shop in 1981 in order to provide olive oil cans for the Kırlangıç brand. In 1986, the tin shop business was abandoned and the building was used as an olive oil filling, bottling and packaging warehouse and depot. A businessman from the Bursa province, Engin Gozutok bought the building as an investment (to convert it into a hotel) in 2010. When the building was purchased again this time, it consisted of two floors and the second floor was unusable. The architectural project of the building was drawn by Architect Nurdan Topograf in February 2011 and was submitted to the Bursa Culture and Heritage Preservation Board. The Board asked for some amendments on the project and this process continued until the end of 2012. Construction began in 2013 under the project approved by the Board and within this framework, the 2nd floor of the building was completely destroyed and a totally new, steel construction 2nd floor was constructed. The restoration of the building loyal to its original state was appropriately carried out by Restoration Artist Pehlivan Kanat and the conversion of the building to a 16-room hotel took a whole 3 years. Serving under the name “Orchis Hotel” today, the facility was opened on May 27, 2016, by Mr. Mustafa Yaman, Governor of Balikesir of the period.
The Orchis Hotel is situated at the Fabrikalar Araligi (old town) Area, for which an application of inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List is made. There are 16 standard rooms, a 120-seat restaurant, an authentic street cafe, a snack bar-bistro and a multi-purpose hall in the hotel.
“Orchis” means “orchid” in Persian and “wild orchid” in English.
Assoc.Prof.Dr.Ayhan GÖKDENİZ (Researcher-Academician)
May 28, 2016