The FINANCIAL — Luxury hotel Georgia Palace Hotel (GPH) located on the Black Sea coastline in Kobuleti (Adjara) served 7,112 guests in 2008. Lela Tsulukidze, its Executive Director, says that these figures should double in 2009.
The hotel, which was constructed in 2 years, is owned by Mr. Temur Chkonia, head of Coca Cola official bottler in Georgia. Tsulukidze says he is considering expansion plans for the hospitality business.
According to official data, USD 18,000,000 has been spent on the construction of the hotel. This Georgian-Italian project has the capacity to host 350-370 people. It includes 156 apartments. Among them are 5 single rooms, 4 rooms for disabled people, 111 double rooms, 31 De LUXE and 5 LUXE type rooms.
The percentage of foreign and Georgian guests at GPH is about 40% on 60%, so both retail and corporate segments are targeted by the hotel.
“By the end of the year 2009 we plan to finish the Conference Hall construction works, which will be equipped with the most modern technologies and will be able to host 450 people. In the short term we plan to finish the construction of the inside pool, Yoga room and cardio clinic,” Lela Tsulikidze notes in her interview with The FINANCIAL.
Lela Tsulukidze was born in 1980 in Kobuleti. She was a journalist and from the year 2001 to 2008 was working in a foreign oil company. From April 2008 she was General Manager assistant of Georgia Palace Hotel and from April 1, 2009, she has been in the position of Executive Director.
Q. It has not been long since the actual establishment of Georgia Palace Hotel. Please evaluate from your current point of view how successful this period has been?
A. The success of the hotel is reflected in the list of its loyal guests. Georgia Palace Hotel is only one year old, but has a quite a long list of loyal clients. From the day of its establishment Georgia Palace Hotel has hosted many well known guests, for example the President of Poland Lech Kachinsky, President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko, also Ministers and the members of parliament of different countries. The same year we hosted the Jazz festival and our guests included such famous musicians as Tania Maria and Markus Miller.
Last August’s tragic events in Georgia have much influenced the tourism sector and put a halt to our activities for a while, but if we look at the year 2008 prior to that, it was quite successful for us.
Q. What kind of facilities does your hotel have?
A. Georgia Palace Hotel has various facilities. We are proud of our Spa-Centre, which is equipped with modern technology and offers our guests unique procedures and the best quality service. In addition to this we have a private, well-built bit of coastline, pools for the elderly and for children, gym, free internet in every room, and 3 bars and two restaurants , where our Italian chef offers the tastiest food made from fresh fish.
Q. What differentiates GPH from other hotels on the local market?
A. First of all we are lucky that we have a unique location for recreation but of course our biggest priority and asset is the outstanding quality of our overall service.
Q. What are the minimum and maximum prices of rooms that you offer your customers?
A. This year the prices at our hotel have differed from the last. We think that the current prices are more acceptable and accessible for clients given the current circumstances. What’s more these prices include meals twice, sometimes thrice a day.
The minimum price of a room with two meals is USD 140.42 a night till 15 September and the maximum cost – USD 667, for the LUXE type rooms. From 16 September prices will decrease and the minimum price will be USD 177 for a two meal package and USD 643.10 for the LUXE type rooms, which includes two meals as well.
Q. According to international standards what kind of class of hotel does Georgia Palace Hotel belong to?
A. Currently there is no legislation base in Georgia according to which hotels or even restaurant standards can be determined, but we can say with ease that Georgia Palace Hotel satisfies all internationally-accepted standards of 5 star hotel service.
Q. Why have you decided to build a high class hotel in
Kobuleti, a place which is affordable and most frequently visited by people of middle incomes?
A. Kobuleti is historically known as a prestigious curative and recreational place. Kobuleti is famous for its unique microclimate, which helps in curing heart diseases, problems with inhalation and the nervous system. Kobuleti has huge investment potential and it comes as no surprise that there’s been such a concentrated amount of investments there recently.
In my view, such high class hotels will influence the construction and development of Kobuleti and this beautiful place will be valued not only by Georgian citizens, but also by tourists from abroad.
Q. How did such a high-costing project influence the development of Kobuleti?
A. First of all it is worth mentioning that as a result of this project new workplaces appeared in Kobuleti and hundreds of locals were employed. This project has introduced Kobuleti to many people. Foreign guests who visit us become acquainted with the beauty of our region and underline that our country has quite large potential for developing tourism in the country.
Many of the representatives of foreign organizations choose Kobuleti as a place for recreation or business meetings, which is indisputably due to the merit of Georgia Palace Hotel.
Q. Foreigners often complain about the high prices of Georgian hotels and also about that of cuisine. What exactly determines the overall room cost?
A. As you know there is a fairly unstable economic situation in the country at the moment and it’s very hard to keep prices low in such a situation even in the sphere of food. Therefore legislation in regard to tourism needs to be improved and defined. If in the near future the current circumstances’ problems become settled, then the situation will change to the positive.
Q. Who were your first guests?
A. The hotel was officially opened in June 2008 and our first official guests were the GUAM summit members and important politician statesmen.
Q. Who are your regular guests?
A. Our regular guests are mostly representatives of international organizations, but also businessmen and people who visit us just for recreation.
Q. How do you control service quality?
A. We systematically implement trainings to raise the qualifications of our employees and staff.
Q. Quite recently a very large hotel was opened in Batumi. There are plans for some more 5 start hotels to be opened in Georgia, among them a Radisson which will be opened in September. How does competition influence you?
A. Healthy competition is acceptable and even useful because it helps us to improve and further polish our service.
Q. Where do you train your hotel personnel?
A. The Tourism Educational Centre in Kobuleti helps us a lot, plus we train and raise the qualification of our personnel in our own hotel’s premises.
Q. What is the exact number of your employees?
A. 150 people work at the hotel but their number grows depending on the seasonal cycles.
Q. A hotel’s cuisine is one of its most important assets. What can you tell us about the menu at GPH? Who is the chef?
A. Certainly one of the most important places in the hotel is the kitchen and its head chef is full of that responsibility. Our head chef is Italian, Giovanni Librizzi from Sicily. He offers guests a wide choice of Italian and Georgian food.
Q. When is the best time to stay at your hotel? In which seasons do you offer promo actions and other discounts?
A. We try to have a system in place for organising these actions, for example at the moment we have special summer prices which are lower than standard prices and still include two meals a day.
Q. Do you currently have any discounts for children, newly-weds, families, etc?
A. Children younger than 6 are free of charge in our hotel and we offer special packages to newly-wed couples.
Q. Is it possible to make an online reservation for your hotel?
A. We are refreshing our website at the moment, but very soon we will offer online reservation services to our clients.
Q. What can you say about Georgia’s development regarding tourism?
A. Georgia really has a good perspective for developing tourism in the country. Its geographic location, historical and natural conditions support this. As for the infrastructure, the Government is trying to support its development which in due course will raise the number of tourists in the country.
Written By Tako Khelaia