Hotels & Preference Hualing Tbilisi, a leading business hotel in Georgia, is gladly announcing it will resume operations in near future.
“As the government is now trying to boost the economy and promote tourism as one of the biggest contributors, we are opening in phases, starting with some food and beverage services, pool facilities (as far as will be allowed by the regulations) and lastly hotel rooms will be available from July 2, 2020. We are finalizing our summer promotions for domestic and international tourism …. So stay tuned”, said Patrick U. Buder, the new General Manager of the hotel.
Buder joined the Hotels & Preference Hualing Tbilisi team on February 9, 2020. Prior to his arrival in Georgia, he worked for the hotel’s corporate management office, BTL Hospitality Group in China, as Director of Projects & Operation to launch BTL Collections and oversee the expansion of the brands.
Having started his career as a chef in 5-star hospitality locations in Switzerland and following his graduation in 1998 from the Hotel & Restaurant Management School HGF in Thun, Switzerland, his career path led from the Middle East to Southeast Asia and China.
With work engagements ranging from Leading Hotel of the World to Small Luxury Hotels, he accumulated a wealth of know-how in the luxury hotel segment before joining international hotel management companies like Accor, Hilton and IHG, as a general manager.
He has considerable experience in pre-openings, rebranding, and repositioning of properties, combined with a creative approach to business.
“I am delighted to join Hotels & Preference in a new and vibrant tourism destination such as Georgia. I and the team will engage with the clientele to achieve even higher levels of hospitality, delivering our guests the kind of guest experience that only Hotels & Preference by BTL Hospitality can offer and build an enduring love for our hotel and Georgia”, Buder said, commenting on his new appointment.
With his over 30-year career in the hospitality industry and extensive knowledge and experience of luxury brands as well as experience in pre-openings, the hotel will continue to provide guests with memorable experiences and uphold the traditions of which Hotel & Preference by BTL Hospitality is proud while striving to further enhance service quality and brand value.
The coronavirus has changed everything around us, including the hospitality sector. Please tell us how the hotel is preparing to handle coronavirus related challenges, such as implementing new technologies and safety standards. What guidelines will the hotel develop for the safe resumption of its activities?
Hotels & Preference was one of the first hotels in Tbilisi to start with heightened safety checks, i.e. body temperature checks for all employees and guests and providing sanitizing products in public areas and back of the house facilities as early as March.
The way business will be conducted in the future has changed and will continue to do so. The need for less contact will increase and check-in, check out and guest services will go digital, but there will definitely still be a need for personalized service in specific areas of the experience.
People still have fears of coronavirus and prefer to avoid traveling. Do you expect to host the same number of guests as the hotel usual hosts in the summer season? What are your expectations regarding the number of guests that will stay at the hotel during the pandemic?
The return to pre-COVID-19 will take time and even though the summer season is coming, most business or bookings for July or August have been canceled or kept on hold. We at Hotels & Preference Tbilisi see this as an opportunity during the mid-term to come up with creative ideas and it will show the resistance of the industry and capability to re-invent ourselves and adapt.
The tourism industry of Georgia was one of the first to receive a blow from the coronavirus. What is the loss that Hualing hotel has experienced recently due to the coronavirus pandemic?
We obviously were impacted as anybody else in the tourism industry in Georgia and, for that fact, the world. I believe as a company, we all have the responsibility to put in place solid financial policies or strategies for exactly such an economic situation like this year.
Georgia has been praised by global health leaders, as well as the International media for its efforts in successfully containing the spread of COVID-19. What are your impressions about Georgia’s efforts in fighting the pandemic?
Georgia has reacted pretty fast to the COVID-19 pandemic and implemented strict regulations. I believe Georgia has handled the situation pretty well.
The government of Georgia introduced its anti-crisis plan, which includes resuming domestic tourism from June 15th and restarting international tourism in August. Do you think the country is ready to have tourism resume then?
It was very good that the government outlined a clear basic structure and when and how businesses or industries can resume operations. The basic plan was good; the tourism ministry tried to get input from the industry directly to work out the specific framework and then looked into ways how to speed up the recovery.
So far, we believe the government has been very supportive and is trying its best, but in the end, only the results will show and it takes both the government and the individual industries to make things work.
Georgia is ready from what I can see and it always depends on the population not only the government regulations as to whether things work out as planned.
How will the coronavirus change hotel stays in your opinion?
As said earlier, certain things will change, and new technologies will come faster than originally planned. On the other hand, people tend to forget easily after a while, we just have to look around since the relaxation of the regulations: many cars are back on the road, and not even all businesses have resumed. People have started enjoying going out for walks and socializing again much as they did before COVID-19. Changing habits will take more time than implementing new technologies or regulations.