The FINANCIAL — In 2010, Adjara Group entered the Georgian hospitality sector by introducing and managing the first local Holiday Inn franchise, which successfully pushed the design and concept boundaries for the international brand. It turned the former Adjara Hotel into a new, modern establishment while preserving the initial face of the building.
Since then, Adjara Group has revolutionized the country’s hospitality industry by creating and managing the first Georgian lifestyle brands – Rooms Hotels in Tbilisi and Kazbegi, Stamba Hotel and Fabrika Hostel. The company has gained international recognition for turning historic and abandoned brutalist structures into stylish, contemporary properties. Rusudan Kalandadze, GM of Holiday Inn Tbilisi, talked to The FINANCIAL about the evolution of the Georgian hospitality industry.
Q. How is Holiday Inn Tbilisi different?
A. The hotel combines high quality standards of Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) with the essence of Georgian hospitality. We try to offer the best and innovate while staying authentic and true to the country’s culture and values.
The hotel is designed for business travellers as well as visiting families and offers a variety of luxury features and services. We particularly focus on MICE travellers and have the capacity to accommodate large groups for high-level events and meetings. MICE tourism has become very important for the country and I believe the hotel plays a key role in developing it.
Q. How do you determine the success of your hotel?
A. Our goal is to have many happy customers. We try to offer a hotel experience rather than just an accommodation. We try to exceed expectations and I am very happy to say that based on our guests’ ratings, Holiday Inn Tbilisi is continuously among the top five Holiday Inn Hotels in Europe.
Q. What are the new developments at the hotel?
A. Holiday Inn Tbilisi is always expanding and evolving. We continuously renew the hotel’s facilities and open new ones to offer richer experiences. This year, our outdoor swimming pool area was renovated and became a great success throughout summer. In addition, we have added new conference rooms, meeting spaces and ballrooms which are further contributing to the ‘meetings industry’.
Q. How do you think Georgian hospitality is changing and what about the competition?
A. I am happy to see what an appealing tourist destination Georgia has become in the last few years. According to the World Tourism Organization, in 2017 Georgia was among the top 10 fastest-growing destinations in Europe with a 27.9% increase in the inflow of international visitors. The country has gained fame for its ancient culture, authentic cuisine and wine making history, untouched nature and centuries-long hospitality traditions.
Hospitality plays a crucial role in developing the tourism industry and many new hotels are opening across the country. We are indeed happy to see new players on the market and we welcome a culture of healthy competition which leads to better quality standards.
Q. How do you see your role in Tbilisi’s urban development process?
A. Adjara Group plays a key role in Tbilisi’s urban development by reconceptualizing historic brutalist structures of the city and turning them into stylish, contemporary properties. Holiday Inn Tbilisi was a turning point, after which the company began creating trend-setting establishments like Rooms Hotels (Kazbegi & Tbilisi), Stamba Hotel and Fabrika Hostel in Tbilisi. These vanues blend in with visual aesthetics of the city, while also serving a new purpose.