The FINANCIAL — An unprecedented building in Georgia – part of the Rixos Hotel Brand that is officially entering the Georgian market – is planned to be completed by 2014.
This is a project which has brought Israeli investments back to Georgia following the global crisis and a hiatus of a few years. Rixos has invested capital of more than 15 million USD in Tbilisi.
Rixos Residence will be located near to the museum on Gudiashvili Street. The luxury 5 star Rixos Residence will consist of 60 apartments and about 40 shops of famous brands. “World fashion brands will have fashion boutiques here in Rixos Residence. It will be the most prestigious address in town,” said Gokhan Sarper, Development Director of Rixos, in his exclusive interview with The FINANCIAL.
“It is also planned for a museum to be opened on the first floor of Rixos Residence. The whole foyer will be a piece of art. It will have galleries and exhibition halls. This will be the most expensive hotel in Georgia. But if we take the quality and service in to consideration, then the price is quite reasonable. The top service and luxury will be key aspects of a stay in our hotel. The Rixos concept in Tbilisi is the first in Eastern Europe,” he added.
Rixos Hotels, established in 2000, is one of the world’s fastest-growing luxury hotel chains. The Antalya-based group owns and operates 14 resorts and villas, including five city hotels in Turkey, Southeast Europe, CIS countries, North Africa and the Middle East.
“We are planning several projects in Georgia. Rixos Residence in Tbilisi has already been started and will be completed by the beginning of 2014. The idea of constricting such a kind of building in Tbilisi belongs to Itsik Moshe, President of the Israel-Georgia Chamber of Business. We have been known to each other for a long time as partners and on a personal basis as well. We have been thinking about what we could to do together. The high level and quality of the Rixos brand was suitable for the place where we are building Rixos Residence.
We have ongoing negotiations with some other companies as well. These negotiations are about opening Rixos hotels in Likani and also in Batumi. It is not finalized yet, but still in the process of negotiations. In Batumi we are still in the process of searching but in Likani we are already in the stage of negotiating. We plan to open a hotel as well as a medical centre in Likani. It will be quite a different project from the one in Tbilisi.
Q. As Georgia is a small marketplace do you believe that there is still sufficient room for development?
A. According to our research the market is growing gradually and Georgia has very big potential. This is really a well growing country. As for the competition, I would say that in Rixos’ chains we have many Georgian guests. So this hotel and our service are well known to Georgians. We have a good reputation and brand awareness in this region. We do not see any difficulties connected to competition with other hotel brands in Georgia. According to our research customers in Georgia are ready for the entrance of Rixos in the country.
According to our research the number of tourists in Georgia will have reached more than 2 million by 2014. This number of tourists therefore will need 30,000 rooms. There are only 10,000 rooms here at present. By 2014 about 10,000 extra rooms will be built. But that will still mean a deficit of 10,000 rooms. Tbilisi will lose 4,000 hotel rooms. So there will be enough room for any hotels to open in Georgia.
For example, in Antalia there are 200 5 star hotels. Compared to this data, Tbilisi also needs more hotels as a tourist destination.
Q. How would you advertise the Rixos Hotel in Georgia to the world?
A. Rixos covers the global market and Georgia will be a part of it. The advertisements will be on different channels throughout the world, in the best quality journals and newspapers, in exhibitions, everywhere. Rixos will bring more tourists to Georgia.
The entrance of Rixos would bring businessmen and investments to the country as well. We have lots of business partners all over the world. They wonder what is happening in Georgia.
Q. As well as Georgia, where else is Rixos going to expand to?
A. We are expanding in lots of countries. We are expanding in CIS countries. Rixos is in the process of entering Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Dubai, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Georgia of course and other countries as well.
Q. From which countries do you expect the highest number of guests?
A. From Caucasian countries; from post Soviet Union countries. We expect a large number of tourists from Turkey, which has a population of 8 million and which has one of the most fast-growing economies. It is also Georgia’s neighbouring country. People from the Middle East would be interested in the Rixos hotel in Georgia. I also think some people from Europe would prefer to come to Georgia because Georgia presents a new destination for them. It is a country with a rich culture and ancient history which is a winning combination for attracting tourists.