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Monday
Oct212013

The Hyatt Regency Slated For December 2013 Opening

I met with General Manager Jean Francois Durand earlier this month (September 2013).  Mr. Durand has a long history in hotel management, both in Europe and in Russia.   He was the General Manager at Hyatt Regency Hotels in both Yekaterinburg, Russia and in Dushanbe Tajikistan.  He was also the Executive Chef at the Ararat Park Hyatt in Moscow.  Jean Francois gave me a tour of the 198-room hotel as it readies to open before the Winter Games.   We toured the hotel rooms, restaurant and bar areas, reception and function spaces and he told me about his vision for the hotel.  With his background in food preparation, Jean Francois has taken particular interest in the development of the two restaurants in the hotel.   Parterre Restaurant, the larger of the two and with longer hours, will have a mix of European and Russian “comfort foods”, while Bourride will provide Mediterranean specialties to hotel guests and other diners.

The hotel rooms will feature not only great views through floor-to-ceiling windows, but the comfort and understated elegance that the Hyatt brand is famous for.  Individual rooms range from 37 to 190 square meters and are situated from the 6th through the 14th floors of the hotel.  The entrance to the hotel will feature a dramatic drive-through approach from Orzhonikidze Ulitsa.

 


Guestroom

The hotel also has a number of function spaces that will serve as locations for events in Sochi for many years to come.  The conference hall is about 450 square meters and will be a great meeting spot because of the great height and shape of the space,  its size and the dramatic windows that will provide views of tree-lined Ordzhonikidze Ulitsa.  Since the hotel is a very short walk to the Winter Theater and the Festivalniy Concert Hall, just across the street from Sochi’s Art Museum and only steps above the beach, it will be an important destination during events such as the Sochi International Economic Forum, Sochi’s Kinotavr Film Festival and the international sport events that are about to put Sochi on the world’s event map.

 

Ordzhonikidze Ulitsa (Street) Entrance

Jean Francois and I talked about the path that led him to Sochi and how his hotel will appeal to the increasing number of international guests who also are finding their way to Sochi.  He said that the Sochi Hyatt Regency aims not simply to be a hotel, but rather a destination that will be an important part of the city’s social fabric, as guests come for dinner and drinks and to enjoy the unique ambiance that Hyatt has so successfully created with their Regency brand.

The Hyatt Regency is located at 15- 17 Ordzhonikidze Ulitsa (Street) in Sochi.   Look for an opening in December of 2013.  

Please contact us for accommodation:  bruce@destinationsochi.com

Friday
Jan252013

Q & A Service- Sochi

I have a new Q & A service for those with interest in Sochi.  Please follow the link and join to ask questions directly online.

Questions will be answered promptly and if we can provide additional on-the-ground services to companies and organizations in Sochi, we will be glad for the opportunity and contact.

 

Monday
Nov192012

Sochi's First English Language Magazine

SochiMagazine.com, Sochi's first and only English language is now online.  The magazine features articles, hotel and restaurant reviews, a map of Sochi, photos and videos.  Also, the site has a social network for expats and others to join.  They can then offer reviews, comments and answer or ask questions and interact with the growing expat community in Sochi.

Please take a few moments, look at the site and join the community!

 

SochiMagazine.com

Tuesday
Nov062012

Radisson Blu Opens Near Olympic Park

 

The new 508 room Radisson Blu Resort and Congress Center in Adler (in Sochi and near the Olympic Park) is now open and accepting reservations and accommodating visitors to Sochi.   American Brian Thompson of Colorado walked through the doors on Monday, November 5 to be welcomed by General Manager Thomas Hagemann and the staff of the hotel as its first guest.

That day, I spent the afternoon and evening at the Radisson Blu as a guest of Mr. Hagemann, General Manager and District Director for the Rezidor Hotel Group.  It was not the first time that I had been to the hotel, though.  Mr. Hagemann showed it to me during the latter stages of construction in late July.  At that time, rooms were being finished, the restaurants were being furnished and equipped, and the pools and spa were not completed.  Filling staff positions had only begun.

Monday (November 5), when I arrived, Mr. Hagemann greeted me at reception, which was staffed by friendly, smiling, English-speaking personnel.  He showed me the spectacular sushi bar that will open shortly near the Radisson's spacious reception area.   We also looked at the other restaurants, the spa, fitness room, children's play area, both pools (one for adults and one for children) and retail areas, the huge conference center. Everywhere is the feeling of space and with the sophisticated colors and design the hotel exudes Scandinavian cool.  Since the hotel sits between the Olympic Park and Adler's new seaport, the views are spectacular, too. Thomas and I toured several guest rooms, including one of the 3 Presidential Suites, just as the sun set over the Black Sea.  The view was amazing from the balcony- the sea on one side and on the other the Olympic venues with the Caucasus Mountains as backdrop.  I have beenl around the Olympic Park many times and no building features a better vista.

 

All of the rooms evidence the Scandinavian design prominent in Radisson hotels.  They are modern, comfortable, quiet and calm. The temperature, door and window systems control the environment and when inside, there is no hint that the Radisson Blu is only an oasis in the middle of the world's biggest construction site. Rooms either have mountain or sea views, some with both and many have views of the Olympic Park, including the Bolshoi Ice Palace, just a short walk from the hotel.

Thomas and his wife, Claudia,  hosted Brian and I and another local hotelier and his wife at dinner in the hotel's main restaurant.  The Executive Chef is George Leivadiotis, whose heritage is Greek, but who hails from Belgium. I had the restaurant's very good Blu Burger with a fresh Greek Salad, along with Tarte Tatin for desert.  The restaurant has a good selection of foreign and local wines to complement the menu.  And Mr. Leivadiotis does a great job in mixing the local produce with imported food to allow a different set of choices than diners usually have in this region.  

Thomas told me a bit about his background, too.  He was raised near Bremen, Germany and after his education and military experience, he served an apprenticeship with Marriott.  Since then he has served as Chief Steward, Restaurant Manager, Banquet Manager, Food and Beverage Manager, Director of Operations and General Manager at hotels in Germany, Egypt and Dubai.  Eventually, he was called to Rezidor Hotel Group's main office to serve as Vice President of Future Openings for all brands in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. There he was involved in the openings of over 200 hotels in more than 20 countries. Mr. Hagemann chose to work in Sochi as the General Manager of the Radisson Blu and District Director for all the hotels that the Rezidor Group will open in the area. His experience and success brought several opportunities his way, but he chose the Radisson Blu in Adler because of the challenges and excitement in working in a beachside resort city that will host not only the 2014 Winter Games, but also Formula 1 Racing and World Cup football.

The conference center has space for 1,200 and looks set to become the preferred location for events in Adler/ Sochi. The size, modern design and functionality place it at the top in Sochi.  There are also two large conference rooms and smaller rooms for other events.  One of my favorite places in the hotel is the lobby bar.  It has several sitting areas and a balcony overlooking the Black Sea, just a few meters away.  I asked Thomas about training and service, since the staff seemed to be especially helpful and friendly.  He told me about the "Yes I Can" training that each employee undergoes and how they emphasize service in all areas of the hotel.  In a developing economy and city without long service traditions, this sets hotels, such as Thomas' apart.

 

Everything about the Radisson Blu suggests it will be a preferred destination for a long time. There are no hotels that are competitive in Adler at the moment (although other hotels are being constructed nearby) and the Radisson Blu's size and location means that it will immediately become the premier destination for business and sports-related travel to Sochi.  At this writing. there are no other hotels in the region that can compete with its location, range of dining options, size and room quality- especially so for those whose business takes them to the Olympic Park and Formula 1 location.

 

 

Saturday
Nov032012

Sochi Seaport

 

Sochi City Center and Seaport

Sochi is the site of the 2014 Winter Games and is recognized as one of the largest construction zones in the world. Games venues, both in the mountains and at the Coastal Cluster, are being built new and at a pace to finish well ahead of the Games.  Krasnaya Polyana has 3 beautiful, state of the art, new ski resorts and a new hospital.  There is a new airport, train stations are being rebuilt (including Adler Station, which will be the largest in Russia).  A new high-speed rail network will connect the airport with both the Coastal and Mountain Clusters. There are new roads, highways, bridges and massive retaining walls and a new border crossing.  Large, modern hotels and resorts are being built in Krasnaya Polyana, Adler and Sochi.  New apartment complexes, office buildings and shopping centers are going up all over the city, particularly near the Sochi city center.  

With all of this happening in Sochi, it is easy to miss what may have as big an impact as almost any of these on Sochi's ability to sustain an international tourism legacy after the Games conclude - the expansion of Sochi's seaport.  The massive project involves using both public (for infrastructure) and private investment (for commercial development). The investment by the Russian government alone will be more than 7 billion rubles (about $230 million).  The project will include 730 meters of cruise ship terminals, which will allow 2 large cruise ships to dock in Sochi, simultaneously.  There will be a new yacht marina, roll on/ roll off ship berths, a 1,000 meter protective pier and a 200 meter breakwater.  The new seaport will also include a retail complex with additional space for restaurants and parking. When all is said and done, Sochi's seaport will be recognized as the best facility on the Black Sea.   

Construction on the seaport project began this summer and completion is expected next year.  It is located in the very center of Sochi, near the pedestrian zone defined on one side by the Sochi River and the other by Gorkovo Ulitsa.  It is about 1 1/2 blocks from the McDonald's Restaurant and next to Sochi's boardwalk.  The area around the seaport is already seen as the center of Sochi's restaurant scene, with the locally well-known Brigantina Cafe sitting next to the marina.   The iconic seaport building, built during the Soviet era, sits near the Olympic Clock.

I have been watching developments in Sochi closely and with the seaport reconstruction ramping up, I wanted to get a closer look and more information about what is happening. So, recently I met with local officials and took a brief tour. That afternoon, the Director of the Seaport and I took a walk and he showed me the seaport and its yacht marina. He said that with thousands of new passengers disembarking to shop, eat and drink, sightsee and to enjoy the beaches and mountains, the new seaport will place Sochi on the international cruise ship map.  Cruise ships are projected to increase the number of visits to Sochi to 179 by that same year. Those cruise ships alone are expected to bring more than 100,000 new tourists to Sochi, most of whom will be from Western Europe or North America.  Ferry traffic, including to local destinations and which connects Sochi to Trabzon, Turkey; Gagra, Abkhazia: Batumi, Georgia and other Russian cities on the Black Sea, such as Gelendzhik and Novorossiysk, is projected to grow to 463 stops in 2015.                                                                                                                              

The Winter Games and accompanying development in Sochi has been part of comprehensive plan to increase tourism in Sochi and Russia.  Sochi is rapidly transforming into an international, year-around, mountain sports and beach destination, with tourists arriving by airplane, train, automobile and cruise liners.

 

Seaport Construction