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Entries in Formula 1 (6)


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.



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:


Distances to Sochi

I like this interactive map of distances to Sochi from other cities in the Black Sea Region.  It illustrates distance very well and shows cities such as Yevpatoria, Ukraine are not far from Sochi.  There is ferry service to Sochi from Trabzon, Turkey and other cities including Tuapse, Russia and Gagar, Abkhazia.  It is assumed that by 2014 there will be more ferry service offered from Black Sea cities to Sochi.

What the map does not show is how overland distances translates into travel time.  For instance, the city of Svetlograd is about 195 miles.  Svetlograd is some distance past the more well-known southern Russian city (and original home of MIkhail Gorbachev) of Stavropol.  Stavropol is about 150 miles directly from Sochi. To a North American, it would seem that a trip to Stavropol would take about 2 hours.  However, on the train it is about 10 hours.  The bus trip is about 12.  A car trip would probably around 10 hours due to circuitous roads and traffic.  The map does not show that there is only one road (and one railroad) leading to Sochi from the rest of Russia.  The Caucasus Mountains come very close to the sea at Sochi and the road was constructed along the seacoast and so avoided the difficulties and expense of mountain construction.  

For this reason, security for the Olympics, Paralympics, World Cup and Formula 1 are not the issues that are assumed by many that are unfamiliar with the region.  It could take 24 hours or more to reach Sochi from the restive regions of Russia's North Caucasus.  And since there is only one road, the checkpoints and potential checkpoints make infiltration by those with destructive power very difficult.  And with a mountain range in between the two, it would very difficult to make an overland journey.

There is no place immune from security risks, but because of Sochi's location it is no more of a risk than any other high profile destination.


Welcome to the Boomtown- New Photos of Sochi, Russia



Go to Photographs on the menu bar and click or follow this link to see new photos taken in Sochi


Marussia Virgin Racing at Formula Sochi Speed Festival 

Today, I was invited by the crew of Marussia Virgin Racing to watch as they prepared for tomorrow's Speed Festival in Sochi.  The crew generously allowed me to talk with them and photograph their preparations.  Many onlookers watched as Red Bull, Lotus Renault and Marussia Virgin Racing prepared for Sunday's event.  The circuit used tomorrow will be a temporary one.  Sochi's Formula 1 Race Course is being prepared around the Olympic Village in Adler and is not yet avalable.  There is a great deal of interest in Formula 1 Racing in Sochi and Russia as momentum builds towards the first Formula 1 Race to be held in Russia in 2014.




Abkhazia Projects

The Republic of Abkhazia needs investment to develop economically.  I am hearing that academics, journalists and foreign policy experts recognize that there shouldbe a dialogue with Abkhazia and that business and political ties need to be fostered.  Without this Abkhazia, remains isolated and this is does not promote peace, prosperity and stability in the region.  There is no question that Russia and Russian investors recognize what is obvious to me:  Abkhazia is ripe for development.  However, if the only outside investors are Russian, Abkhazia will not develop as quickly.  There needs to be money from a larger universe of investors and the Abkhaz authorities recognize this.



I see a number of great opportunities in Abkhazia.  A large, international infrastructure investment group contacted me last year.  They pointed out that the airport in Sukhum has an excellent geographic location and with the longest runway in the Caucasus it would be ideal for an international "hub and spoke" airport with flights on to Central Asia, the Persian Gulf and Russia.  

The port in Sukhum needs to be redeveloped also.  Currently, there are only Turkish merchant vessels docking there.  However, as Abkhazia grows ( reportedly the economy nearly doubled in 2009), there will be more trade and the small, out-dated facility needs to be rebuilt.


Abkhazia sits just across the border from the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.  Sochi will also host Formula 1 Racing starting in 2014 and World Cup football matches will be played there in 2018.  Sochi will be an international destination because of this and because of the appeal to beach-goers and skiers.  Because of its proximity to Sochi and the large number of Russian tourists who view it as the a subtropical vacation paradise, Abkhazia needs many hotels to replace the aged Soviet built structure on its beaches.   One of the most intriguing locations is Pitsunda, a few miles from Gagra.  The Soviet-era resort there sits on about 82 acres of beachfront property and with nearly 3,000 rooms is the largest resort in the country.  Views from the property include not only the beaches, but the spectacular snow-covered (even in hot summer) Caucasus Mountains.  

Abkhazia is also considering allowing Russian citizens the right to buy apartments.  When that happens, a lot of people will view it as an attractive place to own a vacation home.  There are good locations available to buy and build.

In the border zone, there are great locations available to build hotels.  Russia is planning to rebuild the border crossing to accommodate more cross border traffic and trade.  This will  make these locations that are only a few kilometers for the Olympic Village and the Formula ! course very attractive.

The mountains are a big draw for summertime tourism, but the winter potential of the Caucasus is even greater with skiing.  At this moment, there are no ski resorts in Abkhazia.  However, the mountains reach from the sea to altitudes of over 13,000 feet.  There are several potential ski resort locations close to the border with Russia and further down the coast.

Abkhazia shares the hydroelectric power station at Inguri with Georgia.  This provides the electricity for the country and about 40% of Georgia's electricity.  There is significant untapped potential in Abkhazia's rivers.  The Russian oil company, Rosneft,which recently sold a state to BP, is working on a site on Abkhazia's coastal shelft that is supposed to be significant.  The impact to Abkhazia s unknown, but probably significant.

This is only a small sample of the projects in the Republic of Abkhazia.