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Entries in Hotels Sochi (2)

Monday
Jul162012

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group And Harald Buerkle Team Up In Rosa Khutor

 

Park Inn by Radisson- Rosa Khutor

Rosa Khutor is located in the Caucasus Mountains about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Black Sea in southwestern Russia and will host the alpine events during the 2014 Winter Games to be held in Sochi.  Rosa Khutor is a very ambitious mountain resort project and next to the high-speed gondola taking skiers and spectators to the mountaintop, a new European-style village with accommodation, dining and shopping is being built. This year, the Park Inn by Radisson opened its doors and during the 2012- 2013 winter season its sister property, the Radisson, Rosa Khutor will welcome guests for the first time.  The two properties sit just across the Mzymta River from each other and can be accessed by the pedestrian bridge (click here for a 360 degree panoramic photo of the site) constructed over the river.  

Lobby Bar- Park Inn by Radisson

I first experienced the Park Inn in February of this year, just after its January opening and during the International Ski Federation World Cup, when I interviewed Luke Bodensteiner of the United States Sk and Snowboard Association in the hotel lobby for SochChannel.com   At that time, I was impressed with the design of its chic lobby bar and lounge.  More recently, I returned and spent an afternoon with Harald Buerkle, the General Manager of both the Park Inn and the Radisson.  Mr. Buerkle was kind enough to treat me to a very good lunch of the best German food to be found in the area.  This is not entirely surprising given that Mr. Buerkle, with a Chef's Master degree, has a background in food preparation, including 5 years working in Michelin-starred restaurants.  Mr. Buerkle, starting at the age of 16, was precocious in food preparation and was promoted to prominent positions at an early age.  In fact, at 27, he was the Executive Chef at one of the most prominent hotels in Eastern Europe and managing a team of 70 people.  Harald (I hope he will excuse the familiarity!) previously worked in Moscow and also has served stints working at Radisson Blu Hotels in the United Kingdom, in Kiev, as the Food and Beverage Manager and at Ruegen, Germany on the Baltic Sea, where he held his first position as General Manager.

Harald and his wife recently moved here.  He originally came from Bavaria and Katinka from the German state of Swabia.  Harald keeps busy with the hotels, but he finds time to pursue his MBA in Hospitality and Service Management at the Glion School of Higher Education in Switzerland.  All this activity does not leave much time for him to golf, which he greatly enjoys. 

 

General Manager Harald Buerkle

After lunch, Harald showed me several categories of rooms at the Park Inn.  All are very comfortable and feature the modern design esthetic and ease of use that Radisson is well-known for.  The English-speaking staff, both polite and helpful, reflects the professional management of Radisson.  I arrived early for the meeting and while working on my computer discovered I was missing an adapter for my battery charger.  The bartender noticed and quickly produced one for me. This attention to guests will serve the Park Inn well in the future.  Large numbers of foreign travellers will be coming to the Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort, through the Olympics and after, to enjoy the spectacular scenery and the mountain's vertical drop of 1,776 meters (5,774 feet!).  The Park Inn has ski storage, a gym and nightclub, as well as its restaurant with Bavarian cusine and the hip lobby bar.  The hotel is accessible, too.  The road runs right to its doorstep and a new high-speed rail is being constructed from Sochi to Krasnaya Polyana, with a station just a short distance from the village that includes the Park Inn and Radisson.

 

Guestroom

Although the Radisson, across from the Park Inn, is not completed, Harald shared details with me about it.  He told me that the hotel will be "the most luxurious in Rosa Khutor" and that the cool Black Bar and Grill will source local ingredients and the best quality imports.  There will a nightclub and also an entertainemnt zone for children.  All will be within walking distance of the ski shops, ski schools, shopping, dining and the mountain. Between the two hotels, Harald will manage nearly 400 rooms in the premium location at Rosa Khutor.  He and I  are already planning events there, including a charity hike, barbeque and party in September.  I will keep readers posted as to plans and developments.  

Friday
Dec022011

Alla Menschikova and the Rodina Grand Hotel and Spa

I met with Alla Menschikova this week at the Rodina Grand Hotel and Spa.  Alla is the Director of Sales, Marketing, Public Relations and Advertising at the Rodina and she generously agreed to speak to me about her career path and the hotel.

Alla, whose name means resurrection in Old Greek, was born in the Siberian city of Tomsk, where her father served in the military.  Later she lived in Moscow, where she attended Moscow State University of Commerce and studied Hotel Management.  Alla's work career started even earlier, in hotel reception in Moscow at, the Katerina Hotel where she quickly worked her way up the ladder into management.  So, she is well-versed in the operational side of hotels.  Later, after finishing University, Alla worked in hotel consultancy for several firms, including Jones Lang La Salle Hotels.  She visited a number of hotel sites in Russia and Ukraine in order to develop the information necessary for hotel feasibility studies, which she wrote.  

After working in consultancy for 4 1/2 years, she decided to reenter hotel management and took a position with the Rodina because she admired the hotel and liked the people working there.  It is easy to see why Alla was drawn to work at the hotel.  The Rodina, with its sweeping driveway and dramatic facade, sits in central Sochi, just a few minutes from the seaport and off Vinogradnaya Ulitsa. The hotel really is a grand facility and the quality of service and the understated elegance of the rooms reminds me of that other grand Russian Hotel, the Grand Europa in Saint Petersburg. The rooms range from 45 square meters for a standard room to 65 for a junior suite and up to 160 for a deluxe suite.  There are views of the tree-filled grounds and Black Sea and the hotel has one of the best quality restaurants in Sochi, the Black Magnolia, which features Mediterranean cuisine and an extensive wine list of well-known French and Italian wines.  The Rodina's spa is one of the largest in Europe, with facial and body treatments, including Thai massage.  There are also sauna and steam rooms.   The outdoor pool area is spectacular and suitable for parties.  There is a conference room for 90 attendees and the Rodina is spacious enough with its restaurants, bars and terraces to accommodate weddings and corporate events simultaneously.  Alla and I spoke about the appeal of the Rodina in the hustle and bustle that is pre-Olympic Sochi.  The hotel is clearly an "oasis" of calm and relaxation that can only be created by very good service.

 

 

Alla told me that "all guests are equally important" and that she derives great satisfaction from exceeding the expectations of guests who have come a long distance to relax at the Black Sea's best resort.  A philosophy of the hotel is that all employees add value and I have heard stories of all staff, including maids and groundskeepers going to whatever lengths necessary to assure that each detail, no matter how small, is seen to for guests of the hotel.

The Rodina is the preferred destination in Sochi for many of Russia's entertainers and leaders in politics and business. Despite this, there are surprisingly attractive winter rates available and the restaurants are open to diners who are not guests of the hotel.  

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