Making Belarus more attractive for the global community is number one objective for the Republic's current authorities.Talks on this subject are related to attracting investments, developing a new political image, the government attempting to boost inbound tourism flow.
Whatever goals are top of the list, they all have one thing in common. These objectives cannot be reached without having to develop the infrastructure and improve the country's service level to new highs. In this regard Belarus gradually invests in construction of hotels, including those of higher levels of comfort. Today there are only two five-start hotels open in Minsk, the Republic's capital - Crowne Plaza Minsk and the Hotel Europe.
Out of these two the Hotel Europe is Belarus' only hotel of atrium type. In other words, when leaving their room the hotel's guest always appears in the inside balcony gallery and can see the lobby from wherever they might be.
An artistic panel 17 meters high and about 4 meters wide serves as the main decoration of the seven-storey hotel. This masterpiece was created on commission by one of the capital's leading architects, Valeriy Dovgalo. The unique panel is a piece of art executed as Florentine mosaic made of smalti glass. The panel depicts major sights of Minsk which should show the capital to the best advantage in the opinion of M.Ya. Pavlov who was the city mayor during the design phase.
When planning the hotel architects were especially focused on the feeling of coziness and comfort that should catch guests' eyes as early as during their first few seconds of being here. There are no magnificent forms, magnificent range - what one gets instead is a feeling of seclusion and individuality which help hotel rooms to stay occupied when other Belarusian hotels are desperate for visitors.
We spoke to the Hotel Europe's Director, Aleksandr Nikolayevich Sviridovich, about peculiar features of the hotel, capital invested in it and prospects for development of this five-star hotel of Minsk.
Market Leader:How profitable is the accommodation business of the 5-star hotel in Minsk? Are revenues of 5-star hotels in London (Dubai) and in Minsk comparable?
A.N. Sviridovich (The Hotel Europe): Accommodation business in Belarus is profitable. Profitability levels vary between 35 and 50%. Its profitability is comparable to that of hotels in western countries. In western countries they are certainly higher but their costs also exceed ours.
Market Leader:What investments are required to build a 5-star hotel in CIS countries and Belarus, in particular?
A.N. SviridovichI have no information on CIS countries available. As far as investments in Belarus are concerned the initial level is at three thousand dollars per square meter.
Market Leader:What is the project recoupment period in our case? What rooms are especially in demand?
A.N. Sviridovich:Our hotel isn't a classical example you should refer to. We are the first example of using our own money and taking out loans from Belarusian banks for construction. When speaking of the Republic of Belarus the recoupment period for a hotel is within 5-7 years. As far as the Hotel Europe room, are concerned we have Standard, Deluxe and Presidential. We don't have empty rooms.
A photo of the Presidential Room:
This room costs Euro 1,105 for single and Euro 1,150 for double stay. By way of comparison, counterparts of the Presidential Suite in London's five-star hotels have much higher and wider-ranging prices. For example, THE LANESBOROUGH, A ST REGIS HOTEL offers Apsley Suite for Euro 1,827, Buckingham Suite for Euro 3,806 and The Royal Suite is the most expensive at Euro 11,420 a night. THE RITZ in London offers The Berkeley Suite for Euro 3,252.
A photo of the Deluxe Room:
This room costs Euro 481 for single and Euro 526 for double stay. Deluxe rooms in London's five-star hotels cost from Euro 540 (single) and from Euro 754 (double).
The cost of these rooms of the Hotel Europe include taxes, breakfast (buffet service) and such additional services as the internet and cable TV in the room, swimming pool, sauna and fitness center.
Market Leader:Do many people feel like putting up at your hotel given the high price of the service as compared to other metropolitan hotels?
A.N. Sviridovich:Nobody feels embarrassed about prices of our services and we don't have a lack of visitors. We provide services to foreigners and Belarus residents alike. Interestingly, the former often try to bargain when they hear the price while Belarusian people simply pay it.
Market Leader:Who of famous people, including international figures, put up at your hotel?
A.N. Sviridovich:We received a lot of stars and famous people. It's hard to remember them at once. I can say off the top of my head that Aleksiy II, the Patriarch of Moscow and Entire Rus, UEFA President Michel Platini, all European commissioners.
Market Leader:What exactly do you have that draws celebrities? Why do they choose you?
A.N. Sviridovich:Our hotel is quite little and this is probably what they buy. It's cozy, comfortable, low-profile, offers service of a rather high level.
Market Leader:Which guests usually makes more trouble: politicians, show stars or common people? What are these problems about?
A.N. Sviridovich:Nobody. Even if we had any problems we wouldn't say anything.
Market Leader:What can you surprise Europeans and Americans by as they are used to top-level service? How are you different from same-level hotels in other CIS countries?
A.N. Sviridovich:Nothing can surprise residents of Europe and America. As for our differences, each hotel has its specific features. What we have is amazing architecture, high level of service, comfortableness and small size.
Market Leader:Many businesspeople treat Belarus as a closed country that cannot offer services and does it Soviet style and, as such, is associated with low-grade service. How can you comment this opinion?
A.N. Sviridovich:Proponents of this opinion have all reasons to believe so. We all grew in those times, we are all descendants of those times, As a result, many standards, including in the services industry, are derived from those times, too.
Market Leader:Does your hotel have anything special, unique?
A.N. Sviridovich:I have spoken of our specific features above. Once again, it is amazing architecture, convenient location, small size, high level of service, comfort.
In addition, in terms of area rooms exceed standards that apply to five-star hotels. Higher comfort is also indicated by floor heating not only in bathrooms, but also in common corridors and the lobby. An underground parking is built for the first time in Belarus for hotel guests. It covers 25 percent of rooms.
Market Leader:What difficulties have you had (do you have) when investing in accommodation business in Belarus?
A.N. Sviridovich:There are quite a few difficulties. For example, loans from Belarusian banks: their money is very expensive and, as a result, often makes recoupment rather difficult. As far as foreign investments are concerned, today western banks don't have any particular trust in Belarusian projects and don't rush to invest in hotel financing.
Market Leader:Thank you. We wish your guests to have a nice stay, and your hotel to be profitable and popular among tourists and visitors of our capital.
A survey of Market Leader (Belarus) and the Masterforex-V Trading Academy: How do you choose a hotel during business and tourist trips?
* at random, including by signposts next to the highway
* by internet recommendations
* by TV commercials
* by recommendations of friends and people I know