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 1st Hilton on Bulgaria's Black Sea Coast to Open

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PostSubject: 1st Hilton on Bulgaria's Black Sea Coast to Open   Fri Jul 16, 2010 2:47 pm

[size=85:1vbid8uw]novinite 16 July 2010

1st Hilton on Bulgaria's Black Sea Coast to Open in Golden Sands



The top-class world hotel brand Hilton will be represented for the first on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast with the opening of the “Doubletree by Hilton Varna” hotel in the Golden Sands resort.

The upcoming opening of the Doubletree by Hilton Varna was made public Friday at a news conference in the Golden Sands with the announcement of the signing of a franchising contract between Hilton Worldwide and Helios Hotels Jsc, a subsidiary of Tetrareal Jsc.

The famous Doubletree chocolate chip cookie, an icon of the hospitality of the brand, was introduced for the first time in Bulgaria at a special ceremony.

While the top global luxury hotel brands are present in Sofia, the Doubletree by Hilton Varna will be the first establishment of such class in Bulgaria outside of the capital.

“The new Doubletree by Hilton Varna is the fully renovated luxury part of the former Helios Spa &
Resort Hotel. We have decided to perfect this part in order re-brand it, so we have invested in a number of improvements such as new fire and safety installations, new TV systems, or the Suite Dreams mattresses which are a must for the Doubletree brand, and are unique for Bulgaria in our hotel,” announced Dr. George Velchev, Chair of the Board of Directors of Tetrareal Jsc.

“Our company has made a considerable investment in Doubletree by Hilton Varna, especially given the fact that the hotel already had a five-star category. Our aim was to create a unique product for the Golden Sands and the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. We are glad that once again we will be pioneers with our world-class brand and services in the Golden Sands resorts. Hilton has been selected many times as the most famous hotel brand in Europe and the world, and I am convinced that this product will enjoy an immediate success here since Bulgaria continues to offer the best quality at the best price among the European vacation destinations,” Velchev explained.

While not allowed by the Hilton franchising contract to disclose the precise figure of the investment in the new Doubletree hotel, Velchev told Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency) that the amount of money invested to re-brand the hotel was about 35% of the original investment for its construction.

“The opening of Doubletree by Hilton Varna in 2010 reaffirms the stable development of the Doubletree brand in Europe. The European presence of the world hotel brand Doubletree by Hilton has marked considerable growth in the last few years,” said Claudio Sturm, the General Manager of the new Doubletree by Hilton Varna hotel in the Golden Sands resorts.

Sturm has prior experience at management positions in leading hotel chains in Germany and Austria, and has also served as the Sales and Marketing Director of the Hilton Sofia.

Doubletree by Hilton Varna is located in a green area of the Golden Sands resort with a sea view. It features a fitness center equipped by top American producer Precor. It offers a direct access to the Aphrodite Beauty Spa &
Health Clinic, a unique combination for the Bulgarian Black Sea coast of a spa and medical center located on a total of area of 2 300 square meters.

Among its many other amenities in the Doubletree style, the hotel grants its guests a free access to its own section of the beach at the Golden Sands resort.

Doubletree is one of the ten brands in the Hilton Family which also participates in the Hilton Hhonors program;
it encompasses facilities in 230 locations around the world.

The first Bulgarian Doubletree hopes to profit from the loyalty of Hilton clients, as well as from the upcoming opening of a number of new Doubletree hotels around Europe – 4 in Russia, 3 in Turkey, and one in each Greece, Romania, and Norway.

Velchev told Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency) he expected that the opening of the Doubletree by Hotel Varna hotel will break the model of the Bulgarian Black Sea hotels and resorts of reliance on tour operators for clients.

In his words, over 90% of the foreign tourists at the Bulgarian Black Sea hotels are recruited through tour operators;
while with specific features of the Doubletree brand will allow the new hotel to bring this number down to 20%-30% as far as its guests are concerned.

Velchev has also announced the planned opening of another facility of the Hilton brand by his company - the Hilton Varna.

Its construction will start after the demolition of an existing hotel in the Golden Sands resorts in the fall of 2010, and the Hilton Varna is expected to be opened in June 2011.

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PostSubject: Re: 1st Hilton on Bulgaria's Black Sea Coast to Open   Sat Jul 17, 2010 10:08 am

Things are looking up but what I don't understand is I read recently that Hotels were closing in that region so what does Hilton know that no one else does ?
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PostSubject: Re: 1st Hilton on Bulgaria's Black Sea Coast to Open   Wed Jul 21, 2010 7:53 pm

Doubletree by Hilton Varna Manager Claudio Sturm: Bulgaria’s Tourism Industry Needs Leadership

With one or two exceptions, the Doubletree by Hilton Varna is practically the first five-star global luxury brand on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. What are the challenges for this business project?

I think it’s a great opportunity. One aspect is to have the international brand available on the Black Sea coast. Another aspect of this business project is giving a great opportunity to the people who are aiming to work for an international property.

What is more, from my perspective, in the long run brands will be the key to success. Consumption will be increasingly driven by brands. I am firmly convinced it makes a lot of sense to open a Doubletree by Hilton hotel on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast.

You’ve been involved with the management of the Hilton in Sofia. How management of the Doubletree by Hilton Varna and the Hilton Varna, which is planned to be opened in 2011, going to be different?

It’s a different business mix. That’s the only difference. The product’s hardware is the same.

We will probably have slightly fewer meeting conferences here, and we will have more holiday makers but the bottom line is that it is basically the same because it’s all about hospitality, people, friendliness;
it doesn’t matter if you are a business hotel, or a resort hotel, it takes the same effort and approaches.

Why do you think there has been very little penetration of a firmly established global luxury hotel chains on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast?

Because, there had not been the right time to do this. All the international brands want to grow – they are interested in investing and exploring developing markets and Bulgaria for sure is one.

I remember when I came to Bulgaria back in 2000, I think the Robinson Club was in the south of the Black Sea coast. In the long term this is the right decision. Here you have a pretty good infrastructure.

With Kempinski, you had one international brand. People ask me why it did not work out. Well, with all due respect, Kempinski is a well-known German brand, well established on the German market but it does not have the global network that, for example, the Hilton has.

Building upon that – how would you summarize the advantages of the Doubletree brand of the Hilton family?

Well, Doubletree is about hospitality as symbolized by the cookie. Just to make it different. Some people might not recognize the name Doubletree right away but it is carrying the Hilton brand with it.

Why did you pick this specific brand of the Hilton portfolio?

Because as you know this is a conversion of a hotel so in order to convert a hotel you have to meet certain requirements. Doubletree is more designed for meeting casual and business travelers and this was the best setup – to have the Doubletree here, and to have the Hilton Varna as a combination. Because the specification for Hilton is slightly different than for Doubletree.

What does it take to make such a conversion of a hotel work? Is it just a matter of pouring money into it?

No, I think it is a matter of infrastructure. For example, a Hilton Hotel has to have the executive floor concept – so the question is how in a conversion do you create an executive floor? Executive floors are more designed for corporate travelers with more meeting space. Therefore, I think it was more appropriate here to have the Doubletree Varna than converting this one into a Hilton.

You are re-branding as the economic crisis is still going on. How do you expect this is going to play out?

My expectation is that this year we will have at least a slight upsurge, so the market is recovering slowly and I think next year the figures will go back to a normal demand level. It will take some time for us to become established within the Doubletree network but once it is up and running I think it will get international traffic.

There will be openings of other Doubletree hotels in Russia, Turkey, elsewhere in Europe. What effect will those have on the Doubletree Varna?

These are the growing markets from the franchising perspective and I think it will help us a lot.

How exactly?

Cross-exposure. For example, Hilton was one of the last global brands to enter the Russian market. And now with the Doubletree they are creating awareness, having exposure, and increasing the knowledge of the people that there is a Hilton, a Doubletree.

You are pretty familiar with hotel management in Bulgaria on such a high-level. How do you evaluate the situation in Bulgaria in that respect?

The pluses are that it is a great opportunity to be an international brand in a resort like the Golden Sands. The second challenge is the software – to have consistency, to have a well trained staff, etc, and this is the difference if you are working in a year-round business hotel or a resort hotel.

You will see that you have young talent in Bulgaria, you have people who want to develop their skills, who have to be developed and who need certain leaders who understand how this works.

You can have the best hotel in the world but if the software is not appropriate it doesn’t work. Back in 2005-6, the Hilton Sofia was awarded for being the best business hotel of Hilton. This was carried out by Bulgarians, so everything is possible, you have to have a team, people who love and understand hotel management.

What do you think of the quality of the labor resources in Bulgaria in this field?

People are available. I would say they are lacking leadership and training skills. Why is it like this? Unfortunately, the managers doing the supervision lack the skills. It’s about people, feelings, emotions, and people can only deliver good service if you train them.

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