Interview with Dimitri Shvelidze, Deputy Director of River Side Hotel.
– Hotel River Side enjoys highest evaluations on Booking.com. Do favorable location and services satisfy the guests expectations and interests?
Obviously, location plays a key role for any hotel, however, having proper service and facilities are equally important. We at River Side Hotel envisage all of these and usually even “go extra mile” to make our guests’ stay incredible. Location is a very important factor indeed. In this regard, River Side has an excellent location in the historical part of Tbilisi, surrounded with two beautiful parks, flea market and minutes to walk to Rustaveli Avenue. It is very important for our guests to have possibility to explore the most beautiful places of the capital in some minutes from River Side. We were very proud to have been selected among TOP 10 hotels of Georgia for the third year in a row by Tripadvisor Inc. and along with famous hotel chains to become finalist of International Hospitality Awards 2016 in Kiev, Ukraine.
– Comments on Booking.com show that the hotel is mainly visited from CIS countries. Does the hotel workload grow and which citizens do mainly visit the hotel?
Georgia is steadily becoming a very popular tourist destination and number of travelers is growing every year. Tourism Administration also does a great job into advertising our country through various channels and in many countries. It will be difficult to name one single place from where the most of our guests come from. Usually it is the whole world; however, travelers from CIS region, eastern and central Europe and US prevail. Nevertheless, it also depends on season, holidays, events happening in Georgia, etc. I wish more travelers from Western Europe would come to Georgia and explore our beautiful country. There should be more advertising aimed to this market.
– Hotel River Side has very calm colors. As reported, the hotel was reconstructed in 2016. What aspects have been taken into account for selecting its internal design?
River Side went through major renovation in May 2016 and it is a great story of transformation from mid-type hotel to luxury boutique hotel implementing lots of high-end facilities, services and personalized attitude from our great team who does its best to make sure every single guest is happy with his/her stay. We were very careful in the design process. River Side is a beautiful masterpiece of Georgian Architecture with charming Terrace balconies and brickwork. Therefore, we wanted to maintain that unique spirit and additionally make every single detail inside special. Creating a new design for our rooms was very challenging and exciting. We planned to make it luxurious and comfortable and implement international standards while creating them. We changed everything: Starting from the beautiful carpets in the room and ending with exclusively hand-painted ceiling. We decided to use massive wood furniture and go beyond and create very large beds exceeding 2 meters in width and reaching almost 2.20 meters, which is much more than ordinary King Size. We added pillow menu, premium mattresses for great sleep experience, famous Italian “Parati” wall décor to create perfect ambiance inside. Few years ago, River Side was one of the first to introduce wireless safes and wireless door entry system so we went further and decided to upgrade our entertainment system. We Implemented new LED TV’s with up to 150 licensed channels where guests can change subtitles and languages, also added premium sound system in higher category rooms by Philips which has an iconic design of “1955 Philetta 254”, and serves as a dock station for Apple devices, charges them and has great sound for listening music from any device. We added tea facilities and our guests can have free tea and water every day. We updated bathroom further. Now our rooms, which are huge, have ceiling up to 4.20 meters and are at least 25 sq.m and complimented with private balcony or terrace, can be considered as one of the most beautiful in Tbilisi. We did not stop there and renovated our reception area, adding special place where guests can read books from our library corner, enjoy daily newspapers and magazines specially delivered for River Side. Recently we introduced digital subscription of two international newspapers, which is free for our guests. Stats shows they are enjoying it very much. As River Side is also orientated on business travelers, we also introduced Concierge Service Application serving as private assistance when the guest is outside and requires assistance. It does not matter he/she needs train tickets in Europe or simply to order taxi, Our concierge team will assist. Using this service is also free for our guests. Apart from this, River Side introduced “Rewards Club” for its loyal clients who can earn points and redeem for variety of our services, upgrades, dinner, transfer services and of course, for free nights. Special Card is issues upon request by the front office team.
River Side become official member of AmCham, CCIFG and ICC. Also member of American Hotel and Lodging Association (Washington DC.).
– Safety is an important factor for hotel guests. What is the situation in Hotel River Side in this respect and does the hotel meet the standards of a four-star hotel?
Safety and Security is indeed very imporattnt for the hotels and is not easy to achieve. With the assistance of major worldwide organizations in this field, we started implementation of necessary equipment and facilities, also conducted trainings for our staff. It proved to be more challenging and time consuming that we thought, but we understood that it was necessary for the hotel. It took us approximately 3 month to finish implementations. Currently River Side Hotel has EU approved Safety and Security Standards, holds HACCP certificate for the Kitchen. HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) is a system that helps food business operators look at how they handle food and introduces procedures to make sure the food produced is of highest quality.
As for the star requirement, we perfectly understood that there is no organization yet who would assess start in Georgia, Hereby we decided to use HOTREC standards. HOTREC and its associations have been working on bringing the hotel classification systems in the various European countries closer to one another eventually, the Hotelstars Union under the patronage of HOTREC was created. There are hundreds of requirement to to fullfily, which defines appropriate stars and we made sure River Side accepted EU 4 star requirement. We even went beyond to meet 4 S standards for our rooms.
– My personal experience suggests that the level and quality of makeup products are very important for visitors at the suites. Which makeup brand products does Hotel River Side give preference to?
River Side Hotel uses only premium cosmetic articles which are daily provided into our rooms. We have around 16 types of them for our guests, who find it very useful and which are created especially for River Side. Back in 2016, we selected the companies who were delivering premium cosmetic articles to 4 and 5 star hotels worldwide, thus making sure we had everything our guests needed and of proper quality.
– As to cafe-restaurants, what does Hotel River Side offer to the visitors in this respect?
River Side Hotel has two incredible restaurants: Tiffany Bar and Tiffany Rooftop Terrace. In December 2014 we opened Tiffany Bar on the ground floor of River Side. We wanted to create different and elegant ambience for our guests which would perfectly mix with the hotel’s architecture and design, although be totally different and simply perfect. And we did it. Tiffany Bar offers a chic, stylish look and feel. With beautiful opulent pieces of furniture and a menu that includes creative cocktails and culinary wonders masterfully created by our Chef. Food and drinks are served throughout the day, starting with Continental breakfast in the morning and continuing with a full menu of lunch, snack and dinner option into the evening, accompanied by live music almost every day. Tiffany Bar also became popular with its desserts: Freshly made waffles, crepes, cakes, ice-creams, etc. According to several Georgian websites, Tiffany Bar was ranked #1 Romantic café in Tbilisi for 2016.
In 2017 we introduced Tiffany Rooftop Terrace on the six floor of River Side Hotel. Tiffany Terrace is the place to see and be seen. Designed to resemble all the comforts, this beautiful restaurant and lounge is the perfect place to take a break and relax from daily activities, whether our guests are coming in from work or just touring around the vast city. They can eat from our various lunch and dinner selections refined by the executive chef, and drink from our extensive wine list. It’s the perfect way to take a breather from the buzz of Old Tbilisi and watch the world pass by while sitting in front one of our large windows that overlook Old part of Tbilisi and marvelous Mtatsminda. Tiffany Terrace has convertible roof which automatically uncovers itself in warm weather.
I am happy to say that we already had around 23 wedding proposals and all of them were success! (She said YES!).
– What does Hotel River Side do to attract more visitors? Does this process depend on only good evaluations, internet advertisements or do you have tight cooperation with travel agencies?
Advertising is a very important tool and we in River Side are largely focused on happy guests and subsequently – satisfied partner. After major renovation and acceptance of required safety and security standards, we are currently working with local and international organizations, agencies, companies, and websites. We make sure travelers can easily find great rates for River Side Hotel. We also created one of the most advanced and easy to use websites (www.riverside.ge) and added various useful tools there. We also introduced advanced reservation system on our website, which is very easy and secure to use, and it is available in 4 languages! You can reserve our room, transfer, welcoming sets and choose tours in one single panel.
– Has GEL exchange rate devaluation worsened a visitors inflow to the hotel and has the hotel business increased service prices?
Exchange rate is something whole country was discussing for the last several months. However, I believed it would not largely worsen visitors’ inflow into the country and in our hotel as well. Despite exchange rate fluctuation and despite major renovation in 2016, we have not increased rates for our local and international partners, to make sure our partners and especially guests enjoy our high-end services and are happy.