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Number of Five-Star Hotels Set to Double Within a Year

Published: December 6, 2005 (Issue # 1128)


Intercontinental and Ramada are the latest international hotel operators to announce their arrival on the St. Petersburg market next year, while Rezidor SAS also signaled further expansion, Maxim Sokolov, chairman of the city committee for investment and strategic projects, was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Intercontinental is at the moment in negotiations with those investors who have already started constructing hotels but are yet to find an operator, Sokolov said.

St. Petersburg already has five 5-star hotels Grand Hotel Europe, Astoria, Nevskij Palace, Radisson SAS and Emerald.

Earlier this month Raffles International announced the opening of a 5-star business-class hotel in the city by 2007 under the brand Swissotel, while the Renaissance construction firm plans to build a 5-star hotel by the end of next year with the financial backing of Indonesian company Sampoerna.

French operator Accor, which opened a 4-star Novotel in the center of St. Petersburg this year, has already announced the construction of 3-star Ibis and 5-star Sofitel.

According to Sokolov, the international operator Hilton has been interested in coming to St. Petersburg for a long time.

This operator first held talks about a possible hotel in 1996. At that time they thought the local market was too small. Now any move is hampered by high prices and the lack of central locations suitable for development, Sokolov said.

Nikita Savoyarov, an expert at the Russian Tourism Industry Union said that the local market is suitable for opening new hotels and Intercontinental, Ramada and Hilton could easily launch projects in the city.

They are world brands. The process of globalization means hot locations are more important than short-term profits and other economic figures. And St. Petersburg is the eighth most attractive tourist destination according to UNESCO, Savoyarov said.

According to Ernst & Young, the average occupancy of 5-star hotels in St. Petersburg was only 64 percent last year while in Moscow this figure was 77 percent.

Savoyarov said that transnational corporations could cover losses with profits earned from business in other countries, thereby sustaining 10-years worth of investment in a five-star hotel project.

As for factors that prevent the arrival of international operators in St. Petersburg, Savoyarov said that there were several.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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