Hyatt Makes Quiet Entrance Into Ukraine

KIEV, Ukraine -- The long-awaited grand opening of the five-star Hyatt Regency Kiev – St. Sophia is slated for the first week of September, making it the second international hotel brand to enter the capital after 2005’s arrival of the Radisson SAS.

Hyatt Regency Kiev – St. Sophia

The hotel is located in the city center, steps away from St. Sophia Square and Cathedral and near many of Kyiv’s most popular tourist attractions.

Stephen Ansell, general manager, said the new hotel is in a “soft opening phase.” The Hyatt Regency Kiev has started taking a minimal amount of guests, but is expecting the next two months to be quiet, a period for management to work out all the “bits and pieces.”

An official grand opening party is slated to be held in the first week of September, he added.

The new hotel, which boasts 234 luxury rooms, including 25 suites, with a mid-range price of 300 Euros per night, features conference and banquet halls, ballrooms, a luxury spa, swimming pool and workout facilities, as well as shopping, an Asian and Western grill restaurant, an 8th floor bar with an outdoor terrace, and a wine bar.

The Hyatt’s Regency brand hotels are designed to accommodate international business travelers.

The Hyatt is the third five-star hotel to open in Kyiv, following the Premier Palace, run by a Moscow-based business group, and the Opera Hotel, owned by Ukraine’s richest man, Rinat Akhmetov, through his Systems Capital Management holding.

Several other international hotel companies have announced intentions to expand onto Ukraine’s hotel market, including the Hilton and InterContinental brands.

But so far only the Radisson SAS and the new Hyatt have managed to open their doors.

On Feb. 22, InterContinental Hotels Group announced plans to open a five-star hotel in the center of Kyiv within the first quarter of 2008.

The InterContinental, currently in the construction phase, is located down the street from the Hyatt near the city’s picturesque St. Michael’s Cathedral.

Hilton also announced plans to open a hotel in the city center near Zoloti Vorota (Golden Gate) metro station. Doors at the Hilton are expected to open in 2009.

In terms of the investment, Ansell said that it is “in line with what other five-star hotels cost in the region.” He could not provide exact figures.

Construction of the hotel had been in the works for several years. The project has faced repeated delays, however.

The hotel’s investors are the Ukraine-based company CJSC Sofia Kyiv.

One of Ukraine’s largest industrial holdings, Industrial Union of Donbas, became the primary investor in the hotel years ago. Reports indicate that they pumped more than $50 million into the project.

In August of 2005 the International Finance Corporation, the private-sector arm of the World Bank, granted the Sofia Kyiv company a credit of $29.5 million to complete the hotel.

The Global Hyatt corporation, based in Chicago, Illinois, is the largest privately-owned five-star hotel management company in the world, with over 735 hotels and resorts in more than 44 countries around the world.

While Hyatt is interested in expanding its presence in Ukraine, it is focusing for the time being on the Hyatt Regency Kiev.

“Our first priority is to make sure [the Hyatt Regency Kiev] gets off the ground and becomes successful,” Ansell said.

Ansell said that Ukraine is very appealing to international hotel companies due to its location in the center of Europe, its large population and enormous tourism potential – especially in Crimea.

“There are no concrete plans right now for any precise expansion … however, we hope to use this as a starting point for our growth,” Ansell said.

He said the Hyatt has a long history in CIS countries and that the Hyatt’s next two confirmed openings are in Yekaterinburg, Russia, and Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Ansell said that Hyatt already has properties in Moscow, Almaty, Bishkek, and Baku in the CIS.

Ansell said that most of the Hyatt’s clientele are expected to be business travelers, but he believes the number of tourists is sure to rise, since Ukraine got rid of its visa regime and will host a major European soccer championship in 2012.

Ukraine is a “tremendous growth area,” particularly for the weekend and short-break markets for tourists coming from Western Europe.

“People are increasingly going away for the weekend and discovering new places … and I think that Ukraine can take its share of this,” Ansell added.

Source: Kyiv Post