Maia Tsereteli, the President of McInerney Hospitality Georgia and the Executive Director of KMS Georgia, shared her views with Property Georgia.
When and how did you get involved in the hospitality business in the first place?
It all started nine years ago when I left my job at a hotel and started my own company KMS Georgia. The company was mainly offering recruitment, training and consulting services. Recruitment took place both within the country and abroad – at 5-star hotels in Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi. As for the consulting part, it happened to be so successful that after several years I decided to split the company’s activities into two areas, focusing on hospitality HR and hospitality operations and management, respectively.
In the meantime, as Mr. McInerney mentioned, we were working on the World Bank project, and since we were very much involved with both the educational and operational aspects of the hospitality matters, we could see the overall picture of challenges that existed in the country’s hospitality sector. It was a very fortunate coincidence that I happened to work with McInerney Hospitality International because the World Bank would not offer a contract to a local company. Joseph is a person who can pick up the phone and talk to all the CEOs of world-renowned hotel chains. He is one of the most experienced hospitality managers. What we do best is to share our expertise with each other – I know the local market and Mr.McInerney brings the international know-how.
You mentioned Kakheti. Do you manage a hotel there?
We are providing consulting services to our partner in Telavi, the owner of the Alazani Valley hotel. We also had business relations with other hotels in the Kakheti region, such as Kabadoni, Lopota, and Chateau Mere. Thanks to the aforementioned World Bank project, Kakheti now has the most qualified hospitality personnel in Georgia.
What about the other regions? Georgia is quite a diverse country when it comes to tourism.
For such a small country, we do have a broad diversity of destinations. The variety of places which you can visit within four hours is amazing: you can go to Kazbegi, which lies 3000 meters above sea level, the spa resort of Borjomi, which is also known for its forests, another spa resort in Sairme, and even to the Black Sea coast resort of Batumi. Nevertheless, our main challenge is seasonality. McInerney Hospitality Georgia will try to combine mountain and seaside resort services and offer special products on the local market.
How do you envisage the Wyndham Grand brand positioning itself in central Tbilisi?
I believe that Wyndham Grand is going to be an iconic brand for Tbilisi. With prime locations already taken up by international brands, you cannot ask for a better location in the city. The location is on Freedom Square, adjacent to the National Museum, the National Library, as well as the best cafes and shopping centers. The area around the Wyndham Grand hotel is a museum quarter. The hotel brand is excellent and the building looks very nice. The hotel will boast a top restaurant on the ninth floor, as well as spacious rooms.
What are your main challenges with regards to managing hotels in Georgia?
The main challenge is a lack of education. We need good hospitality colleges. We have excellent human resources, but we need to educate them. We are very grateful to Mr.McInerney, as he helped secure the provision of relevant courses for locals by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute.
Finally, we look forward to seeing the development of more medium-class hotels. We are currently sitting here in the Best Western hotel, which does not fall into the 5-star category, but it is a high-quality and cozy place. There are also local boutique brands that meet international standards, such as the King Gorgasali hotel in the Ortachala district of Tbilisi and the Porta Caucasia hotel in Kazbegi, both of which are managed by us.
Source: Property Georgia