How did an abandoned building in the heart of Georgia turn into a modern international hotel in just a couple of years? In addition to savvy owners, €2.6 million of financing and consultations under the EU4Business-EBRD credit line helped Levan Eristavi convert rubble into an EU-standard hospitality business, generate 65 new jobs, and attract thousands of tourists to the region.
From London to Telavi with a plan
It would have taken Levan Eristavi, a 27-year-old entrepreneur who lived in London for 7 years, a lot longer to completely move back to Georgia if not for the brilliant business plan he drew up.
Eristavi had always dreamed of a top-notch hospitality business in his homeland of Georgia. Months of research seemed to strongly suggest that Telavi, the capital of Georgia’s renowned Kakheti wine region, with its gorgeous landscapes and historical sites situated in a wide valley northeast of Tbilisi, was a strategic location with huge tourist potential. Eristavi’s search for like-minded international partners finally yielded results. Two years of constant negotiations between Levan Eristavi and his team, Holiday Inn under the umbrella InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), and the Hotel Collection International (HCI) management company led to a joint decision to open the first-ever international Holiday Inn in Telavi.
The action plan was ready and access to financing remained the only challenge in the way of realizing it.
EU4Business gets on board
At this critical stage, Eristavi received a €2.6 million line of credit from the EBRD through EU4Business in 2017. Over the next two years, this help enabled Eristavi and his partners to completely renovate a derelict building, deliver and install new furniture and appliances for the new hotel, and hire 65 new employees. Holiday Inn Telavi is now a modern hotel with 85 elegantly-styled guest rooms, in a mix of authentic accents and contemporary trends, Georgian and European cuisine, and high-quality service.
“The EU4Business-EBRD credit line unlocked our potential,” says Levan Eristavi, co-owner and the director of Holiday Inn Telavi. “Our team had the idea, but we could never have managed to put together such a major investment project on our own.” With the EBRD loan supported by EU4Business, Holiday Inn Telavi became the first-ever international hotel brand in Telavi, attracting business and leisure travelers with high-quality services that had previously not been available in the city.
Holiday Inn Telavi is fully adapted to EU standards, both in terms of infrastructure and in the training of its professional staff. By investing in upgrades of basic components, such as heating and cooling, communications, sewage, water and electric systems, Holiday Inn Telavi increased its product and service quality while exercising environmental responsibility and decreasing operating costs: the new machinery consumes less energy and emits less carbon.
After carrying out their plans successfully, Eristavi says, “We got a 15% cash-back funded by the EU, which we have reinvested in business growth.” Responding to the increasing number of tourists in the region, management plans to further expand services in the nearest future.
Hotel Telavi’s loan is one of over 39,000 loans worth a total of over €1 billion provided to SMEs in Georgia over 2009-2018.