As you were among our speakers at HOTCO, you highlighted the attractiveness of Armenia from the hotel development perspective. Your country and the hospitality industry have been affected not only by Covid19 but also a war. Do you still consider Armenia as a great place to invest in?
Thank you for having me at HOTCO back again. It was such a privilege to present Armenia to the best developers of the industry worldwide. Now, more than ever, Armenia is a good place to invest in and the reason for this is the opportunity gap formulated from the recent developments in the region. Armenia has become a good place for short touristic flows – for food and wine, for celebrations and entertainment. And some of the key factors for this development concerns post-covid circumstance when people started to visit non-restricted quarantine-free countries that don’t require visa applications. And so, a lot of touristic flow has been formulated from CIS countries. Of course, hospitality globally was put on hold after the pandemic first wave, but now we observe the recovery and can predict the boost.
Yerevan is a good place to visit over a weekend offering a quality service combined with sightseeing of historical significance. For developers, this is a solid place with Western-minded work ethics combined with the eastern style of hospitality. Continuous investments of internationally reputable hospitality brands have their stake in the success of the Armenian market, among them our partners from Marriott International – with their presence contributing to the competitiveness and quality of the industry. I believe Armenia is the next must-visit country and the opportunity gap for investing in Armenia is now.
How Galaxy has decided to get into the hotel industry, and what’s your progress as of the year 2021?
Back a decade ago we decided to step into the hospitality industry with already a successful journey in commercial real estate. We have revealed the potential of the industry and put our professionals into mapping our own agenda in hospitality in Armenia – starting from niche experiments to enriching the field.
Not taking into account the early stages, all our assets and businesses in the hospitality and hotel industry were calculated moves based on market assessment combined with the best international practice. A lot of impressions and decisions were also based on traveling to places, experiencing great and wishing to bring it to own country too. We very much wanted to offer a unique experience of mixed-use residential and hotel building in Armenia, and so we developed our “Teryan 5” project – the first project of a kind in Armenia.
“Teryan 5” is a game-changing project both in its architecture, constriction, and proposition. We brought together multinational teams, architects from UK and Armenia, engineers from Portugal, interior designers from UK and Germany, worked hands in hands with all of them to make a modern and unique building. How great it may feel to own an exclusive apartment with all the great commodities including sports, spa, food, and dining in one place?! We are striving to deliver the best to our customers.
Conversely, we worked with JLL to open an underestimated stock for a mid-segment, 3+ star hotels in Armenia and developed a one with 170 keys in collaboration with our well-respected partners from Marriott International. As a result, we will be opening the doors of “Courtyard by Marriott” hotel in Yerevan in 2023. We are also proud to renounce that “PAUL” French chain of bakery/café restaurants will be opened in Armenia too, filling in our hospitality portfolio among others.
Lastly, we have created all businesses from the ground up and hospitality is not an exception. In Galaxy Group from telecom to hospitality, from retail to service, we are open to new and disruptive solutions, always willing to scale up and experiment with the tools and specifics of the business. Cross-industrial collaboration, as well as game-changing solutions, are what keeps us strong and, in a large sense, the diversity of our portfolio is our winning strategy.
Galaxy Group has not only survived but thrived after the crisis. What risk mitigation strategies have you learned and implemented that would be useful for other developers or the hospitality industry in general?
We believe that every difficulty is a new opportunity. When you see a big wave coming, jump to catch it, but make sure that you have a solid board with you not to drown quickly. Practically speaking, doing the “homework” and being adaptable is essential to the survival strategy. We were transparent with our teams and customers – each time sharing our solutions with modesty and trust.
In retail, we moved around 20% of our operations online – successful e-commerce, food delivery instead of in-place dining. Like never before, we also learned to take bold decisions.
For instance, during the war and pandemic, we did our best to keep the integrity of teams and make CSR donations even in the hardest times. Our teams appreciated it, stayed committed to Galaxy Group, taking good care of our customers.
Lastly, Covid was a lifetime lesson for all humanity. Appreciating what we have, leaving meaningful lives – simple, yet important aspirations for life were back on the agenda.