God Nisanov and Zarakh Iliev in the Hotel Business: From Tourists to International Delegates

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Participants in a roundtable organized by the Department for External Economic and International Relations of Moscow noted that Moscow needs to expand opportunities for business tourism beyond the simple development of the hotel business. They also discussed the influence of the World Cup, which dramatically changed how foreigners viewed the Russian capital and the country as a whole. The government of Moscow has reported that over 23 million tourists visited the city last year, and these numbers show no sign of falling—the same number of tourists or more are expected this year. The city leaders understand that the capital will also draw organizers of large international business forums.

Business travel to Moscow has been increasing for quite a while now, but not all metropolitan hotels have been taking advantage of it. God Nisanov and Zarakh Iliev, the owners of Kievskaya Ploshchad—Russia’s largest property developer, are some of the few to actually do so by following their intuition into this sphere. They manage the Radisson Collection Hotel Moscow (formerly Hotel Ukraina), which is both a modern, world-class hotel and an architectural monument with a long history. The hotel was rebranded this year and is one of the first to join the Radisson Collection brand created by the Radisson Hotel Group, which is the largest hotel chain in the world. The brand maintains five-star luxury and high-end hotels that are renowned for their architecture, quality of service, and history.

Conferences, Forums, and Rooftop Gardens

Nisanov and Iliev’s hotel was used by FIFA as its headquarters for an entire month last year. Important events, including governmental ones, are regularly held in the famous Stalin-era skyscraper. One such event was the 2013 economic forum titled “Poland-Russia: From European Football Championship to World Cup.” The city of Moscow welcomed an impressive delegation of high-ranking Polish officials who shared their experience organizing and hosting UEFA Euro 2012.

Since then, the level of events held at the Radisson Collection Hotel Moscow has only grown. Just recently, it hosted the Russia-Africa Economic Conference about the development of cooperation with African countries. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev took part in the forum, which was an important preparatory stage for the bilateral summit to be held in October in Sochi. The Russian prime minister specifically noted how pleased he was on behalf of Moscow to host such a major event. Congress Park Radisson Collection was one of the few venues in the capital that was able to accommodate the more than 1,500 delegates that took part.

Congress Park is a separate building in the hotel complex. This rather large center takes up a relatively limited space, but the developers were able to create a multifunctional venue for business meetings with the meticulousness of a jeweler and to organically fit it into the neighborhood’s historic landscape at the same time. Due to its lack of columns, the building’s total area of 2,300 square meters can be easily transformed from a conference room to a banquet hall. There is also a four-level underground parking lot for 744 cars as well as plenty of meeting rooms and eight restaurants.

When the weather permits, event attendees can continue their conversations in the fresh air in the 1.6-hectare garden on the roof of Congress Park that is surrounded by deciduous and coniferous trees, shrubs, and flower beds.

A Boon to the Economy

The industry surrounding business tourism immediately flocked to the center. Congress Park has become popular not only among businessmen, but also among organizers of weddings and other large-scale celebrations. The center is built so that relatively noisy parties do not present a problem to hotel guests or to the local residents of the building, which features magnificent views of Moscow and beautiful historic interiors.

Although the list of famous names that choose to stay at the hotel from all over the world is long and distinguished, suffice it to say that the hotel receives awards year after year. At the end of last year, Nisanov and Iliev’s hotel received the Guiding Star Award from Moscow City Hall as the best five-star hotel. In February of this year, the Radisson Collection Hotel Moscow has already been recognized as the best for corporate travel and events, becoming the winner of the 2019 Russian Hospitality Awards.

While analyzing the results of the 2018 World Cup, Michel Stalport, the senior regional vice president for Eastern Europe, Russia, and Turkey, praised the many opportunities for hosting a large number of foreign guests. However, he also spoke about barriers to the growth of tourism, one of which is the complicated procedure for obtaining Russian visas. Solving this problem “will greatly contribute to all Russian businesses. Fans who came to the World Cup spent money on hotels, entertainment, taxis, restaurants, and souvenirs. It was a boon to the whole economy!” said Stalport. According to the Department for External Economic and International Relations of Moscow, income from tourism amounted to 120 billion rubles last year.

The industry still has many new opportunities in the Russian capital, where authorities have promised to help develop the hotel business. Investors are also interested in increasing the number of hotels. In particular, besides their luxury Radisson Collection and business-oriented Radisson Slavyanskaya Hotel and Business Center, Nisanov and Iliev are building a hotel on Varvarka Street.

Nisanov and Iliev are also helping the city solve the problem of a lack of more affordable hotels. For example, they are planning to build a four-star hotel in the famous Book building on New Arbat Avenue. The partners’ experience will undoubtedly help them take modern business trends and multifunctionality into account, both on New Arbat Avenue and in a new luxury hotel in the Zaryadye district, located in the very heart of Moscow.