New Era of Grand Hotel
Interview of Radoš Đorđević, General Manager of MK Mountain Resort, for BIZLife
20 million euros is the largest investment so far in the Grand Hotel. Specifically, what is it intended for?
Hotel Grand has been continuously working for years to improve its service, change the course of destination development and dictate trends when it comes to high hotel standards, quality facilities and a comprehensive offer for guests. This investment, although perhaps the largest so far, is a logical step for us given the accelerated development of luxury hotel services, digitalization and new technologies in the travel industry, but also the perception and needs of guests, which we all observe in a way that always goes one step ahead.
It is a capital investment intended for the reconstruction of existing and construction of new facilities and service improvement in every business segment. The works include the reconstruction of all public spaces and facilities for guests, including reception, lobby, all restaurants and bars, a spa center designed by the company that stands behind the best alpine spas, then the construction of an underground garage that will effectively solve the parking issue and parking service for all guests, with available garage spaces for electric vehicles. The functionality of the Grand Hotel, both in operational and technical – technological terms, will be covered by this project, which will satisfy even the most sophisticated and demanding clients. A special project refers to the new “Residence” part which will include a private spa center, garage, reception, ski room and all other facilities necessary for the absolute comfort and VIP treatment of guests.
With this investment, we will strengthen our leading position and secure a well-deserved place for the most famous hotel brand in Kopaonik.
Does Kopaonik raise the level of hotel service with new luxury facilities? Can we expect a fifth Grand Star?
Kopaonik can certainly be proud of the fact that it is a counterpart to the relevant world and luxury resorts, which it successfully follows with its contents and offer. We are very happy and proud that the Grand Hotel has always played a leading role in this and in many ways represented the engine of development of the entire destination, continuously investing in new content and top offer, in step with world trends. We had and still have something to show and offer. And when it comes to the fifth star, of course you can expect it, considering that with this project we are aiming to raise to “more stars” in every respect.
What makes Grand different from other hotels in Kopaonik? When will the “new Grand” be presented and what will make it special?
The greatest uniqueness and exceptionality of the Grand is definitely reflected in the size of the space, complete contents and grandiosity in every respect, which was also the basis for the new project. The facilities themselves, which are available and equally well designed and adapted for the individual guest, families on vacation, as well as for corporate groups and events, have always been something that makes the hotel stand out. Accordingly, we relied on everything that the Grand Hotel has represented so far, on the values we have created over the years and decided to emphasize them even more in the luxury edition.
The details in the interior will certainly contribute to that, where you will find the ideal combination of quality local materials and the most modern world trends in the field of furnishing hotel spaces, and all this will be presented to guests and the public at the beginning of next winter season in December 2021.
Through this investment, the greatest emphasis will be on improving the spa segment and the offer of restaurants and bars. For the development of the spa concept, we have hired the world’s greatest experts, included the world’s most famous brands in the field of spa cosmetics and we combined them with natural local materials and manufactories that will produce original products for luxury spa treatments in limited series. We do all this in order to position ourselves as a unique hotel destination where guests will be able to experience unique spa rituals inspired and created on the basis of local influences. In addition, the plan is to expand the outdoor pool, to provide guests with an even better atmosphere. When it comes to gastronomy, the opening of the first fine dining restaurant in Kopaonik last winter was just an overture to what guests can expect in the new restaurants and bars. We will combine the best local flavors with an innovative approach and the latest culinary trends that celebrate healthy, quality ingredients and food that inspires.
Traditional hospitality, which is also one of the synonyms for the Grand, in fusion with a refined and luxurious approach to the new needs of guest, will be the main driving force of new changes.
This year marks the 40th anniversary since the hotel’s opening. What does that path look like from today’s perspective?
The beginning of modern tourism in Kopaonik as a tourist destination is related to the opening of Konak and Hotel Karavan, today’s Grand Hotel, and that fact alone speaks for itself. Grand was always inseparable part of Kopaonik and one of its synonyms. Especially in recent times, the huge influence of MK Resort on the improvement of content and offer and through positive changes both within the hotel and in the entire destination is reflected. Numerous initiatives and huge efforts have been invested in order to develop the summer tourist season and event tourism with the aim of making this destination live throughout the year. Along the way, Grand has always been a leader and one of the main factors in development.
That is why we are especially glad that in the year when it marks 40 years of existence, it will get a new look, new contents and a well-deserved place in Kopaonik. It is therefor our great pleasure to prepare a series of surprises in the form of a public exhibition and other contents, as a kind of homage to a tradition of 40 years.
How much was your business compromised during the previous period? We have seen huge attendance during the winter season despite the global pandemic. How much does this mean for the potential of domestic tourism?
The key to success in this challenging period was to adapt to new, hitherto unknown circumstances, which was a great challenge for all hotel management professionals, both in the world and in our country.
The ability to adapt to new business conditions in a fast and smart way in each segment has brought us positive results despite the circumstances. We strategically very quickly reoriented ourselves to individual tourism and the domestic market, which turned out to be the right decision. We first successfully finished the summer season, which largely showed that Kopaonik as a destination is very attractive during the summer, and this directly affected the business results in the segment of individual and domestic tourism. It is true that the interest was great during the winter and considering all the circumstances, in the end we are still very satisfied with the results achieved and our own efforts to preserve the health and safety of guests and employees.
What needs to be done in Kopaonik and what efforts should be made to develop the destination? In which direction is Kopaonik going as a tourist destination? Is Kopaonik side by side with other ski resorts across Europe?
Kopaonik is already successfully competing with ski centers in this part of Europe. A lot has been done in the field of ski tourism development and huge funds have been invested in the past period. There is always room for improvement, but the main focus should be on the rest of the year, especially on the prospects of the summer season. Kopaonik has a huge potential during the summer months, only a small part is recognized and used – flora, natural attractions, forests, facilities for active holidays… sites such as St. Mark’s Stone, Jelovarnik waterfall, shrines and geysers Metođe, nature reserve of the first degree of protection Jankova bara, are some of the attractions thanks to which Kopaonik can stand out with its unique offer. At the same time, the destination faces a number of communal, environmental and infrastructural challenges. MK Resort has been initiating the solution of these problems for years, initiating current topics with relevant institutions and trying to expand its influence to other relevant factors. We will continue to always and unconditionally support every type of activity and every project important for the sustainable development of the tourist center. We consider it necessary, especially in the circumstances when Kopaonik is evidently developing into a destination of high quality hotel offer, especially in the segment of luxury service, which is also our common chance to conquer new markets.