Looking for a new audience to target? This is the question that has been the constant success-driver for Alliance Group.
The leading Georgian construction developer, known for its game-changing projects, is making a big announcement on the health and wellness tourism market. In Kobuleti, Georgia’s second largest seaside resort, historically acknowledged as the regional health recovery destination, the company plans to build a multifunctional complex where a renowned international hotel will be situated.
“We see health and wellness tourism as the next best opportunity for hospitality sector development in Georgia. It’s a trend in world tourism,” Akaki Songulia, cofounder and CEO of Alliance Group, tells Forbes Georgia. The mild subtropical climate of Kobuleti, its ionized sea air, the sun, pine and cedar trees, all contribute to the treatment of diseases of the cardiovascular, respiratory and nervous systems.
“The Kobuleti Health and Wellness resort-complex will be developed on the land where the old Horizon sanatorium used to bein the 80s. “Because of its unique micro-climate this place is the hub-point for the clean air flows of Kobuleti,” explains Songulia.
Globally, the wellness industry sees the need to create innovative tools to prevent and fight against illnesses without medicines. It is important especially with heart and cardiovascular disease on the rise.
“This is what we’re doing in Kobuleti. We’re not only building ultra-modern skyscrapers there; Alliance Health and Wellness Resort, it’s a mindset, not a place,” notes Songulia.
The Kobuleti mixed-use complex is the fourth project for Alliance Group in the Adjara region after the Alliance Palace (featuring Courtyard by Marriott Hotel), the Alliance Privilege (featuring the five-star Marriott Hotel) and the Alliance Resort (featuring the Ramada hotel) futuretrend skyscrapers.
The Alliance Group is also undertaking an ongoing development project in Tbilisi called the Alliance Highline (featuring the Wyndham Garden Hotel). Though all these high-rise buildings espouse a spa and wellness concept, the Kobuleti project is a new challenge.
“We are the first to develop a health and wellness resort in Kobuleti. I dare say we always come first whenever there’s an opportunity and we set the trend there,” claims Songulia.
Alliance Group was the first to develop a modern residential complex in Batumi in 2005, the first to launch an apartment hotel concept in 2008 and the first to combine apartment buildings with luxury international hotel brands in 2015.The company has invested more than $200 million in large-scale projects in the Adjara region that have already been completed. A further $260 million has been invested in the five ongoing projects involving multifunctional complex franchises, which are being carried out in partnership with renowned international hotel chains: Marriott International and Wyndham Hotel Group and the latest one, the name of which is not disclosed yet. The five projects will include a combined total of 800 hotel rooms and 4,300 hotel-type apartments.
Always an innovator, the Alliance Group believes that it’s time to bring wellness tourism to the table. The latest global research says the same. Wellness tourism has been identified as one of the fastest growing travel segments. Hotel groups are investing heavily in wellness. Figures indicate wellness tourism is a $500 billion market. It’s predicted this figure will exceed $800 billion by 2020. What are the opportunities for Georgia? If we take a glance at the country’s tourism sector as a whole, the statistics are impressive. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Georgia is ranked as the world’s fourth fastest-growing tourism destination. In 2017, the number of international tourists visiting Georgia reached 7.9 million. In the first 10 months of 2018, Georgia has already recorded a 11% increase in tourism, compared to same period of last year. By 2025 Georgia is expected to host 11 million international visitors.
According to the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA), revenue derived from international tourism in Georgia reached $2.7 billion in 2017, making up 6.9% of the country’s total GDP. Approximately 68% of Georgia’s service export revenue comes from tourism.
“With leading positions in the international rankings, Georgia has the potential to become a destination for health and wellness tourism,” notes the Alliance Group CEO.
There are several famous wellness hotels that have already been built, as well as ongoing progress being made in the country’s balneology and SPA regions of Tbilisi, Borjomi, Tskaltubo, Abastumani and Kobuleti.
According to the Global Wellness Institute, statistics show that wellness travelers are very high-spending, high-yield tourists. In 2017, international wellness tourists on average spent $1,528 per trip, 53% more than the typical international tourist.
Kobuleti turned into an elite resort back in the 19th century. The Russian Emperor Alexander II gave the Georgian seaside-resort to the best Commander-in- Chiefs from the Russian-Turkish campaign as gifts and influential, high-ranking Russian officials built villas there. Spending holidays in Kobuleti meant being part of a high society.
“Health is luxury,” says Songulia. “Today’s traveler looks for a more holistic and meaningful holiday experience. Here in Kobuleti, the city, which has been one of the top regional recreational destinations in the region for the third consecutive century. We are developing an international standard resort-complex housing a global brand hotel,” he adds. The three-tower multifunctional complex will consist of a 200-room health and wellness hotel and exclusive apartments.
Apart from embracing all the benefits of health and wellness tourism, there’s a lot to see in Kobuleti. Near the village of Tsikhisdziri you will find the ruins of the ancient Byzantine fortress of Petra. There’s also a Museum of Ethnography in Kobuleti. The museum preserves more than 500 archaeological, historical and ethnographic artifacts. Among the natural attractions visitors will find the national parks of Kintrishi and Mtirala with pure forests, where you can go hiking and enjoy untapped nature. In Kobuleti you can also enjoy nightlife like clubs, bars, and cafés. As for the kid-friendly part, families with children are advised to visit the amusement park of Tsitsinatela. Nearby is the world-famous Batumi Botanical Garden, which is unique, as it contains flora from nine phyto-geographic areas.
The Alliance Group will bring added-value to the sea-resort of Kobuleti. The exclusive architecture multifunctional complex, will be included in the international vacation exchange network.
Alliance Group already has a partnership experience with RCI- one of the leading global vacation exchange networks which unites 4 million member families worldwide. As a result of the partnership agreement signed between the Alliance Group and RCI in February of 2018, Georgia became part of the global network. Owners of the exclusive properties developed by the Alliance Group will have the opportunity to temporarily exchange their apartment for one of more than 4,300 international-class resort-complexes in 110 countries. Alliance Group properties enjoy the benefits of RCI’s Gold Crown status, meaning you will have access to an additional 200 elite holiday locations. In order to enjoy all the advantages of the property exchange programme offered by the Alliance Group, one must become a member of the Alliance Privilege Club. Upon payment of the annual membership fee, members will indicate their desired vacation time and destination, as well as the number of family members, and will be automatically offered a broad range of options by the universal system, which is tailored to each customer’s specific preferences. Those who do not use the vacation exchange program for a year, will receive additional points that will allow them to vacation at an even better resort the next year, or increase the vacation period altogether. The RCI exchange system works even if construction of the complex has not been completed yet. For instance, owners of Kobuleti Health and Wellness complex apartments will be able to use the exchange system in advance and vacation at their desired resort. Advertising campaigns for the Alliance Group resorts and our country have already begun on various RCI platforms.Apart from the Kobuleti luxury property, the RCI network includes the Alliance Palace which has more than 1,000 apartments and the Alliance Highline with up to 700 apartments.
Key trends in the luxury travel market in 2018 can be characterized by ‘the quest for authenticity’, with a growing interest in adventure travel, health and wellness retreats, responsible travel and multi-generational travel, according to RCI. Alliance Group will open its first flagship health and wellness property in Kobuleti in 2022.