MOSCOW -- "This is where we're going to have the steakhouse; it
will be the only one of its kind in Moscow," said Jerone Gerrese,
general manager of the Moscow Marriott Royal, a 234-room, five-star
hotel scheduled to open 100 rooms in November.
The steakhouse, along with the addition of a deluxe property in
a city already awash in $300-a-night rooms, seemed incongruous with
the current economic crisis that has overtaken Russia.
Nevertheless, chains like Marriott are building for the future,
Gerrese explained, for the time when they are confident that the
capital will resume its reign as a leading recipient of global
Gerrese and other businesspeople here pointed out that although
many foreign companies are leaving, a number have decided to take
advantage of the "buyer's market" and actually expand their
These corporate risk takers, as well as leisure travelers who
are not intimidated by reports of Russia's financial demise, will
have some new lodging options as the result of a flurry of
construction and renovations.
The Marriott Royal, for instance, will give the Kempinski, a
leader in occupancy rates here, stiff competition in the highest
end of the market, Gerrese claimed.
What will make it distinct from the Marriott Grand, a deluxe
hotel that opened last September, 1997.
The Royal will feature butler service on every floor. The
property, located on the pedestrian street of Stoleshnikov, is also
much closer than the Grand to Red Square, a few minutes' walk
versus a half-hour.
A site inspection revealed restored 18th century exteriors that
blended well with the historic neighborhood and an airy atrium;
rooms were not yet completed.
The fitness center and sauna will have the benefit of a European
beauty center as well as a spacious indoor swimming pool.
Designer shops are planned for the lobby.
A cafe in front of the hotel will boast one of Moscow's rare
outdoor sidewalk eateries.
Room rates at the Marriott Royal start at $250 per person, per
night, double, through December. Rates for 1999 have not been
The Marriott Royal can be reached at (800) 831-1000.
Another impressive deluxe hotel is the 240-room Swiss Diamond,
which opened this month on the site of the former Belgrade
The hotel, a $60 million reconstruction of the Belgrade, is the
first property managed by Swiss Diamond Hotels & Resorts, based
in Lugano, Switzerland.
The general manager is Heinz Chytil, a native of Austria who
opened the first western-managed property in the Caucuses 10 years
ago. He has extensive experience at prop-
erties in countries such as Sudan and South Africa.
During a visit to the hotel, the Russian staff appeared well
trained and displayed hospitality that can be lacking at properties
opened during the Communist era.
The property still had appealing public spaces, such as a disco,
a well-equipped workout room and a 23rd-floor panorama
Guests can avail themselves of two large Jacuzzis, but there is
no swimming pool.
Room rates are $200, double, through March 12, after which they
will start at $325, double.
The Swiss Diamond is represented in the U.S. by SRS.
One of Moscow's best-kept secrets this year, at least for the
American market, was the debut of the city's first western-managed
boutique hotel, the 30-room Katerina.
The property, managed and owned by a Swedish concern, opened in
The hotel's neighborhood is pleasantly residential, and guests
can reach the city center by metro in 10 minutes.
Rooms, with modern business amenities, are very much in the
Swedish modern style. The bathrooms have showers but no tubs.
Rates start at $235, double.
The Katerina's local phone number is (011) 7-095 794-4343, fax
(011) 7-095 797-4342, e-mail: [email protected].