The interview was published on the OBOZREVATEL website.

Life goes on during the war. And recreation during the war is as necessary as work for the benefit of the state and the Armed Forces. In Ukraine, the main vacation destinations have shifted to the west of the country. We talked to Artur Lupashko, founder of Ribas Hotels Group, about the prospects and opportunities of the new winter tourist season.

- What do you think the new winter season will be like? What is the current level of hotel bookings in Bukovel?

- The booking window in Bukovel in winter remains small, with guests booking rooms in advance mostly for the New Year holidays. Usually, during the New Year's holidays, tour prices rise dramatically. Then they gradually decrease and return to normal. This was the case before the war, and it is the case now. For example, the cost of a standard room for two at popular resorts can fluctuate around $120, and in the higher price segment, it can reach $250. Early booking can save you money.

- What changes do you see in the development of the Bukovel ski resort?

- The example of Bukovel demonstrates a successful integrated approach to development that is constantly being pursued. The owner of the resort makes a significant contribution to the development of the complex and its infrastructure in general: creating roads, sidewalks, attractions, along with ensuring a high level of service and maintenance. Such an integrated approach makes Ukrainian hotels competitive in the global tourism market and attracts more and more attention among domestic tourists.

There is a lack of high-quality hotels with exciting design and infrastructure. Such complexes cover only 20% of demand. Due to the lack of supply, prices for vacations in Carpathian hotels are increasing. To avoid such an imbalance in the future, it is necessary to expand the supply in the region, which will allow more people to take advantage of the opportunity to vacation in Bukovel. Thus, the market needs hotels with restaurants, SPA and similar services.

- What motivated you to continue developing the Ribas Hotels Group hotel chain even during the war? What factors influenced this and were there any thoughts of putting everything on hold?

- In my life, I follow a very simple but important rule: "If you can work without stopping, do it!". Now we live in a reality where it is difficult to plan or predict anything, so we need to learn to adapt quickly and develop flexibility. The number one task at the time was to keep the team together. This was probably what motivated us to keep building new facilities and operating hotels.

Summarizing our work in 2023, we are proud to have continued to develop new projects amid the war, as well as to have opened a representative office in Bali, an office in Kyiv, and soon to open one in Warsaw. In addition, we are actively developing our activities in Kazakhstan and Europe and Central Asia.

For example, our company currently exports its services to such countries as Poland, Montenegro, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Georgia, Armenia, Italy and East Asia. Our immediate plans include opening hotels in Indonesia (Bali), Italy, Cyprus and Yerevan, as well as expanding our hotel chain in Ukraine.

On the photo: Ribas Karpaty Hotel (Bukovel)

- What were the biggest challenges you faced when launching hotels during the war?

- There are several key factors that create difficulties in launching hotels. In fact, the biggest challenges were the technical aspects of the launch, namely commissioning. Not all contractors could be contacted promptly for one reason or another.

In addition, at all of our new facilities, we are currently facing the issue of team building and finding employees who will work in accordance with our requirements and standards.

The issue of operational logistics of equipment is also relevant, as much of it is imported from abroad. Today, suppliers do not leave warehouse stocks, and it takes a long time to wait for the necessary inventory, and sometimes the terms are unclear.

- You have recently taken over the management of a brand new hotel in Bukovel, DIDUKH. It is said that it is unique for your chain - what is the concept?

- It's not just a hotel, but a set of fascinating details that together create an atmosphere where guests are interested in being and exploring the hotel. It is a space that is difficult to reach, located at a very high point, but for which guests are willing to travel this way. Views, interior details, design aesthetics. This is a place where time stands still. This boutique hotel has only 18 rooms, a large full-fledged SPA, a restaurant with a separate breakfast area, a conference room, a children's room, a private parking lot, and a ski room.

Given the small number of rooms, each guest in this hotel will feel almost secluded. The service at DIDUKH is at the level of a five-star hotel, although it is a 4-star hotel. In addition, a huge team works for each guest at the hotel. DIDUKH is intimate, and there is also a gourmet restaurant SAZHA with a star chef Yuriy Didenko, so you can go there even for the delicious food.

Read the rest of the story on the OBOZREVATEL website.

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