Our efforts to build communication in different countries have paid off, and today we can say that we are an international company that exports its services to countries such as Poland, Montenegro, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Georgia, Armenia, Italy, and East Asia. Nowadays, our work is not limited to management, but also includes the design of hotels in different countries. Artur Lupashko, founder of Ribas Hotels Group, Tetiana Morozova, architect and interior designer of Ribas Hotels Group, Olga Yesvandzhia, conceptual architect of Ribas Hotels Group, and Anastasiia Hubanova, international coordinator of Ribas Hotels Group, told us more about entering foreign markets in an interview.

Why did Ribas Hotels Group decide to enter the foreign market? When will the first property managed by Ribas Hotels Group be opened abroad?

Artur Lupashko: Ribas Hotels Group has plans to export its services to different countries. We started our journey in this direction by searching for hotels for rent and offering Ukrainian investors to invest in buying hotels abroad. But later, our approach changed, and we decided to promote ourselves in local markets among Ukrainian investors who plan to build hotels there. Thanks to fruitful work, we have already signed several contracts.

We plan to open new hotels under the Ribas Hotels brand abroad in the next 2-3 years, as construction takes time, and the projects are currently at the design stage. However, we are likely to open a Ribas Hotels property in Poland this year, which we started working on in 2019. We plan to start managing foreign properties this year, as we are currently holding many negotiations with existing hotels on management.

On the visualisation: hotel Bautzen by Ribas in Poland

You have recently travelled abroad for new projects. What challenges did you face while travelling? What did these trips bring to the company?

Artur Lupashko: The trip to Canacea (Italy) was very successful. We looked at an unfinished building that was bought by our future partners and signed an agreement with them to develop a concept and design a future hotel with further management under the Ribas Hotels brand. The design of this facility has now begun, so we hope that we will open the hotel for the 2026 Olympics, which will be partly held in this resort.

In Indonesia, we signed a memorandum of understanding with three partners to set up other companies. These are UTG, «Атмосфера», and «Привілегия», with whom we plan to implement development projects, apart-hotels, cottage complexes, glamping, and hotel complexes, and manage these and existing projects in the region.

Anastasia Gubanova: I went on a business trip to Sutomore in Montenegro to audit a hotel with our COO. During the trip, I faced a number of difficulties. For example, the long logistics, which included a bus to Bucharest from Odesa, an overnight stay, a plane to Istanbul, a flight postponement due to bad weather, a transfer from Istanbul to Podgorica, and finally a car to Sutomore. It was not difficult for me because my job allows me to work remotely. Our company has well-established processes and systematic, teamwork.

This trip was very productive for a number of reasons:

  1. We conducted an audit of the hotel in accordance with the company's standards; we made adjustments and recommendations that the hotel owners are using; we are now seeing success from their implementation. This proves that our experience is also applicable in markets where we are not present. We know where to find information and how to use it effectively.
  2. We met with our regional partner Maxim Trembanchuk. We discussed the company's strategic goals and methods of achieving them in order to provide our customers with quality services.
  3. We inspected the properties we are negotiating on to personally assess their prospects and the stage of implementation. We confirmed that our remote assessment was in line with reality.

Tatiana Morozova: I recently travelled to Larnaca in Cyprus. The purpose of the trip was to get acquainted with and measure the building, which is to become a city hotel after renovation, as well as to study the new location and competitors, communicate with local architects, engineers and the customer.

If we talk about difficulties, first of all, it is a long and difficult road. In addition, there are differences in the way local experts work - in Cyprus, no one is in a hurry, unlike us. Therefore, it is sometimes very difficult to quickly get the information you need or accurate initial data for design.

But in fact, the trip was easy and interesting. The new location, the historical background of the city, and communication with architects with different experiences and projects are very inspiring. I always want to bring home new ideas and approaches to design.

The business trip was memorable for its incredible views of the old city, complex measurements (because the building has a very atypical layout, a huge number of balconies and terraces, each floor has a new irregular shape), communication with local architects and the warm sea.

Olga Yesvandzhia: On New Year's Eve, I had a business trip to Yerevan to work on our new project there. Of course, the journey from Ukraine is hardly easy and fast nowadays. Already on the spot, I had some difficulties ordering a taxi, as it turned out that cashless payments are not as common there as we are used to in Ukraine. Also, the hotel cancelled my confirmed reservation because I didn't reply to their message an hour before arrival. At such moments, I dream of Ribas Chisinau. However, it was quite easy to communicate with our partners from Armenia - they are open, sincere people who are very proud of their country and always want to feed you.

Tell us more about the foreign hotel projects you are working on.

Artur Lupashko: We are proud of our work on hotel projects in Canacea (Italy), Yerevan (Armenia) and Larnaca (Cyprus). These projects are new challenges for us and we strive to excel in their creation.

Speaking specifically about each project, I'll start with Yerevan. We are developing a 4-star hotel and restaurant complex there under the Ribas Hotels brand. It is being implemented on the site of an unfinished hotel in the city centre. Our project includes two restaurants, a spacious terrace, a SPA complex, 90 apartments and 78 rooms. According to the plan, the first stage - apartments with a restaurant - should open in a year, and the entire complex will be completed in two to three years.

In the photo: the building of the future hotel in Yerevan

Olga Yesvandzhia: It is a large four-star hotel in the heart of Yerevan. The building has a great view of the city's main street, and a facade that can be found on the first page of Google when you search for "Yerevan". It is a combination of an apartment hotel, which allows guests to feel at home, and a hotel, where they can enjoy luxurious rooms and a wide range of services. The design of the rooms and common areas will feature local craftsmen's products, which will give the property a special atmosphere and uniqueness. One of the hotel's floors will feature a workshop where you can see first-hand the production of various traditional local cultural products.

The hotel will also have an atmospheric roof-top bar, another feature that will attract both locals and tourists. It is a place where you can enjoy the best cocktails and snacks while drinking them against the backdrop of an incredible city view.

In fact, it is even a complex of buildings. Two of them are already fully constructed, with the first floors rented out for commercial use. And the third building has only floors and facades. So we will have a lot of space to implement all our ideas.

Anastasiia Hubanova: In the process of creating this project, we talked to managers, potential guests, travel agencies, and the Ministry of Tourism. This allowed us to really identify the need and create the most profitable business that will become the country's business card.

Arthur Lupashko: We are also designing a boutique hotel in Larnaca. It will be a luxurious 4-star establishment combining modern technology and traditional Cypriot style. The facility's infrastructure will include 4 floors. We have developed two concepts, allowing the owner to choose the best option. The first one will offer its guests rooms equipped with everything necessary for a comfortable stay, including air conditioning, TVs, minibars and Wi-Fi. The facility will also include a rooftop swimming pool and a restaurant serving Cypriot cuisine. The second option is a similar facility in terms of infrastructure and design, but it will offer guests apartments with kitchens instead of rooms. The first option will have 33 rooms, while the second will have 27.

We are implementing this project together with our partner from Dnipro. He was a guest of our Ribas Karpaty hotel, and he really liked the facility, so he offered to implement the project together abroad. Currently, the Cypriot hotel is at the stage of obtaining permits for reconstruction, which will take another six months, followed by construction, which will take a year and a half.

In the photo: the building of the future boutique hotel in Larnaca

Tatiana Morozova: The main idea of this project is to create a hotel that can fit into the existing context and inspire guests to immerse themselves in the history and culture of the city. The hotel's interiors are contemporary in style, combined with authentic furniture and decor by local craftsmen. The hallmark of the property is the swimming pool on the terrace overlooking the old town and the sea.

Anastasia Gubanova: We are currently working very actively, in close cooperation with the city of Kanacea, to implement a 4-star hotel in the Dolomites ski resort.

With a metal building, we are immersing a concept that will meet the needs of the Italian and German audiences. At the same time, our goal is to make the most of the space by organising the technical part of the enterprise in accordance with regional regulations and several commercial units for high profitability.

The hotel will include about 80 rooms with a SPA, a spectacular swimming pool, a restaurant, a fireplace lounge, a commercial area 500 metres from the ski lift, and will be the perfect place to relax for every guest.

In the photo: an unfinished building in Kanatsei, where a hotel is being built

Artur Lupashko: We also continue to work on the Bautzen by Ribas project in Poland, in Jelenia Góra, which we designed in 2019. It is being implemented by a Kyiv investor, and we hope that the hotel will open this year. Once it is commissioned, we will take over the management of this facility. It is a 3-star urban design hotel that embodies a combination of the city's history and modern life. The hotel has a special feature - it provides for the possibility of accommodating guests without staff. The facility's infrastructure includes a lobby with a small business centre, a café, a snack bar, and a luggage room.

On the visualisation: Bautzen by Ribas hotel in Poland

Does Ribas Hotels Group have any representative offices abroad? What locations do they cover?

Artur Lupashko: We have built up communication in Poland, Montenegro, Austria, Georgia, Armenia, Italy, and East Asia. There are also companies that represent our interests, such as Dwell Bell in Austria, with which we have signed a memorandum of cooperation in Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

Anastasia Gubanova: Representatives are our team that has a high level of market knowledge, shares the company's goals and works to improve the quality of hotel services and build new facilities. With such a wide network, we combine different experiences and can engage our partners, guests and investors in joint projects.

What is the area of responsibility of local offices?

Artur Lupashko: Foreign representative offices are engaged in the examination of the legal and tax parts of the region. In addition, they deal with HR issues, communicate with government agencies and create PR strategies that are appropriate for the market, as they understand better than anyone how to do it locally.

From the central office, we give the strategy and solve the tasks that they can set for us. Their role is to coordinate and create a focus vector for us.

What is the difference in your approach to negotiations on properties abroad and in Ukraine?

Artur Lupashko: Each country has its own market and investors. Hotel owners are used to different conditions: some, for example, are willing to pay separately for concept development, while others believe that this should be the responsibility of the management company. For example, in Austria, most hotels are ready to rent out premises, but few want to transfer the facility to integrated management, while in Indonesia, most projects are put up for sale.

Anastasia Gubanova: We have an individual approach to each partner, regardless of the country, taking into account their needs. First of all, it is worth noting that our company is not a contractor. We offer long-term operational partnerships and work towards a common goal with our customers. At the same time, we take into account the mental characteristics and values of our partner, as well as the market. There are cases when we encounter a language barrier, but this is very rare, as English is spoken almost everywhere.

Olga Yesvanjia: Nowadays, there is indeed a difference between negotiations with Ukrainian and international customers. But we are a young, flexible and ambitious team. And this is what our partners value in us and emphasise when choosing us.

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