26 November 2012
METROPOL Offers a la Serb Hospitality
Interview with Anastasia Zotova, CEO at Metropol Express Travel
1. Anastasia, please outline the moves around the Russian winter tour market over the recent years? What kind winter recreation is demanded the most by Russian tourists?
Generally speaking, touring in Russia now migrates from package offers to individual tourism, including athletic, event, exotic, inquisitive etc. The same is about the winter tourism. Some Russian tourists prefer to go to the tropical seaside to enjoy windsurfing, kitesurfing, scuba diving or simply bathing and tanning even in winter. These are Egypt, Thailand and various exotic islands. At the same time a share of Russian tourists take chance of alpine skiing and snowboarding. In Russia now the number of downhill skiers and snowboarders amounts to 6 mln, whilst 2 mln of them regularly go to ski abroad, and both figures are growing year in year out.
2. Where does Russian alpine tourists go in a big way?
Considering outbound tourism, the traditional destinations
are France, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Andorra, which host
absolute majority of our tourists. The East European direction
remains well popular – Bulgaria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland,
Scandinavian countries and Turkey still attracting noobs and
ordinary skiers. In recent years, the American resorts have
promoted themselves at the Russian market much aggressively. Our
market also has discovered new European alpine countries –
Montenegro, Spain, Serbia.
3. Are there any price-oriented offers for skiing tourism in Europe?
Among the affordable options I’d highlight Serbia with its
Kopaonik alpine skiing resort. This destination is pretty new for
us, and Metropol Express is promoting it now. Serbians excercise
eastern orthodoxy, their language, culture and national spirit are
much akin to ours. I think, it is the only country all over East
Europe celebrating not only Orthodox Christmas, but also so-called
old New Year in-parallel with us. Serbian cuisine tastes quite
familiar to Russians, and Serbian hospitality is very much alike to
that of Russia. It is also worth mentioning that Russians don’t
need visas to come to Serbia.
4. Would you highlight in brief some remarkable technical features of the resort?
The resort is generally oriented on ordinary skiers and
beginners, and also on family vacation. Total piste length is
somewhat 55 km, the highest point is a little above 2,000 m, max
level difference is 512 m, the longest piste is 3,500 m, traffic
capability of ski-lifts is 32,000 men per hour, average temperature
in January is 8 Celsius below zero. The resort infrastructure is
constantly improving. Last year the resort added to its attractions
such things as snowpark, open-air skating-rink, and a piste for
night time skiing. Artificial Snow Systems now cover nearly 75% of
all the pistes that ensure skiing irrespective of vagaries of the
weather. Recently acquired state-of-the-art piste caterpillars
prepare pistes every night for the next day. The season at Kopaonik
lasts from mid-December till the end of March.
5. What should a noob skier keep in mind?
A rooky skier doesn’t care of the pistes total milage. For
him it doesn’t make any difference whether 500 km or just 50 km are
ahead. Whereas strong winds at high altitudes accompanied with
temperatures far below zero would hardly make him happy. From this
point of view Kopaonik is the ideal site.
6. Please suggest where is it better to put up in Kopaonik?
At present, Metropol Express represents on the Russian
market two Kopaonik hotels owned by Metropol Group.
7. Would you deliver some details on features of Putnik hotel? Unless I’m mistaken, it sits a bit aloof from the pistes?
The Putnik hotel fits better for family vacation. It is more
spacious than Club A. Children are given place to skylark in the
evening. True, it is somehow outlying from the resort’s core.
However, this distance can be measured as 5 minutes by bus or 15
minutes on foot. On the other hand, the hotel is surrounded by
fairly stunning fir wood, peace and quiet reigns. Every 30 minutes
in the morning a free ski-bus routes from the hotel right to the
center of the resort.
8. Anastasia, what’s special about the Club A hotel – the true pearl of Kopaonik? What are the advantages of the Club A?
Yes, you are right. The Hotel Club A is an ultimate gem of this resort. It’s very homelike and nice hotel in the heart of the resort, accessible on foot from the central ski-lifts. The hotel has private parking area. Apropos, parking service for your car is included. The hotel’s exquisite cuisine is sure to impress guests with its variety and flavour. The hotel is famous for its open-armed hospitality. It was this treatment of guests that makes the hotel actually club-like. Along with all that, the prices remain quite reasonable. An average price per guest staying at standard double room, halfboard is about € 40-45. Most of guests come back to this hotel every new winter year in year out. Some rooms are booked out throughout the season.
9. And what about you? Where do you prefer to have a rest in winter?
If my business affords, I prefer to spend my winter vacation in European Alps together with my family. We are all the skiers with proven track record. On the chance of leaving Moscow for awhile, for a few recent years already our destination has been Kopaonik in Serbia. Serbian hospitality, Serbian cuisine and comfortable skiing give outstanding delight.
10. Apart from pistes, what else would you recommend to see in Kopaonik?
Within an hour car ride there are very beautiful ancient
monasteries reputed by Serbians as genuine sanctuaries. Putnik and
Club A hotels organize special excursion programs for guests. A
number of local thermal springs are also worth visiting. Tourists
love the excursions to local wine cellars looking like, so to say,
wine villages. The Kopaonik region enjoys very favorable climatic
conditions for red viniculture.
11. What season is the best to stay in Kopaonik hotels?
80% of the resort hospitality facilities is occupied by Serbian residents so far. That is why, after all, I wouldn’t recommend going there on the New Year vacation. The New Year holidays urges there, so to say, the Serbia’s population at large. At present, the resort is capable of accomodating about 7,000 tourists. It’s better to come there after the New Year celebrations are over. Booking online is available at the Putnik’s site (www.putnik.com), or employing Metropol-Express (www.metropolgroup.ru, phone +7 495 933 33 10). We’re in position to provide all relevant information on the resort and its hotels, eager to organize a tour, including transfers, and also we grant a discount on assistance of Russian-speaking ski instructor.
12. What’s on in Kopaonik in summer?
In summer time Kopaonik location is much beautiful; the
resort offers versatile programs and routes – on foot, hacking,
bike riding, watersports... In addition to all this, which is
commonly offered by ski resorts throughout Europe, our hotel hosts
various children’s summer campuses practicing basketball,
volleyball and lawn tennis. Besides, we organize language courses
for children tutored by English teachers from the UK. Also we keep
in stock the programs combining lodgement in the mountains and on
the seaside, where we have another nice hotel called Admiral in the
town of Budva in Montenegro. But I’d rather go into details on the
point, when we are closer to the summer season.
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