Marybelle Arnett, Vice President of Development at Hilton Worldwide – We expect to welcome the first guests in Belgrade in the summer of 2018
People of Belgrade can already guess what the Hilton hotel in the capital of Serbia will look like. The structure has been raised and the multi-million investment of one of the biggest hotel groups in the world is getting its final shape. The works started in 2016 will be completed after two years, and Hilton Belgrade will welcome its first guests in the summer of 2018.
Marybelle Arnett, Vice President of Development at Hilton Worldwide Central and Eastern Europe, confirms this in her interview for our portal. Hilton will also open its hotels in Tirana and Skopje in 2018, but our interviewee emphasizes the importance of positioning in Belgrade, considering its potential, especially in congress tourism.
– The hospitality industry in Serbia is maturing. In Belgrade, Serbia’s largest market, traditionally the hotel offering has been predominantly independent, but as more visitors travel to Belgrade the demand for international brands is increasing. The number of these hotels is growing as the appetite for more familiar brands increases, and Hilton Belgrade, when it opens in 2018, will help meet this demand.
Spa facilities and a rooftop restaurant are only some of the new features intended to attract future guests to Hilton, and Marybelle Arnett also talks about which countries the majority of visitors are expected to come from and how full the capacities are planned to be.
eKapija: Why is this the right time for the Hilton to step into the Serbian market?
– Double digit annual growth in the number of overnight stays in Serbia over the past couple of years, together with improving air accessibility and infrastructure projects indicates Serbia’s potential to become a new hot spot destination in this area of Europe. A lack of supply in hotels across the country, particularly those under international brands, means there has never been a better time to introduce our flagship Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand to the country.
Future top-category, 8-floor Hilton Belgrade
eKapija: Are guests already interested in the hotel in Belgrade?
– Hilton is one of the world’s largest hospitality companies, with a significant global commercial engine, including a worldwide sales network and marketing capabilities focused on attracting new and existing guests to our hotels. With Belgrade’s growing meetings and events industry and flourishing cultural scene, Hilton Belgrade will set a new standard in the city for business and leisure travelers.
eKapija: What will be the primary group of guests which you are trying to attract?
– Last year Hilton welcomed 150 million guests to its nearly 5,000 hotels across more than 100 countries and territories, we have experience of serving guests from a variety of countries. In particular visitors from Germany, Russia, Greece and Turkey are increasingly traveling to Belgrade and we look forward to welcoming guests from these and other countries from 2018. Hilton Belgrade is a significant project, and properties of this scale bring considerable investment into the community. We look forward to serving, employing and offering the highest standard of hospitality to local residents.
eKapija: Luxurious hotels in Belgrade have been opening for a few years now, Marriott, Raddison, etc, have already stepped into the market. The arrival of Hilton has been announced for a long time, and the expectations are great. In previous announcements by the heads of the group, it was outlined that the hotel 'will become the number one hotel for visitors'. Which contents and offer will you provide in order to achieve that?
– Our provision of hospitality is what sets Hilton apart from its competitors. We pride ourselves on our reputation as being the most recognizable hotel brand in the world. That reputation is built on our Team Members and the exceptional hospitality they provide to our guests. Hilton Belgrade is a quality property, with its comfortable and stylish interior, fitness club and spa facilities we believe the hotel will become the number one choice for visitors.
eKapija: What will make the Belgrade hotel unique compared to other hotels within the Hilton Group?
– Hilton Belgrade is our first hotel in Serbia and Belgrade. Flagship hotels of this kind are a significant undertaking, employing many Team Members and attracting tens of thousands of guests per year. Coupled with state of the art facilities, including one of Belgrade’s only rooftop drinking and dining spaces, Hilton Belgrade will be a fine addition to our European portfolio.
eKapija: The Belgrade-based hotel is a multi million euro investment and will have 242 rooms and suites. Do you expect full capacities and a fast return on the investment?
– The necessary demand drivers behind a project the size and scope of Hilton Belgrade have been evaluated and we are confident the hotel, with our world renowned hospitality and world class facilities, will be one of the most popular hotels in the city when it opens in 2018.
eKapija: Belgrade is becoming an increasingly more popular destination on the congress tourism map. Why is good market positioning important? Where do you see the potential?
– The number of international meetings and events in Belgrade has doubled in the past six years. More companies are choosing to do business in Serbia’s capital, and Hilton Belgrade, with its almost 1,000 square meters of meeting space, including pre-function facilities, a ballroom and several large function rooms will be a popular choice for business and events travelers.
eKapija: You are building hotels in Tirana and Skopje and the end of the last year saw the opening of the hotel in Podgorica. What are the results of the existing Hilton hotels in the region?
– Hilton Podgorica Crna Gora is our first hotel in Montenegro and since opening last year is proving popular with guests and performing well. Construction is underway on Hilton Garden Inn Tirana and DoubleTree by Hilton Skopje, both of which are on schedule to open in 2018.