Rosa Khutor is located in the Caucasus Mountains about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Black Sea in southwestern Russia and will host the alpine events during the 2014 Winter Games to be held in Sochi. Rosa Khutor is a very ambitious mountain resort project and next to the high-speed gondola taking skiers and spectators to the mountaintop, a new European-style village with accommodation, dining and shopping is being built. This year, the Park Inn by Radisson opened its doors and during the 2012- 2013 winter season its sister property, the Radisson, Rosa Khutor will welcome guests for the first time. The two properties sit just across the Mzymta River from each other and can be accessed by the pedestrian bridge (click here for a 360 degree panoramic photo of the site) constructed over the river.
Lobby Bar- Park Inn by Radisson
I first experienced the Park Inn in February of this year, just after its January opening and during the International Ski Federation World Cup, when I interviewed Luke Bodensteiner of the United States Sk and Snowboard Association in the hotel lobby for SochChannel.com At that time, I was impressed with the design of its chic lobby bar and lounge. More recently, I returned and spent an afternoon with Harald Buerkle, the General Manager of both the Park Inn and the Radisson. Mr. Buerkle was kind enough to treat me to a very good lunch of the best German food to be found in the area. This is not entirely surprising given that Mr. Buerkle, with a Chef’s Master degree, has a background in food preparation, including 5 years working in Michelin-starred restaurants. Mr. Buerkle, starting at the age of 16, was precocious in food preparation and was promoted to prominent positions at an early age. In fact, at 27, he was the Executive Chef at one of the most prominent hotels in Eastern Europe and managing a team of 70 people. Harald (I hope he will excuse the familiarity!) previously worked in Moscow and also has served stints working at Radisson Blu Hotels in the United Kingdom, in Kiev, as the Food and Beverage Manager and at Ruegen, Germany on the Baltic Sea, where he held his first position as General Manager.
Harald and his wife recently moved here. He originally came from Bavaria and Katinka from the German state of Swabia. Harald keeps busy with the hotels, but he finds time to pursue his MBA in Hospitality and Service Management at the Glion School of Higher Education in Switzerland. All this activity does not leave much time for him to golf, which he greatly enjoys.
General Manager Harald Buerkle
After lunch, Harald showed me several categories of rooms at the Park Inn. All are very comfortable and feature the modern design esthetic and ease of use that Radisson is well-known for. The English-speaking staff, both polite and helpful, reflects the professional management of Radisson. I arrived early for the meeting and while working on my computer discovered I was missing an adapter for my battery charger. The bartender noticed and quickly produced one for me. This attention to guests will serve the Park Inn well in the future. Large numbers of foreign travellers will be coming to the Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort, through the Olympics and after, to enjoy the spectacular scenery and the mountain’s vertical drop of 1,776 meters (5,774 feet!). The Park Inn has ski storage, a gym and nightclub, as well as its restaurant with Bavarian cusine and the hip lobby bar. The hotel is accessible, too. The road runs right to its doorstep and a new high-speed rail is being constructed from Sochi to Krasnaya Polyana, with a station just a short distance from the village that includes the Park Inn and Radisson.
Although the Radisson, across from the Park Inn, is not completed, Harald shared details with me about it. He told me that the hotel will be “the most luxurious in Rosa Khutor” and that the cool Black Bar and Grill will source local ingredients and the best quality imports. There will a nightclub and also an entertainemnt zone for children. All will be within walking distance of the ski shops, ski schools, shopping, dining and the mountain. Between the two hotels, Harald will manage nearly 400 rooms in the premium location at Rosa Khutor. He and I are already planning events there, including a charity hike, barbeque and party in September. I will keep readers posted as to plans and developments.