Vinotel: Redefining Exclusivity in Hotel Diligence

Though Vinotel has only been open since 2015, it looks like it’s been around for centuries. Designed to resemble an affluent Georgian home, the hotel is brimming with classic living spaces – one with a grand piano for all to play – that lead into a gilded library. Vinotel is a veritable oasis of luxury and comfort at the gateway to the historical Avlabari district.

Opened by former mountaineer Benedikt Kashakashvili, the flamboyant Vinotel has set a new benchmark for hotel design and immaculate service. It has already been acclaimed at the World Luxury Hotel Awards where it won the top prize in St Moritz, last year in Belfast, this year in London at International Hotel Awards. They consider themselves honoured to have received a mention on the website of the White House in 2017.

To learn more about this standout venue and find out why it is a must-stay for travelers to Georgia, GEORGIA TODAY decided to talk to the owner himself.

First tell us about your experience as a professional mountaineer.

I discovered the magic of the mountains when I was a kid. Relishing the awe and grandeur of mountain scenery is surely a universal instinct, but it gets even more articulated if you grow up in a country with a landscape dominated by granite peaks. In the mountains I set missions and devoted myself to achieving them. I was the first Georgian man to climb the Seven Summits and the organizer and participant of the first Georgian Everest expedition, one of the members of which entered the Guinness Book 2000. Reaching the top of a mountain is an impressive physical, mental, and emotional triumph. And it is motivating. But the art of mountaineering is much more than reaching a summit – it is a style of life. The main accomplishment lies in performing an elegant ascent. With the help of my fellow mountaineers, I performed a myriad of technically intricate expeditions that I am proud of because, as valuable artistic compositions or good wine, they never lose eminence. Good wine and challenging peaks have things in common, such as dedication, daily hard work and luck. Among the six documentaries that I shot in the mountains, Rendezvous with El Capitan received the international top prize in Moscow.

Did your experience in the mountains help your new route with Vinotel?

Starting from Alaska and including Antarctica, huge mountaineering experience provided me with an array of skills to better guide the implementation of my Vinotel project. Up in the mountains, one stands autonomously, as though outside the dimensions of time and space, always looking death in the eye. Precision, courage, cooperation, and dedication are among the indispensable qualities of a true mountaineer. I owe to the mountains the endurance and devotion that I drew on to bring about the Vinotel project in the face of disruptive scepticism and the hardships inflicted by the 2008 war.

What I think I also inherit from my experience in the mountains is appreciation of the timeless moments of tranquility and stillness. Vinotel is designed to let one enjoy the luxury of saving time for oneself. It features a library with books in Russian and English, which, in sync with the softwood interior, is designed to create the ambience of serenity. In the main hall, which is always adorned with fresh flowers, you can listen to jazz and Georgian classical repertoires on the Grand Piano Fazioli. The garden and terrace, overlooking a Georgian church, are also designed to let one feel at ease.

What is the story behind Vinotel’s design?

From the very start I wanted Vinotel to be a vivid example of traditional Tbilisi architecture. But this is also a place where East meets West, which is why the style of Georgian architecture has always been highly diverse. Even though it always adhered to the classical canons of symmetry and proportion, oriental ornamentation has also been a part of it, although frequently restrained. I always thought that the fusion of the two architectural styles has historically been the hallmark of Georgian architecture. When designing Vinotel, we made every effort to preserve the very best features of Georgian architectural elegance.

Vinotel is a veritable haven for wine-loving visitors. Tell us more about it.

The concept of Vinotel is inspired by Georgia’s history and viniculture. For centuries, winemaking has been the engine of the Georgian economy, elevating the vine to an iconic symbol of endurance, regeneration, and prosperity. Vinotel is designed to provide the best of experiences for wine-lovers. It features a wine cellar where you can find a rich selection of Georgian wines. Along with its exclusive wine collection, Vinotel offers a wide selection of natural and bio wines. Family wineries produce top-notch wines because they put their heart and soul into winemaking. We are good friends with good winemakers and they really respect us. Some of the greatest among our wines are rarely found beyond the walls of Vinotel, including natural wines from exclusive small batch wineries. Our exclusive collection of wines is available at our Vinotells boutique. Vinotells has its own production, bearing a variety of wines ranging from silky Krakhuna to a more sumptuous Cabernet. We have small groups of specialists in the regions of Imereti and Kakheti that harness an 8,000-year-long national winemaking tradition to produce some of the world’s unique and inimitable wines. In the process, they’re transforming into an emerging artisanal powerhouse by tying the wine’s long-running past to a dynamic and exciting future.

Wellness is an important part of your dining program. Do you have future wellness initiatives in mind for Vinotel?

Wellness is at the very heart of Vinotel’s business model. Eco-friendliness is an absolute priority. Most of Vinotel’s embellishments are hand-made, crafted and painted. The restaurant pampers its guests with the most delicious artisan foods prepared with organic produce of the highest quality. Vinotel guests are welcome to enjoy the delicious Georgian cuisine and enthralling live performances of Georgian folk music.

What are future goals for Vinotel?

We’ve taken steps to promote our wines on a larger scale. A while ago, Vinotel hosted 21 Masters of Wine from all over the world—a momentous event in its own right for a country where the appreciation of wine is deep-rooted in the culture and lifestyle. In the near future, we plan to expand the production of biodynamic wines to start exporting worldwide. We will begin the sales this year. With due dedication and love of our craft, I hope we will succeed to carve out a niche for our selection of wines on the global wine market.

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