Sahbulaq – the golden fountain. Family hotels for Georgia and Azerbaijan

“There is no better place on earth” says Farid with a big smile, and pride. His eyes are wide awake, his face sun tanned. Farid is a small man of almost 70 years, full of energy and new ideas.

He stands in front of his just finished hotel in the Caucasus. He and his family built it, together with a family they have been friends with already for many years. They did not build it with their own hands, but everybody in both families was helping: with property and credits, with ideas and know how, with friends and contacts.

For many years Farid worked as a dentist. His wife was teaching elementary school, and still is. They have three adult children, and several grand children. The new hotel was built to secure the families future income. To make everything right, Farid had schooling for six months, he learned book keeping and everything that could become important when managing the hotel.

The course was financed by the EU, helping Georgia and Azerbaijan for their changing economies. Almost everything he learned was new to Farid, especially bank credits. He was not familiar with that, and he still feels insecure about having to take a bank loan with 18 percent interest. But he trusts in his family and his friend Ramil, who ist co-manager.

Earlier, before he went on pension, he was the master of a school. Now he looks after the personnel, 20 of them around: waiters, cooks, gardeners and cleaning personell.

The house had just been finished, beds ready and curtains up, when the first guests arrived. A big sign by the road had made them curious.

The hotel needs to find guests for 20 beds to get everything settled as planned. Besides the paying hotel guests there should be guests in the restaurant, opening hours lasting from noontime until midnight. All foods are cooked fresh, ingredients grow in the garden or they come from a nearby farmers market.

The entrepreneur´s wifes are still more hesitant than enthusiastic, if things will go well. The two managers are full of energy and hopes, running around the house from early morning until late at night to keep things nice and going.

Around the house, there is a paradise like garden with fruits and vegetables, spring water and wine. As soon as there will be enough money, the garden will be extended and planned with even more detail, hoping that the hotel will become a golden fountain for the family.

“We are waiting for guests from Europe” Farid says and he points at the fresh walls.

If things go well, the hotel could become a good example for the whole South Caucasus area. With small family hotels, the international community and especially the EU are trying to encourage tourism and to create new jobs, adequate and adjusted to the structures and societies of the South Caucasus countries.

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