OUTSTANDING TOURIST COMPANIES GET 2004 AWARDS
For the ninth time since 1996 the Bulgarian Association of Hotel- and Restaurant-Keepers presented its annual awards for professional achievements in the Bulgarian tourist branch. The awards are divided in nine categories now. First of all we searched for entrepreneural individuals in small towns and not in the famous resorts, Sonya Alexieva, a member of the Association Managing Board, said at the ceremony held on December 13. Still, the Helena Resort hotel complex in the Sunny Beach resort was chosen the best holiday village in 2004. EUR30MN has been invested in the complex opened at the beginning of the summer. It is owned by the Bulimpex joint-stock company whose manager Mladen Mutafchiisky is known as a former manager of the state-owned Teraton arms producer. A 40% stake of Bulimpex's capital is owned by the Plovdiv Airport joint-stock company and another 30% stake - by Selena Holding and the Panama-registered offshore company Newco Investment Inc.Helena Resort is part of the RIU hotel chain. The village has two main buildings - the hotels Helena Sands and Helena Park, as well as five VIP houses, a kindergarten, five tennis courts, a streetball yard, an archery playground, and a swimming-pool.Apart from receiving the association's 2004 best vacation hotel award, Helena Resort was also declared the best Bulgarian five-star hotel by the English tour operator Thompson Holidays.The Royal Holiday tourist company was recognized as the one that had made the most efficient investment in tourism - the construction of the four-star Devin spa hotel in the town of Devin. EUR1.7MN has been invested in the modernisation of the old town hotel and the construction of the beauty centre, the company announced.Royal Holiday is owner of the first spa hotels in Bulgaria. The above-mentioned Devin hotel as well as the Murgavets hotel offer beauty procedures, fishing and rural tourism. Five years ago Royal Holiday was presented an award for the best investment in the Rhodopes region. In 2002 it received an award for investment in additional services, too.The Managing Board of the Bulgarian Association of Hotel- and Restaurant-Keepers also rewarded the Veliko Tarnovo-based Tsarevets hotel for its contribution to building Bulgaria's tourist image. The boutique hotel with just nine rooms is located in one of the oldest areas of the town near the historical Tsarevets hill. The building was constructed in 1891 and the Bulgaria insurance company once had its office in it. In April 2003, the building was acquired by Policommerce SG's President Georgi Vulev. It was entirely restored for nine months and welcomed its first guests last December. That investment was a response to the growing need of accommodations in Veliko Tarnovo which is a historical landmark and a constant destination in the tourist routes throughout Bulgaria. Moreover, one of the most beautiful buildings in the old part of the town managed to preserve its authenticity, Sonya Alexieva underlined.The Manager of the Year 2004 award was presented to Yovka Ivanova, a complex manager in the Varna-based Musala Palace grand hotel, due to her contribution to making the century-old hotel a modern hotel residence.The best town hotel award was given to the three-star complex Bistra and Galina in Rousse. It offers excellent conditions for business meetings as well as a chance for recovery in the sports centre. The same hotel was rewarded the Europe Golden Arch medal for quality and technologies in 2001. It is also the owner of an international platinum award for 2002.The best family hotel prize was handed to Slavka Kalichkova and her three-star hotel called The Lanterns near Gabrovo. The 2004 best restaurant award was presented to the Sofia-based Manastirska Magernitsa which offers authentic Bulgarian atmosphere and dishes cooked from recipes of 161 Bulgarian monasteries. Happy Bar Grill was declared the most dynamically growing restaurant chain. It owns 22 restaurants across the country and recently opened its first one in Barcelona.