About the company: Set along Baku’s seafront promenade with close proximity to major city attractions, Boulevard Hotel Baku offers 818 comfortable bedrooms and suites. Being the largest conference hotel in Transcaucasia, Boulevard Hotel Baku features the finest facilities to suit a variety of occasions and functions of different sorts. Boulevard Hotel Baku offers one of the most comprehensive fitness and spa facilities with a 25-meter indoor swimming pool and state-of-the-art fitness facilities. Unique with its concept dining venues – Black City Cafe, Green House Kitchen and White City Bar & Lounge offer a diversified culinary experience.
Caspian Energy (CE): Special emphasis is laid on the development of the non oil sector in Azerbaijan now. Legislative acts, aimed at further improvement of the business climate in the country, have been passed. To what degree does it promote development of the tourism sector, hotel business that you are engaged in?
Clive Smith, General Manager of Boulevard Hotel Baku: These acts are very welcome. Speeding up the visa process and allowing some countries visa on arrival improves the ease in which tourists can arrive to the country. This makes us more accessible and increases tourist numbers. The recent initiative to sign agreements with external agencies to increase marketing of the country and its tourism industry again encourages more visitors.
CE: Which issues in your opinion have to be solved for further development of the sector, attraction of tourists so that business and budget of the country can finally get additional dividends?
Clive Smith: Improving the visa process even further by introducing an online visa process system for the individual and expanding the countries covered would again increase accessibility and allow last minute decisions to visit by the visitor. Continued improvement in roads, and tourist signage help allow easy access to the regions. Ongoing improvements in the marketing of the many tourist sights to ensure visitors understand the vast amount of interesting things there are to see.
CE: What are the expectations from the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe to be hosted in Baku?
Clive Smith: We expect great things from the F1. The main thing will be the awareness of Azerbaijan and Baku within the world market. We hope the week itself fills the hotels and provides great business but more importantly we hope the whole event is a success in order that the event continues to be held in Baku over many years and attracts many other events.
CE: What services is Boulevard Hotel Baku ready to offer to the guests of our people?
Clive Smith: Boulevard hotel has a huge number of services aimed at both corporate, leisure, individual or group guests. We have a variety of rooms at a very high standard and great value. Multiple choices of dining venue from our Mediterranean themed Green House Kitchen restaurant, White City lounge and bar, Summer terraces which overlook the Caspian Sea, our Lobby café serving amazing pastries and cakes and for those relaxing in their room we have 24 hour room service. We also have extensive number of areas for guests to relax and enjoy their time; our beautifully designed Lobby and Library to name a few. We have an amazing Club and Spa facility with state-of-the-art fitness equipment, Olympic size indoor heated swimming pool, terrace cabanas and six treatment rooms. At The Spa we use well known Elemis products that allow the guest to be rejuvenated after the choice of treatment.
CE: What attention is paid to the leisure of the hotel guests?
Clive Smith: Our attention is fully on all our guests. Regarding leisure guests we ensure both the room and public area product and all service elements meet their needs. Being part of Autograph Collection by Marriott ensure we meet strict standards and receive constant feedback on what the guest feels about our service through all channels direct to guest, social media, etc.
CE: What innovation will the management of the hotel introduce to expand the range of provided services?
Clive Smith: We continue to improve service elements and introduce more facilities to the guest. During the recent Novruz holidays we introduced a new Azeri breakfast, focussed food dishes to the nationality of the in-house guest, had live music and dancing and brought in activities to entertain the guest. Pool tables and other games.
CE: What has been the impact of the devaluation on the activity of the hotel? To what degree has the marketing policy of the hotel changed?
Clive Smith: Devaluation has had the initial impact of uncertainty in the market where people did not want to commit to buying hotel services until they felt the market was becoming more stable. Companies limited trainings, meetings and travel to reduce costs. However over time this improves and whilst the cost of imported items has increased the country has become better value for those guests from abroad.
Interview made by Jeyhun Bayramov, Olga Nagiyeva