This year’s Design Hotels’ ARENA, the annual members’ conference, was hosted in Georgia by Adjara Group – the leading Georgian company in hospitality, lifestyle development, and agropreneurship. Three hundred of the most creative and inspiring representatives of the international hospitality industry attended the event. The guests experienced the design-centric properties of Adjara Group, as well as the country’s authentic culture and unique traditions.

On the first day of ARENA, the 25th of September, attendees were welcomed in Tbilisi at one and only Lolita, where guests danced to a live performance of M.RUX & The Drums and a home-grown talented artist Zurkin. The second floor of Lolita, hosted an impressive exhibition powered by Propaganda Network, a collective housed in Stamba D-block that actively promotes the development of Georgian Contemporary Art.

The second day marked the official opening of the conference, with a lineup of impressive and inspiring speakers who discussed the future of travel. This program took place in Tbilisi’s iconic national Opera and Ballet Theatre House. Valeri Chekheria and Levan Berulava – the CEO and the Managing Director of Adjara Group respectively– welcomed the participants and inaugurated the conference with a speech highlighting the company’s commitment to accommodating the travelers of the future who look for authentic experiences, as well as local, historical, and cultural connections.

Nino Zambakhidze, the founder of the Georgian Farmers Association, opened the eyes of many with her talk on how she developed an organization, which supports a large number of Georgian farmers and provides a platform for them to meet the demands for fresh and locally sourced produce.

In the historic courtyard of the Opera House, a beautifully set farmers’ market provided guests with possibilities to taste and enjoy local, artisanal flavors presented by the Georgian farmers. 

In-between presentations, guests enjoyed Georgia’s unique music and dance. The folk ensemble ‘Shavnabada’ performed centuries-old polyphonic songs, while the Sukhishvili National Ballet demonstrated the beauty, charm, and elegance of the traditional Georgian dance.

The eventful day ended with an elaborate dinner party on the rooftop of the swimming pool area at Stamba Hotel, followed by amazing music program and live performances that, as expected, had everyone dancing for hours in the Lobby Bar, a new stunning addition to the Hotel.

Following ARENA was the owner’s weekend, attended by around eighty owners of participating member hotels gathered at the Rooms Hotel Kazbegi in the beautiful Caucasian mountains. The weekend was filled with the majestic scenery of the dramatic landscape, gastronomic wonders, and spiritual experiences. The highlights of the two days include the tasting of the Ayurveda breakfast with an emphasis on a healthy lifestyle, breathing exercises, an electric yoga session, and discussions about the future of travel.

The culmination of the weekend was the hike up to the magnificent mountains of Kazbegi. A 45-minute steep walk uphill to the medieval Gergeti Trinity church proved to be a challenge, especially considering the Georgian wine and Chacha from the night before. Once they reached the destination, the guests got to experience an emotional Aramaic chant by father Serapime and his choir; undoubtedly one of the most remarkable and memorable moments of the journey.

In the evening, a real Georgian “Supra” feast was awaiting the guests. The gastronomic journey through Georgia’s diverse national dishes and wine was accompanied by ‘Shvidkaca’ ensemble– yet another popular folk group, which marked a perfect ending to an already intense and eventful day. The dinner grew into a night full of dancing and music played by talented DJs, who inspired many to stay up and spend hours on the dance floor.

The ARENA 2019 was full of moments, which will be hard to forget long after the attendees have returned home.