A hotel for me means traveling, adventure and new discoveries. I like to stay in different hotels, expensive and standard ones, because each of them has its own story, which is worth knowing and experiencing. This is the story of my impressions about Radisson Blu Hotel, Kyiv Podil and our conversation with its GM Nadine Fernbacher.
Sometimes even a simple hotel can wake very warm and pleasant memories. I remember a small hotel in Istanbul in the district of Kadykey, which turned out to be a lovely place, owned by a woman who invests her money and soul in creation of coziness and even light chic in small rooms. I remember the magnificent Radisson Blu Resort, Bukovel with the beautiful views from the windows and the silence in the hotel where you can take a bath admiring the view of the mountains and the clouds through the glass walls of the rooms. It is also difficult to forget its crisp bed and cozy blankets, wrapped up in which you feel like a hamster in cotton wool, stuck in this paradise forever. This stunning silence is also great and a bit weird for a city dweller here in the mountains. All this is about the emotions that a person experience when stopping at a hotel.
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Today I feel completely new emotions, because for the first time I live in a hotel in my home-city. In the midst of the daily hustle and bustle of Kyiv, I escaped into my own paradise to Radisson Blu Hotel, Kyiv Podil. It's strange, unusual, but very pleasant.
You come to the room and the whole world is ready to wait for you. Behind the door you leave your worries, you're on vacation for one night. From the window you can see the St. Andrew's Church on the hill and the Podil courtyards. It's too early to rest, and I'm walking along Podil as a tourist, slowly peering at the streets, houses, people's faces. I come to Poshtova Square, admire the Dnipro River and bridges crossing it.
Time flows differently now. The habitual places look different. The nightfall lights up the streetlights of the waterfront and music flows from the cafes at Sagaidachny street. I walk slowly, admiring the tired Podil. It becomes fresh and I want to warm up. I go to the hotel into my room, it's cozy and quiet here with muted light. It smells like rest. I love the smell of Radisson and its sounds, or rather to say their absence. Even in such an old, inundated with bars and restaurants area of the city like Podil, you can get to the island of rest. Warmed up in the shower, I jump under the blanket with a laptop and chamomile tea. Oh, these pillows and blankets, they are softer than clouds. It's better than the spa - my night at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Kyiv Podil.
In the morning after the breakfast in Starokyivsky restaurant on the first floor, I go on a tour of the hotel, accompanied by Elena, my guide from the sales department. I want to discover more about Radisson Blu Hotel, Kyiv Podil.
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The hotel is four years old. Despite the fact that it is 7 floors of 4 types of different business style rooms from standard to apartments, here you feel coziness and comfort unusual for large buildings. Each room has tea and coffee, a bottle of water. The set is updated daily and you will be certainly pleased with a complement from the hotel.
In my case it was a beautiful Easter cupcake and cookies decorated with a glaze. European quality standards of serving guests in the hotel make “the sky is limit” for any guest’s request by prior agreement and for an appropriate fee. If a large family of parents and adult children comes, they can take two adjacent rooms with an inner door between them. Business class rooms allow you to use different areas for rest and work. Radisson's balconies are a separate story. Some of them have view of Podil courtyards with their original way of life, some allow you to look far away, where the Dnipro River glitters, some share the view of the dome of St. Andrew's Church. Sunrise and sunset get into the rooms with a gentle light.
Bedding in any of the Radisson hotels is a paradise for a tired guest. You can drown in it and forget about reality. Moderately soft, moderately hard, with light pillows and blankets, it allows you to rest from the road and gain strength in a matter of hours. The showers and bathrooms are equipped with everything necessary for guest comfort: a hairdryer, make-away cosmetics, a vanity kit and white towels. What else is needed to wash off the morning sleep or evening fatigue? For those who lead a healthy lifestyle the hotel offers a gym, available 24/7 and accessible by your key-card.
In the Starokyivsky restaurant you can enjoy tasty and healthy food, and in Cafe 17 you are free to have coffee with a delicious dessert in a cozy atmosphere. For business people no less important is the availability of a conference hall for 50 people with all the necessary modern equipment. It is a special pleasure to sit in the lobby of the hotel.
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There is a lot of light here thanks to the huge windows and light marble of the interior. I decided not to limit myself with the excursion, and to meet the general manager of the hotel Nadine Fernbacher. Nadine recently took the office and, as such, the more valuable are her first impressions of the hotel, Kyiv and Ukraine in general.
Nadine, you have great experience in Hotel business worldwide. What are the main challenges you meet here as a general manager of Radisson Blu Hotel, Kyiv Podil?
When you have a new destination, new location you need to adapt to the mentality of the people, you have a language barrier, you need to adapt to a new culture and new surroundings. You haven’t lived in Ukraine before, just have been here for a visit.
And do you plan some changes in this hotel?
We have some standards we stick to, but, of course, we can make some changes. This hotel is 4 years old already, so I need to see what has to be changed and renovated. Beside that our owners are very interested to invest further in this hotel project. Therefore we are discussing and developing ideas for owner investments that improve the guest’s experience of our hotel together.
What is your favorite place in the hotel, if there is one?
Actually we are sitting in it. This café is one of my favorite places in the hotel. I really like the atmosphere. We have some nice rooms with sofa where I’ve stayed at the beginning. All rooms here are very comfortable.
Is it difficult to be a woman ruling the hotel of the world famous brand?
Radisson tries to have a balanced leadership, because you need to have good ideas and good value team. That is why they have special programs to push the female a bit more in the direction to lead the teams. There are countries where it is not so easy, like Georgia for example, where I’ve worked before.
Upon being a General Manager in Radisson in Georgia, how can you compare Georgians and Ukrainians? Are there some common features in our mentality and culture?
You are similar in the way you are hospitably friendly, and how you drive on the roads. But when it comes to the way how you complete your work, how you structure it, Ukrainians are much more structured and organized which fits better for my German mentality.
What features you have to develop being a lady-boss?
Mainly what we found out is the self-confidence. Very often ladies have knowledge and experience but they lack self-confidence.
I experienced some difficulties in terms of acceptance of the woman-boss by men in Batumi, Georgia, the country with very strong male mentality and character. And for woman it is not always easy, especially in business relationships. But as a foreigner I used to do my job, so I did what I had to. Sometimes people around me need to adapt as well to find that balance and better solution for everyone. And I do some things a bit different than I would do them in Europe, more carefully, step by step. But this is a great experience if you finally succeed in the end of journey.
What is your perfect hotel, hotel of your dream? Please, describe it.
The hotel of my dream is a business related hotel, because I like the way it goes, a bit in a hurry to have everything in time. I like crowded hotel where you have some action in the lobby, even something like airport hotel - may be this is my biggest dream. It is always busy, with a lot of people of different nationalities around. This is something I like in the hotel business.
If we talk about design, I like modern hotels in warm colors but where you feel welcome and cozy.
Nadine, how do you find Kyiv now when you live here?
I believe it is easy to be a part of it, even if you have a bit of difficulty because not everyone speaks English here. Everyone is very friendly and very helpful even if they don’t speak your language, they try to help.
Kyiv can compete with so many other European cities. I don’t miss anything here. And it is pretty affordable city.
Do you like Ukrainian cuisine?
Yes, as I am a fan of soups and stews! So, this is really great to be in Ukraine. But here there is a great variety of cuisines and food concepts you can experience. I was in Kanapa at Adriyivsky Descent. And I like the way they present the food, very interesting.
Do you have special areas in the city where you love to be?
I have been here only for 5 weeks, I had no time to discover a lot. But what I like is to be in the city sitting in coffee shops observing people and city life. You have a lot of nice cafes here, especially in Podil area. There are some modern art galleries, old churches, nice restaurants.
Nadine seems to be hinting to everyone who has not been in Kyiv yet or has already grown to love this city, to come here again and again, and Radisson Blu Hotel, Kyiv Podil will take care of your comfortable stay in the Ukrainian capital.
Photos by Yulia Kurta