Now I have done it all: I stayed in one of those overpriced, trying-to-be-fancy, overlooking-a-pond hotels in Kakheti. I have to tell you, if we don’t take into account that I can find equal or better accommodation for that price in a very touristy place abroad, I am actually very happy with the results. But let’s not be hasty, shall we? I hereby present you overview of the overpriced Kvarreli area hotels – I’ve seen them all and tasted just one.
Royal Batoni – granted, it looks very kitchy. It is shaped like a freaking castle. If Vegas ever wanted a Georgian-themed hotel, well it’s either this castle, or some cheap Svanetian tower copy. However, the entrails of the castle are pleasant. It has carpets and Georgian motif (but not too much), an infinity pool overlooking Ilia’s “lake”, pretty terrace and picturesque views of the Duruji valley. Dream fall vacation.
Pros – We got the executive suite and it came with many perks. 1 absolutely breathtaking views. Now, I was told that the other suite had a better view- of the “lake”- but nothing beats fall-colored mountains. Lake-shmake 2. Huge bath in the middle of the room. Yep. It’s just huge, deep and just stands in the middle of a large, open-space suite. Overlooking the pros#1. Since, there was a group of us, we just sat there in our bathing suits, taking turns. Imagine: people having fun, talking, drinking, and you’re with them, only in a tub.3. Free bottle of wine from the hotel’s own winery. This is Kakheti. Hotel has own wine cellar. Duh. 4. Shower room with a transparent wall. You could pull the curtain. Or not. 5. Bright colors. OK, I hate beige décor. It reminds me of Big’s first wife in “Sex and the City”, who painted everything beige. Some hotels think it’s classy. Well, I got a perfect, warm, Tuscany-like photo shoot against orange background. Beat that, beige!
Cons- Hubby said it: it looks like one person built the hotel and the other runs it. Which is probably not the case. But how can you have a huge bath in the middle of orange-room and Georgian-food-only menu in the same hotel? Not only it is just Georgian food, it is boring Georgian food, it ruins the whole fairy tale illusion. Who wants to drip overpriced khinkhali just left of the infinity pool? They could at least make it a bit innovative, reinvent Georgian cuisine, or include rare Georgian dishes, or have seasonal menu, or something, or at least present it in a different way! Tasty – but limited.
So, what else is in the Kvareli area?
1. Kvareli Lake Resort. Probably the best view of all of them. “Lake” from one side, Alazani valley from the other. Terrible food. OK design.
2. Lopota Lake Resort. Nice infrastructure. Several types of restaurants, bars, pools. Comfortable. The view is worse than Royal Batoni and Kvareli Lake Resort. Prices bite. Was innovative years ago, since it was one of the first (if not the first) hotel that started this whole luxury Kakheri trend. Very good for tourists, training, meetings. Self-sufficient area.
3. Kvareli Eden. Awesome Mediterranean/Spanish design. Specially-built, mind-blowing spa. Nothing like it in Georgia. Hence, they charge extra for it. You can sit in a glass steam room and look into the vineyard. You can get into a solid copper bath tub filled with wine! Endless spa fun. Massages. Aromatherapy. View-not so much, but it is in the middle of the vineyard. Some people prefer foliage to mountains. This is definitely where I would go with my hubby. It is just very beautiful. But ouch, why do they charge hotel guests more for the pool usage? Who does that?
Anyway, so these are your options, should you have a weekend when you have spare money, but no time to travel abroad, or if you just want to wander in pretty part of Kakheti, not over-crowded by tourists, now is a perfect time to casually sit in a tub, look at the leaves displaying gay pride, and make peace with yourself.
p.s. the pic: view from my hotel window. Duruji valley