- They are all billed as luxury projects that will partner with global tour operators
- The child-free model will also debut there
In spite of the expected drop in the number of visitors this season, the Bulgarian Black Sea coast will see a wave of multimillion investments. At least five hotels of 4 and 5 stars are expected to open their doors in the popular resorts of Sunny Beach, Golden Sands and Obzor. They will further increase competition in the most attractive niche, where operators race to attract well-heeled foreign and Bulgarian tourists.
The hotels will be working with all major tour operators and most of them will be additions to popular local and global chains.
The largest investment
Good sales and improved borrowing conditions have brought many changes to seaside tourism in Bulgaria over the past couple of years. Many resorts renovated their properties, some changed ownership, and others like Albena, Sozopol and Sts. Konstantin and Elena unveiled new attractions. However, 2019 is the year that will see the most sizeable investments of recent years.
One of the biggest will be the Wave Resort located 500 meters from the Aheloy campsite, 20 km south of Sunny Beach. The total amount invested is 30 million euro. The holiday complex will have 425 rooms, 14 swimming pools, several bars and restaurants, conference halls and spa centres. Construction is at an advanced stage and the complex should open its doors at the start of the season.
The co-owner of the Aheloy Project is Ventsislav Tanchev, who is the representative of all tours and several central European tour companies. His partner in this project is all tours representative in Turkey, Emre Ünsev, who operates two hotels in Antalya and is investing in assets on the Bulgarian coastline for the first time.
Wave Resort will follow the all-inclusive formula during the high season and will strive to extend the season through conference and spa tourism, much like other large hotels around the town of Pomorie. At the time of writing, a double room at Wave Resort at the beginning of August cost between 400 and 430 levs on booking.com.
Another new hotel in the region of Sunny Beach is the 5-star RIU Palace Sunny Beach owned by Terra Tour Service, a company associated with the president of Lukoil Bulgaria, Valentin Zlatev. The hotel will be the second one of the RIU brand in this area after RIU Helios Paradise, a 100-million levs hotel that opened between Sunny Beach and St. Vlas in 2015.
The new beachside hotel will feature 330 rooms and apartments, open-air and indoor pools, several bars and restaurants, a spa centre and sports facilities. Investment in it amounts to 56 million levs, said Terra Tour Service manager Lachezar Todorov. RIU Palace Sunny Beach has a novel feature; it will be one of the very few seaside hotels to occupy a niche that has been growing lately - hotels for 18+ guests only. The only other hotel in this category is Grifid Metropol in Golden Sands, part of Grigor Fidanov's Grifid chain, where guests must be over 16 years of age.
Lachezar Todorov remarked that hotels for adults are the second most popular niche after family-oriented hotels. RIU's other property, Helios Paradise, operates as a family resort. The same model is to be applied to another project, this time in the southern part of Sunny Beach.
This will be the Cook's Club Sunny Beach hotel, part of tour operator Thomas Cook's chain of the same name. It will welcome guests over the age of 16. The hotel presently called Aronia Beach and also known by its previous name Delta Beach, is part of Sts. Konstantin and Elena Holding, which is associated with Bulgarian diversified group Chimimport. The holding has told Capital that the hotel is not part of its portfolio for this season. This makes it unclear who will be managing the hotel. According to an earlier announcement by Thomas Cook, the hotel will be remodelled for the 2019 summer season.
Other large projects are set to be unveiled north of Sunny Beach as well. In nearby Obzor, an entirely new complex is being built by the HVD chain owned by Hristo Asenov. The new hotel complex will be close to another property of the chain, the Miramar hotel. Apart from Obzor, Asenov owns hotels in Sunny Beach and Golden Sands.
The new complex, which according to information from the company's website will have 500 rooms, will also have several pools and dining establishments. At least part of the complex is expected to open this year since different tour operators are already offering Miramax Deluxe stays for summer 2019.
2019 will also be the first year when the newly expanded RIU Astoria complex in Golden Sands will operate at full capacity. It is located on the site of the former Astoria hotel and an adjacent plot of land. The complex consists of two buildings of 6 and 11 floors respectively, 530 rooms, several restaurants and swimming pools. The main investors are Veliko Zhelev, owner of one of the largest construction companies in Bulgaria - Hydrostroy, and Milen Raykov. According to information from RIU's website, the hospitality company will start managing the hotel in 2019.
One of the biggest British tour operators is coming to Bulgaria
Jet2 Holidays, which is among the largest operators in the UK and includes a low-cost charter airline, will make its debut on the Black Sea this year. Jet2 will begin seasonal flights to Burgas from nine UK cities, while its tour operator arm Jet2 Holidays will offer holidays in hotels of 2 to 5 stars in resorts such as Sunny Beach, St. Vlas and Obzor. In its first season in Bulgaria, Jet2 will operate flights with over 100,000 seats, the company announced last year.
Jet2 Holidays is among the top 3 operators in the UK, together with TUI and Thomas Cook, which have been present in Bulgaria for years.