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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » November 19, 2008
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The WDA Is Our Ambassador
November 19, 2008   
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Elżbieta Pniewska, general manager of the Holiday Inn Warsaw-Józefów Hotel, talks to Jolanta Wolska.

The Holiday Inn Warsaw-Józefów is a new hotel. When did it open and what is its main focus?
We had a "soft" opening in June 2007 and a grand opening on Sept. 21, 2007. The Holiday Inn Warsaw-Józefów is geared towards the conference and events business, which is part of the MICE sector-meetings, incentive travel, conferences and events. This constitutes 95 percent of our business, and that leaves 5 percent for individual guests. We have 148 rooms and 11 conference rooms. We can accommodate nearly 300 guests at a time. We have a restaurant that caters to all tastes, a spa operated by the renowned Thalgo and Ella Baché brands, a swimming pool, saunas, and of course our special outdoor areas, with tennis courts, and a Golf Swing golf course. Because of its location and additional facilities, the hotel is also a great place for incentive events.

Do you mainly host local, national or international conferences?
All three. Naturally, many come from Poland through different agencies and organizers, but also from our InterContinental Hotel Group worldwide, and from international agencies. On average 150 people attend each conference. The 11 conference rooms can accommodate up to 600 people. We also organize outdoor business incentive events.

Where do individual guests come from and what draws them to stay 25 km southeast from the center of Warsaw?
Our individual hotel guests come from every corner of the world-from Italy, Germany, Spain, the United States, and of course Poland. From Monday to Friday our hotel is a conference and functions hotel and on the weekends we cater more for leisure-oriented guests. Our guests are those people who lead a special lifestyle. They like sports, fresh and light food, and they take care of their health and appearance. The Holiday Inn Warsaw-Józefów received the Top Hotel 2008 award in the sport category.

Our guests are drawn on the weekends also by the hotel's location. It is our strength. It is not so far from the city center, and our guests comment that we are like in the Mazurian Lakes. This area has a completely unique atmosphere-it is like being in a different world.

We offer many special products to our guests such as seasonal promotions, special packages, and themed events. We also cater to children's needs. We have lots of attractions for them, such as nannies, special facilities with toys, activities and various games, gifts and other attractions, so that parents can play golf, tennis or enjoy a spa, and know that their children are also having a great time.

How do individual tourists get to the hotel?
It is easy to get here. It takes 20 minutes by car from the city center and there is a train from the central railway station in Warsaw to Józefów, which takes about 25 minutes and then a 400-meter walk to the hotel. There is also a bus from the city. Public transport is really good in Warsaw. Additionally, the hotel can organize car hire and can pick up guests from the airport.

Why did you join the Warsaw Destination Alliance?
We decided to join the WDA because we very much appreciate the work it does in promoting Warsaw. The alliance is an important part of the city's tourism and hospitality business in which we operate. It brings together leading hotels and companies within the industry. We could not miss out on being a part of this prestigious team.

We went through the whole process to join. We had to prepare our system to accommodate accounting procedures to collect a 1-euro fee from hotel guests per night that is then forwarded to the WDA.

Another and perhaps the main reason for joining is the activities that the WDA is conducting to promote Warsaw as a destination-the marketing and PR activities, as well as participation in international fairs.

The WDA represents the Warsaw destination almost everywhere. One hotel does not have the same opportunities to participate in international events everywhere; I can go to three or four events at most during the year, and the WDA participates in very many activities. So it is an opportunity for us to be well recognized, to use the WDA as our ambassador, and if the city is doing well, we also do well. The WDA has special departments dealing with conference organizers, which is our key business, hence we also try to "sell" our services, and so we have additional sales persons on their board. We would like to play the same game as other Warsaw city hotels are playing who joined when the WDA was formed.
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