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The Warsaw Voice » Destination Warsaw » June 27, 2013
Destination Warsaw
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Why Warsaw Needs to be Promoted
June 27, 2013   
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Goncalo Duarte Silva, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Area Manager for Poland and General Manager of the Sheraton Warsaw Hotel, talks to Jolanta Wolska.

The Sheraton opened in 1996. Are you planning any changes at the hotel?
We always have something new on the agenda. I do not know of any hotel that is not a work in progress, as we have to keep up with the latest trends and client expectations.

In February we opened a new restaurant—InAzia—which replaced the recognized The Oriental. We will soon start to refurbish our banqueting and conference areas. We need to be continually appealing to our guests. Earlier this year we finalized a major renovation of the Bristol Hotel, which is part of our Starwood group.

Why the change in the hotel restaurant?
We launched a new restaurant with a new chef and a new food concept which now focuses on the tastes and aromas of South East Asia.

We wanted to introduce a more contemporary and modern concept to satisfy the needs of a larger number of guests. Some hotels have introduced Polish cuisine more, but we want to be a little different and also I don’t feel the Sheraton needs to compete with other hotels in this field. With our five restaurants and bars we offer a wide variety of culinary choice in our hotel.

With Europe facing economic problems, have you noticed a difference in the profile of your hotel guests?
Not so much. There is still demand on the corporate side, foreign markets are looking at Warsaw and Poland as an opportunity. However, we are experiencing some resistance in terms of prices. On the other hand, people are coming to Warsaw all the time. We are busy every week. Even compared with last year, we have increased volumes in the hotel, although we have been unable to close the gap on prices.

Do you think Warsaw will be able to cope with the huge COP19 climate conference in November?
There are big expectations that it will be as big an event, if not bigger, as the Euro 2012 soccer championships. The city needs to maintain such momentum, as it is good for local residents, for tourism and for business in general. And Warsaw can accommodate the number of COP19 delegates expected to come. We showed last year that we could manage well with Euro 2012. We should have at least two or three events on such a scale in Warsaw every year, as that would bring a great buzz to the city and would help it develop further.

How do you see the summer hotel business this year?
Leisure tourism is always a little different to corporate business and unfortunately it is a bit slow in Warsaw. I feel that Warsaw needs to maintain momentum in summer also, and so we should be creating demand, offering tourists a lot of attractions and reasons to want to come here.

What needs to be done to attract more tourists to the capital?
I feel there ought to be a more coordinated approach with business partners, local authorities and tourist bodies to promote the city. That has already started but is still much too slow. I am happy to hear about the establishment of the Warsaw Tourist Organization and I am observing their plans and efforts to put Poland’s capital on the European tourist map and to bring in more conferences and conventions to the city. We offer support to all bodies involved in the promotion of Warsaw and Poland.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts in Warsaw is proud to be financing a TV film crew from Germany to do a film series about Warsaw that will be shown in over 250 hotels in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. And we are also hosting study tours to Warsaw for journalists from Britain, Germany and Russia. Additionally, we attend sales missions and trade fairs abroad where we promote Warsaw.

After being here for six months, do you have any favorite places in Warsaw?
My family and I feel very much at home in Warsaw. I enjoy the silence here generally, it is peaceful and very nice. I enjoy the parks around the Sheraton, the boutiques and cafes. Although I haven’t had much time to sightsee, I am already finding my way around Warsaw quite well.
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