Baltic Hospitality: Tallinn's hotels struggling to accommodate all

  • 2003-11-27
  • By Justin Petrone
TALLINN - "Even though so many new hotels have recently emerged in Tallinn, there are still not enough hotel rooms for visitors," warned Tallinn This Week in its most recent edition.

According to the popular guide, while neighboring Helsinki boasts 8,000 available hotel rooms, Tallinn at last count only had 3,000. Those numbers clash with the fact that Tallinn, though admittedly smaller than Helsinki, is becoming one of the trendiest tourist stops for travelers in Northern Europe.
The situation has left Tallinn's hotel owners scrambling in recent years to keep up with the influx of tourists, businessmen and conference goers.
Two of the biggest hotel operators in Tallinn, and indeed all of the Baltics - the Reval Hotel Group and Meriton Hotels - have recently announced plans for expansion in Tallinn, as well as in Riga and Vilnius.
Meriton Hotels is planning to add four new hotels in the Baltics to its hotel chain, which currently includes the four-star, 164-room Meriton Grand Hotel.
The Austrian owned company has invested 2.3 million euros into building the three-star Meriton Old Town Hotel, which is slated to open for business as of March 1, 2004.
There are also plans, according to Meriton sales and marketing director Mare Terri, to open a 200 room two-star hotel, along with a restaurant, aqua-park and spa alongside the Meriton Grand Hotel.
"Those are only on a project basis for now. We don't know when they will be opened, perhaps in 2005," Terri said.
Meriton also plans to invest 8 million euros on new hotels in Riga and Vilnius, both of which are scheduled to open in the second half of 2004.
According to Meriton, both the Vilnius and Riga hotels will have 80 - 100 rooms available.
Meelis Maitse, head director of Meriton Hotels, calculated in a recent interview that by 2006 Meriton would have invested 26.3 million euros in expanding the company's holdings in the Baltics.
The investment in the Old Town Hotel is around 2.3 million euros, the hotels in Riga and Vilnius will cost 4 million euros a piece and enlargement of the Grand Hotel in Tallinn will cost about 16 million euros, he explains.
"We hope to have the new hotel and aqua-park opened by 2005-2006," he says.
Meriton Hotels isn't the only big hotel chain planning on adding rooms in Tallinn.
The Reval Hotel Group, which is run out of Tallinn, also has plans to increase its number of rooms in the city.
The company currently operates the Reval Hotel Olumpia, the Reval Park Hotel and Casino, the Reval Hotel Express Hotel and the Reval Hotel Central in Tallinn alone.
Owned by the Norwegian parent company Linstow Internation-al, the Reval Group currently has 1,800 rooms in the Baltics, as well as investments totaling 250 million euros, according to Linstow International Deputy CEO Egil Bauer-Nilson.
"The hotel side of Linstow International is concentrated in the Reval Hotel Group, which is the largest group of hotels in the Baltics," he said.
"Linstow is looking to build more hotels in all three Baltic capitals. We are currently working on putting a World Trade Center Hotel on Ahtri Street in Tallinn," Bauer-Nilson said.
Last spring 66 guest rooms were added in a large-scale renovation at the Reval Hotel Olumpia in Tallinn.
Reval also added 291 rooms to its properties in the Baltics by reopening the Reval Hotel Lietuva in Vilnius last May.
Reval and Meriton aren't the only hotels looking to enlarge, however.
According to the Tallinn Tourist Information Centre, the Uniquestay Hotel, only in its seventh month of operation, is planning on adding 58 rooms to its current 17.
Representatives from Unique-stay say they hope the new addition will help them accommodate more visitors.
They complain that currently during the peak of the tourist season there are simply "too many tourists for Tallinn to handle."