TRAILBLAZING MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2020

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TOURISM | HOSPITALITY | BUSINESS | DIPLOMACY | CULTURE

THIRD ISSUE • SEPTEMBER 2020

BOLV GROUP LIMITLESS... Embraces Hospitality


FROM NATURE TO LIFE

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TAB LE OF C O NTE N TS PAGE

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12

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26

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34

42

50

Grand B r e t a g n e ’s Chef

One & Only Portonovi

Rafting in the Wild Vjosa River

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66

76

New Ideas

Westin Excelsior Hotel

Kep Merli

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92

Living In Portugal

Arena

Natasha Korn

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96

102

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Y o g u r t e r i a

Ta n j a M i l l e r

Memories and Wines

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To u r i s m Development

So. What Now?

André Rieu

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y thanks to His

lead to a greener, smarter, fairer

Royal Highness

world in the future. It is possible to do this. Provided

the Prince of Wales and to

that we concentrate on the key

Professor Schwab

elements of a recovery—and act now. We don’t need to wait.

for bringing us together. Now is the time to think of what

At the IMF, we see some

history would say about this crisis.

tremendous opportunities. First, let me first talk about green

And now is the time for all of us to

growth.

define our own role.

Governments can put in place

Will historians look back and say this was the moment of a Great

public investments—and incentives

Reversal? Today, we see very

for private investments—that

worrying signs.

support low-carbon and climateresilient growth.

One hundred and seventy

THE

GREAT

RESET

In this issue, the Editor chose the remarks of Mrs. Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director, IMF to World Economic Forum on June 3rd, 2020

countries are going to finish this

Many of these investments

year with a smaller economy than

can lead to job-rich recovery—

at the start of the year, and we

think of planting mangroves,

already project that there will be

land restoration, reforestation or

more debt, bigger deficits, and more

insulating buildings. Think of the key

unemployment. And there is a very

sectors for reducing carbon intensity

high risk of more inequality and

where both the public and private

more poverty.

sector can invest. I am particularly keen to take

Unless we act.

advantage of the low oil prices we

So, what would it take for historians to look back at this crisis

see today, to eliminate harmful

as the moment of a Great Reset?

subsidies and introduce a carbon price that would work as an incentive

From the perspective of the IMF,

for future investments.

we have seen a massive injection of

Second, let me talk about smarter

fiscal stimulus to help countries deal with this crisis, and to shift gears for

growth. We know the digital

growth to return. It is of paramount

economy is the big winner of this

importance that this growth should

crisis. But we must not allow the 9

E D I TO R ’ S P I C K

TOURISM

M

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digital divide to widen so that some

in which he projected how UK should

countries and communities fall further

address what he called the ‘five

behind. This would bring more pain

giant evils.’ That famous ‘Beveridge

than gain in the future.

Report’ report led to a better country after the war—including

So, it is critical that institutions like the IMF support investments that will

the creation of the National Health

shrink the digital divide—working in

Service that is saving so many lives

partnership with the World Bank and

today in the UK. And my institution, the IMF, was

others. We also need to think carefully about how to make sure the jump in growth

created at this time as well—at the Bretton Woods Conference. So, now is the moment to step

and profitability in the digital sector leads to benefits that are shared

up—and use all the strength we

across our societies.

have—to turn the page. In the

And that takes me to my third point—fairer growth. We know that—if left to its own devices—this pandemic is going to

case of the IMF we have a one trillion-dollar financial capacity and tremendous engagement on the policy side. This is the moment to decide that

deepen inequality. That has happened in prior pandemics. We can avoid this if we concentrate

history will look back on this as the Great Reset, not the Great Reversal. And I want to say—loud and

on investing in people—in the social fabric of our societies, in access to

clear—the best memorial we can

opportunities, in education for all, and

build to those who have lost their

in the expansion of social programs so

lives in the pandemic is to build a

we take care of the most vulnerable

world that is greener, smarter and

people. Then we can have a world that

fairer.

is better for everyone. Thank you.

I want to conclude with an example from the past. William Beveridge, in the midst of the Second World War, put forward his famous report in 1942

Courtesy of International Monetary Fund (IMF)

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The DOWNTURN

OMG, Now what do I do? BY JOSE PINTO

T

he obstacles a hotel

it cannot be done tomorrow, it’s

owner / investor

gone”. In hotels and hospitality

faces once their hotel

services we must do today what we

revenues decline by

have to do today, we cannot leave

factors beyond their

for tomorrow. Be focus all the time

own control; such as pandemics,

especially during crises.

strikes, social unrest and others like, the new hotel competitors entering

It’s easy to see just how many facets/

the market, cash flows fall just goes

constituents the owner or investor

negative and tensions start rising.

has to put up to communicate and

interact with and especially with

As so, the upper-cycle starts to slow

their lenders who are expecting their

and the Owners/Investors, who

returns. Knowing that cash flows

have relied on their management

will be insufficient to their hotel

company, start no accepting their

debt service or pay off the loan at

words and losing the trust, and

maturity is the first step.

therefore start seeking independent advice in advance of a final default.

Not every hotel consultant has the

Hotels and hospitality are different

experience to deal with negative

from most other businesses and as

financial factors, only a very

we say “what we didn’t do today”

experienced one, who has gone

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Kantina ARBERI www.kantina-arberi.com info@kantina-arberi.com Tel 00355694433773 rruga Rreshen-Kurbnesh km1, 4601 Rreshen,Mirdite,Shqiperi


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through such, in his vast career does

CONFLICT OF INTERESTS

In a short term how to improve

apart from being agile on decision

focus on the financial interests of

BETWEEN DIFFERENT PARTIES

your cash flow

making.

ownership. Each case it’s a case

WHEN NOT PROPERLY

A turn around increased cash flow

and no case is the same for every

IDENTIFIED CAN ADD LARGER

can take up to 2 years , all just

Finally hire a 3rd party marketing

property and every ownership. Cost-

DISRUPTIONS.

depend on the intangible factors

and financial consultant with

cutting, no paying suppliers, utilities

Sometimes the best of intentions to

and when interactions with the

experience to analyze your market,

and laying off employees are the

solve a debt by allowing the Brand

different constituents can start..

demographics and your competitive

first steps that a consultant goes

Management to implement Property

through most of the time, without

Improvement Plan or “PIP” can be

Among other Solutions you should

best structure, services and new

in a lot of cases analyzing the

considered a conflict of interest,

think of:

image.

overall operations, administration

thus is not advisable before all is

• It’s important you receive

and financial status. Creating

revised.

objective advice on how to improve

All advisory “board” must start as

future cash flows, “take your

early as possible. Be aware that

business from RED to Bleu”

the market is full of demagogues.

any conflict or failing to interact

position. Let them recommend the

appropriately with just one of the

Keep in mind: An experienced

intervenient (internal or external), it

consultant can objectively analyze

could immediately ignite bankruptcy

those PIP items that provide a return

• Negotiate your overall

listening to them and to others that

and closure.

on investment for you to negotiate

Management fees

have nothing on their agenda than

Don’t waste your precious time

entertaining you and see you falling.

with the Brand Management or the The goal of an experienced

Manager.

consultant and his team is to find the

• Review and agree on new loan We at the JPHOSPITALITY.EU can

terms

way to align between, lenders, brand

By finding a senior or experienced

management and the manager.

consultant early in the process is

• A new equity partner with fresh

Let’s dive into some scenarios.

key to improve cash flow and to

capital will be a great choice. Apart

communicate a plan of action to you

from injecting “new life” it will

in order you go to the Lenders to

also boost confidence to all stake

modify the terms of the loan before

holders

help you to swim out from a “RED to a BLEU OCEAN.”

anything. • Each and every situation will require great negating skills, objectivity, and a lot of flexibility

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H OT E L & R E S O R T I N S I D E R

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BOLV GROUP

Goes Limitless BY RUDINA HOXHA & JOSE PINTO

Recently, we have decided to enter the Hospitality Industry by projecting, investing and managing the largest Hospitality complex in Tirana by the time we speak. It will include a 4* business hotel that will hold the name of

I

the giant hotel group Accor, Novotel Tirana. n this edition,

in the oil industry and it has grown

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within us the confidence of making

had the pleasure to sit with

possible any new idea we come

Olsi Çukaj, Vice-President

across. Although through the years,

of Bolv Group and talk

we have been more selective on

about their family business from

the new business plans, and we

A to Z.

have tried to build new businesses

Formed by his father, Behar Çukaj

which are still connected with the oil

who embodied his firm vision in this

industry,” Çukaj said in this exclusive

business, Bolv Group surprisingly

interview, adding “It took a really

stands far more than import and

long time to settle and decide to do

export and wholesale trading of

something huge in the hospitality

fuels and combustibles as many

sector here in Albania.”

might know. ‘We have an experience of 30 years 16

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FULL INTERVIEW BELOW: Our readers would love to know, if

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colors are friendly to the eyes of

Autovizion LTD, also known as Iveco

Last but not least, Albdrilling is

customers and we differentiate each

Albania, offers a large range of

the company that my father has

other with other local companies.

cars and trucks produced by one

always dreamed of operating due

of largest car companies in the

to the fact that coming from an

Bolv Oil Group is an Oil company doing services as an oil distributer

Porto Romano Oil, bought in 2010,

world. Our newly investment show

oil field area as origin, he studied

or does other related business?

one of the main bets of my father

room, together with Gas Station

the science of oil drilling during

Bolv Group is a family business. It

which he of course won. The company

and Car Service area, are located

his studies in college. Albdrilling

has been formed by my father Behar

offers storage deposits in the port

in the highway that connects

is the main contractor of Bankers

Çukaj and it is his vision for the

of Durres. Basically, ships unload

Tirana with the city of Durres where

Petroleum Albania operation in

business that we are at the moment

the cargo in these deposits, they are

the main port of the country is

the oil field of Belin-Marinez in

on top 10 list of the most successful

stored and sold according to demand.

located. Autovizion offers a range

Patos, Fier County. In the year 2019,

companies in Albania.

Porto Romano port in Durres is also

of lubricants and oils for vans,

Albdrilling has reached a record

known as a Free Zone area.

buses and trucks made by the giant

of two wells per month in shore, a

Petronas Company.

record that we will try hard to beat in

Bolv Group is composed of Olsi

the coming years.

LTD, retailing company with approximately 40 gas stations spread all over the country of Albania. We

There is another entity inside BOLV

make sure that in every station we

Group and that is called Çukaj

offer quality products and distinctive

Foundation. This foundation it is

service. Our goal is to reach the

created by our family in order to

region and why not European

“Albdrilling has reached a record of two wells per month in shore”

Market. Bolv Oil is the mother company created in 2003. It offers services like transportation, import and export of oil products and wholesaling. This year we made huge changes in terms of brand. Our new logo is innovative, kept our nations symbol, The Eagle,

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help the people in need. In history,

students and young professionals to

our ancestors have always been

study, research, network, present,

supporting people and today we are

learn and create their work groups.

continuing this legacy.

There will be many other leisure facilities like games rooms, cinema,

Recently, we have decided to

gym, BBQ area, cars and bicycles

enter the Hospitality Industry by

rentals and much more. I and my

projecting, investing and managing

family are inspired by University

the largest Hospitality complex in

campuses where I and my sister

Tirana by the time we speak. It will

used to study and live in Switzerland

include a 4* business hotel that will

and the UK. Now that I explained

hold the name of the giant hotel

our mission, let me say a couple

group Accor, Novotel Tirana. Our

of words regarding the vision. We,

partnership with Accor is not a

Bolv Group Limitless, aim and desire

coincidence due to the fact that our

create their permanent base. We are

for future challenges. We will offer

to change the student and young

family has always been cooperating

opened for long term collaboration

them a large range of services

professionals LIFESTYLE in Tirana!

with big names in different

and at our office facilities they will

starting with Fully Furnished En-

industries. Moreover, my studies

find a real home.

suite studio apartments where

for Hospitality Business in Glion

Last but not least, as the word

they will have the chance to

Institute of Higher Education has

goes “The Cherry on Top of

choose between single or double

played an important role in making

the Cake”, the most innovative

Studio. In the ground floor,

this collaboration happen because

business concept approaching

another business concept will

we both understand the Hospitality

Albania, involving youngsters, also

be attached to this property, the

“jargon” and it is easier to build

known as Millenials, the very first

Food Hall concept, where guests

strong communication bridge

Student & Young Professionals

living upstairs, office people and

between us.

Accommodation. Finally, Tirana

other customers from Tirana.

Next to the Hotel will be positioned

will be on the map of the European

However, the innovative business

a Business Center where large local

capitals with its own landmark for

ideas do not end here, the Co-

or international companies will be

young people to live, network,

working concept will be added to

able to rent the whole floor and

collaborate and develop themselves

this project as a facility for all the

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“The most innovative business concept approaching Albania youngsters” 21


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What has created a change orpivot

environment, there is also the

has grown within us the confidence

Did COVID-19 bring to the

in your company culture to go

working mentality challenge. It is

of making possible any new idea we

company a new vision of the

forward nowadays?

very hard sometimes to find the

come across. Although through the

future?

My father believes and supports

right people who take responsibility

years, we have been more selective

It definitely did, especially for our

the idea that our employees are our

in their jobs. However, I strongly

on the new business plans, and we

size. The bigger you are in the

main assets. As such, they should

believe that people can improve

have tried to build new business

business, the stronger it hits you.

have the best working environment

with the right coaching model of

which are still connected with the oil

First of all, it was a signal to stop

and the basic needs in order to

the leader. We plan to re-organize

industry. It took a really long time to

for a moment and evaluate again

undertake their daily tasks. We use

our companies, we started with

settle and decide to do something

all the business decisions we have

incentives as a tool to bring our

rebranding our retailing company,

huge in the hospitality sector here

made as a group for the last couple

employees together, to socialize,

we are continuing with our drilling

in Albania.

of years and think twice for the new

and to know each other better

company and next phase I believe

opportunities we had ahead.

so while they work together the

is reshaping the administration and

It made us realize that we have to sit

collaboration comes easier. Basically,

most importantly HR department.

down and make a check list with our

this is the work culture that my father

In my judgment, this is the

priorities, where to invest our money

has always tried to implement inside

most important department in a

without hurting the normal cycle

our companies in order to create

company, of course after Financial

harmony between employees and to

Department, knowing that our

reach high levels of success like he

people are considered our assets,

has indeed reached in Albania.

we need the right people in the right position and doing the right

Is it possible to overcome big

job.

changes in today’s business environment to achieve

How have your years of business

sustainable growth? Please tell us

experience influenced the

about your long-term planning if

company expansions in other

you can?

business sectors?

Doing business in Albania has

For this, I will speak in the name of

specific challenges that differ from

the family. We have an experience

other countries. Beside the politics

of 30 years in the oil industry and it

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of the business for the next year,

to the geographical position in

as in family life, as in the business

and especially fulfilling our duties

the map, due to the warm climate,

life. This means that even if there

with the people that work with us,

due to the colorful nature, water

is an earthquake in business, such

they are our biggest asset. We are

resources and much more. We

was the pandemic, he is capable

working on being down to earth on

Albanians feel blessed by Nature

of managing the situation thanks

investment figures at least for two

to live in such a beautiful country

to these strong bases that he has

years.

and it is us, the young generation,

built during his experience. As

those who have the duty to develop

in a delicious plate by a Michelin

Bringing Novotel Brand to Albania

our country, create more job

star chef, the most important is

has been a spark for other

opportunities, support the economy,

the simplicity and the freshness

Hospitality brands to come along?

support people in need and create

of the main ingredients and his

Indeed, Accor has been seeing to

environment for a harmonious life.

professional skills that he applies over these products in order to finish

enter the Albanian market for a

“To bring the best of Hospitality Industry inside the country.”

long time and this time they found

What makes a family business

an amazing, delicious and elegant

the right partners to expand in

so enduring through years ,

plate. Simplicity is the Key.

the SEE. Bolv Group Limitless has

and years to come? What is the

long experience collaborating with

compose of ingredients that you

big companies such as Bankers

see and our readers don’t ?

Our partnership with Accor is not a coincidence due to the fact that our

Petroleum, Eni Italia, Iveco Trucks.

Honestly, what makes our business

family has always been cooperating with big names in different industries.

Therefore, we are again continuing

so enduring is my father’s

Moreover, my studies for Hospitality Business in Glion Institute of Higher

with the same business mentality,

managerial and leadership skills. He

Education has played an important role in making this collaboration

to bring the best of Hospitality

has gained much experience during

happen because we both understand the Hospitality “jargon” and it is

Industry inside the country. For

the last 30 years when he started

easier to build strong communication bridge between us.

sure, the news of Accor entering

everything from scratch like selling

Albania has raised the interests of

everything that the poor Albanian

brands like Marriott, Hilton and

market needed in the early 90s.

Finally, Tirana will be on the map of the European capitals with its own

Melia to seriously think entering

Then, he started to grow slowly

landmark for young people to live, network, collaborate and develop

the market and they have done

and while reaching high levels of

themselves for future challenges. We will offer them a large range of

so. I believe Albania has a great

business he during this time has

services starting with Fully Furnished En-suite studio apartments where

potential in the tourism sector due

been building strong bases, same

they will have the chance to choose between single or double Studio.

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GOLF

for Mind, Body and Soul BY STEPHEN RIDGWAY*

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BY RUDINA HOXHA & JOSE PINTO

This is a great time to promote the benefits and values that golf can bring to people. There are almost 7,000 golf courses in Europe with almost every country having at least one. Even the tiny mountain kingdom of Andorra has two facilities! Isn’t it about time Albanians have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of what a round of golf can do for their minds, bodies and souls?

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GOLF FORUM

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W

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ith the

golf clubs I work with in the UK has

illnesses such as heart disease, type

for all age

planet

seen an 18% increase in membership

2 diabetes and some forms of cancer.

groups and

struggling

numbers since the beginning of May

In the UK, doctors have prescribed

also improves strength and flexibility

to cope

and other clubs have seen similar

regular golf to their patients and

in muscles and joints. It has been

with

such rises. This is a great time to

the National Health Service (NHS)

shown that golfers typically have

the Covid-19 pandemic and

promote the benefits and values

offers golf coaching to patients with

a longer life expectancy than non-

people trying to discover their

that golf can bring to people.

respiratory conditions and heart

golfers.

A round of golf provides moderate

‘new normal’, the importance of maintaining a healthy body and

intensity exercise. Whether you’re

mind has never been greater. One

carrying your clubs, pulling a trolley

activity above all others stands

Thanks to its unique handicapping

disease as part of an ongoing health

system, golf is a sport that can be

programme. Walking a typical 6000 metre

played by people of all ages and

or driving a cart, it allows people

course will require at least 10,000

abilities on an equal footing. How

out as fulfilling this brief whilst

with varying degrees of mobility

steps and rather a lot more than

many other sports do you know

maintaining social distances.

the opportunity to get their bodies

that for many of us, which will burn

of where a professional golfer can

Indeed, since lockdowns have been

moving. This promotes weight

upward of 1200 kcals and give us a

potentially lose to a complete

eased, it has seen unprecedented

loss, improves fitness and can

good excuse to have dessert later.

novice? This makes it great for

levels of engagement. One of the

help to reduce the risk of chronic

Golf is low impact making it suitable

families wanting to spend time

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GOLF FORUM

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GOLF FORUM

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particularly important for the more senior among us where loneliness and isolation is more prevalent and has a greater impact on their wellbeing. Golf requires a reasonably high degree of concentration with everything from working out where you want to hit the ball, judging the line of a putt and even marking your

* STEPHEN RIDGWAY

scorecard. Focussing on your game

IS DIRECTOR –

engages the mind which allows you

Ridgway Golf Design Ltd

to forget life’s stresses as well as keeping us more alert.

www.ridgwaygolfdesign.co.uk

Most importantly, golf is fun. Yes, you can take it seriously if you’re

Stephen is a golf course

playing in a competition but don’t

designer and member of

forget, it’s only a game and usually,

the European Institute of

if you’re enjoying yourself, you play together, whether that’s for a

living in the golf industry and am a

round of 18, pitch and putt, mini

strong advocate of golf as a family

golf or Topgolf (other facilities are

pastime. Being in the outdoors surrounded

available). As a boy, I often spent

(EIGCA). He has been

There are almost 7,000 golf

involved in the design or

courses in Europe with almost

renovation of more than 50

every country having at least one.

Saturday mornings on the golf

by greenspace aids relaxation and

Even the tiny mountain kingdom

course with any combination of

reduces stress and anxiety levels.

of Andorra has two facilities! Isn’t

my brothers, my dad, my uncles

Even with distancing measures in

it about time Albanians have the

and aunties, my grandpa and his

place, the social interaction between

opportunity to enjoy the benefits of

brothers and occasionally even my

you and your playing partner(s) can

what a round of golf can do for their

mum if it wasn’t too cold or wet.

reduce the feelings of isolation and

minds, bodies and souls?

These are my first real memories of

loneliness and improve mood and

the game and obviously profoundly

self-esteem, which in our current

impacted me as I now make my

predicament, is very welcome. This is 30

Golf Course Architects

much better.

courses around the world and heads his own design firm based in the UK.

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B U S I N E S S C O N S U LTA N C Y

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VIGÀN GROUP

We make business work for everyone, every day, everywhere.

- State of giants.

Resources, virtual assistance,

“Call me Vigan. About 1 year ago—

construction, real estate, research &

“... what does this line remind you

data center.

of?

Mrs. Arjodita Mustali Co-Founder

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the institutional

Many of you might have not heard

and CEO altogether with her

representative of more than 45 million companies in over

of the opening line to “Moby Dick”,

partners, rely on the mantra: “None

100 countries. ICC’s core mission is to make business work

or even Herman Melville himself...

of us is as strong as all of us”.

for everyone, every day, everywhere. Through a unique

and their story has been around for

The philosophy behind such dynamic

mix of advocacy, solutions and standard setting, we

almost 170 years.

union emphasizes the empowerment

promote international trade, responsible business

How about Vigan Group? It has been

and betterment of business services

around for 1 year, it means “Giant”

by providing them in a united and

and it keeps growing bigger. It is

coordinated state.

practically a giant baby.

Vigan is a giant in the sense of

Vigan Group is a consulting

assembling a group of high-

company that offers business

expertise professionals as partners

consultancy in a wide range of

and representing them in the local

areas, achieved through the act of

and international market.

To learn more or to become

bringing together a number of other

Vigan Group is here by design and

a member, contact us at:

companies, each founded by experts

not by default.

info@icc-albania.org.al

in providing specific services to

The pursuit of success has just

businesses.

begun. Join the state of giants!

They bring together in this Group companies, specializing in vital business services, such as Consultancy in the legal and financial field, business, Human Resources and offering services in software and innovation, marketing and digital marketing, Human 32

conduct and a global approach to regulation in addition to providing market-leading dispute resolution services. Our members include many of the world’s leading companies, SMEs, business associations and local chambers of commerce.


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GRAND BRETAGNE’S EXECUTIVE CHEF: The View and Food Combination Makes the Restaurant Fully Booked BY RUDINA HOXHA & JOSE PINTO REPORTING FROM ATHENS, GREECE

“A nice ride for inspiration.”

Koustoudis Asterios, who is the Complex Executive Chef at the Grand Bretagne Hotel and King George Luxury Collection Hotel in Athens, Greece, sat down with TRAILBLAZING MAGAZINE to talk about the spectacular plates he does alongside with his big team, why Grande Bretagne is different from the other hotels and how does it feel to work with Grande Bretagne and King George Luxury Collection Hotels. For him, the inspiration at his work comes from Greece, this country which is “a nice ride for inspiration.” “The inspiration always comes from the traditional Greek recipes and the old techniques the Greeks used every day in the past. This is the basis to be inspired to do your modern cuisine with a Greek philosophy or Mediterranean style,” he says in this exclusive interview.

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“We are lucky because we are in Greece�

most important thing is that when you are here you take your lunch or your dinner while enjoying the Acropolis view. The most difficult

happy because they can support

thing for us is that you need to

us with fruits, vegetables and all

remember also the food and not

kinds of ingredients. I can give you

only the view (laughing). But we are

another example. This season is

on the good track. The support of

dominated by the mussels. Two big

the team of Grand Bretagne, of its

suppliers are at our disposal for

General Manager, Mr. Tim Ananiadis

mussels, truffles etc.

and Mrs. Christine Papathanassiou,

In our menu, we need to have

Director of Public Relations and

seasonal products and ingredients,

others has made it easy for us to

so the recipes are based on this

make this experience a success.

concept or philosophy. Our menu bears a Mediterranean theme but

Where do you get the inspiration

with many Greek flavors, tastes and

to make such spectacular dishes

of course with some very unique

with unforgettable tastes and

products from Greece like sea bass

flavors as well as presentations?

or the famous grape leaves which is

The inspiration is all over. The

abundance in ingredients which are

on our menu all the time.

inspiration may come from social

found all over around Athens. It is

media where you get a spark. But

Grand Bretagne Hotel is one of

The truth is that this restaurant is the

very important for us to have many

the big point for the people, who

the 100 best restaurants in the

most famous and the most popular

suppliers for each ingredient we

live in Athens, is that

world and it is the only Greek

in Athens. It is a busy restaurant.

need. For example, the cheese, the

if you take your car

one. How do you keep up the

The combination of the view and

fish, the seafood and many other

or bike and have

sustainability and the variety of

the food makes the restaurant fully

ingredients are provided to us by

a small a tour,

such a lavish food?

booked.

many suppliers on a daily basis.

Here you can hardly find a free table

like an hour, you

First of all, we are lucky because we

Everybody wants to be our partner

from May to October. We are very

come back with

are in Greece which has all kinds

and establish a relationship with

lucky for this. At the end, for me, the

a lot of ideas

of fruits, vegetables as well as

Grand Bretagne Hotel. We are

Full interview below:

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“You can take a nice ride for inspiration.” This Hotel is a venue for many weddings, high-level events or VIPs from all over the world. It is really an extra responsibility to keep up with the needs of all these different categories. How do you make it? and a fresh mind. You can go to the

I have a great support from the

mountains, to the sea and anywhere

managers of the Hotel but also from

else. If you are busy here and the

my kitchen team. I have a lot of cooks,

tempo is quick, you can take a nice

as many as 80. At peak times, we are

ride for inspiration.

more than 100 cooks. So, we have

In my mind, the inspiration always

a big team, the pastry chef with his

comes from the traditional Greek

team as well. You have a lot of things

recipes and the old techniques the

running at the same time in Grand

Greeks used every day in the past.

Bretagne and King George and it is all

This is the basis to be inspired,

the time like that.

to do your modern cuisine with a

Regarding the VIP’s, I have to say

Greek philosophy or Mediterranean

that it is very important when the

style. Because the ingredients have

government has an important dinner

been the same in the past and now.

or lunch, or high level delegations’

The good thing is to collect and

visits, or official visits of presidents

pick up the right ingredients which

from other countries. Most of the

are fresh all over Greece. This is also

time, they stay at Grand Bretagne

part of the basis for my inspiration.

Hotel. My team is responsible for the 38

JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE

diet of the President or of the whole

find them in their best quality and

delegation. I represent the Greek

at the best price. This trio is very

philosophy and gastronomy. So, it is

important in the long run. All our

very important to let them go with

searches are focused on the local

the greatest memories from Greece

market, local products and local

and its cuisine.

ingredients to reach our objectives.

Two years ago, in the winter time, the Israeli President was in our

Do you consider yourself lucky?

Hotel and he was very impressed

Of course. I am 41 years old with 21

by the Greek cuisine. Among

years of experience in the five-star

many delicacies, he tasted even a

hotels only. But at Grand Bretagne

typical Greek salad which he found

and King George, if you have a

amazing. So he asked me: how do

dream as a cook, you make it true.

you do this? I replied: Mr. President

But behind this, there is a lot of

it is not only about the ingredients.

responsibility and I must say it is a

It is all about what is around you.

very difficult job.

So, if you are here and you have the sun, the Acropolis view and all these

How do you balance your work

vibes from Greece, then you are

and family life?

above everything.

It is not balanced. I have a great wife and two great daughters. She is

How has the mix group of cooks

all the time with them and they miss

from different parts of the world

me. But as they are growing up, the

has influenced on the quality

eldest daughter, Adriana, is realizing

of the food at Grand Bretagne

what is going on, what is my job. So,

Hotel? Have you learned from

it is very important

each other?

to have a

Of course we learn from one

feedback

another. But above all, it is of a

from her.

great importance the ingredients you have in your recipe. You have to 39

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“Every customer must have our personal service even if we are here with 250 other people.”

What are your priorities and

have to say goodbye to us.”

those of your team?

But I replied: “This is the Greek

In Grand Bretagne, the best

hospitality, that you have to say

priority for me and for my team

“Welcome and Farewell to the

is that every customer must have

people.” I explained that to him

our personal service even if we

and he was impressed because he

are here with 250 other people.

loved Greece and its history. During

This is another aspect that makes

the three days he stayed with us,

the difference of Grand Bretagne

I prepared for him typical Greek

Hotel from the other hotels. In the

breakfasts. I presented Pita to him

breakfast time, I greet each and

while I explained that Pita comes

every one and then at lunch time

in 5 or 6 versions from the North

and then at evening time. I do the

of Greece to the very south, Crete

same. So, this is very important for

Island. In the latter, for example,

the customer.

the pita comes in honey and

Two years ago, Ferran Adria, the

almost. Hearing such, he was very

Spanish chef from Catalonia, was in

impressed.

our Hotel alongside with his family for three days. On his last day, I was waiting at the lobby to say goodbye to him. Once he saw me, he said: “We have so many things to do. You don’t

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One&Only Portonovi, Beyond Just Luxury

T

BY RUDINA HOXHA & JOSE PINTO

omislav Hrala,

spectacular accommodation and

Director of Sales

experiences that transport guests

& Marketing at

the heart of the destination,”

One&Only Portonovi

Hrala said, adding “Around the

told Trailblazing

world, all our resorts offer the

Magazine that One&Only brand

ultimate privacy and seclusion,

was created exclusively for the

with dedicated spaces for couples,

ultra-luxury market and conceived

families or groups - there is a place

as a hallmark of excellence.

for everyone to let loose and live life

In this exclusive interview, Hrala

to the full.”

details the extraordinary concept

The resort, due to be inaugurated

that permeates One&Only

on Spring 2021, is a perfect gateway

Portonovi Resort positioned at

for the Albanians, Hrala said. “Since

the entrance of Bay of Kotor,

Montenegro is a neighbouring

Montenegro.

country to Albania, it is easy to

“One&Only Portonovi will set a

access our resort and experience its

new standard for ultra-luxury in

ultimate luxury. Offering pioneering

the region with unrivalled service,

wellness, destination dining and 42

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chic, Riviera-style living, One&Only

first One&Only in Europe, this ultra-

The One&Only brand was created

One&Only is becoming especially

Portonovi will be a perfect getaway

luxury resort will be home to Chenot

exclusively for the ultra-luxury

well-known for its contemporary-

for Albanian guests,” he said.

Espace, a state-of-art wellness

market and conceived as a hallmark

style brand and the intertwining

concept, as well as Sabia by Giorgio

of excellence. Our resorts are set in

of all the aspects a holiday maker

Locatelli, a world-class restaurant by

some of the most beautiful locations

wants in one resort. What is

one of the finest Michelin-star Italian

in the world, offering distinctive

driving the demand for this brand,

For those of us who aren’t so

chefs. Located in the exclusive

style, genuine hospitality and

or the type of very high-end,

familiar with One&Only Portonovi,

Portonovi community, the resort is

unrivalled energy borne of the local

luxury experience that it offers?

can you make a brief company

adjacent to a 238-berth superyacht

cultures. Our exclusive collection

One&Only Portonovi will set a

profile in Montenegro and

marina and helipad, surrounded

includes One&Only resorts in the

new standard for ultra-luxury in

elsewhere and the properties you

by lush gardens, serene sea, and

Maldives, Mauritius, Rwanda, Dubai,

the region with unrivalled service,

have?

magnificent mountains. With its

Los Cabos in Mexico, Cape Town

spectacular accommodation and

One&Only Portonovi sits at the

impressive design, 11 pools and a

in South Africa and Wolgan Valley

experiences that transport guests

entrance of the beautiful Bay

golden-sand private beach, it is set

in The Blue Mountains of Australia.

the heart of the destination. Around

of Kotor, a sheltered idyll on

to become the finest destination of

This year also brings the openings

the world, all our resorts offer the

Montenegro’s Adriatic coast. The

the Mediterranean.

of One&Only Desaru Coast in

ultimate privacy and seclusion,

Malaysia and One&Only Mandarina

with dedicated spaces for couples,

in Riviera Nayarit in Mexico.

families or groups - there is a place

There are additional resorts in

for everyone to let loose and live life

development including One&Only

to the full. One&Only Portonovi will

Kéa Island in Greece, One&Only

be brimming with life and energy,

One Za’abeel in Dubai as well as

offering unparalleled glamour on

communities of One&Only Private

the new Riviera, complemented

Homes around the world.

by elegant design, fine dining and

“It is set to become the finest destination of the” Mediterranean.”

pioneering, year-round wellness.

Read the full interview below:

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Our guests seek new, authentic experiences and an escape that goes beyond just luxury - the vibrant charm of the surrounding UNESCO World Heritage sites,

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amazing nature and rich culture to discover make One&Only Portonovi a captivating destination. What are the geographical sources of your main clientele? Are they locals, from the region mostly or from elsewhere? One&Only Portonovi is a yearround destination. From October to April, mostly regional and guests from Russia are expected to visit to experience world-leading wellness journeys at Chenot Espace or indulge in our fine dining. In summer months, our guests are expected to be mostly from Western Europe, as well as the USA, CIS and GCC countries. What are you offering for the Albanian market in particular? Since Montenegro is a neighbouring country to Albania, it is easy to access our resort and experience its ultimate luxury. Offering pioneering

“Experience its ultimate luxury”

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wellness, destination dining and

Many activities for guests of all

chic, Riviera-style living, One&Only

ages will also be available within

Portonovi will be a perfect getaway

the resort itself. Those include

for Albanian guests.

KidsOnly and One Tribe for children

“The health, safety and wellbeing of our guests and colleagues is our utmost and prevailing priority.”

and teens, a Tennis Club with two To celebrate our highly anticipated

floodlit courts for tennis enthusiasts,

opening, we have carefully put

a Fitness Centre with private one-

together our ‘One&Only Journey to

on-one training sessions, as well

Vitality’ special offer. The first guests

as movement and exercise classes.

that discover our new Montenegrin

Alternatively, signature experiences

retreat can enjoy a complementary

and adventures are curated for

resort ritual, a Journey to Vitality

the ever-curious – ones willing to

with our resident health and wellness

discover more and create everlasting

prevailing priority. We have always

experts, Chenot.

memories.

had a robust and comprehensive

Tailored programmes by Chenot

sanitation programme, in line with

What are the other activities the

Espace are targeted for longer stays,

the World Health Organization

resort is providing to extend

such as the iconic and transformative

and local health officials, and we

stays?

one-week Advanced Detox

will continue to adjust as new data

Besides being a nautical playground,

programme, which induces a deep

becomes available and ensure a

abundant with cruising, and sailing

purification and detoxification of

higher visibility for guests.

opportunities through the clear,

the body and is a signature pillar of

All of our team are required to

calm waters of the bay, One&Only

Chenot’s pioneering philosophy.

complete specific COVID-19 Training and re-certification of

Portonovi is surrounded by World

health and safety protocols prior

Heritage sites, abandoned fortresses

Please explain more what are the

and hidden beaches waiting to be

health and safety assurances of

explored. Montenegro’s diverse

One&Only in the new normal era?

landscape is compact and easily

At One&Only, we hold a firm

We have appointed a new COVID-19

accessible, and guests can enjoy

commitment that the health, safety

dedicated Health, Safety & Hygiene

a variety of activities and scenery

and wellbeing of our guests and

Coordinator, responsible for the

within just one day.

colleagues is our utmost and

implementation of our enhanced

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to returning to work so they can execute their roles with confidence.

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health and safety programs. Besides

We remain in very close contact with

impeccable hygiene and sanitation

the local authority, in order to match

measures throughout the resort,

and exceed all health and safety

thermal cameras and digital infra-

requirements. Tourism of Adventure • Walking - Hiking, trekking, outdoor activities

red thermometers are in place for

Ecotourism & Geotourism Agriturism,

discreet and private temperature

Culinary & Winery Tours

Where are we located?

checking. We will also offer to

ETT headquarter is in Tirana, the vibrant city and capital of Albania, which is very popular these last years for the large numbers of tourists that visit Albania. In the meantime, with the objective to extend its activity, in 2011 ETT opened its branch in Tirana International Airport “Mother Teresa”, which give us the opportunity to serve better to our clients in personalizing services, especially offering them touristic information, check-in procedures, reception and escorts, transfers, booking cars for rents,.etc.

sanitize guests’ luggage on arrival and will provide a welcome kit with protective and sanitizing products

Our Travel Styles

for each guest to use throughout

Working day by day and year by year, with the main scope not only to keep the financial stability in balance, but also to extend our portfolio of services, our main services, but not limited to, are as below:

their stay. We have developed tools

Cultural / History • Cultural heritages; • Special interest Tours (Communism regime, Religious Tours, Archeologi cal Tours)

to enhance our guest experience without social contact, innovating

Shore Excursions and city breaks • In the most attractive places in Albania and Balkan Peninsula Grand tours Customized Tours

Other Services:

Staff & Collaborators

We want to assure that staff working in our travel agency is dedicated to get the best deal and to offer high standards of services to our clients. This is also thanks to our associates working in the tourism sector as licensed travel guides, hotels, restaurants, transport or partner deployed in numero-us attractive point all over Albania Contacts: 1) Head Office Street “Mujo Ulqinaku”, Nd.11 (mbrapa Kishës Katolike) Tirana, Albania (Tel)+355 4 2247572, (Fax) +355 4 2247572, (Mob): +355 696060342 / 696060344 2)Mother Teresa Airport (Tel) +355 4 2381906 (Mobile) +355 696060344 www.explorer-albania.al / info@explorer-albania.al www.explorertours.al / info@explorertours.al

with new contactless and digital platforms to communicate with our guests and provide easy access to resort information. We were also the first brand to introduce a global ‘Hand on Heart’ gesture – a heart-warming welcome which acknowledges each of our guests elegantly, without the need to shake hands. It demonstrates that we serve from the heart, it is personal, meaningful and is rooted in our mutual respect for guests and colleagues, while at the same time it guarantees space and distance, for both, our guests and colleagues.

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RAFTING IN ALBANIA

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RAFTING IN THE WILD VJOSA RIVER, PĂ‹RMET

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Our squad will surprise you in the

full rights in the International Rafting

end with some hydro speed ! Hydro

Federation. Passion for nature

speed experience in the wilderness

and sport turned into a mission.

of Vjosa river is designed to be

The mission to promote Albania

one of the most amazing outdoor

development through the rafting

adventures in Albania.

activity by international standards,

Where it is located?

in full compliance with respect

PĂŤrmet city got such a good

for nature and environmental

strategic position on the southern

protection. Through its activities,

Albania. It is only 1 hour away

Albania Rafting Group has helped

from Gjirokastra and 1 hour and 45

in developing sustainable outdoor

minutes away from Saranda . In other

tourism attracting an increasing

words, one of your best experience

number of tourists in remote areas

and adrenaline rusher is only 1

and extending the time of their stay

hour away from you! What do you

in Albania.

want more? Feel the magic of wild Albania through adventure.

J

Who are we?

oin us in rafting one of

Vjosa river, with its 270 km course

Europe last free flowing

is still untouched and rich with

gem. A class 3 rafting,

beautiful canyons, decorated river

is going to provide all

sections, small islands and oxbows.

adrenaline lovers with

Jumping from the rocks into the

the rush they need. Waves up to four

cold water , stopping on the most

feet, strong current that sends the

beautiful places of the river course ,

boat wobbling around and narrow

shooting the most beautiful photos

passages where the crystal clear

ever will make you feel the magic

water is still intemperate are going

of this place and wanting to come

to make this trip unforgettable.

back again. And it is not over yet!

50

CONTAC US

Albania Rafting Group ( ARG ) is the

Email: info@albrafting.org

first tourism and sport organization

Tel/Whatsapp: +355 67 200 6623

in Albania , founder of Albanian

Web: https://www.albrafting.org/

Rafting Federation , member with

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Perparim Rama: Uncertain Times Are Ripe with Potential Growth & New Ideas 4M Group, founded in 2004, is a

Kosovo and now in Albania and New

thriving organisation delivering

York.

contemporary and complex

In an interview with TRAILBLAZING

solutions across private and

Magazine, the Founder and Director

public sectors, both UK wide and

of 4M Group, PĂŤrparim Rama

internationally. It is an award-

explores the actual challenges,

winning London based design/build

created by the pandemic, which

architectural practice, comprised of

have made him and his team to

accomplished architects, designers,

brainstorm with his clients across

project managers and planners.

industries, some of the main

The world known company is based

projects of his company and the

in London but it also studios in

extensive experience 4 M Group has to offer.

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JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE

Please can you make a brief

vision.

profile of yourself and your

As a design/build company, we

company - 4 M Group?

take a holistic approach to all of

PR: I am the founder, director of the

our projects. From conception

4M GROUP. Founded in 2004, 4M

to completion, we ensure that all

Group (fôrm/gro͞op) is an award-

aspects of our client’s needs are met

winning London based design/build

by our team, working in unison to

architectural practice, comprised of

guarantee the synergetic success

accomplished architects, designers,

between space and material.

project managers and planners. As founding director of 4M GROUP, I am responsible for overall project management and development

“We take a holistic approach to all of our projects.”

works present in many locations around the globe, we have garnered international recognition with award-winning designs. Included

planning of the

54

Having notable

practice, projects range from

in this is: being a winner of the

residential to commercial, from

2013 World Interior News (WIN)

hotels to mixed use development

Awards for Hamam Jazz Bar;

and urban planning. We are

our participation in the 13th

currently working on several

Architectural Biennale in Venice

commercial and high-end residential

2012; being the recipients of the

schemes in central London,

award for Architectural innovation

Switzerland, Balkans and Middle

by the Kosovan Architectural

East. I continue consulting Qatari

Association; and having been

National Research Fund on current

named as one of the Top 50 eco-

and future Urban and Architectural

sustainable firms in the UK by

projects as part of the Doha 2030

Open Cities in 2009. 4M has been

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ARCHITECTURE

JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE


JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE

H HOUSE:

with nature to breathe in surrounding

Perched up on a small hill

life.

overlooking a suburb of Prishtina,

The H House not only exhibits the

the strength and dynamism of the

possibilities of boundless creativity,

In most of our projects we try to

Humolli House’s structure results in

but also reveals an important ethical

Rohe Award for Contemporary

tease out the BOLD and UNIQUE

a living symbol of confidence in an

consideration of how space impacts

Architecture.

aspects that represent our belief

environment striving to find itself.

both the emotions of a society and

Through vision, and a fundamental

that Architecture and interior spaces

Volumes of light define the H House,

its spirit.

dedication to provide the best

can and do make a difference in

pouring in through expansive

The H House is designed with light

innovation, 4M Group is a

human wellbeing and can have a

windows. The living space resembles

and space in mind while at the same

thriving organisation delivering

positive impact on subconscious

a pure and inhabitable sculpture

time it looks at the local culture and

contemporary and complex

mind. Through our designs we

that inspires a society to think

tradition that inspire the dynamics of

solutions across private and

aim to not only build habitats that

about how form and function can

form. The H House is bold, daring,

public sectors, both UK wide and

provide safety, entertainment and

together break new ground and

experimental, visionary, and with

internationally.

security, but simultaneously we build

build a microcosm of sustainable

human well-being in mind. It stands

confidence for society.

beauty. With orientation and

tall as a unique representation of

natural illumination meticulously

what architecture can be, not only for

I will discuss some of our award-

planned, large south- and west-

4M Group and our client, but for the

winning designs in brief.

facing windows provide atmospheric

whole city and the country.

shortlisted and Won Awards several

Can you elaborate on your main

times in hospitality and High end

projects and why they make a

residential industry in 2016, 2017,

difference in comparison with the

and in 2018 has been nominated

others?

for the prestigious Mies Van Der

corners and astonishing focal points that draw the eyes into specific

Hamam Jazz Bar

areas during any time of day. The

Inspired by the environment, as

intersection of planes, walkways and

well as texture, everything in the

stairs encourage social encounters

subterranean HAMAM jazz lounge

and visual exploration. From the

has a tactile dimension. It is

private outdoors of its gardens

unexpected, raw, and like an abstract

through to the surreal landscape

painting, or more appropriately, like

within the contemporary mansion,

the sound of jazz, it is ever-changing

the home’s interior becomes an

and wide open to interpretation.

extension of its exterior, connecting

For a decade it has served as a local

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hotspot for inspiration. With its

mud, wood, and concrete, as well as

sound quality without disturbing

tables designed by 4M and were

mere presence alone it has catalysed

the labour and expertise of skilled

residential neighbours within a

handmade by local artisans, wood

creativity, encouraging other

local craftsmen. At the same time,

confined concrete basement?

and leather makers. The grand

architects and artists in the Balkans

the design incorporated industrial

metal doors were corroded for

to think outside the box and for the

elements to mirror the edginess of

We used our offices in London to

several weeks prior to installation,

good of the community.

the urban capital.

experiment with various materials.

and a second set of doors were

We discovered that dried mud

installed at the entrance. They were

It was a place where you truly

A collective memory of eight months

suspended on cables provided a

also both made out of reclaimed

experienced the energy, and the

of labour is engraved into the walls

cushion for sound waves, reducing

oak and were installed by local

sound of the music. You felt the city

of the 3000 sq. ft. lounge, as the

noise and cancelling echoes. From

specialists.

within the floating mud panels on

carvings of the workers’ hammers,

this, 15 local workers were employed

the ceiling, the carved walls, and

and tools are permanently imprinted

to create hundreds of mud panels

In its completion, what once was

through the recycled materials.

into the concrete. The

for the ceiling,

dead space in a dingy car park, with

client’s main concern was not

which hid the

challenging design and acoustic

The innovative and sustainable

an aesthetic issue, but an

dim ceiling lights

dilemmas, has been transformed

design utilised local materials: straw,

acoustic one. How to enhance

and wires.

into a vision of fearlessness that

Chairs,

communicates with the local

cushions and

heritage, and further integrates and enhances its context within its environment and community. Our project Won the best bar design at the prestigious Saatchi Gallery ceremony in King Road London in 2013 and we welcomed Prince Charles there in 2016

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BM KABANA

of thought and to be present,

experience this space. Architectural

Awhile back I was asked by my

sur-rounded by concrete pillars

interventions impact us, either

friend to propose an intervention

in order to understand that the

positively or negatively, they are

to the back of his house. There

soul of the house was there. The

never energy neutral.

were a series of concrete structures

rest of the house looked like any

standing tall and proud in semi-

other suburban house, it was a

How can we be sure that our

rectangular alignment. It was

result of a copy-paste culture that

interventions are energy giving

clear that the deterioration of

reigned supreme for many years

and not energy take? The

the structures had begun, and

after Kosova’s war, a pursuit for

difference between what we see

the function they were intended

an American-styled house in an

and what we feel often stands

to fulfill was secondary to the

international village. The interior

in stark contrast, when the two

immediate needs of the main

was well dressed, my friend had

merge, the story unfolds‌ in

house to expand into this zone.

chosen a tasteful palette of stones

this instance, the concrete pillars

Standing there, in front of these

and woods, art, and furniture, but

stand as architectural ruins, not as

concrete pillars, the information

the space felt frustrated, pent up

they shared was understood, their

with an energy that had nowhere to

history was understood. One could

go. Today, the pillars live on. Left

sense communication, an ongoing

abandoned, and awaiting their fate,

conversation amongst each other,

the protectors of the story needed

and the house. Do we interrupt their

protecting. There were minor

dialogue, and end it there? They

interventions, for example, the

huddled in the garden as if shielding

thick concrete walls of the existing

something sacred, each with their

house were dividing blocks that

own story to tell.

had to be removed and replaced

dysfunctional structures; they have a story to tell, they are the protectors and the enablers of the energy flow that had been locked out of the house, isolated and ignored. The answer to what we were looking for had been there, right before our eyes, hovering over our heads in the garden. Trust is key to a happy partnership. Thank you to my friend and his family for the belief that they placed in us during this transformative process.

with glass sliding doors in order for Demolition of these underutilised

the outdoor natural energy to be

structures would have been the

welcomed inside. Space and energy

answer in most cases, but time

were conserved and utilised to

was needed to listen and shift into

recharge its inhabitants and anyone

quiet, to move beyond the chaos

else that is fortunate enough to

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ARCHITECTURE

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JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE

JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE

Where are your projects mostly

fundamental tectonic shifts and I

of contemporary architecture and

its resources, how we recycle, reuse,

concentrated? Is Albania part of

believe that architecture and overall

new design thinking. While doing

repeat for the benefit of humanity

your vision to splash your talent?

designs for human habitation must

so, enable me an opportunity to

and every living creature on earth.

What type of services do you offer

react to it in terms of new solutions.

place the countries and culture I

We need to vibrate in rhythm

to your customers?

Uncertain times are ripe with

come from and love dearly, in the

with natures orchestra and create

PR: We are based in London, but

potential growth and new ideas. We

best possible light within the global

beautiful symphony of life, as any

we also have studios in Kosovo, and

are enjoying the challenge and have

architectural and design scene.

other alternative will probably get

now in Albania and New York. Our

been working and brainstorming

projects are global. We are currently

with clients across industries to react

How can we use sustainability to

What would you recommend to

working on schemes in London

and position ourselves as leading

transform the world?

customers who want to work with

-UK, Hamburg -Germany, Basel

industry thinkers and doers, guiding

PR: it is of paramount importance

an architect to build their new

adaptation and

that we engage and create within

home?

change. Exciting

the sustainable framework. We are

PR: Anyone that is thinking about

times!

becoming aware of our impact on

engaging an architect should take

the environment. Decisions we make

a little time to understand what

How is your

have a direct impact on our futures.

the role of an architect is and what

company

We are understanding that we are

they are there to do. There is a

successfully using

co-creators, for good and bed,

common misconception that a 3D

the heritage of

our decisions are important, they

visualisation is what architects do,

homeland - Kosovo

make a difference, for good and

which is totally not the case. A good

-Switzerland, Acraa -Ghana, Prishtina -Kosovo, Tirana -Albania and New York -US. Lately, Kosovo and Albania have been a hotbed for some very

“Uncertain times are ripe with potential growth and new ideas.�

exciting designs we

rid of the humanity as we know it.

are currently working on.

in its own projects and how

bed. Mother Earth will be here for

architect will want to understand

Our services range from

important is that?

millions of years to come, and we

you, the customer, who you are,

Masterplans, to residential and

PR: My heritage is very important

must use our intelligence to ensure

what you do, what your passions

commercial designs with focus on

for me, it keeps me grounded, but

that while we are here, we engage

are, how you live your life with your

residential and Hospitality industry,

energises me. Having spent my

in circular economy adapted to the

family, what are important aspects in

and now during the pandemic we

teenage and professional years in

human lifecycle. Our design thinking

terms of quality of space and human

are more and more focusing our

London and operating within strict

must be circular. What materials we

wellbeing. Where is the location,

energies in redefining the new

planning parameters, Kosovo and

use, how we engage with nature and

what is the context, orientation,

normal. The way we live, work, travel

Albania provide a far more fertile

what is it to be used for, how often,

and entertain is experiencing some

ground to push the boundaries

for whom? Budget is very important,

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JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE

what can be achieved within the

refreshing, and very much enjoy

sometimes like to take people on

As creators of these environments

available budget and what are most

debates with my students at various

the journey within our designs, I ask

we can excite, surprise, and energise

important aspect to be dealt with

stages of their academic life. I

them to sense their bodies and their

with our creation and this is what we

if not all can be squeezed within

always encourage them to read,

feelings, how are they reacting to

aim to do, rather than deflate, tire or

budget. Planning laws, policies,

learn and engage within other

space. On more then one occasions

impact in any other negative way. To

material chemical makeup and so

fields, such as Science, philosophy,

we have had people filled up with

achieve the positive, one has to be

on, they all have to be considered.

arts, languages, dance, medicine,

tears of joy. Several of our clients

aware of these multiple fields that

Designing a new home is a super

culture, heritage and any other

continue to call me , or text me

coexist and jointly create emotional

important and complex process

really. My own personal focus

on daily bases telling me how their

impacts, and therefore the love for

that requires careful consideration

lies in Neuroscience and human

homes have changed their lives in a

architecture is really the love for

of all defining parameters, of all

subconscious mind. Spaces that

positive sense, how every day they

life, humanity and the universe. One

components, and as such one

we create have a direct impact in

feel energised and how they simply

cannot be one and love one without

has to allow time for the process

our wellbeing, they can be either

cannot stop being thankful, and this

loving all.

to unfold within a controlled and

positive or negative, they are never

is when I feel we have done our job,

clearly defined trajectory for which

neutral. It is therefore of the utmost

and fills my eyes with tears of joy.

the architect is responsible for. The

importance that we ensure them to

design should emerge as a result of

be positive and energy giving.

this interactive process and should

I think of architecture more in terms

not only fit but enhance our clients

of Space rather then material, more

lives in ways unimaginable.

in terms of movement, rhythm, flow, and frequency rather then form.

Architecture is a fusion of passion,

More in terms of vibration rather

knowledge but even technology

then mass. Our creations have a

and arts. How have you managed

direct emotional impact. Our bodies

that combination? Can you

are one with the environment,

highlight any unique experience

they are connected. The above

you have had?

parameters have an immediate

PR: Apart from my professional life

impact of which we are not aware off

I have consistently been involved

at a conscious level.

in academia. I find it inspiring and

When we complete projects, I

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ARCHITECTURE

JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE


WESTIN EXCELSIOR HOTEL

A REAL LEGEND IN ROME BY RUDINA HOXHA & JOSE PINTO

JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE

“I am based at the Westin Excelsior Rome and so happy to manage this wonderful Hotel. We have been working and living here for 6 months. Tell me ….Who does not want to live in Rome?,” Lannoy told TRAILBLAZING

adding “Our aim is to maintain

M

the soul of the hotel. We have an obligation to respect the history of arc Lannoy is the

the hotel.”

Complex

General

He says that both hotels welcome

Manager

of

two

their guests back on September 1,

legendary hotels in

2020 after being closed since last

Rome: The Westin

mid-March. “We closed the hotel on

Excelsior Rome & The St Regis Rome.

March 13th and the 245 associates

The St Regis Rome, built in 1894, is

went home. It was not easy for them

126 years old and the Westin Excelsior

but we survived and on September 1st,

Rome is 114 years old. He is an ambitious and driven Dutch hotelier who would not settle for just

“Our aim is to maintain the soul of the hotel”

we will re-open looking

forward

to welcome all of you.Associates are

eager

to

work; forget all

an ordinary career path. Looking over

about this nightmare and continue

his long career, it is obvious that Lannoy

their lives giving the best they can.”

likes non-traditional luxury hotels which explains why he ended up leading these Italian epitomes.

66

MAGAZINE,

67

W O R L D O F H O S P I TA L I T Y

JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE


JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE

The hotel opened on 17th of January of 1906 which is only 114 years ago! It is a real legend in Rome. The luxury experience starts with the location on the Via Veneto and the remembrance of La Dolce Vita of the 60’s. Then the size of the hotel with 316 rooms including 35 suites and one of the largest penthouse suite in Rome called Villa la Cupola spanning over 1100 square meters.

Full interview below:

called Villa la Cupola spanning over 1100 square meters.

largest in size in the center of Rome.

years and this is also why we have so

Our Café & Restaurant Doney with

many repeated guests as they come

outside terraces on the Via Veneto

back to their Excelsior and their staff.

and renowned Italian cuisine. Our

What was so exciting for you to

classic Orum “cocktail” Bar serving

join Westin Excelsior and St Regis

the

cocktail

Rome after the Westin Palace in

and our wellness center with indoor

Madrid, anything to do with the

heated swimming pool.

cities or…?

famous

“Cardinale”

“Our Marriott Hotel in Italy won the award of Top Employer for the 9th consecutive year”

I started my career in 1979 at the Sheraton Brussels and my first transfer was to the Sheraton Djibouti !!! When I asked my boss where Djibouti was he said : “you first pack and then ask questions !!” haha

How can you describe the luxury

The living room is under the dome

experience of the Westin Excelsior

of the hotel with the frescoed cupola

Hotel in Rome versus the other

inspired

hotels in the City?

Baroque and Neo-Classic times. At the

The hotel opened on 17th of January

upper floor, a well-equipped fitness

But what makes the difference --- the

It is bordered by Somalia in the

of 1906 which is only 114 years ago!

area, sauna and steam bath along with

associates of the hotel.

south, Ethiopia in the south and west,

It is a real legend in Rome.

a magnificent Pompeian style Jacuzzi

Our Marriott Hotel in Italy won the

Eritrea in the north, and the Red Sea

The luxury experience starts with the

pool with mosaic background, vaulted

award of Top Employer for the 9th

and the Gulf of Aden in the east.

location on the Via Veneto and the

ceiling and frescoes that evoke the

consecutive year.

Across the Gulf of Aden lies Yemen,

remembrance of La Dolce Vita of the

atmosphere of the ancient Roman

We have 250 full time employees

which does not share a land border

60’s.

baths. The suite boasts an outstanding

with an average of 20 years length

with Djibouti.

Then the size of the hotel with 316

panoramic rooftop terrace.

of service equal to 5.000 years of

After Djibouti I went to the Maria

rooms including 35 suites and one of

We also offer 1700 sqm of 12 meeting

EXPERIENCE.

Isabel in Mexico City and then

the largest penthouse suite in Rome

and banquet rooms which are the

Some 50% of our staff is above 50

did the opening of the Sheraton

68

by

Rome’s

Renaissance,

For those who don’t know the Republic of Djibouti, is a country located in the Horn of Africa in East Africa.

69

W O R L D O F H O S P I TA L I T Y

JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE


JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE

Cancun Towers, the re-opening of

and asked my wife Alicia Romay

Why Westin Excelsior is so famous

the Sheraton Acapulco, then to the

who is a journalist and an expert in

in Rome? Which aspects of Italian

Sheraton

communication what she thought

culture does this Hotel engage the

about

most? How have you installed the

Amsterdam

Casablanca, and

Sheraton

became

Area

it

and

she

immediately

Our aim is to maintain the soul of the hotel. We have an obligation to respect the history of the hotel. Italians know the hotel for the past

Manager in the Netherlands; then

endorsed the idea.

local flavor there?

Area Manager in the Canary Islands

She continues being engaged with

It’s all about the heritage and history.

when we renovate we will add all the

with hotel openings in Tenerife, Gran

the Spanish and Mexican media and

The hotel played and is still playing a

most modern technology but we will

Canaria and Fuerteventura.

is a correspondent at the Vatican

key role in the meetings of the world

always be the Excelsior.

In June 2006, I became General

and had already the occasion to

of cinema and literature, the rich and

Manager of the legendary The Westin

travel with the Pope to Bangladesh,

famous.

Palace in Madrid and celebrated

Myanmar and Morocco.

To name a few we welcomed and

What has changed for Westin in

among many events, renovations,

So for both of us it’s a win- win

hosted:

“Who does not want to live in Rome?”

Orson

114 years as the Excelsior and yes,

Welles,

Roberto

situation.

Rossellini, Ingrid Bergman

At the St Regis in Rome, my main

Charlton Heston. In 1960, Federico

objective was the full renovation

Fellini’s

of

footage of the Excelsior with Anita

the

hotel

maintaining

the

“La Dolce Vita” featured

exceptional service standards and

Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni.

in March 2018, Giuseppe de Martino

Other famous guests included Liz

became

Manager

Taylor, Sean Connery, Burt Lancaster,

food festivals, the 100th Anniversary

and completed the renovation and

Sophia Loren, William Holden, Rita

of the hotel and many others. Eight

positioned the hotel as the Best

Hayworth, Robert Michum, Robert

years later in March 2014, I was offered

Luxury hotel in Rome.

Kenny, Ursula Andress, Kirk Douglas,

the position of Complex General

I am based at the Westin Excelsior

Liza Minelli, Richard Burton, Whitney

Manager of the 2 most legendary

Rome and so happy to manage this

Houston,

hotels in Rome: The St Regis Rome

wonderful Hotel.

Newman, Picasso, The Rolling Stones,

built in 1894 which is 126 years old

We have been working and living

Jack Nicholson, Gina Lollobrigida,

and the Westin Excelsior Rome 114

here for 6 months.

Tom Jones, Gloria Gayner, Kevin

years old.

Tell me ….Who does not want to live

Koster and we continue to host many

Imagine what an opportunity and

in Rome?

heads of state, kings and queens and

what a challenge!

rich and famous.

I could not take this decision alone

70

the

General

Yves

Montand,

Paul

71

2020? How do you plan to bring the Hotel back to its New Normal Era? How are you re- building the trust to your repetitive guests and newcomers to choose you among the other competitors? Are there anything special? What has changed ??? In March, we

W O R L D O F H O S P I TA L I T Y

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JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE

had to close the hotel as most of

Everybody expects a clean room! But

251 years old, had 45 rooms and a very

Life.” I love to talk to students when

the hotels in Rome and elsewhere

also a smile behind the mask.

well-known Michelin star restaurant. I

they visit the hotel or give a speech

in Europe. And of course when we

As we are a legendary hotel which

learned my hospitality career with my

in schools as I hope I can motivate

re-open, we will focus on cleaning.

went through different wars and

parents, 2 brothers and a sister and

them with my stories.

Therefore

crises, our guests always came back

my uncles and 2 cousins.

I tell them to travel, know the world,

Commitment to Clean program.

and new ones tried and stayed with

As none of us wanted to continue

embrace

But everybody will.

us.

running

either

curious, do no fall in a comfort zone

Hilton defined a new standard of

We have a sense of responsibility and

started an international career or

but always be aware and careful

hotel cleanliness Accor launched the

are committed to do it even better

did something different, we sold the

when you have a family. You are not

Cleanliness and Prevention ALLSAFE

than before.

hotel.

successful if your counterpart and

label. Hyatt continues with its Global

We closed the hotel on March 13th

The hotel still exists and every time I

children are not happy, it just will not

Care & Cleanliness Commitment.

and the 245 associates went home. It

go the Kortrijk where I was born and

work.

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

was not easy for them but we survived

stay at the hotel, I run in the corridors

and on September 1st, we will re-

as I did when I was a little boy.

open looking forward to welcome all

So these 41 years of experience for

of you.

me is my diploma of the “University of

Marriott

launched

its

“What will make the difference? Trust me: it will be the people.”

the

hotel

as

we

Associates are eager to work; forget all about this nightmare and continue their lives giving the best they can. What motivated you to embrace the hotel industry? What are the

entered into a collaboration with

takes during these 40 years of

Johns Hopkins Medicine International

career that you can share with the

to validate its new global health and

young hoteliers?

safety program, Lead With Care.

I was born in a hotel. For 3 generations

Air BNB also launched enhanced

my parents owned a hotel in Kortrijk

cleaning initiatives for hosts.

(Belgium).

So what will make the difference?

Our Hotel du Damier with its classified

Trust me: it will be the people.

facade from 1769, which is incredibly

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different

cultures,

be

W O R L D O F H O S P I TA L I T Y

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JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE

As a distinguished Gourmet, what

without eggs)

are the recommendations that you

Alfredo (invented by the chef of

can give to your guests and anyone

restaurant “Alfredo alla Scrofa”); the

visiting Rome.

restaurant still exists and is a classic

One of our hobbies is not to repeat

one.

restaurants and there are thousands in Rome.

But there is of course much more than

So far we have been to 150 different

pasta.

restaurants in Rome and tasted all different types of Cuisine.

In season the globe artichokes are a

A recommendation? Pasta !!! haha

must but also fava beans, shellfish,

in all different sizes and tastes.

milk-fed lamb and goat and so many

Famous

Roman cheeses such as Pecorino

pasta

amatriciana,

sauces

carbonara,

include (a

sauce

Romano and ricotta.

made with pancetta or guanciale -

The most popular sweets in Rome

pig’s cheek -, cheese and egg), cacio

are small individual pastries called

e pepe and gricia (like carbonara but

pasticcini & of course the gelato (ice cream).

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The premier Residence for your Roman holiday The Westin Excelsior Rome Via Vittorio Veneto 125 • 00187 Roma +39 06.47081 www.westinrome.com

photo credit Studio Fotografico Pier Paolo Carletti


JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE

KEP MERLI

Introduces Albania’s First Luxury Resort

K

ep Merli Resort and Residence , Albania’s first 5 Star Resort and Residences, is striving to give Albanian tourism a new image. The site has big plans to construct an innovative architectural marvel that is committed to using only the

highest standards of amenities and services to create a hallmark of excellence in hospitality and eco-travel. The project is also

seen as laying a template for how Albanian tourism, one of the country’s biggest industries, could develop. The two Hotels which are the centerpiece of the Resort, currently under construction are expected to welcome guests by 2024.

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L u x u r y H OT E L / R E S O R T

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JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE

Kep Merli Resort’s 28-acres of land

above ground level allowing for a

and Residence is welcoming guests

access to an array of private facilities

are tucked between the Albanian

minimal visual impact at the time

with a choice of residing in one of

and services including a restaurant,

coastal towns of Saranda and

of completion. At these minimal

their exclusive private luxury villas.

bar and a private beach

Ksamil, 2 miles to the north of the

heights (about 2m above ground)

The collection of residential villas

This is only a taste of what the resort

Greek island of Corfu, sharing the

all residences and hotels could be

offers extensive space and privacy

will offer in the near future. Year-

pristine sea waters of the Ionian

easily hidden behind the extensive

to provide guests with the ultimate

round activities such as a Spa &

Sea.

amount of planted trees throughout

Wellness Centre, a Sports Club and

The resort’s ecological approach to

the Kep Merli’s project construction

Diving Centre will be soon added to

architecture and design underscores

lifetime. Special attention has

the mix of amenities.

its dedication to sustainability and

been paid to the technology and

Real estate and Sales

eco-tourism. A low construction

systems which allow the structures

The Kep Merli Residential Collection

density of 12% has guaranteed a

to perform efficiently over the years

consists of 63 luxury villas for sale

minimal impact on the landscape.

with low maintenance costs , waste

built to the highest construction

All of the constructed buildings

and carbon emissions.

and design standards. Constructed

have only one storey protruding

As of summer 2020 Kep Merli Resort

close to a UNESCO national park in a waterfront position in a coastal area of outstanding beauty, Kep Merli’s luxury residences echo modern Mediterranean architectural style, with clean facades and open

78

sense of serenity and

spaces. The transition from interior

seclusion.

to exterior is delicate, bringing

All accommodations

architecture closer to nature as per

encompass floor-to-

Kep Merli’s philosophy.

ceiling windows with

Most importantly, at Kep Merli you

spectacular vistas of the

never have to choose – in every

sea and evening celestial

room of every waterfront villa for

dance of colors from

sale, the sea never leaves your eyes.

sunset till dusk. Residents

An abundance of local leisure

and guests will enjoy

activities and sites surround Kep

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L u x u r y H OT E L / R E S O R T

JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE


Merli Resort and Residences, giving guests a chance to explore the

For more information on Kep

beauties, history and culture of

Merli, please visit

Albania. Recommended sites include

www.kepmerli.com

the historical UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Butrint, Corfu Old

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Town, Gjirokaster and Berat, as well

Mandi Shenediela Consultant

as the Blue Eye Springs and the

Email: m.shenediela@boiken.co

bustling town of Saranda. Albania is set to soon become

Tel: +355692095324

the next bucket-list destination

www.kepmerli.com

of Europe. With its neighboring countries’ exceptional success in tourism, and Albania’s rapid growth in popularity amongst travelers, it is only time that Kep Merli unveils the beauties of this hidden gem.

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L u x u r y H OT E L / R E S O R T

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SCOUT CONCIERGE

Makes Your Dream of Living in Portugal True

In 2020, Portugal was considered the third safest country in the world, and also considered one of the top countries for retirement, where seniors can find quality of life, with access to world class golf courses, boundless beaches, amazing wines and gastronomy, along with a wonderful climate. Portugal also offers an excellent healthcare system and a stable government in which to live a comfortable lifestyle. ENJOY YOUR RETIREMENT IN PORTUGAL We assist you with The Relocation Process, visa selection and processing, legal services and documents, taxation information, bank accounts, real estate purchases and rentals, health and other Insurances. Portugal has endless opportunities for people of all ages, needs and desires, for a great quality of life and a reasonable cost of living. We will assist you to organize your life in in Portugal and make the best experience. 82

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R E A L E S TAT E

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WE ASSIST YOU TO RELOCATE

as housekeepers, house organizers,

VISA PROCESS

Their vast experience to provide

YOUR FAMILY TO PORTUGAL

activating the utilities, search your

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Family support is essential to

property, negotiation and advice in

Residency by Investment services,

clients, from the initial investment

ensure that all your demands and

the contract of purchase and sale

including advice on the status of

all the way to Portuguese

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and Notarial Deed, introduce the

applications, Non-Habitual tax

citizenship.

provide support in many areas,

financial institutions for the acquisition

Residency, obtaining Portuguese

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health center, powers of attorney and

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bank account opening, activating

certified copies, and exchange of

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Insurances, hiring professionals such

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Scout Concierge has a package

a personal and professional level.

of services that covers everything

Today she is the CEO and Founder

you need to move to Portugal,

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moving from one country to another

foreigners has the desire to live or

requires a well-structured plan and

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relocation-to-portugal/ Instagram: scout.concierge

Sandra Maciel is PortugueseBrazilian living in the Cascais area

Av. 25 de Abril, 1097 C – Office 4

of Portugal for six years. Previously

2750-515 Cascais – Portugal

spent twenty years living and

Telephone +351 910 285 438

working abroad for the high-end international hotel chains Starwood/ Sheraton Luxury Collection and Hilton International in the US and Brazil. With her impressive organizational skills, she coordinated numerous VIP events and arrangements for Heads of State, Embassies, Consulates, Corporations and Celebrities. Sandra has been an expatriate for over 20 years. In the last 10 years she has combined her knowledge of Real Estate Investment, Professional Country Reassignments, and Golden and Residence Visas to support foreigner’s relocation needs on both

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R E A L E S TAT E

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F

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isnik Bushati, General

of life that offers a lot, with the

Manager of Arena

characteristics of a center as it offers

Center says that in

an organization and many services

September the Center

and all in the open air,” Bushati told

will be fully opened to

TRAILBLAZING MAGAZINE.

bring a new attractive destination

In addition, Bushati explains that

for Tirana.

several other projects are in a design phase. Part of the complex is one

“Arena is not a traditional center,

ARENA IS

“a city within the city”

88

of the leading brands in the field of

but it is part of an ecosystem where

hotel, Marriott that comes for the

many elements are intertwined,

first time in Albania, being an added

fashion street, entertainment,

value for the whole complex.

tourist destination, modern and

“The hotel will come to life next

traditional architecture at the

year, bringing another privilege to

same time. It is a destination full

Arena,” he said.

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TO U R I S M

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Arena Center is taking shape day

related to the residential field

What does Arena Center offer

When is the center of the

by day. At what stage are the

where it will undoubtedly aim to

that the competitor doesn’t?

attraction “the 5 star Hotel”

overall works now?

maintain an above average level

Arena is not a traditional center,

expected to be ready?

Day by day a new business open, it

where quality is always in focus. Two

but it is part of an ecosystem where

Part of the complex is one of the

is like an interesting puzzle that is

of these projects will start in the

many elements are intertwined,

leading brands in the field of hotel,

being completed and is taking full

coming months and are expected to

fashion street, entertainment, tourist

Marriott that comes for the first

shape.

be completed in 2022.

destination, modern and traditional

time, being an added value for the

architecture at the same time. It is

whole complex and offering services

Arena is taking life and every day more and more invite guests. It

What makes Arena Center such a

a destination full of life that offers

and a prestigious presentation

is a new destination that Tirana

right platform to attract local and

a lot, with the characteristics of a

for every foreigner who will visit

missed with more space and a

international brands? What is it

center as it offers an organization

Albania as for business as well as for

destination where everyone can

that you and your team look for

and many services and all in the

entertainment.

find themselves.

when in search of new brands to

open air.

The hotel will come to life next year,

In September the center will be

welcome to Arena Center?

fully opened and take on the full

Arena is “a city within the city”,

look, bringing a new destination,

a destination that will give life to

attractive to all.

Tirana, an ecosystem where you can

bringing another privilege to Arena.

find everything.

“In September the In an outdoor space with many squares, full of services, with fashion center will be streets and all in a single wellfully opened and organized umbrella that will attract many activities and all in outdoor take on the full environments . look” We want to bring innovation to every brand that comes to the What new development projects

Arena, each having an advantage

are you set to enter in 2020?

of its own and the center a diversity

Our company is in the design

that meets the requirements of all

phase for several other projects,

and gives many moments of life and

where among the main ones are

fun. 90

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NATASHA KORN:

Very Much Impressed with the Colors and Shapes of New Stadium’s Exterior The Arena scarf and Arena tie bear

the high quality natural silk, exquisite

the signature of Natasha Korn, so

designer accessories,” Korn told to

the

TRAILBLAZING MAGAZINE.

talented

artist

and

creative

designer adds them to her gorgeous

She sees them as a great corporate

collection. They are distinguished for

gift for the New Year 2021. “I will

their unique packaging and story. “ I

be happy to make all kinds of

believe that they are high end fun gifts

customization for a company wanting

for the people with style, curiosity

to have my unique accessories as

and sense of humor. Apart from this,

its unique gifts for their colleagues,

they are classic, beautiful, printed on

customers, guests....,” Korn says.

“ I believe that they are high end fun gifts for the people with style, curiosity and sense of humor.”

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A R T/ C U LT U R E

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and ties with an image of the Arena

What a great way to promote

Stadium, proves that I was impressed

Albania! What is next for you?

very much with the colors and

I never know what is next, but I

shapes of the exterior of the new

am always sure that serendipity

stadium.

brings me to the places, to the people and the things in Albania

Can you describe this collection a

that will sparkle my imagination

bit more? What expectations do

and creativity. I am always ready to

you have from it?

feel again and again this urge to

My very first collection of silk ties

make them visible and known to the

and scarves was the “Tirana Style’’.

world through my scarves, ties and

A part of it decorates the wall in ex-

their stories. I am looking forward

Sheraton, MAK Albania nowadays,

to meeting with Linda Spahiu and

hotel. The Arena scarf and Arena

Luljeta Dano, who collect and

tie is a new bright addition to this

generously share with me the

collection. They have their unique

wonders of Albanian treasures.

packaging and story. I believe that they are high end fun gifts for the people with style, curiosity and

Please check website

sense of humor. Apart from this,

https://www.triqita.com/ &

How did you come up with the

“Tirana+Rama=Tirama”, where I

idea of making ties and scarves

they are classic, beautiful, printed

showed my bikinis designed from

with the new stadium prints? Can

on the high quality natural silk,

the pictures of Tirana’s painted

you share the process with us?

exquisite designer accessories. I see

buildings... Who could have

them as a great corporate gift for

I also would like to know how it

imagined that the painted buildings

the New Year 2021. I will be happy

works that you see one thing and

are so sexy?

to make all kinds of customization

turn it into another one. I guess that

https://www.facebook.com/natasha.triqita,

or write to triqita@triqita.com

for a company wanting to have my

it is an admiration that “turns on”

An algorithm of my work is very

unique accessories as its unique

creativity.

simple: Admiration + Creativity =

gifts for their colleagues, customers,

15 years ago in the National Gallery

Product that people are ready to

guests....

of Arts in Tirana was an exhibition

pay for. The fact that I made a scarf

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A R T/ C U LT U R E

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OUR

YOGURTERIA Albania Dream

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Yogurteria has the perfect

network of 5 shops. It looks like

characteristics to be

many others are going to come.

a profitable business.

“We have a dream in our head:

But rather than on the

to see our brand all over where

economic side, we have

Albanian language is spoken. To

been focused on the education of

create a network of franchaising in

the clients with the taste of the ice-

Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia

cream made of yogurt. Bit by bit, we

and Greece,” Zyfi concludes.

are trying to create a share of the market, all ours, through opening

How did you come up with the

shops in the key hotspots of Tirana

idea of starting a yogurteria shop

and Durrës. We are testing the

in Tirana? What do you remember

market to widen it in the franchising

from the beginnings of this

format.”

business?

This is what the Founder of

Upon the completion of my

Yogurteria Albania, Alketa Zyfi

university studies on foreign

states in an exclusive interview with

relations in Italy, my dream was to

TRAILBLAZING MAGAZINE.

be back in Albania and give my

Yogurteria Albania started in

contribution to the political and

2012 and Zyfi was inspired by her previous work experiences in Italy, one of which was in a pleasant yogurteria shop. “During my studies in Italy, I worked in a very pleasant Yogurteria which was a family business. The place was very pleasant and the products were very healthy. It was exactly what I wish my Tirana had too,” she says. Today Yogurteria represents a

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PEOPLE IN BUSINESS

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OUR

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would show towards every demand

clients with the taste of the ice-

of theirs. The main aim was to make

cream made of yogurt. Bit by bit, we

people familiar with yogurt, give

are trying to create a share of the

them the chance to try it and never

market, all ours, through opening

leave the shop unsatisfied. It was

shops in the key hotspots of Tirana

working out. Since the first month

and Durrës.

of operation, we managed to create

We are testing the market to widen

a very enjoyable network of clients,

it in the franchising format. As a

fond of yogurt rather than of the

product, the yogurt is very healthy,

milky ice creams.

light and as an ice cream, it has an unique taste. It is easily combined

It is a saying “Do you want to

with fresh fruits, chocolate sauces,

make a billion dollars? Start a

jams and dry fruits. Depending on

yogurt company!”

the combination, unique tastes can

social life of my own country. It

parents alone.

Yogurteria has the perfect

be created which can replace the

was not that the Albanian reality

So, alongside with my partner,

characteristics to be a profitable

desserts, the breakfast or can be

welcomed me with open arms, so I

we decided to open a small self-

business. But rather than on the

turned into a full meal if combined

faced many employment difficulties.

employment business. During my

economic side, we have been

with muesli and fruits. There are

The various experiences in the

studies in Italy, I worked in a very

focused on the education of the

myriads of combinations. It can be

private sector and in public

pleasant Yogurteria which was a

institutions gave me the impression

family business. The place was very

that I was not doing my best. I was

pleasant and the products were very

not expressing myself. I could not

healthy. It was exactly what I wish

see a secure future for myself. My

my Tirana had too. It was 2012. I

constant fear was that if I would

remember we had a shop not even

fail to find a proper job, I had to

15 square meters. I worked with my

leave Albania. I did not want that

husband all day long. We brought

to happen. I come from a big family

every product and every machine

with two sisters and one brother.

from Italy. We were distinguished for

All of them live abroad for 25 years

our very friendly communication way

now. I did not want to leave my

with the clients and the interest we

98

“Yogurteria has the perfect characteristics to be a profitable business”

combined with waffles, crepes or churros. In my view, the production of frozen yogurt has opened a whole world of tastes and combinations. Of course, I would like to share my experience with all the main cities of Albania and if I manage to find the perfect collaborators for franchising, the economic side too will take care of itself.

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PEOPLE IN BUSINESS

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OUR

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ice cream and Nutella. Now we are

catchy for our clients who cannot

working in group to make part of

lose the chance to make photos of

our shops’ menus even a small list

them. The presentation and image

of the selected desserts, all unique

of our products help us to easily

tastes different from the culture

create a very pleasant and attractive

Yogurteria is not only my work.

of the desserts in Albania. For the

marketing. By using various seasonal

Nowadays it represents a network

moment, we have a fantastic project

fruits, the combination of the cups

of 5 shops, which in various periods

in the pipeline which consists in

and plates becomes healthier and

of the year, employs up to 45 young

bringing original tastes of the

more colorful.

girls under 25 years old. The majority

typical desserts from Vienna, Rome,

of these girls are employed without

London or Paris.

“They are hired for their excellent human skills, behaviors and manners.”

What pushed you in the direction

business in a near future?

The frozen yogurt maintains all the

of flavor seasonality and creative

We have a dream in our head: to see

nutritive values of the sour milk and

designs?

our brand all over where Albanian

the milk. The only thing added is the

Our products are distinguished

language is spoken. To create a

flavor.

for their stunning presentations.

network of franchaising in Kosovo,

The other products we make are

Besides the tastes, they are very

Montenegro, Macedonia and

Are you more than a yogurt maker? What are the main products you offer and how healthy they are? Can you highlight their healthy benefits?

Do you have plans to expand your

somewhat international recipes.

Greece.

I travel a lot and I try to bring to

Our dream is that the pink and

Albania the original recipes of the

white colors paint the main centers

products I love. From Belgium, we

of the cities. That our taste be a

have brought the original recipe of

daily choice of yours, an assurance.

asking them for previous work

Brussels waffles which are soft inside

If you want something sweet to

experience. They are hired for their

and crispy outside. From Madrid, we

taste, surely you have to think of

excellent human skills, behaviors

have just brought Churros, an unique

our Yogurt, waffles, churros or ice

and manners. Our king product is

recipe of a traditional Spanish and

creams.

frozen Yogurt which is produced by

South American dessert. It just

fresh milk and sour milk only.

gets into your blood. Churros are

The yogurt calories are 60% less

desserts fried on the spot which are

than in a cup of vanilla ice cream.

accompanied with hot chocolate, 100

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PEOPLE IN BUSINESS

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-TANJA MILLER

JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE

BY RUDINA HOXHA & JOSE PINTO

T

anja Miller, the Managing Director of INTERNATIONAL HOTEL INVESTMENT & DESIGN CONFERENCE (IHIDC), which is yearly organized in the heart of

Vienna, Austria, has completed the training by the Austria Red Cross to become the official COVID-19 representative to prepare a prevention concept according to the Austrian government’s regulations to ensure a safe and healthy conference environment. Given the high interest on the event, “we have made the conscious decision to hold the first international hotel investment conference with physical presence postcorona.” She says that further details on the conference will be revealed at the beginning of September. “ But I can assure you already at this stage that we will be following the ‘leading global protocol for the new normal for meetings & events’, published by the World Travel & Tourism Council,” Miller stated to TRAILBLAZING MAGAZINE. Albania continues to get a great interest in the IHIDC. “Against a background of previously rising tourist demand, international investors are increasingly turning their

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H OT E L I N V E ST M E N TS

“We Are Certainly Expecting a Different IHIDC Conference in 2020”

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attention to Albania, so we do believe that it is vital to draw a focus on the country and its neighbours this year,” Miller said, adding “We would welcome

“We do believe that it is vital to draw a focus on the country and its neighbours this year”

guest speakers

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venue.

Are you expecting any constraints

Can you reveal more about your

Having monitored

or difficulties? If yes, what could

partnership with PKF hotelexperts

the situation over

they be?

group ? How can this boost the

the last few months,

TM: We are certainly expecting

investors to support the IHIDC

seeing the shift to

a different conference in 2020.

Vienna?

virtual conferences

International speakers especially

TM: The INTERNATIONAL

and noticing the

from the US or UK, are expected via

HOTEL INVESTMENT & DESIGN

desire of people to

a livestream rather than in person.

CONFERENCE has entered into a

meet again, we have

Nevertheless, we are convinced that

partnership with PKF hotelexperts

made the conscious

we have to learn how to live and

group, headquartered in Vienna,

decision to hold the

operate under the new normal in the

to jointly develop hotel investment

from Albania any time, so watch out

first international hotel investment

safest way possible, hence we would

conferences on an international

for the programme to be released by

conference with physical presence

like to showcase in partnership with

level, providing an independent

end of September 2020.”

post-corona. Further details on the

our chosen venue, how to conduct

platform for our industry to network

conference will be revealed at the

safe conferences during these

as well as share experiences and

Hosting the IHIDC Vienna

beginning of September, but I can

challenging times.

best practice.

will be different this year

assure you already at this stage that

due to COVID-19. What is the

we will be following the ‘leading

difference in organisation in

global protocol for the new normal

comparison to the previous years?

for meetings & events’, published by

TM: The organisation of the

the World Travel & Tourism Council.

INTERNATIONAL HOTEL

In addition, I have completed the

INVESTMENT & DESIGN

training by the Austria Red Cross

CONFERENCE has always been a

to become the official COVID-19

year-long process starting with the

representative to prepare a

acquisition of partners, securing

prevention concept according to the

venues and compiling the program.

Austrian government’s regulations to

In 2020, even tough the process

ensure a safe and healthy conference

has been started, everything had

environment.

PKF hotelexperts group is an

to be put on hold including the cancellation of the originally booked

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H OT E L I N V E ST M E N TS

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internationally recognised market leader in the field of hospitality, tourism & leisure consulting.

“Our industry has to continually redefine itself”

of topics to cover. Against a background of previously rising tourist demand, international investors are

Our joint goal is to develop an

increasingly turning their attention

independent brand for hotel

to Albania, so we do believe that

investment conferences, becoming

it is vital to draw a focus on the

the global market leader in the long

country and its neighbours this year.

term.

We would welcome guest speakers

The expertise of the PKF

from Albania any time, so watch out

hotelexperts group within hotel

for the programme to be released

investment, combined with excellent

by end of September 2020.

organisation skills, provides the perfect basis for an informative program and the attraction of industry leading speakers, in turn attracting the right audience and investors to our conferences. CONTACT:

Can we expect a particular

Tanja Millner

focus on investment and tourism

Managing Director

development in Albania this year?

IHIDC

Will there be any guest speakers

Tanja.millner@pkfhotels.com

from the country?

+43 664 609 69 124

TM: Our industry has to continually redefine itself, especially in the circumstances we face this year, and there is certainly no shortage

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How were the foundations of this

wines known through the wine

company laid?

bar Bonaparte and wine shops Napoleon. Then, we started with the

The beginnings of this company

distribution in the HoReCa system.

bring us back to a Sunday afternoon in August 2008 in Salou, Spain. Our

Looking through the years, what

family was on vacations. We have a private port in Salou where we have

do you think it has been the key

our boat.

to success? The key to the success remain the

On that afternoon, we were out

MEMORIES AND WINES

Altin Mulla of Napoleon Wine Shop & Bonaparte Wine Bar sat with TRAILBLAZING MAGAZINE to tell how he created his company inspired by a family talk on a Sunday afternoon in August 2008 in Salou, Spain and with the big support of his brother as well as the different approach he used in presenting the French wines to the clients.

108

talking and someone proposed

different ways to approach the client

that I could start some business in

as well as a lot of wine tasting,

Albania. My brother was the initiator.

nothing different from what we do

And I liked the proposal. I said “I

in France or what we did in France.

will start a business in Albania.�

Passion like in every job as well. But

So, this was the beginning of this

in particular, I would say that the key

story. In December 2008, we came to

was the different approach we used

Albania and I started the Bonaparte

in presenting the French wines to

wine bar off using all the wine

the clients.

contacts I had established. First we thought to open a wine shop because Albanians were eager to drink or eat outside, away from home. Since it was a boom development at that time, everybody was having a good time outside. But we knew it that in all the restaurants, there were the Italian wines dominating. Since it was very difficult to penetrate, we decided to make the French

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FINE WINE & SPIRITS

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Why did you call your shop

ChateauNeuf du pape et Cote de

Lisbon, there are many vineyards and

the main branches that we have.

“Napoleon Wine Spirit”?

Provence.

they produce very good wines. But

Whereas in France, we have the

unfortunately for logistic reasons,

wine distribution company, called T-

Because from our experience, it was the only way to get near to the

Furthermore, we continued with

we did not manage to do much. I

Company. We are thinking to open a

clients and present the French wines

the wines from Spain, my second

got some fortified Port Wine. This is

wine shop there too under the same

to the Albanians knowing that such

country. At that time and still now,

the only wine we take from Portugal.

name “Napoleon.” We have some

wines were very reputable in the

the most well-known region is La

Hopefully when Albania becomes

good plans in the store.

country.

Rioja region with its special varieties

more interested to know more new

“The French wines are the best in the world”

Can you tell us more about the wine varieties you bring from Spain, France, Portugal and other countries? From France, initially it was Bordeaux. Varieties are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet

different countries, we will for sure

What is the best wine for you?

make a selection of Portuguese

For sure, the French wines are the

wines.

best in the world. Figures say that.

Also we have wines from California,

About 80 percent of all the wines in

Chile, Australia, New Zealand but

auction are French while 15 percent

one or two labels.

are other wines like from California, New Zealand etc.

Looks like you have done quite a

A good wine is impacted by

Franc. With the years, we widened a

of Tempranillo wines. Some three

long journey. Not everybody has

its history and the stability in

bit more with Corduroy - southwest

or four years ago, we went to Italy

managed it.

production and in tasting. I will try

of France, to go to the North of

as well given the high demand for

I have been supported a lot from

not to say which is the best wine

France - champagne, cognac and

Italian wines: Piemonte, Nebbiolo

my brother. His French father in law,

for me but let’s say that I like wines

in Southeast of France with

and Tuscany with Cianti and Chianti

who is the boss of our company, is

from the St Emilion region. They

Reserva to go down to the middle

90 years old. So, we have inherited

produce wines that respect due

Italy with Le Marche wines, then

his experience. I think he is an icon

diligence.

a bit up North with Alto Adige

for us because he is a very tough guy

wines and Triveneto. In each of

in every aspect. I think that because

these regions, I went for meeting

of him, a part of our company is

producers and for wine tasting.

successful.

110

In addition, 3-4 years ago, I

What are the plans for the future?

met Portuguese wine providers

Any expansion?

and producers as well. Around

The plan for the future is to keep

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FINE WINE & SPIRITS

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TOURISM DEVELOPMENT THROUGH INNOVATION AND TRADITION

D

She said, that “during October –

r. Brunilda Liçaj,

November 2019, the expert groups,

representative of

led by Prof. Giancarlo Dall’Ara,

Albergo Diffuso

assessed the villages of Voskopoja

(Dispersed Hotel) in

(Korça), Dhoksat (Gjirokastra),

Albania talks about

Shishtavec (Kukës) and Radomira

the efforts of Albania to apply this

(Dibra).”

innovative concept of hospitality,

Liçaj, also a lecturer at the Tourism

launched in Italy in the early 1980s.

Department in the University

According to her, Risi Albania is

“Aleksander Moisiu” in Durres,

the first entity which had the vision

said that at the end of the first

of adopting this model even in the

stage of appraisal, Dhoksat village

Albanian territory. “Risi Albania is

(Gjirokastra) was selected as the

cooperating with Albergo Diffuso. In

region to be subjected to a deeper

the framework of this cooperation,

evaluation assessing even the

so far, four villages have been identified,” Liçaj told TRAILBLAZING MAGAZINE.

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willingness of the local actors to cooperate.

TO U R I S M

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Full interview below:

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is being contemplated to be

another and the existence of the

the details versus the conventional

implemented in Albania and Kosovo,

wish or passion of someone from

comfort of the hotel rooms, contacts

Please can you make a brief

too.

the community or from abroad (but

with the locals versus the contacts

outline of Albergo Diffuso concept

AD addresses to a new target group:

connected to the territory) to invest

with the other clients, informal

and how will this project can be

a new typology of tourists who are

and place these rooms in various

environment versus the privacy.

put into practice in Albania?

more apt to create contacts with

buildings, thus creating the above-

“Albergo Diffuso” concept was

the local inhabitants rather than with

mentioned network.

What are the steps you are

first used in 1982 in Italy in the

the other tourists.

The locality must be recognized for

following in coordination with

context of a pilot project aiming

The AD concept is based on the

its characteristic style of buildings,

Risi Albania to incentivize the

to renovate and use the run-down

existence and coordination of some

for its cultural and historical

implementation of this project on

and abandoned buildings by the

rooms which are located in various

elements as well as for its well-

other regions of Albania? Have

buildings but

distinguished local gastronomic

Italian experts visited Albania so

reachable within

products. This way, the AD offers

far?

a span of some

to the tourist a pleasant lifestyle,

Risi Albania is the first entity which

minutes, under

various strolls and itineraries for

had the vision of implementing this

normal atmospheric

excursions, activities for free time,

model in the Albanian territory.

conditions, from

nice moments in local feasts, visits

Years ago, studies were carried out

earthquake. This project intended to create an accommodation offer in the areas

“A bit like a house and a bit like a hotel.”

where the visitors wanted to live the experience

the main building which plays the

at museums, castles, archaeological

for the implementation of this model

of community in the terrain. The

role of an info point center and the

sites, basic cultural services and

in Dardha, Korça city which suited

“Albergo Diffuso” (AD) concept

reception. Thus, a local network of

above all, moments of relaxation,

to this project at that time but with

was created and developed by Prof.

touristic offer is created where each

rest and peace, away from the noisy

the passing of time, Dardha was

Giancarlo Dall’Ara who actually

unit appears a bit like a house and

ambience of the modern times

developed under another vision,

runs even the AD Association in the

a bit like a hotel.

(for more, check at http://www.

that of guest houses and small

world.

The ideal AD model is located in

albergodiffuso.com/

tourist villages.

Currently Italy records more than

a rural or urban space, inhabited

The difference with the customary

Risi Albania is cooperating with

200 welcoming places but only 100

by a number of people in order to

hotels lies in the fact that the AD

Albergo Diffuso. In the framework

of them enjoy the characteristics

provide a lifestyle throughout the

concept offers authentic rooms

of this cooperation, so far, four

of AD while 30 others are already

year. In addition, this place must

versus standard rooms, local

villages have been identified. They

created in Japan, China, Germany,

have inhabited buildings, 200

buildings versus restricted spaces in

underwent an appraisal process for

Switzerland and lately this model

meters approximately from one

the normal hotels; attention towards

the possibility of implementing the

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Albergo Diffuso model. During

non-material cultural heritage

development, Albergo Diffuso

willingness of the local actors to

October –November 2019, the

has been deemed as one of the

cooperate.

assures incomes for

strategies of these villages. In

A group of experts of Risi Albania

the area throughout

the context of this cooperation,

(architects, economists and Albergo

the months of the

representatives of Risi Albania and

Diffuso representatives) have

year. The tourist

Albergo Diffuso have discussed with

continued their meetings on the site

arrives in these

the coordinator of “100 Villages”

with the aim to assess the financial

localities not only at

Project, Mrs. Elva Margariti to assure

cost of this intervention but even

the touristic season

the support of the government as

the steps to re-bring the Albanian

but throughout the

well in implementing this model

tradition in a modern version in

year.

even in other regions, similarly

some of the houses identified for

• The

important as the others.

being part of this model.

• The economic element – it

expert groups, led by Prof. Giancarlo Dall’Ara, assessed the villages of Voskopoja (Korça), Dhoksat (Gjirokastra), Shishtavec (Kukës) and Radomira (Dibra). Part of Risi

“One’s family guest is transformed into a visitor of the entire village.”

The cooperation with the

environmental

Albania vision is even examining other villages in the

element – it does not harm the

Where is this project going to be

community, the enterprising

Albanian territory.

environment; on the contrary,

pioneered?

spirit but even the existence of

it protects and maintains it by

At the end of the first stage

the youngsters in the area have

Is Albergo Diffuso a response

intervening only in the existing

of appraisal, Dhoksat village

become subject to the appraisal

to sustainable tourism in the

buildings by keeping their style and

(Gjirokastra) was selected as the

for the implementation of the first

country?

characteristics.

region to be subjected to a deeper

“pilot Albergo Diffuso village in the

evaluation assessing even the

Albanian territory.)

Albergo Diffuso fully responds to the elements of the sustainable

Is 100 Villages strategy

tourism:

considered for Albergo Diffuso?

• The social element – it

The scattered hospitality is more

employs the locals not only in direct

than a total of rooms and houses

services with the clients but even in

placed in connection with one

the circulating economy (agriculture,

another. In such a village, one’s

livestock, handicrafts, guides and

family guest is transformed into a

others) It avoids the abandonment

visitor of the entire village. From

of villages and ebbs the emigration;

this point of view, to revive the life

and the vision of the 100 villages

• The cultural element – it

keeps the tradition, the material and

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SO.

WHAT NOW? BY PHIL WILSON*

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REALISM

national and local, much of it s we emerge

conflicting and tainted further by

from our

conspiracy theories. This has led to

enforced periods

a great deal of questioning, lack of

of confinement

trust in governments as well as the

like larvae from

media and dissent. Confidence, self-

a cocoon, the

doubt, stress and worry all challenge

question is whether we will flourish

our minds as certainty of anything

into butterflies or suffer the fate

solid is temporarily fractured and

of many and be consumed and

we question how the future will play

lost in the economic food chain.

out.

The average person has spent the

It is unlikely that many will emerge

last few months drowning in an

from 2020 with the same perspective

endless stream of new information

they had going into it. Purely to

relating to an invisible killer. They

exist and survive on a domestic and

have been expected to learn at a

social level we have had to evolve.

rate equivalent to the exponential

The virus has not respected rank

incidence growth of the COVID-19

or bloodline. No-one has been too

virus itself. Strange new words have

‘big’ to remain untouched.

filled our vocabularies. We have

The COVID-19 episode has

tried to understand complicated

demonstrated a global lack of unity,

graphs portraying often very

trust and coordination at state and

distressing facts and we have had

government level. There has been a

to endure changes to our routines

major pre-occupation of comparing

– going against our instinct to

statistics to best fit a nation’s

physically interact with those we

outward stance. Countries have used

love and spending extended periods

different metrics in published figures

away from family and friends.

and inevitably scepticism over the

Information has impacted us from

integrity of reported numbers has

an array of sources – international,

ensued. Statements are open to

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misinterpretation and amplification

have struggled to communicate

by instantaneous, poorly regulated

effectively, leaving populations

media and social media, and

concerned and critical.

increasing numbers of people have

National management control

become frustrated at the apparent

strategies differ too from nation to

lack of consistency of approach to

nation raising the question ‘Are we

what is clearly a global issue.

all fighting the same enemy?’

One planet; like a broken jigsaw

The COVID-19 sea remains far

with many ill-fitting pieces.

from calm. The knowledge base

Scientists and epidemiologists,

continues to change. A note of

unlike the politicians, have been

realism.

JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE

more consistent and universal in their voices and have vacated their

OPTIMISM

pushed back the boundaries

fell empty and quiet and lockdown

laboratories in droves to advise

With reference now to the decision

on the most knowledgeable of

commenced. We were forced to

governments. Governments have

makers, owners, managers and

strategists and most skilled of crisis

reset.

tried to understand, interpret and

franchisees within the hotel family.

committees. Manuals often refer

However, the sector in which I am

translate their advice into digestible

The pandemic has initiated a

to situations such as earthquakes,

lucky enough to work has once again

policies and directives. Many

sequence of events that has

wars or wildfires, some even listing

demonstrated its great resilience,

viral outbreaks in their content’s

ingenuity, resourcefulness and

pages. However, the section on

adaptability. A light in the darkness.

tsunamis surely didn’t anticipate a

Some have fallen, as in all wars, but

tsunami on a microscopic level that

many show signs of pulling through.

has proceeded unerring on its east-

In contrast to governments, the

west path, ravaging populations and

focus has been consistent and

laying waste to the most robust of

narrow. The objective has been to

economies.

restore properties to places that

With little forewarning back in

can operate safely and compliantly

March, properties had to shut,

but still provide the best customer

guests had to return home and

experience, while remaining

employees were laid off. Buildings

profitable. The short- to middle-

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term strategy will be one that sees

will be necessary in consultation

not become risk averse. Life still

leisure businesses throughout

business through until the COVID-19

with the key players involved in each

must be lived and enjoyed, business

the Middle East, Russia, Europe,

threat is minimised and vaccinations

setting. Significant but necessary

must go on. It is important to strike

Africa and the Americas for over

or therapeutics are in place. The

work.

a cautious balance and re-engage.

30 years. Clients have included

learning outcome will provide a

Containment plans will have been

Only then will the world start

groups such as Starwood,

template for future pandemics

simulated and money spent on

turning.

Belmond, Accor and De Vere.

(which I hope will not be necessary).

external advice and training courses.

I have been delighted and far

At the time of writing (June 24th,

Self-certification documents will

from surprised to see colleagues

2020) the virus is still not fully

have been filled out in line with

around the world demonstrating the

understood, and nations are

country-specific requirements.

different ways they are overcoming

allowing hotels to open their doors

As a natural cynic, I am concerned

the challenges COVID-19 has

again to business and leisure

about the integrity of self-

presented. It has been only a few

customers in areas where infection

certification processes with such

weeks since what we deemed

rates are sufficiently low.

a sensitive and proven life-critical

extraordinary became ordinary.

During the lockdown period, hotel

issue. If scientists are struggling

Masks, hand hygiene, cough

policies have been created or

to understand the organism, how

etiquette, surface sanitising and

reviewed and adapted around the

we can confidently state that

social distancing on the level

prevention of spread of infection.

our business is ‘safe’ without

expected today were unusual

Risk assessments are in the process

verification by an insured competent

concepts to many a short while ago.

of being completed to determine

professional raises a red flag in my

Now there are very few members of

how to best manage COVID-19

mind. And what is ‘competent’ in

society that are unaware of these.

and minimise the opportunity for

this context when the world’s most

Proof that we can learn and move

it to arise and transmit. Where

educated are back to school on this

on. A cause for optimism.

successful, these will involve

issue? So, a word of caution around

physical adaptations and practical

any advice that may be sought:

*Philip Wilson is a British Risk,

common sense standard operating

ensure you are comfortable with

Hygiene and Safety professional

procedures, adopted across

your supplier selection, and ensure it

currently residing in The Algarve,

departments proportionate to the

is certified and reputable.

Portugal. He has operated as

hazards that exist in each. Close

Despite my negative tone, I

a consultant supporting and

monitoring, review and adaptation

recognise that it is critical we do

advising hotel, hospitality and

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WORLD FAMOUS DUTCH VIOLINIST AND CONDUCTOR:

“I ’ d li ke very muc h to have a n Alba n i a n sta r o n st age!” BY RUDINA HOXHA & JOSE PINTO

M

ore than 100 concerts all over the world with his orchestra for 30 years. This is the Dutch violinist and conductor, André Rieu best known throughout the world for his unique concerts inspired by the classical

and waltz music. A native of Maastricht, Rieu started in 2005 the summer concerts on the Vrijthof Square where thousands of people from all over the world come together. Last year, almost 100 nationalities were counted. In an exclusive interview with TRAILBLAZING MAGAZINE, he throws light on his early life, the secrets of his success and of his orchestra and his wish to perform in Albania. “We are always looking for new places to perform and as soon as we have found a nice spot in Albania, we’ll try to arrange a concert there. During my summer concerts in Maastricht, quite a few people in the audience are Albanian descendants. So who knows... ,” Rieu said. Full interview below: 125

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What was a real turning point for yourself in building a career? What was the concert that you feel was a breakthrough for you?

and me) really enjoy the music that

1995. While I played violin solo for

themselves too. Then there is the

60.000 soccer fans during half time

factor of working hard and taking

of an important match, and they all

nothing for granted; nothing must

sang along, I got goose bumps all

be less than perfect and when that

over my body. That performance

level is reached, I am a happy and

turned out to be my breakthrough.

satisfied person. Last but certainly

we play and because of that, the men and women in front of us enjoy

not least is the endless love and

were chosen by my mother and she thought, that the violin would suit me best. She was right! There is no other instrument in the whole world, Mr. Rieu, thank you for accepting our kind request for this interview. Please let’s start to the very beginning. How did it all begin for you?

that is able to translate my inner

70 years ago, I was born in

father, I started dreaming of having

Maastricht where I grew up in a

an orchestra for myself to travel

musical family: my father was a

the world with. His encores (waltzes

symphony orchestra conductor

by Johann Strauss!) enchanted the

and all of his children (I have two

audience; they began to move their

brothers and three sisters) learnt to

bodies a little bit while this magical

play one or more instruments. These

3/4 rhythm could be heard. I was

feelings so well as the violin. My parents took care of the best violin teachers and when I witnessed my

In 2005 we started the summer

loyalty from both my orchestra

concerts on the Vrijthof Square,

members and my fans to our music:

where thousands of people from all

that brings people together and

over the world come together. Last

it keeps them together too. I have

year, almost 100 nationalities could

several men and women in my

be counted. Isn’t that unbelievable?

orchestra who have been sharing my Johann Strauss dream for more than

How many shows have you organized so far all over the world and what is the secret to their perpetual success?

30 years now; we all believe in the magical power of the waltz,

I’m afraid I lost count but we give about 100 concerts and we try to visit each continent every year. The secret of the success is a combination of several factors, I think. First of all, it is the genuine and authentic joy you’ll notice, both in the audience and on the stage. We (my orchestra

gobsmacked! 126

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our concerts do not belong to the classical repertoire, but have you ever seen a statue for a critic? I haven’t! Personally, I have never seen a bigger private orchestra.

we all are convinced

be one day an Albanian talent will

knows...

join us on stage.

it. We are like one Big Family

We are always looking for new

and now and then, I call them

places to perform and as soon as we

like that. There is also a Small

have found a nice spot in Albania,

Family by the way: my wife,

we’ll try to arrange a concert there.

our sons and their wives and our

During my summer concerts in

five gorgeous grandchildren. Their

Maastricht,

all the other small families at home,

an instrument or use our voice in

make sure that we keep that key for

order to sing. Never give up that

a long time to come.

dream, or (like Walt Disney once

In one of your 2018 shows at the Square of Vrijthof, you mentioned that your orchestra consists of 13 different nationalities. Do you have any Albanian musician? Do you plan to hire any of the Albanian stars who shine out all over the world?

What is the key you and your company have in your hand for having all your professional musicians in your orchestra so happy and for performing at such

are Albanian descendants. So who

there?

so different when we all would play

work, really!

touched too. You never know, may

people in all continents to know

support, as well as the support of

do it!” Team work makes that dream

quite a few people in the audience

our repertoire and get the

by the fact that the world would be

said): “If you can dream it, you can

I’m sure that my audience will be

We love you in Albania. Are there anyplans to give a big concert

Besides that, we sincerely adore

and

JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE

I’d like very much to have an Albanian star on stage! Until now

high levels all the time?

no Albanian applied for a job. But

It is the key to the unconditional

whenever I hear a talent – she or he

love and affection for the music

is invited to perform for me. And

we perform. Some critics say that

when my heart, the center of my

Today after 70 years, what do you think when you have a look over your career and your life? Who you miss most and who you owe most? It is my wife Marjorie, love of my life, whom I owe the most; she always believes in me, although she thinks I’m a little bit crazy now and then. And when I’m on tour, I miss my five lovely grandchildren! Thanks to modern communication devices, I’m on an almost daily contact base with them and then, I see their happy faces. That keeps me up for, let’s all hope for that, many years to come.

Please check the dates of André Rieu’s shows: https://www.andrerieu.com/en/tour The following video is one of the most preferred of Mr. Rieu. Please check it: YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fd16sNr9T2Q

feelings, is touched by him or her,

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HOW IS SWEDEN BOOSTING THE ALBANIAN STARTUPS? BY RUDINA HOXHA Ms. Jorina Kadare, Project Coordinator on Innovation, “EU for Innovation”, sits with TRAILBLAZING MAGAZINE to talk about the Challenge Fund which represents a tangible financial contribution of Sweden to Albanian startups mostly in the fields of tourism, agriculture, manufacturing and many others.

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“As Albania lacks business angels who support the fledgling startups, Sweden is playing a key role in supporting them financially” Kadare told Trailblazing Magazine.

T

he project kicked off at

they were selected by the Challenge

the end of 2018 and a

Fund. Once the projects are selected,

total of 19 finalists are

the finalists enter into a deal with the

successfully continuing

Challenge Fund on using the amount

the projects for which

of money within a one year term.

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ABOUT EU FOR INNOVATION

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fledgling startups.

assessed and get wings.

The project kicked off

EU for Innovation is a project which entails two major objectives. First, to

TWO WORDS ON CHALLENGE

at the end of 2018 and

boost all the stakeholders involved in

FUND

a total of 19 finalists are

startups in Albania starting from the

The Challenge Fund does not finance

successfully continuing

highest level – the State Minister for

the usual way of doing business,

the projects for which

the Protection of Entrepreneurship

meaning does not finance the opening

they were selected by

(the

local

of a pharmacy or a café. On the

the Challenge Fund.

universities which, in many European

contrary, it finances ideas resulting

Once the projects are

cities, have their own laboratories

in novelties in the manufacturing of

selected, the finalists

where the students study. This way,

a product, creation of a service or a

enter into deals with

the laboratories prepare the students

work process/ production line within

the

for the private sector. This is where

a factory, company or a mill. This is

to use the amount of

innovation often stems from: From

very particular because there are no

money within a one

country. As soon as you leave Tirana

the demand of the private sector for

other funds to boost such innovative

year term.

and you go towards the other cities,

a new service or product which does

groups

lacks

Mostly the finalists of Challenge Fund

the ideas get differently colored

not exist for the time being. The new

business angels who support the

have come up with ideas related to

involving

ideas need to be supported. Over

agriculture and tourism. It is important

services,

the last five years, many business

to highlight that Challenge Fund

ways of producing “Made in Albania”

accelerators in Tirana have opened

has not been focused only in Tirana

articles etc.

their doors for the startups, helping

but even in other cities of Albania

them to prepare business plans and

where people face difficulties in

In this context, let’s go through some

train them for the market.

their day to day life. It is exactly that

of the success stories Challenge Fund

To materialize the business idea,

daily difficulty that you may find as

has supported:

financial support is needed too. In

an individual or as a businessman in

Albania, it is difficult to get a loan

your company which spurs innovation

for supporting your business idea.

ideas. That’s why Challenge Fund

up in the area of Lukova , close to

That’s

up

took a tour as much comprehensive

Saranda (South of Albania) -

providing financial access. Through a

as possible all over Albania in order

applicant from this area Miltiadh

competition, called Challenge Fund,

to get as many ideas as possible, not

Prifti,

the competing innovative ideas get

only from Tirana but from all over the

central

where

level)

to

Sweden

the

shows

132

financially.

Albania

Challenge

Fund

133

the

fields

of

manufacturing

tourism, and

new

Nëna Farmë (Farm Mother) start

who

won

the

The

Challenge


JP TRAIBLAZING MAGAZINE

from simply getting

planted in the country, her intention

the

the mussels and selling them to the

was to make it organically certified in

aim of exporting it to

restaurants to taking the tourists with

Albania. She encouraged three, four

Canada. Above all he

his own boats early in the morning

other families around to join her and

restored hundreds of

and give them the chance to catch

create a saffron farm, so they could

olive trees left at the

the mussels and then to get into a

export it. Blerta has now entered into

mercy of Lord.

bay where a

family had opened a

negotiations for exporting the saffron

Unfortunately when he

restaurant. Here the tourists would

to high end restaurant in Europe,

was about to proceed

have the chance to cook the mussels

including Stockholm.

with

of

themselves and then would sit at

Challenge Fund found her idea to

olive oil, the borders

the veranda of the restaurant by the

embrace farming as a way to soothe

and

sea and eat them with the greatest

the conflict as much innovative as

pleasure.

special. In addition, choosing saffron

due

All this experience, which would

among other herbs or plants was

hectares with centurial olive trees in

to COVID-19. But he acted fast and

take almost half of the day, was an

considered very innovative, too.

this area, left in oblivion for a long

managed to sign agreements with

unforgettable

added

In terms of financing virtual platforms,

time, be restored and maintained. If

the main supermarkets in Albania

value to the local tourism in Saranda

Challenge Fund has boosted the

left alone, they would be destroyed

including several Supermarkets until

city.

platform of Albi Saraci who connects

completely. The man, who was living

a second moment when the foreign

between his hometown and Canada,

trade becomes easier.

oil

of

international

standards

ways Fund, decided that the hundreds of

for

the

with

export

other were some

transport blocked time

was wise enough; he established contacts with Canada to export the extra virgin olive oil, produced from the well-restored olive trees of the area. This premium olive oil is sold at a considerable price outside Albania. Through this project, he addressed many important fields: besides his innovative ideas to save the area where he lives, he managed to secure olive

Another innovative idea comes from Saranda – it is called the

own business:

journey,

an

The other success story is that of Blerta Feka, an Albanian doctor in

Germany

since

teachers,

the

parents

the

students.

Everything

to

teaching

process,

and

relating

absences,

10

communication, activities and events

years ago. She decided to come to

at school, the remarks of the teachers

Albania to help her father who was

Soraldo Nebo had been a fisherman

towards the students go through

involved in a land ownership dispute

for a long time. He had seen a boom

this platform. In Albania, there are

with a neighbor.

In this village

of tourists coming from Corfu to

not proper platforms. In the private

around Tirana, where the land was

Saranda from April to October. Seeing

schools in Tirana, there are platforms

considered only for constructions,

them doing not much in Saranda

that keep the teachers and the

Blerta saw the opportunity to plant

but eating and bathing under the

parents in contact with each other.

saffron. As this plant was sporadically

This virtual platform has attracted

Mussels Tour

emigrated

the

sun, he thought to give a twist to his

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This technology aimed to help

the machines or carts could not reach.

and equipment to produce and test

in terms of the beehive design, In addition, Challenge Fund has

new products appropriate for smart

the

supported even two universities and

cities. We intend to offer know how

bees’ food. All these info is

two organizations one of which is Go2

as well without which no startups can

registered through a platform

Albania in Shkodra which supports

take wings.

that is applied in the beehive

the startups in the area mostly in

and the complete information

tourism and agriculture fields.

temperature bees’

comes

much international attention as Albi, who runs this project, has participated in a series of forums and fairs in the region and in Europe. Interest has

measurement,

movement

to

your

and

Why Sweden offers all this help for the Albanian startups? Because Sweden is

mobile.

Wherever you are, you have

From the Universities, I can mention

one of the 4 top innovative countries

all the information about your

The Metropolitan University in Tirana

in the world and the first in Europe.

bees in your mobile.

which we have helped in the creation

It has a very dynamic economy based

His story is a distinguished one as

of a laboratory for smart cities. This

on startups and on a very flexible and

many of his peers intend to leave their

way, the new engineers will have a

innovative educational system.

own country, he returned instead and

been shown towards this platform by many regional investors such as from Macedonia or Montenegro who are interested to integrate this platform in their own educational systems.

applied a new technology seeking to improve innovation. The other success story comes from a father and a son from Pogradec.

Another distinguished case is that of Rinaldo Gjolaj from a village in Shkodra. The boy left his village to complete his school abroad and came back later. His family had always

They found an original way to fight the worm that kills the pine woods in this city. They came up with the idea of some agricultural drones which throws the organic medicine from above, thus covering the crown of

raised bees in a traditional way. But

the trees. This spray does not harm

he returned home with the idea to

other fauna and flora around. This

increase the number of the bees and

idea was found as very innovative by

the quantity and quality of the honey through applying a new technology from China. 136

space with all the proper technology

the Challenge Fund as they managed to spray the pines from above, where 137

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