POSTED: April 5th 2012

Baku 2020: The city ramps up tourism with five-star Marriott Absheron Hotel

The JW Marriott Absheron Baku Hotel offers views of the Caspian Sea / Marriot
The JW Marriott Absheron Baku Hotel offers views of the Caspian Sea / Marriot

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA: Azerbaijan President, Ilham Aliyev and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva came out for the opening of the new luxury Marriott Absheron Hotel in central Baku adding to the city’s tourism appeal.

This makes the seventh five-star hotel opened within the last year and the Four Seasons and Fairmont are on the list to be next later on this year. The rapid growth of high end tourism is fanning the fires that the city is becoming a world-class destination to host high level events.

President Aliyev, who is also in charge of the national Olympic committee, said,  “The opening of the Marriott Absheron is a sign of the fast developing tourism sector of Azerbaijan, as well as the favourable investment climate established for local and international businesses in the country.

“Azerbaijan is certainly the political and economic centre of the region. With more and more visitors each year, our country is becoming one of the major tourism destinations.”

Bid ceo, Konul Nurullayeva, talked in depth about the city’s potential, “Baku is one of the world’s best-kept secrets. Inbound tourism to Azerbaijan has almost doubled over the past five years and visitors here are always taken by surprise by our city’s beauty.

 “Our 2020 Olympic Bid is a part of the wider process of transforming Baku into a world-class destination, with first-class business, technology and sports facilities, as well as hotels, museums and art collections, universities and all the infrastructure that comes with them. 

“We have been very clear when developing our 2020 Games plan that it should fit our city’s long-term objectives – not that we change our city to adjust to our Olympic Bid plans. We believe that this subtle, but profound key difference can be a model for other cities going forward. We aim to illustrate that hosting the Olympic Games is a prudent investment if planned wisely.

“Between them, these seven new hotels in the city have added almost 2,000 rooms. By 2020, Baku will have 81,800 rooms within 50 kilometres of where we plan to site our Olympic Village – and 50% of these rooms will be within 10 kilometres, ensuring that our accommodation exceeds all the IOC requirements.”

“The majority of Baku’s hotels are located on the city’s beautiful seafront Boulevard, which is being extended to run 14 kilometres around Baku Bay – and which is adjacent to the city centre and cultural attractions, including the UNESCO World Heritage Old City.

“All of these hotels are within 25 minutes of the city’s 2020 Games venues.

“In addition, there is also a new 100 billion dollar development at Khazar Islands, 30 kilometres south of Baku, which will include many more hotels with a large selection of affordable accommodation options for the Olympic Family and visitors.”

Helios Partners

Helios Partners is now working with the Baku 2020 bid after Rome fell out of the race following the lack of support on behalf of the Italian government. Helios was involved with the highly successful PyeongChang 2018 bid that won last July in Durban to host the winter Olympics.

Terrence Burns, president of Helios Partners, said on the new engagement, "Baku is an extraordinary city and frankly one I knew very little about.  

“Azerbaijan is a country of almost ten million people and they have a very clear plan and path forward for progress.  They have done an incredible job of preserving their ancient cultural artifacts and architecture alongside one of the most astonishing, fastest growing urban centers in the world.  

“Their 2020 plan is quite focused and based on "true need"; meaning their Olympic plan is based on the city and it's existing plan--they are not investing in Games infrastructure that won't be needed, they've adapted an Olympic plan to fit their city, not visa versa.  

“This is a subtle but profound strategy for bidding for the Games, and it is one that can show that the Games are a prudent long-term investment if based on true need and sustainability.  BAKU 2020 has nothing to do with using the Games as "nation building"; rather, it's a prime example of the marriage of addressing the needs of sport in the nation and region, and, a prudent development plan for the city.  

“50% of the country is under the age of thirty and 95% of the population support the bid. Baku 2020 ticks all the boxes- opportunity for sport, opportunity for the people of Baku and opportunity for the Olympic Movement."  

Baku is bidding against Doha, Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo to host the 2020 summer Games. The final decision will be voted on September 7th in 2013 at the IOC session in Buenos Aires.

Keywords · Marriott Absheron Hotel · Baku 2020 · Ilham Aliyev · Konul Nurullayeva · Terrence Burns

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