GEORGIA IN MY BELLY
Tbilisi & Kazbegi, Georgia
By Ross Belfer
Georgia can be described as the land of the unrestrained. Following years of war, strife and conflict, this mountainous, coastal and thriving swathe of Eastern European has emerged as one of the hottest destinations in 2017, celebrated for its impeccable culinary approach and dining scene, innovative hotels and hospitality options and enigmatic cultural, fashion and nightlife scene that is beginning to lift the country out of peril and attracting new waves of travelers from the far reaches of the West (yes we are looking at you, North America!). And considering these prudent factors, I would have to agree.
Arranged on a whim, my travels to Georgia resulting in a 3-night, 4-day flash visit to the mountainous Alpine region of Kazbegi, home to the acclaimed Rooms Hotels Kazbegi, where helicopter rides over the valleys and snow-capped peeks of the Caucuses Mountains, heli-skiing and hiking are followed by decadent meals of Nouveau-Georgian cuisine (and laced with endless barrels of local wine, and for the brave, Cha-Cha, the Georgian Grapa). If the outdoors aren't your forté, the Rooms Hotels Kazbegi is an ideal locale to read a good book from top-to-bottom, swim in the indoor heated pool or spend an hour or two (winning) in the hotel's casino (entered through a non-descript) door bearing no neon signage. Luckily enough, I had ample hours to experience the full gamut of what this stunning, mountainous region has to offer, needless to mention its unique location on the Georgian border of Russia (somewhere as North American, that I never envisioned visiting).
Onwards, Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, was beckoning my attention with a full weekend planned incorporating late-night dancing at Bassiani and Gallery, meals at Culinarium and Keto&Kote, a rejuvenating (almost painful) health treatment at Gulo's Bathhouse, walks through the city's Old City quarter and a visit to the vibrant cultural hang-out-cum-hostel known as Fabrika. Each of these experiences were seamlessly woven into the warm and hospitable stay at Rooms Hotels Tbilisi, in the city's Vera neighborhood, and perhaps the only option in town for the style-conscious traveler to Georgia looking for the spot to see and be seen while in town. And with the city's famed and historic Opera House reopening to the public after a multi-year restoration, I can now fully fathom the trending reasons why Georgia is not to be looked over in 2017.