Where did you come from and why?
I came here from Israel where I recently got my citizenship. Prior to that, I lived in Moscow, periodically traveling around the world. I have long dreamt of opening a magical countryside hotel in Georgia and came to do it! We are building the Chateau Chapito.
In what district do you live in Tbilisi?
What are five of your favorite places in Tbilisi?
I moved to Georgia not only for Tbilisi but also because I like to travel everywhere here. I especially enjoy being outdoors. Therefore, my favorite places are the apartments of my friends living in Tbilisi and the houses of different people throughout Georgia. In Moscow, you can spend a couple of hours in a traffic jam on the way to the city center, but here, you can get to the other end of the country during the same amount of time.
What are you doing, tell us about your project?
I once came up with an idea to place small cards around Moscow. I named them “Poems in my pocket”. Soon my friends and others, who were interested in the project, joined me to collect them. I opened a club and named it “Tree House”, where everyone paid as much as they could to become members. After a year, there was no membership space available, so I had to open the «Циферблат» – the world’s first “anti-cafe” (I hate this word, but everyone knows it). For several years I opened similar anti-cafes around the world – all 30 of them, from London to Ulaanbaatar. Then I opened a countryside hotel in the Tula region. It was named “Bolotov. Summer cottage”, and we built a village. I’ve realized that I really like to do large-scale suburban projects.
Frankly, I felt that I didn’t want to start anything new in Russia. And since I’ve loved Georgia for a while now, I decided to do a new project here instead. We are buying 12 hectares of land in the north-east of Kakheti. The future village will host a large circus tent in the middle, where everyone will hang out in the living room, and there will also be a stage – both an indoor stage and outdoor. We plan to build 56 hotel rooms, old Georgian style wooden houses, safari tents, old trailers. There will be a garden, a vegetable garden, a farm, and three workshops. Also a magical forest with a few walking paths. We will have a restaurant/shop, event halls, all sorts of art studios. Recently, Stan Gaivoronsky, pitched an idea for an interactive children’s museum.
Can you name five things in Georgia that surprised you?
You can open a joint-stock company, issue a couple of hundred thousand shares, and do it while sitting in a cafe inside the House of Justice. A girl with a laptop comes to you, and you, enjoying your cappuccino, register a company. Then they bring the bill – for the registration of the company and the cappuccino. In Russia, to open a joint-stock company – you need to go through years of torment and suffering.
A policeman in Tbilisi does not ask for a bribe and does not humiliate your dignity. I actually enjoy paying a fine here.
I think everyone understands the standard package – mountains, fruits, views, hospitality, that’s all. Goodwill is the default operation mode in most regions. It is difficult to become a part of a tight-knit circle of friends without being a Georgian, or a local.
Can you say something in Georgian?