Archive for July, 2010

Bulgarian Holidays Still Cheaper for Brits

Britons would be better off financially if they went on holiday in Bulgaria rather than Brighton, according to a survey.

Holiday hotspots in Turkey and Cyprus are also cheaper for a UK family of four than a stay on the Sussex coast in Brighton, the survey by Tesco Travel Money found.

While a week in the Bulgarian capital Sofia would cost a family of four GBP 1,221, a seven-night break in Brighton would set them back GBP 2,209.

John Howells, head of travel money at Tesco Bank, said holiday costs have been impacted by the euro exchange rate.

“With the average cost of a holiday for one week coming in at GBP 2,076, a 2% increase on last year, it is essential holidaymakers are not just looking into the cost of travel but also the expenses they are likely to incur once they are there.

“For instance, car hire and accommodation make up 71% of weekly spend and have risen 6 % on last year.”

Bansko Jazz festival 8th-13th August

The Bansko Jazz Festival 2010 runs from 8th August to 13th August. So, as keen as mustard, I attended the media and press launch of the Bansko Internaional Jazz Festival 2010 programme at Sofia’s BTV building. The legendary festival organiser, Dr Emil Iliev, spoke about this year’s event and the programme of international musicians.

This year promises to even surpass the 2009 Bansko Jazz Festival with more music in more locations than ever before. On the 7th August there is a special bonus; a tribute to Lea Ivanova. The performance of her songs by Desi Teniidjieva and Mary Teneva will ensure the festival continues it growth and international reputation. 

Background to Dr Emil Iliev – organiser and director of the Jazz Festival  


A doctor of medicine and dermatology, Dr Iliev combines modern medicine with traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture. He worked in Austria, Germany and Switzerland in the communist era as well as being a consultant on a cruise line and has visited 140 countries. He plays the piano. He has a 40 year old son and a daughter. 

The Birth of The Bansko Jazz Fest 


Bulgaria Music Festival Main Stage Piano: 2009’s Jazz Festival 

 His connections abroad saw demand for his clinics in Bansko from his wealthy German, Austrian and Swiss clients. He realised that they were staying for three weeks not just for treatment but for culture too. So in the beginning, he got together with friends and musicians for a Jazz night and a Jazz BBQ. 

These small sessions started many years before the main festival events. 

One year he met the mayor of Bansko and suggested an idea — that they should have a proper Bansko Jazz music festival. First year there were sixty or seventy people.  Now there are six to seven thousand people who attend the event. 

The Festival Future 

Dr Iliev explained to me that he wants to grow the festival to 300,000 attendees in the next seven to eight years. This is hugely ambitious. I don’t think anyone would have dared think the event could grow to even its current size thirteen years ago. 

So I won’t be betting against this target. 

This was my first meeting with Dr Iliev, but immediately I could feel his enthusiasm, his connection with other music enthusiasts and his immense capacity to work tirelessly as both a doctor and festival organiser. 

Festival Sponsorship

I must add that his achievement must have been a huge mountain to climb. There has been very little money for commercial music festivals in Bulgaria. Dr Iliev established this event on small amounts of money –  but topped it up with a huge amount of interpersonal skill. His connections and enthusiasm seem to bring out the goodwill and generosity in others. Impressive. 

The general sponsors are again First Investment Bank (main investor in the ski lift company Ulen) and the Bansko Municipality. Main sponsors are Sony, LUKoil and Vega Star. I would also like to mention that Todoroff winery are a festival sponsor and, at the press event, I tasted their new white Muskat and their new red “SPV” (Sante Per Vine — health though wine!). SPV is a Mavrud, Cabernert Sauvignon, Merlot blend. For more wine reviews check out 

More Music Than Ever Before: From BBQ To The Early Hours 

This year Bansko Royal Towers (another Festival sponsor) will be not only hosting the excellent stage B concerts from 16:00 until 17:30 every day from the 8th August but also the JAZZ BBQ! Music and food from 12:00 until 14:00. Bansko Royal Towers is the place to go for the Dixie Teteven Band and for Rumie Alexandroff’s “Ragtime Band” in the afternoon session. All very accessible for non Jazz enthusiasts.When the main Nikola Vaptsarov Square concerts end, it’s then time to stroll down the hill to the Florimont Hotel and Night . Here the party will continue with live music until the early hours. This addition shows just how much there is to be had in Bansko.

Hilton Opens First Property on Bulgaria’s Black Sea Coast

The Doubletree by Hilton Varna will be the first property of the world-class hotel brand Hilton on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast.

It has been announced at a news conference in the Golden Sands resorts that Hilton Worldwide has signed a franchise agreement with Helios Hotels EAD, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tetrareal AD, for a new Doubletree by Hilton hotel in Varna, Bulgaria.

It is the first Doubletree hotel in Bulgaria and the first Hilton-brand property in the country outside of the capital Sofia. The famous Doubletree chocolate chip cookie, an icon of the hospitality of the brand, has been introduced for the first time in Bulgaria during a special ceremony.

“The new Doubletree by Hilton, Varna is the fully refurbished luxury part of the former Helios Spa & Resort. We have undergone an extensive property improvement for the rebranding, by investing, among other features, in guest safety and sprinkler systems, top of the range entertainment technology and the Suite Dreams proprietary Doubletree mattresses, which are unique for Bulgaria in our property – a significant investment in an operating luxury hotel, which had already had a 5-star category, to achieve a product that is second to none in Golden Sands and on the Bulgarian seaside. We are very excited to pioneer yet again a world-class brand and service in Golden Sands. Hilton is consistently voted the strongest hotel brand by awareness in Europe and worldwide, and I am convinced that, with Bulgaria continuing to offer the best value for money in the European holiday destinations, this will be an instant success,” commented Dr. George Veltchev, chairman of the board of Tetrareal AD.

While bound by the Hilton franchising contract not to disclose the exact amount of the investment in the new Doubletree hotel, Veltchev told (Sofia News Agency) that the money invested to re-brand the hotel was about 35% of the original construction investment.

The converted Doubletree by Hilton Varna is located in the Golden Sands near Bulgaria’s major Black Sea city of Varna. It overlooks the greenery of the Golden Sands nature park and the Black Sea.

Bulgaria February Mortgage Credit Shoots Up 9%

Bulgaria‘s mortgage credit market rose by 9% in February, when compared to January, as the result of new credit products and positive media presentation of offers.

Bulgarian banks contributed to the rise by offering new credit facilities in February. Together with an easing of interest rates, which are now once again approaching pre-crisis levels, the financial institutions are now returning to the practise of prior credit approval.

The advantage of prior approval is that potential buyers receive advice that allows them to properly evaluate their budget for purchasing a new home, and to achieve better terms in negotiations with vendors of the property.

Another advantage of the market is the faster procedure now increasingly adopted for examining documentation and increased flexibility in assessing and approving loan candidates.

The average amount of mortgage loans drawn for the country in February was EUR 38 576, which is about EUR 4 000 euro more than the average for the month of January.

The growth is due to increased activity in different price segments of the market, according to data published by consultants KreditCenter on Friday.

The average size of loans in February 2010 is almost EUR 2,5 thousand greater than the same period of 2009, with clients favoring Euro loans over the Lev by a ratio of 92:8

Bulgaria Sweeps Russian ‘Homes Overseas’ Awards

Three Bulgarian resort complexes have won awards at the first ever Russian International Competition for Best Vacation Properties.

A total of 250 property projects from various foreign destinations participated in the competition with 18 making the final cut.

All three Bulgarian finalists received a prize. The sea resort complex Santa Marina in Bulgaria’s Black Sea town of Sozopol and the mountain complex Grand Manastira in the country’s ski resort Pamporovo were awarded golds while the vacation village Orange County Beach & SPA Resort in Bulgaria’s seaside town of Shkorpilovtsi received silver.

The Awards have been launched by the Independent Media Sanoma Magazines and are aimed to give a new push to the development of overseas property.

The organizers of the event admitted that Bulgaria remains on the top list of the Russian real estate market. This statement was later reconfirmed at the Award ceremony which took place in Moscow.

According to the Russian real estate agencies dealing with Bulgarian properties, the crisis had not affected negatively Russian interest in acquiring vacation properties in Bulgaria.

The same trend was demonstrated during this year’s first expo of Bulgarian properties, recently held in Moscow. Potential buyers were offered different payment options and legal help. During the exhibit the direct sales have jumped 20% compared to 2009, BNR reports.

Welcome to RilaDev’s Blog!

In 2006, RilaDev a English Bulgarian homebuilder embarked on one of the most ambitious hotel and residential project in Bansko, Bulgaria, Pirinea Hotel Spa and Residence.

This blog offers current news and information on the Bulgarian real estate market and economy, local and touristic events and tracks the exciting progress of this emerging market.

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Author: Russell Collins - RilaDev

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