sign points the way to a new kind of accommodation
It is past midnight and it turns out that the
only hotel in Goris doesn't have hot water. Outside,
the rain is pouring buckets, and no one is there
to tell you where you can find a room for the
night. Getting out of the car seems like a big
mistake. Now, drenched and frozen, you only need
a hot shower.
To your amazement, Goris happens not to be that
bad, and your hunt for a hotel ends up with even
a hot bath and fresh milk. Under a small sign,
with the caption "B&B", a tiny unpaved
road leads to the entrance of a three-floor building,
where a man with a large smile opens the gate
and closes it back and tells you, "Welcome!"
"Is it really a Bed and Breakfast?"
you wonder and, while the man calls his wife to
meet the guests, your attention is seized by two
certificates framed on the wall, which attest
that Karine and Khachik Mirakyan have attended
B&B trainings and now run this business by
With their house as the only capital, Khachik,
40, a painter and a former University teacher,
and his wife, Karine, 31, thought that rural tourism
is an unexplored ground that they must try to
Shared by Khachik's parents and the Mirakyan's
two children, their house is still big enough
to receive guests.It has six rooms, four of which
are designated for the B&B purpose, including
an auto garage and garden. Before renting facilities
to tourists, Khachik and Karine removed all of
the unnecessary furniture from the rooms, made
a modest renovation, installed a new TV set and
bought new towels and bed sheets.
and Karine are open for business in Goris.
"I wanted for a long time to open my own
business in tourism, but I didn't have money,"
says Khachik. "So, I decided to use the only
assets I had: my house and the labor of my family."
When he said labor, Khachik meant his wife and
himself. While Karine is doing the cleaning in
the house, laundry and cooking, her husband manages
their business, including the advertising, welcoming
guests, negotiating prices, and making plans for
And advertising a B&B in Armenia today is
not like advertising, say, car wheels. It takes
effort to explain what a Bed and Breakfast is.
The Mirakyan couple says people reacted differently
when they first saw the B&B plate. "Some
even thought that Khachik's mother, who is an
eye doctor, opened an eye care medical center
and named it B&B," laughs Karine.
But it took a while for Khachik and Karine as
well to get the picture of how Bed and Breakfast
works. They both attended several B&B workshops
organized by the Honorary Consul of Estonia in
Armenia, with the financial help of the Academy
of Educational Development. They also exchanged
ideas with an American couple from the U.S. state
of Maine that has run this type of business for
more than 15 years.
"The most important thing we've learned
about B&Bs is that we have to understand what
our clients want and to make them feel at best."
In fact, what makes a B&B different from
a hotel is the family-like surroundings that the
tourists receive. As the Mirakyan couple puts
it, "it makes you feel like home when you're
away from home."
But the Mirakyan family is not the only one operating
a B&B business in Armenia. Avetik Ghukasyan,
Honorary Consul of Estonia in Armenia, is helping
establish a whole B&B network. He himself
attended trainings in Israel on development of
rural business and got the idea that the greatest
concern of any tourist is accommodation.
milk is part of the accommodation at the Mirakyan
"Knowing how beautiful Armenia is and how
many tourists it may attract", he says, "I
decided to invest in the B&B business and
to do something for the farmers. My goal was to
show them how to use their own assets, that is
Ghukasyan started this program in 2001 by a marketing
study. He discovered that 70 pecent of tourists
preferring the rural tourism are locals, and only
the other 30 percent are foreigners, which lead
him to the conclusion that his clients are not
able to pay a lot of money for accommodation.
So, together with a consulting company from Yerevan
he started to organize trainings and came up with
60 potential B&B operators. He bought a house
in Sisian and made it a B&B model for his
Prices, which vary from $10 to $30 a night depending
on the quality of service, include what B&B
is all about: room, breakfast and safety.
Avetik, whose plan is to enter this season with
10 operating B&Bs, says that his dream is
to have at least two B&Bs in every village.