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How Georgia (the country) has become a new holiday hotspot

Places to go in GeorgiaFor travel adventurers who enjoy nothing more than exploring a new country, experiencing interesting cultures and ticking off another destination on the bucket list, finding somewhere unexpected and unexplored is always great. Sandwiched between Russia and Turkey, Georgia is a country you probably haven’t thought about visiting before.

Small it might be, but Georgia – the country, not the US state – is mighty. It is the newest holiday hotspot, attracting visitors from all over the world to experience all it has to offer – and it really does have lots of appeal.

For everyone from those who want to laze on the beach, to mountain trekkers and village explorers, this country delivers.

Its eclectic culture, UNESCO world heritage sites, and some of the most hospitable locals you’ll ever meet, combine to make it a perfect destination. So let’s delve in and see what is making visitors flock to this beautiful country.

Start on a high

To the north, Georgia is framed by the Caucasus Mountains which may entice you to get your walking boots on and explore. Spring and summer see walking routes bloom with wildflowers, and lush, green landscapes and forests; a mecca for wildlife enthusiasts and interesting terrain for hikers.

Georgia's Caucasus Mountains have fantastic hiking routes and incredible views across the valleys below

As Georgia has flown largely under the holiday radar until recently, there’s a good chance you won’t meet big groups of other hikers, giving you more of a chance to appreciate the peaceful ambience of the mountains.

Only for the brave, heli-skiing in Georgia will get your adrenalin pumping

As the colder months arrive, so does the snow and for the skiers among you, it will be a welcome sight. Resorts are popping up out of the powder as the country becomes more popular with visitors, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if this area becomes a top ski destination in the future.

Gudauri is a fantastic resort for beginners and professionals alike. For the more experienced skiers, there is also plenty of untouched snow in out of the way locations, offering brilliant opportunities for the brave, such as heli-ski and freeriding.

Georgia – an ancient land of good food and wine

If skiing isn’t for you, the mountain towns and villages have their own charm and a culture that is a world away from the larger cities.

The Upper Svaneti region – also a beautiful UNESCO site – is an ancient land, preserved mostly thanks to its remote location near Georgia’s highest mountain peaks, and really is worth the trek to get there. You’ll find several old medieval-style villages filled with unusual tower-houses that have mostly been untouched over the years – a superb sight.

Georgia has lots of pretty villages dotted around its mountain regions

In Kakheti, you’ll find another interesting UNESCO site – the Alaverdi Monastery which dates all the way back to the 8th century.

Dating back to the 8th century, Georgia's UNESCO World Heritage Site Alaverdi Monastery is still in use today

It is still in use today and as Georgia’s premier wine region, Kakheti is the place to raise a glass or two. Georgia’s wine industry may not have the fame of France and it not be idolised like Italy for its grapes, but among those in the know it is a European country renowned for its viniculture. And Kakheti is also home to one of Georgia’s most important wine cellars.

Georgia is an up and coming wine region and has been producing wine for centuries

If you like the idea of trying out Georgian wine, you’ll find the countryside peppered with pretty vineyards where welcoming locals will be happy to take you on a tour and let you try the product. At the Alaverdi Monastery in Kakheti, you can visit the cellar and see the monks at work producing the wine. You might even find your new favourite drink while you’re there.

Khinkali, a type of dumpling, is a delicious staple on the Georgian menu

Georgian food is also delicious – and best accompanied by the local wine. Khinkali is a staple in the Georgian diet. It is a type of dumpling, usually filled with meat – though this depends on the area of the country you’re tasting it in. There’s also a very specific way to eat them; bite a hole in the side of the dumpling and suck out the filling. It is considered impolite to use cutlery to eat them.

Cheese-stuffed flatbread sounds delicious to us – try Khachapuri for a great snack

Khachapuri is the ultimate in comfort food and one of Georgia’s staple dishes. It is a warm, gooey cheese-stuffed bread that is sometimes topped with an egg.

Should a good hearty meal be more to your liking then kharcho – a type of beef soup with rice and lots of spices – is widely found on the menus of Georgian restaurants.

Kharcho is a traditional Georgian beef and rice soup, give it a try

Black Sea delights

For many, a holiday wouldn’t be complete without a beach to laze on and a nice refreshing sea to take a dip in when it gets too hot. Georgia lies on the shores of the Black Sea and has some very pretty beaches. The seaside town of Batumi with its bustling nightlife, plus plenty of restaurants and attractions, make for an exciting coastal destination.

Take in the sights along the Batumi Promenade, including the impressive Ferris Wheel

By day, the beach is perfect for families and you can splash around with the children in the shallow water, or have a relaxing few hours getting lost in a good book. The promenade runs alongside the beach and is a great place to wander to take a bite to eat after a day soaking up the sun.

The Black Sea’s turquoise waters contrast against the lush green gardens

There’s plenty to see along the here. The ‘Ali and Nino’ statues by Georgian sculptor, Tamara Kvesitadze, are a unique and quite spectacular attraction. They actually move toward each other until they’re in an embrace – falling in love in front of your eyes. It’s strangely moving, and very impressive.

Watch as the Ali and Nino statues move towards each other into an embrace, it really is a sight to behold

Where to stay

New resort, Alliance Palace Batumi, has joined the RCI holiday exchange network, making it the first RCI-affiliated resort in Georgia, when it opens in October 2018.

The beautiful resort is right on the beachfront overlooking the spectacular Black Sea, so rooms come with gorgeous views. There is also a beautiful lake in front of the building, where you can see ‘dancing fountains’ every evening from the balconies of the apartments.

Alliance Palace, on the Black Sea in Batumi, Georgia

Resort guests are spoilt for choice with plenty of restaurants and cafés serving delicious traditional Georgian wine and cuisine, as well as bars and there’s even a casino on site. Other facilities include indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a fitness centre. The timeshare accommodation is larger than the standard holiday hotel room and also comes with a high-specification design, making a stay here even more special.

With something for every traveller, Georgia is well worth considering for your next holiday.

Own timeshare but not an RCI member? Unlock the potential of your timeshare and access the largest holiday exchange network with more than 4,300 resorts worldwide – visit rci.com/join to join today. For inspirational member stories and travel guides, visit the RCI blog.

About

When she’s not chasing a very active toddler around, Natasha can usually be found in the theatre (the annoying one who knows all the words), or planning her next visit to the West End. A general pop culture enthusiast and travel lover, she’s happiest lounging on a beach getting lost in a great book.

Follow Natasha Hegarty, RCI

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