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Burgeoning business tourism spells success for Sofia

4th February 2009 Print
The Aston Hotel Sofia Sofia Airport, one of the fastest growing airports in Europe, reported that in 2007 its air traffic had doubled over the previous five years. With more direct flights from most European capitals and a growing demand for larger planes and passengers, the airport has built a new Terminal 2 and expanded its runway. This, along with the €105m city metro investment by the European Investment Bank, means doing business in this thriving city is easier than ever.

The future of Sofia is looking bright, fuelled by further investments from large multinational companies including Coca Cola (who has a factory in Kostinbrod) and Kraft Foods (with a coffee plant in the same region). Statistics from the Economist Intelligence Unit reported that an average business person visiting Sofia is likely to spend 10 times more (at €184 a day) than a regular tourist. This is believed to be further boosted by the significant growth of the conference and exhibition industry in the city.

All the above factors are turning property developments, such as hotels, into big business. Revenue per available room (revPAR) across Europe in 2007 grew 6.6%, which in turn, has resulted in increased interest from businesses in Sofia who urgently need corporate facilities, as Joseph Upchurch, Managing Director of property development company, Aston Lloyd, explains:

"The major international hotel groups in Sofia are currently not able to meet demand. In particular, there is a real lack of conferencing and business facilities to satisfy the market now and in the future."

It is for this reason, coupled with the region's strengthening economy, that Aston Lloyd has brought the Aston Hotel Sofia to the market. The 400-seated conference complex is expected to capitalise on both the need for high quality conferencing facilities and the growth in business tourism in the city - which in turn, will increase the need for suitable accommodation.

This off-plan development offers buyers the opportunity to earn rental income by investing in either a hotel room or suite in the four-star boutique luxury hotel.

Despite the down-turn of the UK property market, emerging markets such as Bulgaria enjoyed property price increases of between 15-20% in 2008. Statistics such as this have lead Aston Lloyd to confidently guarantee a 6% yield for investors in the Aston Hotel Sofia in the first year, although the company claims this is "conservative" and are expecting the yield to be upward of 11% based on strong research on occupancy rates. Investors in the development may also be eligible to include in their SIPP, which could see some investors getting up to 40% of their money back.

Joseph Upchurch recognised the concerns of investors and introduced The Aston Hotel Sofia in response to the demands of the current and future market: "Regardless of the negativity surrounding the current economic climate, it is possible to make money in these turbulent times.

The market was screaming for a low-entry level investment opportunity that allows buyers to enjoy the rewards of both rental income and real capital growth - this is why we are guaranteeing a 6% return in the first 12 months. We're confident in our research and the returns."

The project has already attracted some high-profile investors, including WBC super middle weight world champion, Carl Froch, and Ring Magazine light heavy weight champion boxer, Joe Calzaghe CBE. Both have bought into the Aston Hotel Sofia as a means of expanding their existing property portfolios and profiting from the thriving city.

Entry-level investment for the hotel starts at €3,500 for en-suite bedrooms and €4,900 for suites. For more information, visit

More Photos - Click to Enlarge

The Aston Hotel Sofia