Notes From Hairenik
February 1, 2010

Anush and I made our annual weekend trip to Tsakhadzor (which I've written about before on this blog), located in Armenia's Kotayk region, this past weekend to detox from the hustle and bustle of Yerevan. Without going into too many details about the overnight stay, the only complaint I have is that it went by way too quickly. I at least was in no hurry to leave and made sure we stayed until checkout time at 1:00 pm.

Now I want to write a bit about places to stay--they are plentiful and you should be able to find something at this time of year without concern at the last minute. And you'll probably end up paying about the same no matter what lodging you choose.

After calling about five places before we headed out early Saturday afternoon we came to realize that most hotels in Tsakhadzor offer similar rates, give or take about 10 dollars at the most, depending on whether you choose to eat breakfast. The Alva Rest House (translated literally from the Armenian), where we stayed, charges 12,000 dram ($32) per person for a double room, and that price includes breakfast, which alone costs 2,000 dram. Alva is located directly beside the resort town's main skiing area--the ski lifts were visible from our room. Chi Chi stayed home with the mother-in-law--none of the hotels we called accommodate pets.

On the map you see of Tsakhadzor above that I found online by chance, nearly all the hotels and places of interest in town are shown, but they are labeled in Armenian and Russian only. Alva can be seen on the top left portion of the map.

Last year at this time we stayed at the Zvartnots for 8,000 ($26 with the exchange rate at the time) per person, which did not include breakfast for an additional 1500 dram. We could not get through to them this year as no one picked up the phone, but if the rates are not the same for their rooms chances are they've gone up. By comparison to Alva, the rooms were mediocre at best, with no enclosed shower area, a loud toilet, thin walls (meaning clearly audible noisy neighbors) and a relatively small room.

The Alva double room was actually divided in two--a large bedroom that was about the same size as the Zvartnots room we stayed in, plus a separate living room area with a flat-panel television, a sprawling sofa, table and a compact refrigerator. The bathroom was extremely clean (although compact) and featured a fantastic enclosed shower, so there was no need to mop up water from the tile floors with towels. Other pluses include 24-hour water, both hot and cold-- conveniences that are taken for granted. So there's about a six dollar difference between an average room and one which has much more to offer. The rooms were very warm, so warm in fact that I didn't even need to use the blanket at night. Breakfast was typically Armenian--fruit preserves, cottage cheese, sliced butter and cheese, sour cream, lavash, black tea, followed by mashed potatoes and two frankfurters (but no mustard).

Alva also has cottages available with wood burning stoves that accommodate four persons at 48,000, which will drop down to 40,000 in a few weeks. Given that I am not a professional hotel reviewer, on a 1-5 star scale I would quite honestly give the Alva four stars, mainly due to quiet seclusion and simple, yet tasteful--not to mention clean--conveniences. We will definitely go back.

The weather was perfect, not terribly fridgid, with ample snowfall on the ground. It snowed lightly throughout the night caring over into morning. By noon the sun was out and the temperature felt in the low 40s Fahrenheit.

When you are in the center of Tsakhadzor and feel weary, go to the Jupiter café, located at the base of the Jupiter Hotel on the main square. You can eat and drink very well there without spending a fortune.

The monastery shown in the photos is Kecharis, located in the middle of town. There is also a hotel of the same name just down the street to make things especially confusing for first-time visitors.

Hotel rates keep falling through the summer, then start to rise in late autumn. Tsakhadzor is certainly a gorgeous, tranquil place to visit year round, and there's no odd time to go.

Photos taken with my Nokia N86 8MP.

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Anonymous Diana said...
Last year I was in Bakuriani, a winter resort in Georgia. It's a nice place. But Tsaghkadzor seems to be a pretty one too. I'm ready to see it. :) Thanks for Your great writing! Reading your posts is a great pleasure for me! :)