February 2 - Baku officials claim that the fact so many major hotel chains are choosing to open new premises in the Azerbaijan capital is an endorsement for their bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.
The Jumeirah Bilgah Beach Hotel (pictured) close to Baku is the latest to be formally opened by the country's President Ilham Aliyev – and this year will see the opening of three more five-star hotels, the Marriott, Four Seasons and Fairmont, within the city itself.
They join the Hilton, Sheraton, Hyatt, Kempinski and Radisson, who have all opened five-star hotels in Baku in the past 12 months.
"Baku is one of the world's best-kept secrets," said Konul Nurullayeva, the chief executive of Baku 2020.
"Visitors to Baku are always taken by surprise by its beauty and its friendliness.
"Baku is the perfect blend of old and new, a cultural crossroads.
"The Old City at the heart of Baku – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – sits alongside modern, state-of-the-art architectural marvels.
"Baku is an outward-looking high-tech city, fast becoming a global meeting place.
"Our Olympic Bid is part of a wider process of transforming Baku into a world-class destination, with first-class business, technology and sports facilities, as well as hotels, museums and art collections, universities and all the infrastructure that comes with them.
"With the Olympic Movement, together we can reinforce and continue the positive social, economic and infrastructural changes that have already taken place in Baku and Azerbaijan over the past two decades since independence."
Baku, along with rivals Doha, Istanbul, Madrid, Rome and Tokyo, is currently getting ready to deliver its Applicant File to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne on February 15.
It is Baku's second consecutive bid to host the Olympics and Paralympics and, unlike their unsuccessful campaign for 2016, they are at least hoping to get on the short-list.
"Bringing the Olympic Games to Baku will bring together thousands of visitors and hundreds of sportsmen and women," said Nurullayeva .
"We hope to be able to offer them a warm and generous welcome, but we are already confident that visitors to our beautiful country will have a fantastic experience in the meantime, not least in our fabulous new hotels."
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