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MOSCOW, RUSSIA-Hilton has begun its first foray into Russia, with the opening of the 28-story Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya here in a historic building known as one of the “Seven Sisters” skyscrapers. The property, owned by JSC Sadko, underwent a two-year, $100 million renovation prior to Hilton joining in. Interstate Hotels & Resorts will manage the 273-unit facility.

The hotel, built in the Stalinist neoclassical style, was once considered the finest luxury hotel in Moscow, with amenities such as bronze statues, gold accents and a hand-carved wooden ceiling. The property now also boasts an indoor heated swimming pool, fitness and business centers, the Janus restaurant and 10,000 sf of meeting and ballroom space, as well as modern amenities in the guestrooms, which were enlarged during the renovation. Room rates are averaging about $400 USD per night.

Hilton announced plans in September 2007 to enter the Russian market, with as many as 70 of the company’s brand properties in the country by 2017. The plans include a development alliance with London & Regional Properties Ltd. to introduce 25 hotels in Russia by 2014, with the first property a 188-unit Doubletree going into a mixed-use project in the center of Novosibirsk, the country’s third largest city. The company also plans to open a Hilton Garden Inn in Perm, Russia by the end of the year.

Interstate officials said in a statement Tuesday that Moscow is a burgeoning market. “(The city) is one of the fastest-growing cities and strongest economies in the world today, and this is one of the most recognized hotels in the city,” said Henry Ciaffone, president of international operations and development for the Arlington, VA-based company. An Interstate spokeswoman did not return calls for comment for this story.

In a statement last year, Ian Carter, chief executive of Hilton’s International Operations, said that there’s an absence of internationally-branded properties throughout Russia. Hilton opened an office in the country, and looks to capture the more than 22 million visitors annually to the country, company officials said in a statement.

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