To the Israeli traveler, Georgia – located in the caucasus mountains, is mainly two major cities. Batumi, bordered by the Black Sea, is considered as the country’s premier vacation destination. The capital, Tbilisi with its picturesque Old Town, is the vibrant beating heart of Georgia. Not many are curious to discover other regions. This country has a lot to offer and one of them is undoubtedly Kakheti. A drive of up to 2 hours east takes inquisitive travelers to ancient settlements, castels, extraordinary temples, beautiful forests, waterfalls, picturesque lakes and vast plains.
However, Kakheti is reputed mainly with 4,250 square miles of rolling vineyards. With almost every household producing its own wines in a home-cellar, it is the place to get acquainted with an ancient tradition. For thousands of years wine making in clay vessels buried in the ground were and are the favorite here. The clay wine barrels are called Qvevries. Over the past 10 years, qvevri wine is taking a prime place, in addition to modern techniques. It is the calling card for Georgian wine around the world. Statistics indicate that in 2021, 20 countries were responsible for 96% of the total world wine export and Georgia stood 14th with an export value of almost a quarter of a billion US dollars. As the eastern part of Georgia has a continental climate, with warm summers and cool winters, it has an enormous potential. The majority of vineyards are located there, especially in the Kakheti Valley which produces 70% of Georgia’s wine grapes.
Telavi, is the main town in the region. It is where famous king Erekle II ruled 230 years ago. This monarch was the first to link to Europe, a revolutionary thought – a model for Georgia’s development as a modern nation. The Batonis Castle, the compound that served as the residence of kings of the province between the 17th-18th centuries, is a must visit. A huge source of pride for locals is the 900 years old giant Plane Tree, not to be missed. Pleasant Telavi is also famous for its beautiful balconies in its old streets.
Visit the Alaverdi Cathedral and Monastery, located near the village of Alaverd. The temple is one of the largest church buildings in Georgia. Its height including dome is above 50 meters. Bearing in mind it was founded 850 years ago, the visitor will certainly salute the capabilities of mankind during that period. Going back in time continues, while visiting 81 years old Lili Mmurtazashvili in the Alvani village.This impressive lady insists on making today hand made wool clothing accessories in a technique used by her great great Grandmothers.
Searching for the magical lake under the Caucasus mountains, named Lopota, we came across one of the closest places to paradise. Nested in the middle of the picturesque ridge coniferous forest, the beauty of this lagoon is breathtaking, especially due to human touch. It is the base of the Lopota Lake Resort & Spa which became our home for a few days. This time of the year, when the trees are dressed in their carnival clothes, the gold and scarlet of the autumn days, are probably the most memorable in a place with an extraordinary story as well.
The history of Lopota Lake Resort & Spa arises from a dream of a visionary man, in combination with the diversity of local nature. In 2008, Goga Maisuradze, the hotel’s founder, discovered this forgotten lake and acquired the area from the family of his childhood friend. With his far-reaching plans, Maisuradze managed to turn Lopota Lake into an impressive touristic destination. The resort began as a seven-room family hotel, and over time, has become a unique resort with top-tier service, a sprawling property with 232 rooms and suites, an indoor spa and wellness center, as well as an on-property winery branded as “Château Buera” that produces 40,000 bottles per year, multiple restaurants, a horse stable and vineyards.
“Lopota Resort is the place where I grew up as a child”, says the charming 26 years old Ana Maisuradze, who runs the resort with her family.”My father unfortunately passed away almost two years ago. My family and myself continue on running the resort, which is already known not only for Georgians, but outside of Georgia as well. We have many tourists coming every year and I think that this place is really unique,” she says.
I fully agree. Indeed. Guests stay here in high-class hotel cottages. Our premium suite was spacious with a gigantic balcony overlooking the lake and almost a private pool below it. Lopota is definitely for family, individuals, romantic couples, friends, or a corporate vacation. The activities we experienced add tremendously to the adventure here. Horse riding in the forest and around the lake is unique and relaxing. The ATV (all-terrain vehicle) forest and streams rides made our stay an experience to cherish and we didn’t miss the opportunity to hike in the mountains as well. The Spa treatment was professional and the dinner in the marvelous Asian Eko restaurant, the newest in the resort, was one of the best I recently had. Sushi in Eko is certainly state of the art.
I couldn’t help thinking of Ms. Maisuradze ambitious plans for the resort. A few years ago she studied filmmaking in Paris, dreaming of opening the first movie theater in Telavi. “Man plans and God laughs,” is the saying. Destiny had other plans for her. She lives now in paradise, constantly planning future developments for this magnificent resort. What a challenge.
Lopota Lake Resort & Spa location in East Georgia is food for thought when planning a trip. However, rates are extremely reasonable for such a product, which has a lot to offer all year round. Take my advice – add 3 days here when planning your visit to Tbilisi. This lake will stay with you forever.