The city of Astana stands out in the vast central steppe of Kazakhstan as a shining example of what is possible when huge wealth from natural resources combines with a hardworking, multicultural populace and a focused, progressive government. Monumental architecture in a range of innovative and impressive styles has proliferated in the 15 years since this once small town was declared the new capital of Central Asia’s largest, most resource-rich country.
A booming economy has seen business grow exponentially, and many international-brand hotels are gearing up to enter this important new market, especially with last November’s announcement that World EXPO 2017 will take place in Astana.
The Radisson Hotel, Astana was established in 2007 and is considered by general consensus to be the top business hotel in the city. Situated conveniently and picturesquely on the Esil River that divides Astana’s old and new city areas, the hotel's extensive meeting facilities attract many events, from the annual MINEX exhibition to luxury car launches. But the Radisson group places significant emphasis on both “Think Planet” and “Responsible Business” practices, and part of this involves annual community-focused events such as the Winter Charity Ball.
Having a ball
On December 7, 2012 a wide range of luminaries and celebrities descended upon the hotel’s Saryarka Ballroom for the fifth Annual Winter Charity Ball, organised jointly by Radisson and the Bolashak Charity Foundation. The aim of the ball was to raise funds for children from SOS Children’s Village Astana (www.sos-kazakhstan.kz). This is the second such village – founded in 2000 – which raises orphaned children from all regions of Kazakhstan.
Among the guests were representatives of foreign embassies and consulates, leading business owners, national celebrities as well as graduates of the “Bolashak International Scholarship of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan”. Serving as Master of Ceremonies was well-known Kazakh showman Serik Akishev, the popular host of the Kazakh TV show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
The event began with welcoming speeches by the hotel’s general manager Jesper Francl; the chairman of the Bolashak Association, Bauyrzhan Baibek; and the national director of SOS Children’s Villages Astana, Batyrkhan Jenalayev. Young members of the SOS Children’s Village Astana then gave a special performance and sang Christmas songs, and this was followed by a concert programme featuring Kiakbay Asambaev, soloist of the National Opera and Ballet Theatre named after K. Baiseitova; a dance performance by Baspaeva Madina, prima ballerina of the National Opera and Ballet Theatre; and vocal performances by well-known singer Makpal Eskalieva, and popular band Version.
A highlight of the event came as MC Serik Akishev held reign over a festive raffle that offered a plethora of prizes, including a chance to win three round-trip tickets to any destination of choice, a selection of exquisite jewellery from Chantecler Jewellery House, and dinners in some of the capital’s best restaurants. Finally, an auction was held of contemporary Kazakh art, with paintings by famous Kazakh artists such as Leyla Mahat, Uliya Moldagali and Ruslan Zhunusaliev on display for bidding.
Cash for a good cause
Proceeds from the event were donated to the SOS Children’s Village Astana for educational purposes, as well as funding a new summer concert platform. Radisson’s Francl said: “This has been one of the most successful events that we have had in many years, as we were able to raise 12,410,000 tenge [US$82,322]. Our partnership with Bolashak and invaluable support from our sponsors has made a huge contribution to the children’s future and made this event a truly wonderful and memorable experience for our guests.”
The figure raised at the 2012 ball was more than double the amount raised in the previous four years combined – an impressive feat in anyone's books. Due to the record amount of money collected, it was agreed that a portion will be spent on the purchase of new, special equipment to be used by the patients of the Children’s Psychoneurological Medical-Social Institution of Astana.
It should be noted that Kazakhstan is a relatively young country with a Soviet-era background and an undeveloped events industry – at least of the sort that today’s pioneering events management companies in Asia-Pacific cater for with modern, innovative theming or high-tech gadgetry.
You will not find this in Kazakhstan – as yet – but the closest you will get is through international-brand properties such as Radisson Hotel, Astana. Logistically, Radisson’s meetings facilities are the best in the city: the Saryarka Ballroom offers more than 1,120 square metres of space that can be divided into three, with a separate entrance and pre-function area for events delegates and huge doorways that allow major items such as vehicles to be brought directly into the ballroom.
In addition, the Saryarka 4 conference room is located on the third floor and there are also smaller Almaty, Astana and Aktau meeting rooms. All the hotel’s meeting facilities boast natural daylight, wifi for delegates and all the expected meetings amenities such as AV equipment, catering and stationery, plus a dedicated meetings and events team to assist in arrangements.
There was a 20 per cent increase in M&E business in 2012, according to Francl and, in the build-up to World EXPO 2017 this will only grow further. New properties and facilities will no doubt be launched as fast as possible, ?but the Radisson’s established presence and experience will in all likelihood keep it at the top of the list for some time to come.
EVENT Winter Charity Ball 2012
VENUE Saryarka Ballroom, Radisson Hotel, Astana
DATE December 7, 2012
NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS 560
ORGANISERS Radisson Hotel, Astana in partnership with Bolashak Charity Foundation, with sponsors including Sberbank JSC, Air Astana, Turkish Airlines and KazTransGas JSC
CONTACT Radisson Hotel, Astana
TEL +7 7172 990 000