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 MOSCOW, Jan. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- When U.S. President Bill Clinton walks though the doors of the Radisson Slavjanskaya Hotel in Moscow on Jan. 12, 1994, he will be entering a location of American business history at the first and only American-managed hotel in Russia. U.S. Vice President Al Gore also stayed at the hotel during his visit with Russian leaders last month.
 The 430-room Radisson Hotel, which officially opened in the summer of 1991 during the last days of the Communist-controlled Soviet Union, has been a pioneering project for the U.S.-based Radisson Hotels International introducing American-style hospitality services for the first time into the Russian culture whose standards of hospitality service vary dramatically.
 President Clinton's stay at the Radisson Hotel in Moscow marks a departure from the customary practice of U.S. presidents who have historically stayed at the Ambassador's residence while visiting Moscow.
 Like McDonald's restaurants and other pioneering business ventures in Russia, the hotel has faced numerous challenges in obtaining supplies, staffing, training, operations and security.
 "Some of my associates in the hotel industry have labeled us pioneers, and pioneers often end up with their faces in the mud and arrows in their backs," said John Norlander, president of Radisson Hotel Corp., headquartered in Minneapolis. "But we have really viewed this as a tremendous opportunity to bring American hotel industry expertise to an area of the world where it is truly needed," he added.
 Although it is only 2.5 years old, the Radisson Slavjanskaya Hotel has developed a rich and colorful history, becoming a familiar American hospitality "oasis" in the often harsh environment of the city for American business travelers, tourists and other Western visitors. The business is highly successful, running at occupancies of over 90 percent and its restaurants and lounges are bustling with activity each day.
 Moscow observers state that more business deals have been cut in the lobby bar of the Radisson hotel than anywhere else in Russia and its regular clientele include U.S. governmental officials, corporate executives and influential news media. The hotel is also home of the recently opened International Press Center and Club Moscow, which is the first and only independent press center of this type in the entire former Eastern Bloc for journalists.
 The arduous journey business travelers take to help establish operations in Russia is made easier by the smiling staff and "Yes I Can!" services available at the Radisson Slavjanskaya Hotel Moscow.
 The Radisson Slavjanskaya Hotel & Business Center Moscow features 430 guest rooms and suites, direct dial intercontinental and local telephone and fax service, four restaurants and lounges -- including the award-winning Exchange Steak House, meeting and conference facilities, 24-hour Business Center, 24-hour room service, indoor pool and health club.
 Since its opening in the summer of 1991, the Radisson Slavjanskaya Hotel Moscow has continued operations through two major political coup attempts, food and beverage supply shortages, the piecemeal installation of furnishings and fixtures and the "loss" of its payroll at a Moscow bank (the funds were later returned). "We expected challenges going into Russia," said Norlander, "and we haven't been disappointed."
 Despite tanks surrounding the facility during both coup attempts, the hotel remained open and operated at full capacity, calming the fears of Western tourists and business travelers. The American Embassy, which is located near the hotel, staffed a help desk for Americans in the Radisson's lobby during the most recent political firestorm. During the October 1993 conflict, tanks seen around the world firing upon the Russian White House were within sight of the Radisson Slavjanskaya Hotel.
 Prior to the opening in July 1991, Radisson officials spent several years discussing details about its proposed joint venture with top Soviet and Russian officials including former President Mikhail Gorbachev; former Mayor of Moscow Yuri Popov; current Mayor Yuri Luzhkov; St. Petersburg, Russia Mayor Anatoly Sobchak; and then Foreign Minister Eduord Shevardnadze.
 Radisson executives also spent months specifying standards for the hotel operations, equipment and fixtures; and finally, hiring and training more than 700 Russian employees. The translation of Radisson's industry-leading "Yes I Can!" service philosophy to a culture not noted for efficiency or service was successfully accomplished by carefully tailoring job descriptions and training programs plus offering incentive programs and higher pay to the staff.
 "It's easier to teach someone the mechanics of hotel service than to teach smiles," said Norlander. "We ran our advertisements in English, requesting people who wanted a challenging new career opportunity and who liked to smile," he added. The company purposely did not hire employees with previous experience in the state-run Soviet hotels.
 Radisson Hotels International is America's fastest-growing upscale hotel company featuring deluxe plaza hotels, suite hotels, hotels, inns and resorts with more than 73,000 guest rooms at more than 300 locations in 30 countries. Radisson is part of the Carlson Hospitality Group, Inc. which operates, manages, and franchises a number of international chains including Colony Hotels & Resorts, T.G.I. Friday's restaurants, Country lodging By Carlson and Country Kitchen Restaurants.
 Carlson Hospitality Group is a division of Minneapolis-based Carlson Companies, Inc., one of America's largest privately held corporations with 1992 system-wide revenues of $9.9 billion. Carlson Companies was founded more than 50 years ago by Curtis L. Carlson who continues to serve as chairman.
 -0- 01/10/94
 /CONTACT: In the United States, Thomas J. Polski, 612-540-5616; or in Moscow, Dick Mason, 7502-224-1158, both of Radisson/

CO: Radisson Hotels International; Carlson Hospitality Group, Inc. ST: Minnesota IN: LEI SU:

CP-DB -- MN004 -- 0427 01/10/94 09:02 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 10, 1994

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