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"Heshkili Huts" - the business in the deserted Svan village

Wednesday, 01 December 2021 13:15 hits 801 times

Pilpani family used to visit Heshkili in the summer. First, they built a wooden hut in their ancestors' land, encircled by sky-high mountains. They also owned milker cows and used to host then-rarely wandering tourists with homemade products. After the rehabilitation of Mestia, building roads and skiing paths Pilpanis started receiving more tourists, and then the idea of "Heshkili City "was born.

"We had nothing but our own hands and experience. We did not spend big money; we could not. Us and our three children did anything without the help of hired workers," – remembers Lela Japaridze, 60.

Heshkili is situated in Mestia municipality, south side of the Caucasus Range. In 2002, 87 people lived there, but then they left. Now only the Pilpani family resides in Heshkili.

After the first hut, the second was built, the third, and now cabins can accommodate 25 visitors. There is no electricity or water supply network. The increasing number of visitors brought new challenges for Pilpanis. They have addressed the "Enterprise Georgia" government program and bought generators, refrigerators, water supply.

Responsibilities are divided between family members:

"My daughter-in-law is an admin of our Facebook page, creates ads to attract visitors. I manage cuisine and finances. My husband and son are builders. My daughter meets visitors.  Then we all sing together, arrange concerts in the evenings, and make handmade souvenirs. We always speak with our visitors about our history, traditions, culture. I tell them everything I know about Svan houses, symbols, folklore. We have a translator, but sometimes I manage to speak in a foreign language.

We introduce our cuisine as well.

We cook with our local products and spend our income here, in Svaneti, instead of buying imported goods. "

Most visitors are from Georgia, but they also receive tourists from the USA, UK, Frane, Germany, India, Thailand, and other counties.

"I love meeting new people. I always try to understand more about every visitor's group we have. I want them to feel at home and almost every time they do.

The first experience is essential; how we meet them, smile at them. Smiling isn't hard. Visitors should feel that we care for them.

Everything is important. Some of our visitors are interested in our dishes; want to know how they are cooked. Of course, I'm happy to explain, as this is part of why they visited us. It would be best if you treated others the way you want to be treated.

"Heshkili Huts" encouraged others around us. We have many visitors, others in the village started building their huts. Seven families plan to return here. When I named our place "Heshkili City", others could not understand. Now, I believe the village will be full of huts and even hostels, – says Lela

The Pilpani family plans to spend winters in Heshkili.

"We will build a stone hut to be livable in winter. We want to stay here."

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