From the time of the Persian Empire to the Soviet era, Armenia's history was one of conquest and renewal. Now this beguiling mix of tradition and transformation is luring travelers in a tourism boom estimated to be rising by 25 percent per year. A new airport is under construction, an adventure-travel industry is growing, and—most notably—a network of stylish hotels is replacing the once standard bland Soviet inn. The work of James Tufenkian, the New Yorkbased founder of Tufenkian Artisan Carpets, Heritage Hotels (374-10/547-888; www.tufenkianheritage.com) include a villa in the capital, Yerevan; a lakeside lodge; and a retreat set among the northern woodlands. Though Armenians are holding fast to their religion and unique language, Tufenkian's enterprise proves that the country is, once again, embracing change.
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