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Hot Greece: Four Seasons Reopens Iconic Athens Riviera Site Hotel

The National Herald Archive

Source: Astir Palace Vouliagmeni S.A.

With more luxury hotels and resorts opening and planned for Greece to capitalize on record runs of tourism seasons, the Four Seasons will debut in Greece with its Astir Palace at the tip of the Vouliagmeni promontory, replacing the famous Asteras Vouliagmeni complex, which had been the country’s best known upscale accommodation.

The Four Seasons pumped 650-million euros ($730.05 million) in restoring the palace and announced it on the company’s site. Astir Palace CEO Stelios Koutsivitis told the business newspaper Naftemporiki it was the biggest tourism investment in Greece so far.

Multinational hotel brands increased their presence in Greece's hospitality sector in 2018 by 15 percent in room capacity, it was reported by Horwath HTL, which included the Greek hotel sector and most other European countries.

What’s also drawing them is the lack of rooms for the wealthy and super-wealthy, with only 1.7 percent of hotel units in the country operated by a major brand, Horwath Country Director for Greece Xenophontas Petropoulos earlier told the paper.

The report emphasized that 150 luxury hotels opened their doors in Greece last year, with the number of five-star hotels reaching 550and another; 1,581 four-star hotels, making up 21.6 percent of total hotel capacity, showing people are willing to pay big-time.

Earlier, the Israel-based Fattal Hotel company, known for its Leonardo brand name, reportedly secured the long-term lease of the one-time Esperia Palace property in central Athens, with the contract worth 1.15 million euros ($1.29 million) annually.

The property, where the Esperia operated for decades before closing in 2010, at the start of what would become a nine-year-long economic and austerity crisis , is owned by Greece's biggest pension and healthcare fund, EFKA.

A Lebanese group, Hasbek Hotel Establishment, as well as the owners of the Bazaar supermarket group, the Veroukas family, in cooperation with French chain Accor, were the other bidders in an international tender for the long-term lease of the property.

Fattal is the biggest hotel group in Israel, with 39 units and 16,700 rooms, with a presence in popular tourist sites in the country. It runs another 150 hotels in Europe under its Leonardo brand, the paper said.

The property in Athens lies across from the old Parliament building, within walking distance of Syntagma square.

The crisis hasn’t affected tourism, the country’s biggest revenue producer, with 71 hotels and 6,438 rooms added during the crisis, offsetting the closing of scores of others that went under, unable to draw customers.

There are now some 9,800 hotels in Greece, of all types and categories, but most in the 3-star sector and under. From 2012-2017, some 498 hotels opened in Greece, with 17,153 rooms added while 427 closed, losing 11,715 rooms.

Most of the new units are larger and more luxurious than the ones that closed. Every new hotel, on average, features 34.4 rooms, while 27.4 rooms was the average for the hotels that closed, the paper earlier reported.

The room average for an operating hotel in Greece is now 42 rooms, while one in two of the hotels that opened between 2012 and 2017 is billed as a five-star unit. One out of every two of the hotels that closed during the same period was in the one-or-two-star range.

In November, 2018, the world’s biggest tourism company, TUI group announced expansion of its international chain with the addition of 15 new units in the Mediterranean in 2019, including four in Greece, on the islands of Santorini, Zakynthos, and two on Crete.