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George Katrantzos. (Photo by Dimitris Papadimitriou)
NEW YORK – As things are getting back to a semblance of “normal,” planning for dream weddings and other festive events is back in high gear. George Katrantzos spoke with The National Herald about his event planning business, GK Hospitality, and shared tips for those planning their dream wedding in Greece. He told TNH, “I just returned from a trip in Athens and I noticed that events are back and stronger than ever.”
“Athens and the Greek islands are double booked this year for weddings because everything was on ice during COVID,” Katrantzos said. “Now with the euro and dollar being equal it’s a no brainer to have your dream wedding in Greece.”
“There are so many things that make Greece so enchanting: The jaw-dropping seaside views and world-class beaches, the historic ruins and archeological sites, the characteristic flavors of its cuisine and hospitality provided by some of the happiest people exposed to year-round sunshine,” he noted.
“I’m currently expanding my business to do destination weddings in Athens, but also any Greek island,” Katrantzos continued. “I was born and raised in Athens, so I am a native Greek speaker and I am able to navigate with vendors and venues. Additionally, I had the privilege of attending the American Community Schools of Athens (ACS), so I am also a native English speaker as well. I have a bi-cultural perspective because I am able to be Greek and American at the same time.”
“I really value communication, that being said, it is very important to me that my clients have received the correct message from our vendor partners and the venues that we select for them,” he said.
On the GK Hospitality website a quote from Homer’s Odyssey highlights Katrantzos’ dedication to hospitality: “The gods visit us disguised as strangers.”
“I oftentimes refer to my homeland, Greece, as the ‘birthplace of hospitality,’ and the reason for that lies deep within its history,” Katrantzos explains on the site. “Ancient Greek hospitality was practically sacred duty, similar to a religious sacrifice. It was believed that any stranger who ‘rang the doorbell’ could be a god in disguise, there to test the mortal homeowner’s hospitality.”
“This unmistakable spirit of Greek hospitality can be found all across my country, in every Greek person,” he notes on the site. “Philoxenia (hospitality), literally translated as ‘friend to the stranger,’ is the ancient Greek concept of welcoming and caring for all visitors coming to your doorstep.”
“The art of hospitality is in my genes, intertwined in my homeland’s incredible culture,” Katrantzos says on the site. “Simply put, it is who I am at my core.”
“This business has become my life-long passion, intrinsically rooted in my DNA,” he continued. “At the age of 18, I moved to New York City to attend the College of Technology, where I majored in Hospitality Management and became certified in Food & Beverage Cost Control, Operations Management, Culinary Arts, and Hospitality Management.”
“Over the course of the next 18 years, I became a top-level hospitality professional at several establishments on the East Coast of the United States, including The Walt Disney Company, Morton’s Steakhouse, The Boro Hotel, Hungry Pop, Beebe’s, and Avra Madison Estiatoro,” Katrantzos said. “My number one priority is getting to know you and your specific needs— down to that very last customizable event detail— and making sure it’s all executed upon, flawlessly.”
When asked about tips for those planning their dream wedding in Greece, Katrantzos told TNH: “COVID backed things up and venues are still redeeming reservations from 2020 bookings while new bookings are coming in! Simultaneously, the euro/dollar parity will make Americans now want to book weddings in Europe even more, so plan at least one year ahead to book the preferred space on the preferred date.”
“Athens Riviera weddings are definitely more popular and more affordable now, as opposed to Greek island weddings, the reason being that florals and event decor, photographers, and some staff need to be transported and accommodated on the chosen island. A Greek island wedding is 30% more expensive to produce,” he added.
When asked how far in advance should the event be planned and how soon clients should get in touch with him, Katrantzos said: “The client should get in touch with me as soon as a date has been picked. There are a lot of t’s to cross and i’s to dot. The conversations will be ongoing once every week. And then multiple times per week as the big day comes closer.”
Of his family’s reaction to his success and this expansion of his business, he told TNH: “My mother and grandmother were always very sad that I would be stuck working in New York and not taking a trip over the pond to visit them more frequently. Now that I’m able to create a short season every year- they are over the moon thrilled and happy that I will see them every year.”
SERIFOS – Yia Mas announced its upcoming Wellness & Kefi retreat on the beautiful Cycladic island of Serifos, Greece, September 10-15, curated alongside the brand’s fellow Greek-American friends at Eyia Retreats.
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