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Alexandros Vassilikos: “The priority must be the quality of our tourist accommodation (…) At the same time, we must have a plan to improve the overall Greek offer in terms of sustainability, accessibility, innovation, technology, infrastructure, and organization.”


Alexandros Vassilikos: “The priority must be the quality of our tourist accommodation (…) At the same time, we must have a plan to improve the overall Greek offer in terms of sustainability, accessibility, innovation, technology, infrastructure, and organization.”

Category: Europe - Greece - Industry economy - Hotel opening
Article written by Christopher Buet on 2023-05-30

Photo credit ©

In Greece, tourism is a state affair. With its thousand-year-old history, culture and landscapes, the peninsula and its myriad of islands (about 6,000 of which a hundred are inhabited) scattered in the Aegean Sea has an incomparable heritage and is working to enhance it. On the occasion of the 12th Panhellenic Conference of the Association of Tourism Professionals last March, Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias recalled that the sector was the main pillar of the Greek economy and that without it no growth was possible. “Tourism represents 25% of GDP, a third of our economy,” he said.

It is a treasure that must be made to bear fruit. “Our objective this year, despite the geopolitical context, is to regain the strong dynamism of the sector,” defends Yiannis Retsos, president of the Confederation of Greek Tourism (SETE). Already in 2022, despite the absence of Russian, Ukrainian-Chinese and Australian tourists, Greece “exceeded all expectations” with almost 12% more arrivals than in 2019, a record year. The idea is, therefore, to build on this momentum.

The local authorities know they are at a turning point and the Confederation of Greek Tourism (SETE) has drawn up a report presenting the government with its guidelines for developing and optimising Greece's tourism potential by 2030. These are based on two pillars: extending the period of attractiveness of Greece to the whole year to spread out the tourist presence and avoid congestion, and increasing the length of tourist stays in a responsible and balanced manner.
27 billion in revenue and attract 50 million visitors and reach 307 million overnight stays by 2030.

To achieve this, Alexandros Vassilikos has an idea. “Quality is the only shield that will protect Greek products in the years to come. The priority must be the quality of our tourist accommodation (…) At the same time, we must have a plan to improve the overall Greek offer in terms of sustainability, accessibility, innovation, technology, infrastructure, and organization”, argued the president of the Hellenic Chambers of Hotels, an association of over 10,000 hoteliers in Greece, in an open letter.

Beyond mass tourism, Greece intends to take advantage of its attractiveness to increase its offer in terms of luxury hotels, and there will be many openings throughout the country in 2023.

“We want to make Ajul one of the best hotels in Northern Greece”

In April, Dome Resorts opened a new high-end hotel, Domes Noruz Kassandra, on the Cassandra peninsula in the Gulf of Toroneos. With 182 rooms and suites, a swimming pool overlooking the beach where the hotel bar is located, it offers all the modern luxuries and for guests of the best suites, a dedicated manager and very private check-in will be offered. It joins the group's other hotels in Corfu (Miramare), Zakynthos, Milos (White Coast, acquired earlier this year by Invel Real Estate and Prodea Investments and entrusted to Dome Resorts) and Crete (Noruz Chania), before the opening of the one in Algarve (Lake) in Portugal. Dome Resorts does not intend to stop there as it plans to open other properties in Mikonos, Santorini and on the Athenian Riviera.

In the same location, further down the peninsula, the Ajul Luxury Hotel & Spa Resort of the Zeus International Hotels & Resorts group will have its first season in 2023. Its 171 rooms, bungalows, and villas will overlook the pebble beach of Agia Paraskevi, and will be surrounded by pine trees and natural springs in an unspoiled setting. The hotel, which will have five swimming pools, also plans to expand to 89 premium accommodations with private pools. This project is expected to be achieved in the autumn. Three restaurants and three bars will complete the culinary offer of the place, which will be supplied with fruit, vegetables, and herbs from its own gardens, accessible to guests. “We want to make Ajul one of the best hotels in Northern Greece,” said Zeus International CEO Haris Siganos.

Mandarin Oriental opens in the Peloponnese

Starting this summer, Mandarin Oriental is coming to the peninsula. For its entry into the Greek luxury hotel market, the group is doing things in style. Its property, designed by the Greek architects Tombazis & Associates Architects and K-Studio, is intended to be integrated into the topography of the Costa Navarino, where the first W resort was set up last summer, with a staircase layout. Each of the 99 accommodations between suites and discreet villas cut directly into the rock. The whole will give the impression of a hidden village in the traditional Messinian style, greened by the 4,000 replanted olive trees and 500,000 specially arranged shrubs.
The management of Mandarin Oriental has hired the chef Bertrand Valegas from the Charente region of France to ensure that the five restaurants and bars on the estate offer the same high-quality cuisine.

Hilton is not to be outdone and is also going to be seen in Greece as 15 May marked the opening of the Lindian Village Beach Resort and its 196 rooms and suites in Rhodes. Part of the Curio Collection, it will be managed by SWOT Hospitality. This property is part of an agreement signed by the hotelier with Zetland Cap and which provides for the opening of two other properties: the Sea Breeze in Santorini and the Royal Senses Resort & Spa in Crete.

At the same time, the American group is continuing the lavish renovation of the Pentelikon in Athens. Also intended for the Curio collection, it should reopen in the second quarter of 2024. The same will be true for the mythical Hilton Athens, built in the 1950s and 1960s and bought by Ionian Hotel Enterprises (IHE) for 145 million euros in 2016. Restoration work, costing €130 million, began at the end of 2020 and should therefore be completed next year. The future Conrad Athens Hotel will have 280 rooms and suites, as well as 50 private villas, operated under the Conrad and Waldorf Astoria collection, according to the agreement signed with Hilton.

Welcome to Crete

This May 2023, Brown Hotel has moved to Crete, opening Isla Brown Chania on the north coast of the island, 15 minutes from the international airport and 30 minutes from Chania town. The location, designed by Greek firm Liakos Associates Architects, which has focused on the use of natural materials to create organic, earthy tones, will have 148 spacious rooms and suites, with an additional 30 suites with private pools to be added in 2024. This opening is part of the British group's international strategy and confirms its recent penchant for Greece, since last year it inaugurated the 166-room Isla Brown Corinthia on the Saronic Gulf to the east of Athens.

Also on the country's largest island, the Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay is completing the third phase of its renovation. Near the main town of Heraklion, MK Hotel Collection will unveil its new property in June: Pnoé Breathing Life. It will feature 60 suites, each with a private pool, designed to reflect natural light.

This place will be entirely focused on well-being (hyperbaric oxygen therapy, zerobody dry float…) and Cretan gastronomy with its Thymises restaurant where guests will be able to appreciate the know-how of the cooks thanks to an open kitchen concept, and the Uranos Rooftop Bar to enjoy the sunset while sipping one of the original cocktails specially imagined by the mixologist Aris Antonakakis

On 1 May, Eliamos Villas Hotel & Spa, near Spartia on the Ionian island of Kefalonia in the far west of the country, opened its doors. The complex will offer 12 villas set amidst olive groves and lavender fields. Each villa, built like a village house, will have a spa or seawater pool and a private garden. An infinity pool will also be available to all guests in this space designed to enjoy nature and dedicated to well-being. A responsible project, collaborating with the Wildlife Sense association, studying sea turtles and working to preserve the island.

Further east, in Corfu, the Odisia, the new five-star resort of Ikos, welcomed its first guests this month (May). A colossal project spread over 24 hectares where 395 rooms, suites, bungalows and other villas will be distributed, as well as ten indoor or outdoor swimming pools, a spa with a view of the Ionian Sea and five themed restaurants (Greece, Italy, Peru, Asia, Mediterranean) whose menus will have been designed by star chefs will be available. Ikos will employ 700 people on site, at least half of whom will be local.

One&Only arrives in the Cyclades

2023 also marks the arrival of the prestigious One&Only brand in Greece. First, the brand will land in the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea on Kea, a small island in the Cyclades. Soberly named Kea Island Resort, this first hotel will open in the summer and will house 75 villas on a 65-hectare site, three restaurants, two bars and a spa and fitness area.

One&Only, created in 1975 by the South African Sol Kerzner, is not stopping at the islands as it will inaugurate at the end of the year, the Aesthesis on the Gylfada side of the Athenian Riviera. It will stretch over 1,600 m of waterfront, 35 hectares, 15 of which are preserved forest. Located in the direct vicinity of Athens, the property will have 127 rooms, suites and private villas and will be in keeping with the glamorous heritage of the 1960s and 1970s when Brigitte Bardot and Franck Sinatra regularly came to enjoy the gentle lifestyle of the region.

Also, new this summer on festive Mykonos is the firstborn Nammos Hotels & Resorts, launched this year by Nammos World in collaboration with Alpha Dhabi investors and Monterock International. It will face Psarou Beach and will consist of 25 high-end rooms and suites, as well as three unique villas. This is the first project to take shape before the opening of two other addresses in the Maldives and the United Arab Emirates.

On the iconic Santorini island of Oia, Santo Pure (formerly Santo Maris) has added 22 new suites, bringing its total to 83, plus two villas overlooking Ammoudi Bay. This will be the only new development from the Santo Collection group, which has indicated that the Santo Mine complex and its 37 luxury villas will not open in June as planned. No precise date has yet been announced.

Six new villas across the Aegean

For its part, The Thinking Traveller has snapped up six new luxury villas in Serifos in the Cyclades and Patmos in the Dodecanese archipelago, close to Turkey. On the latter, Revekka will accommodate up to 11 guests with six bedrooms who can revel in the stunning, unobstructed views of the Aegean Sea and access to the twin beaches of Didymes.

In the centre of Chora, the British tour operator will invite its guests to Pandora, a four-bedroom villa below the monastery of St. John the Theologian. Next door, on the heights, other lucky guests will be able to stay in Villa Meli, which is of a similar size but with an unobstructed view of the sea from the beautiful stone terrace, or Villa Domenica.

On Serifos, luxury and privacy are the order of the day at the huge six-bedroom Villa Lenia, secluded on the edge of a ledge and perfectly integrated into the landscape, with its own stone staircase to a tiny, unspoiled beach. Finally, Araya (five rooms) will delight lovers of luxurious authenticity with its stone building overlooking the beach of Agios Sostis and its turquoise waters.

Radisson believes in “the potential of the Greek market”

Radisson continues to expand in Greece. This year, two new projects will be launched with the opening of the first hotel in the RED collection, the Radisson RED Mitropoleos Square Athens, in the second half of the year. The five-star hotel in the Greek capital will have 100 rooms and suites, a rooftop restaurant and bar, and a 150 m² meeting space.

This is part of the American giant's expansion strategy on the Mediterranean shores, since the end of March it opened the Social Kolonaki Athens Hotel (24 guest rooms and suites) on Voukourestiou Street, The Radisson Blu Euphoria Resort (34 rooms and suites) in Mykonos and the Radisson Resort Plaza Skiathos (84 rooms and suites, an Orthodox chapel) on Kanapitsa beach in 2022.

“Our expansion strategy is underway, and we are excited to strengthen our presence in Greece,” said Elie Milky, vice president of business development at Radisson. “We believe in the potential of the Greek market,” said Elie Younes, Radisson's executive vice president and chief development officer, promising that new openings would continue.

A foray into Thailand

Present in South East Asia, China, Japan, Africa, and the Arabian Gulf, the Thai group Dusit Hotels and Resorts is continuing its international development by inaugurating its first property on European soil: the Dusit Suites Athens. It will be located in Glyfáda, on the Athenian Riviera, not far from One&Only's Aesthesis. The four-storey hotel will have 36 suites, two restaurants (Mediterranean and Asian) and will be geared towards business customers, with a dedicated team for the organisation of meetings and events of a professional nature. For the opening, a massage will be offered for each guest in the spa, sauna, and hammam.

Several large-scale projects underway

While many hotels will open their doors this year, the boom in luxury hospitality in Greece has only just begun. By 2025, in the north of the country, at Halkidiki near Thessaloniki, Mitsis Hotels Group, Greece's leading private hotelier, plans to open a five-star complex with 150 rooms with sea views (52 for the boutique hotel and 98 suites with indoor and outdoor pools), a conference room for 150 people, a thalassotherapy centre and a gym.

In Athens, it will be another year before the gigantic Hard Rock Hotel & Casino takes the stage. Its hotel capacity will reach 3,500 keys, including more than 1,000 suites, and it is expected to employ up to 3,000 people on a permanent basis.

Not far away, in Ellinikon, a whole complex will redesign the waterfront. TEMES and Lamda Development have invested 400 million euros to build two luxury hotels of 160 and 200 rooms, which are expected to open in 2027. It is not yet known who will operate them, but discussions are well advanced with one of the world's leading hotel operators.

In a sign of the dynamism in the region, two other projects are also in the pipeline, although no opening date has been given. To the south of the Greek capital, in Saronida, the local authorities have validated in 2022 the Saronida Olympos Golf project. Estimated at 840 million euros, it provides for the construction of a hotel complex, a tourist village, a golf course, a heliport, and facilities to produce renewable energy on a 650-hectare site.

Grivalia Hospitality, one of the country's largest luxury hotel investors, intends to develop a full energy self-sufficient luxury resort on the island of Megalonissos, in the gulf of Petalis Islands, north-east of Athens, at an estimated cost of 280 million euros.

Whether this year or in the coming years, Greece intends to take advantage of its privileged location at the centre of the Mediterranean arc to continue its rise as a top destination for tourism and luxury hotels.

Dusit Suites Athens offers rooftop dining with a beautiful view at O Live Mediterranean restaurant

Dusit Suites Athens offers rooftop dining with a beautiful view at O Live Mediterranean restaurant
Photo credit © Dusit Hotels & Resorts

Santo Collection
Photo credit © Santo Collection

About the author

A journalist with many skills and an ever curious traveller, Christopher has a great attraction for carefully refined hotels, where characterful gastronomy, impeccable service and sincere elegance go hand in hand. A discreet and gourmet pen at the service of a certain idea of luxury.

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