by Lisa Grimaldi | May 01, 2007



Ancient appeal: Athens continues
to build, while preserviing its historic attractions.

Although Athens continues to reap the rewards of successfully hosting the Summer Olympic Games three years after the event, it’s not resting on its laurels. New attractions, properties and venues are enhancing the ancient Greek capital’s sparkling modern sheen.

City Happenings

The new Acropolis Museum ( finally will open this year, three years after it initially was slated to debut. The facility, near the city’s most famous landmark, will house some of the country’s most prestigious antiquities. If and when Greece and the United Kingdom settle their dispute over the Elgin Marbles -- a large, impressive collection of marble sculptures removed from the Parthenon and brought to Great Britain in 1806 -- the Greek government plans to showcase them in this stunning modern setting. (The spectacular friezes currently are displayed at the British Museum in London.)

A new convention center might be in Athens’ future: The government is considering plans to turn the stadium at Faliro, built to host tae kwon do events during the 2004 Olympic Games, into a meeting venue. According to the Greek National Tourist Office, no plans had been formalized at press time.

The Faliro facility is not the only Olympic venue with a legacy: Many other sites can be rented for private events, including team-building activities, awards ceremonies and receptions. Olympic Properties ( handles inquiries and assists planners with arrangements.

Hotel News

The vast Astir Palace Com-plex in the resort area of Vouliagmeni became part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide last year. The seaside development includes the Westin Athens Astir Palace Beach Resort, with 162 guest rooms and six meeting rooms (including a ballroom), and the 123-room Arion Resort & Spa, part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection, with eight meeting rooms (also including a ballroom). Seventy-six bungalows for the property currently are under construction, but no date has been set for their completion.

The last property in the complex is the W Athens (formerly the Aphrodite Hotel), which is undergoing a total renovation. The guest room and meeting room count had not been finalized at press time, but a spokesperson for Starwood’s regional office said the property is expected to open in June 2008.

A number of landmark Athens properties are sporting fresh looks. Among them is the Athens Hilton, which had been closed for more than a year while it went through a renovation and expansion. The property, which is the city’s largest meeting hotel, added 74 guest rooms, for a total of 517. In addition, meeting space was expanded to 63,600 square feet.

The stately 118-room King George II, part of the Grecotel chain, was restored and reopened after a 14-year closure. The luxurious property offers a ballroom as well as three meeting rooms.

The 300-room Royal Olympic recently completed an extensive renovation. The property features seven meeting rooms.

The 321-room Grande Bretagne, another hotel in Starwood’s Luxury Collec-tion, recently emerged from a face-lift. The upscale property, also an Athens landmark, has 10 meeting rooms.

The city offers several new hotels. Among them: The Eridanus, a 38-room boutique property, has opened in the city’s arts district. A newcomer to the business district is the Holiday Inn Athens Attica Avenue. The hotel has 194 guest rooms, six meeting rooms, a business center, a restaurant and a fitness center.