Ancient appeal: Athens
to build, while preserviing its historic attractions.
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.
The new Acropolis
Museum (www.culture.gr) 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 (www.olympicproperties.gr) handles inquiries and
assists planners with arrangements.
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
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
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
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.