Cool pool: Twilight at the
regally revamped Astir Palace Vouliagmeni
Athens took its role as
host of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games to heart by
undergoing a long-needed overhaul. Today, planners can take
advantage of new or revamped hotels, venues and transportation
systems, thanks to that historic event.
One of the most outstanding achievements of the revitalization
was the completion of the Athens Metro system.
While it was being built, the engineers and construction crews came
across antiquities that had been buried beneath the city for
centuries. Today, these treasures are displayed right at the Metro
stations, giving the transportation network the feel of an
Nearly every hotel in the city underwent a major face-lift
in the past two years.
Among noteworthy revamps: The elegant Grande
Bretagne was closed for 18 months of renovation. The
327-room property, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ Luxury
Collection, has a 4,450-square-foot ballroom, a health club and a
Another landmark meeting and incentive property, the
Athens Hilton, closed for more than a year while
it went through a renovation and expansion. The property, which
served as the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee
during the Games, added 74 guest rooms, for a total of 517; meeting
space also was expanded to 63,600 square feet.
A long-dormant property, the upscale King George
II, reopened in time for the Games, following a complete
restoration. The 118-room property, part of the Grecotel chain, has
a ballroom and three meeting rooms. Prior to its revival, the
hotel, across from the Greek Parliament, had been closed for 14
Just outside the city, in the resort area of Vouliagmeni, the
Astir Palace Vouliagmeni underwent a complete
refurbishment. The 526-room property has a conference center with
16 meeting rooms, a ballroom and an outdoor exhibition area. The
upscale resort has private beaches and its own helipad; a spa
currently is under construction.
Among the properties that made their debut in the past 24
months is the Holiday Inn Athens Attica Avenue. In
a newer business district of Athens, the hotel has 194 guest rooms,
six meeting rooms, a business center, a restaurant and a fitness
Eridanus is a new boutique property in the
city’s arts district. The hotel, with two meeting rooms and 38
guest rooms, is set in a charming old building that features
original neoclassical frescoes, as well as works by contemporary
The 300-room Royal Olympic hotel reopened last
month after a hiatus for renovations. The property has seven
A new conference center opened within Megaron, the
Athens Concert Hall, the city’s main performing arts
venue. The facility has two large auditoriums, five meeting rooms
and a banquet hall.
Athens built numerous venues for the various Olympic sporting
events; many are now available for private events such as
team-building activities, awards ceremonies and receptions. For
information, contact Olympic Properties (www.olympicproperties.gr). To arrange helicopter tours
of the Games sites and venues, contact Athens-based DMC
In late 2004, the Athens Convention Bureau was
launched; visit www.athens-cvb.org.