by Lisa Grimaldi | May 01, 2006

pool at Astir Palace Vouliagmeni

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 underground museum.

Hotel news
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 spa.
    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 years.
    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 center.
    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 Greek artists.
    The 300-room Royal Olympic hotel reopened last month after a hiatus for renovations. The property has seven meeting rooms.

Other news
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 ( To arrange helicopter tours of the Games sites and venues, contact Athens-based DMC Conceptours (
    In late 2004, the Athens Convention Bureau was launched; visit