Astir Palace’s board of directors finally chose Starwood after an intense selection process that began with 20 proposals in September 2005. Starwood was among four companies short-listed, including Marriott, InterContinental and Accor.
Takis Arapoglou, president and managing director of Astir Palace, said “Astir Palace is a unique resort in Greece and the introduction of a world-class luxury operator will enhance its reputation and the quality of the services that it offers. This is a move that will prove beneficial for all stakeholders in Astir and for the entire Greek leisure sector.”
Starwood’s management begins on the first of this month. The three hotels making up Astir Palace are being renamed and designated under different Starwood brands, namely, Arion Hotel, a Luxury Collection Resort; the Westin Nafsika Resort; and W Aphrodite under the new W brand once extensive renovations are completed and it reopens in 2008. A conference center is planned to further strengthen the position of Astir in terms of conference tourism.
Roeland Vos, Starwood’s president for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, said “we are delighted to bring our brands to this premiere resort, and expand Starwood’s footprint in Greece which is such a vital European destination. The distinctive lifestyle positioning of our Luxury Collection, Westin and W brands will provide a unique and memorable guest experience at each one of these magnificent hotels.”
The contract with Starwood is for 15 years and depends upon the achievement of specific returns. Starwood’s business plan is to place the Astir among the top luxury hotels in the Mediterranean and to attract a broader clientele. The company will make the best use of the investments made on the Astir property in 2003 and 2004, and further upgrade the interiors of the buildings to meet the company’ luxury standards.
Also, Mr. Arapoglou said that the number of staff at the Astir will increase and that the staff would benefit greatly from the excellent training programs that Starwood offers. Also, Starwood intends to overcome the seasonality experienced by the hotel and the reduction of staff during the low tourism season.
Starwood is a leading hotel and leisure company with approximately 850 properties in more than 95 countries and 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood Hotels is an owner, operator and franchiser of hotels and resorts with internationally recognized brands, such as St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Sheraton, Westin, W, and Le Meridien.
In Greece, Starwood already operates four hotels under the Luxury Collection brand, including the Grande Bretagne in Athens, Vedema Resort in Santorini, Santa Marina Resort & Villas on Mykonos, and Blue Palace Resort and Spa on Crete.
In 2004, 30 of Starwood’s top hotels were on the Conde Nast Traveler’s 2004 Readers Choice Awards List, including four hotels on their “Top 100 Best Hotels in the World.” For the third year in a row we were named the “World’s Leading Hotel Group” at the World Travel Awards.