Astir Palace Resorts at the Athens suburb of Vouliagmenis starts off the new year with grand plans for modernization and expansion. Astir’s managing director and general manager, Alexios Kimisis, says the group intends to spend more than 10 billion drachmas in a 5-year plan to change the face of its properties. As well, the group plans to extend its activities in other tourism-related areas, such as air travel, marinas and properties – of particular interest are the properties to be auctioned of by the Hellenic Tourism Organization.
Funds for both programs will come from stock exchange investors. Mr. Kimisis says his hotel group will float some five million shares in a new listing sometime this month on the Athens Stock Exchange. The listing should bring in around 18 billion drachmas.
Meanwhile, the 10-billion-drachma investment project includes the utilization of some 100,000 square meters of forest property that adjoins the group’s hotel units. All told, the units sit on 350,000 square meters of prime property. The forest area will be enhanced with a man-made lake and forest footpaths, and become one of the largest ecological-botanical parks in Europe.
The first phase of the modernization project begins this year with an investment of two billion drachmas. This phase will include the renovation of the last 14 of the 74 bungalows on the property.
Future plans include the construction of another 120 to 200 new bungalows, an independent conference center, a private train network to link all units and the creation of a health and beauty center.
Concerning expansion plans, Mr. Kimisis says he will create a high-quality fast-food chain. Besides the food units that will be set up on and within the property, and once established, units will be set up within major areas of Athens.
Separately, Astir decided it was time to join the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE). Mr. Kimisis said that in view of the new millennium and the 2004 Olympics in Athens, there was a need for the tourism industry to join forces and coordinate its efforts so that it can meet the demands of a changing world. He said Greece must preserve its reputation as a country with a long history not only in terms of history and culture but, also in the arts and hospitality.
Mr. Kimisis stressed that he had been following the work of SETE over recent years and recognized its contribution to the tourism sector. He said that the participation of an establishment as significant as Astir in the body could advance efforts being made to upgrade the quality of services so that Greece is well prepared to face the challenge of the millennium and the Games.
The Astir resort, which is made of three hotel units on a single property, claims that 45% of all revenue comes from conference and reception activities. Total bed capacity at the units is 1,300 and total conference capacity is 2,000 people.