Contrary to what many believe, Kalavryta’s popular ski center, said to be one of the best in Greece, is not the only reason to visit the town. According to the locals, Kalavryta also exists on the weekdays and is not only a weekend ski resort.
By Nikos Krinis, GTP Newseditor
With an aim to give Kalavryta’s local economy a boost, the region’s ski center has joined forces this year with local entrepreneurs and once again has made available all-inclusive winter offers for the weekdays at very competitive prices.
The initiative of the revamped Kalavryta Ski Center to offer incentives to attract more visitors to the region on weekdays was embraced by many local tourism professionals and entrepreneurs.
Romantic chalets, modern hotels with spa facilities, guest houses and inns, traditional restaurants and shops renting ski and snowboard equipment are now available at competitive prices to travelers who choose to visit Kalavryta on the weekdays.
During a recent familiarization tour of the region held prior to the ski season, the managing director of the Kalavrita Ski Center, Thymios Vazeos, told Greek travel journalists and travel agents that Kalavryta also exists on the weekdays and during the non-winter months.
“Visitors do not have to wait for the snow to fall to come to Kalavryta,” he underlined.
Kalavryta is located in Achaia and famous for developments that occurred on 21 March 1821, which ignited the Greek War of Independence, and later on 13 December 1943, the date of the Holocaust of Kalavryta.
(During the Nazi occupation in World War II almost all of the male population over 14 of Kalavryta was executed and the whole town burnt down.)
The journalists’ tour began with a hike through a forest at Valvousi, located a small distance from Kalavryta near the ski center and part of the E4 European long distance path (E4 path).
The path through Valvousi is just one of the many that has well signposted trails and small treasures of natural beauty. Another route starts from Mazi and takes hikers through an ancient path that leads to the spectacular waterfalls and plane trees at Planitero.
Another popular path hikers choose begins from the picturesque village of Zachlorou and climbs up to the Mega Spileo (Great Cave), a huge monastery built under an overhanging cliff, and the “tall cross” (Place of Sacrifice, monument of the Holocaust of Kalavryta).
Besides hiking, Kalavryta has many interesting sites for one to see. One site not to be missed is the Agia Lavra (Holy Lavra) monastery located on Helmos Mountain at an altitude of 961 meters and stands as one of the oldest monasteries in the Peloponnese (it was built in 961 AD).
Although the Holocaust of Kalavryta and the difficult times of the villagers are known on an international level, a visit to the Municipal Museum of the Kalavryta Holocaust can certainly be eye opening as, through a very interesting presentation, visitors are introduced not only to the brutality of the deed but also to the courage of the survivors.
Another worthwhile experience when in Kalavryta is a visit to the legendary Cave of the Lakes, located in the village Kastria of Achaia, 16-17 kilometers from Kalavryta and 60 kilometers from Tripoli.
Kalavryta’s tourism development comes mainly from the ski resort set up since 1988, situated 15 kilometers off the town. However, according to the locals, Kalavryta can easily be included among Greece’s all year round destinations.
“We managed to join together all local entrepreneurs of Kalavryta who realized the impact of the crisis and the need to create competitive travel packages,” the managing director of the Kalavryta Ski Center, Mr. Vazeos, said.
The ski center launched its “All inclusive ski” package last winter and, following its success, presented the “All inclusive Escape Kalavryta” package during fall 2011.
This ski season kicked off again with the “All inclusive ski” package that is sold on-line and includes a ski pass, accommodation, a meal and the rental of ski or snowboard equipment at affordable prices.
For those not interested in skiing, the package replaces the ski-related activities with other options such as free entrance to the region’s sites.