Loutraki, a coastal town an hour’s drive from Athens, and among the top tourist destinations in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s thanks to its spas and natural springs and to its casino is set to undergo a transformation in an attempt to cover lost ground.
GTP Headlines was in Loutraki over the weekend for a preview of the “Taste of Loutraki”, a two-day foodie event to take place next year, where we spoke with Loutraki – Perachora – Agioi Theodoroi Mayor Giorgos Gkionis and Corinthia Hotel Association President Sophia Philippidou about plans to bring the seafront town back into the tourism spotlight.
“My priority is to make sure that no resident is without a job,” he said, adding that dozens of projects are either scheduled or underway.
Gkionis told GTP Headlines that a first step is the redevelopment of the coastal front, adding that a tender process is scheduled to kick off by the end of the month.
He also went on to add that international design hotels group Brown Hotels had acquired several properties in the area most of which will renovated and up-and-running by Easter or summer 2022. The mayor also said Irish interests Comer Group is also betting on Loutraki with the addition of another hotel to its roster of local enterprises: The Club Hotel Loutraki, Mabely Hotel, and Ramada Loutraki Poseidon.
Loutraki was one of Greece’s most popular mainland destinations in the ’70s and ’80s but fell into demise in the late ’90s, hit even harder by the 2009 economic crisis. At the time, many grand hotels either closed or barely operated.
“We fell behind,” admits Gkionis, “but this is changing. Steps are being taken and things are happening,” he tells GTP Headlines, referring to the so-called “open mall” plans to upgrade the town’s central road and main business area, the reoperation of the old Ivi-Loutraki water factory, which was the first to open in Greece in 1907, as well as to the first “Taste of Loutraki” event to promote local gastronomy and attract visitors to the city for food tourism.
The mayor adds that in efforts to reopen to the world, Loutraki will also be hosting a series of international sports events including the World Wrestling Championships to take place on October 19-24.
“Our vision is to see more high-end travelers visiting Loutraki all year round and getting a combined travel experience that includes local gastronomy, sports, and wellness,” he says.
According to Gkionis and to Philippidou, Loutraki attracts tourists mostly from France, Russia, Poland, Austria, Belgium, and Scandinavia and is a favorite destination for the Greeks.
“Loutraki has always been a place of healing so its spa services are its main advantage,” Philppidou tells GTP Headlines.
The 4th-generation owner of one of the city’s seafront hotels, Philippidou believes that city efforts should focus on wellness and on older travelers who have both the time and the money to spend. And that is our goal,” she says.
But Philippidou is quick to point out that coordination between stakeholders is vital as is tapping into EU funds and using these effectively for hotel renovations.
“Completing the redevelopment of the coastal front is also very important in order to give Loutraki a competitive edge,” she says, and concludes that getting the word out through fam trips will take Loutraki into the new era.