Interview – Evripidis Tzikas: ‘Athens Capital Hotel-MGallery Represents a New Era of High-end Hospitality’
Hospitality may bring new challenges and problem-solving scenarios every day but it’s a fun, exciting, and dynamic business, says Evripidis Tzikas, the General Manager of Athens Capital Hotel, the first MGallery branded hotel in Greece.
“From its unparalleled location on Syntagma Square, Athens Capital Hotel will come to be synonymous with the capital city itself, the one place where guests can experience the true meaning of Athens,” Tzikas tells GTP Headlines.
The MGallery brand thoughtfully selects and curates unique properties around the world, forming a storied collection of boutique hotels with true soul where captivating stories are lived and shared.
“Our hotel recreates an effortless blend of art and business, with its refined elegance, bespoke art and finely tuned accommodations, sculpting a unique bond among visitors with this timeless city,” Tzikas says.
With many years of work experience under his belt, having held key positions at Novotel Athenes and Sofitel Athens Airport, he now runs the show as general manager of Greece’s first MGallery hotel.
Tzikas recently sat down with GTP Headlines to introduce the hotel, share his views on the 2022 tourism season and give his thoughts on the “next day” for the hospitality industry.
- GTP: Mr Tzikas, please tell our readers what made you pursue a career in the hospitality industry?
Evripidis Tzikas: First of all I must say that I was not interested in getting a typical job. A career in hospitality can be immensely rewarding, with opportunities at all levels of employment. Hospitality is anything but a typical job, as every day brings new challenges and problem-solving scenarios. It is an ideal career option if one thrives on constant change, problem-solving, and human interaction that at the same time allows you to develop both professionally and as a person.
Hospitality is a huge industry that offers limitless opportunities for one to grow and is ideal for those who wish to combine a career that is interesting as well as challenging. It is also one of the most stable industries providing lasting and solid careers, stability and growth. Most roles in the sector provide on-the-job training that help one learn and build upon the essential skills necessary for development and progression into a job with more responsibility. In this framework, it offers a ready-made path that facilitates building skills and thus moving into higher paying positions.
It may seem impossible to have fun at work, especially in a fast-paced industry that has demanding customers. However, hospitality is a fun, exciting, and dynamic business.
- GTP: “Paint” a picture for our readers. What is the Athens Capital Hotel-MGallery Collection like? How does the hotel differ from other accommodation options in the center of Athens?
Evripidis Tzikas: Athens Capital Hotel-MGallery Collection features an impressive 177 rooms, 18 of which are suites, in addition to the incomparable Presidential Suite. Each room acts as an elegant cocoon, equipped to provide moments of calm, relaxation and incomparable comfort, ideal for both business and pleasure. Our suites provide an unforgettable stay with its own distinct personality, acting as the very embodiment of the soul of Greek artistry. As a tribute to the timeless presence of Greek artists in the culture of the world, a designated number of suites are dedicated to a Greek creative visionary. Reminiscent of Melina Mercouri, Maria Callas, Odysseus Elytis and Manos Hadjidakis, the walls recount the culture of Athens in these elegantly decorated accommodations.
Furthermore, our three outlets – Galerie Café, MFlavours and Mappemonde – invite guests to embark on a culinary adventure and a signature dining experience that will seduce them with unique flavor combinations inspired by the Mediterranean cuisine.
Galerie Café is the new vibrant meeting point on one of the most central avenues of Athens, a place to relax, see and be seen, where art goes hand in hand with creativity and flavour to create a special blend which revives this true sense of hospitality.
MFlavours is the ideal culinary destination, to indulge in Mediterranean flavors in an authentic cosmopolitan décor that combines elegance and soft colours, while offering a special view to the Mappemonde artwork and also the Hellenic Parliament. It includes an interactive open kitchen to testify our chef’s endless creativity.
Additionally, surrounded by scenes of urban beauty, the Mappemonde Restaurant, Bar & Lounge provides an unbelievable view of the Acropolis and Lycabettus Hill. Our signature cocktails inspired especially for our guests by our mixologist, serve up the city’s most enticing flavours and textures in a glass, complemented by an assortment of dishes that promise to elevate their experience.
Last but not least, whether you plan a business conference or a social event, Athens Capital Hotel-MGallery Collection’s professional team is always available to guide you through discreet and personalized service, to organize the perfect event. Our artistically appointed function spaces, named after three historic Greek painters whose “presence” adds a touch of art to every gathering, are fully equipped with audio visual of the latest technology and a décor that reflects sheer elegance and natural daylight.
- GTP: You mentioned the Mappemonde Restaurant on the rooftop. The restaurant was named after a very impressive piece of artwork that the Athens Capital Hotel hosts. Tell us about this.
Evripidis Tzikas: As part of the MGallery Hotel Collection, Athens Capital Hotel strives to be a cradle of art in all its expressions, offering guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in an aesthetic universe that has been curated with care.
Mappemonde is an art installation created by George Lappas in 1988 that includes 3,000 powerful symbolic pieces creating a personal journey, which goes beyond time and space. This interactive installation spans the hotel from the lobby all the way to the 10th floor, to the hotel’s rooftop: the Mappemonde Restaurant Bar & Lounge. It is one of the most impressive elements of our property that draws international guests and Athenians alike to the hotels’ rooftop, to experience something truly remarkable.
- GTP: What does the addition of a MGallery hotel mean for the Athens market?
Evripidis Tzikas: Athens Capital Hotel is the first MGallery Collection hotel in Greece and represents both a new era of high-end hospitality in downtown Athens and a key development for the multinational Accor Group, as Greece increasingly becomes a strategic site for global interest and investment.
Moreover, for over a century, LAMPSA Hellenic Hotels S.A. (Accor’s partner for the Athens Capital Hotel) has been an emblematic pillar of Greek hospitality, setting the standards for high-end, internationally renowned hoteliers. Athens Capital Hotel – MGallery Collection is their third development in the heart of the Greek capital, now a peer to the iconic Hotel Grande Bretagne and Hotel King George on Syntagma Square. Athens Capital Hotel – MGallery Collection marks the Group’s second collaboration with Accor, a world-leading hospitality group, the first being the Mercure Excelsior Hotel in Belgrade.
- GTP: Accor says that every MGallery Hotel Collection stay is enriched with unique storytelling. What is the story the Athens Capital Hotel “tells” its guests?
Evripidis Tzikas: Every MGallery Collection hotel features its own Iconic Object, which acts as a tribute to the city which it’s based in and holds a special significance as part of the discovery aspect of each visit. For Athens Capital Hotel – MGallery Collection, the Akrokeramo imbues the symbolism and aesthetic allure which describe the true beauty of Athenian architecture and the character of its people.
A distinct accent to the neoclassical houses of Athens, this ceramic figurehead is completely unique, just as our hotel and its guests. This is why it represents our core values with its intricate design. With its two spires, the shape of a circle and dynamic movement of a wheel combine to symbolize time, change and continuity, whereas its Anthemion or Palmette acts as shows of true hospitality.
- GTP: The experience a visitor derives from a hotel is what makes the difference. What should guests expect on their visit to the Athens Capital Hotel?
Evripidis Tzikas: Apart from luxurious accommodation and unique personalized services, at Athens Capital, guests are invited to experience Athens from within, in this unique personification of the city. From its unparalleled location on Syntagma Square, Athens Capital Hotel will come to be synonymous with the capital city itself, the one place where guests can experience the true meaning of Athens.
We plan to introduce guests to the Memorable Moments experience, while preserving the essence of this destination. In all hotels of the MGallery Collection, the Memorable Moment embodies an entire experience, which includes the discovery of a very special part of the city. For example, the Komboloi tells a tale which will bring our guests closer to Athens and to the hotel by drawing them out to explore a symbolic part of Greek culture, leading them to forge a personal relationship with Athens as a part of their stay at Athens Capital Hotel-MGallery Collection.
Furthermore, we have enriched our prime hospitality experiences with wellness services that include Face Yoga sessions by Maria Pampoukidi, special training programs and more, designed to cover the needs of both women and men.
- GTP: How challenging is guest satisfaction for a general manager? Teamwork is the key for success. How, as general manager, do you motivate service staff?
Evripidis Tzikas: I’m always pumping energy through the office. I’m really enthusiastic and want my staff to feed off that positive energy. I believe transparency is a key factor in all relationships so I am very open about what’s happening at the highest level so there are no surprises and everyone has a chance to ask questions and share feedback. I want my team to feel included in big decisions and committed to the direction our company takes. Sharing the big picture, company goals, responding to all questions and investing in their professional growth is a big deal. My door is always open for everyone.
Another important factor is showing the team that they make a difference and are valued. When employees feel that their voice matters, they in turn feel confident about their positions in the company and that they have more at stake than just a paycheck. During meetings and one-on-one check-ins, all ideas are welcome and heard, because I believe each and every person of my team is the best at what they do. Trust and a vote of confidence can go a long way. When you let people know you trust them to do the best job possible, they will rarely disappoint you.
Finally, a culture that prioritizes work-life balance, respects personal schedules and non-working time is also crucial because it yields increased productivity and overall happiness in the workplace. I encourage people to take a break and take some vacation time. Everyone needs a rest now and then and I totally respect that.
All in all, I believe that the key components of motivation and loyalty are providing employees with the opportunity to grow their knowledge and skills, fostering an environment of trust through honest and frequent communication and showing appreciation and respect for the work and the role of each and everyone in the company.
- GTP: From way back there has been talk about promoting Athens as a city break destination to attract visitors all year long. As a hospitality professional with years of experience in the Greek capital, can you tell us if this has been achieved or if more needs to be done?
Evripidis Tzikas: I believe that Athens is no longer just a gateway to the Greek islands but it has become a fascinating destination in its own that combines ancient heritage with modern urban vibes, appealing to all age groups. A city break in Athens promises plenty of history, culture, nightlife, and unforgettable sights that guests will treasure in their memory forever. Though the bulk of visitors choose to visit the capital from April to October there are significant signs that the number of off-season tourists to Athens is constantly increasing.
Many joint projects and campaigns have been put forth to provide authentic urban experiences to tourists, and major companies are joining forces to promote the city as a center for contemporary culture and as an attractive, year-round destination. Especially the city center is transforming dramatically. The city’s potential as a MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) destination has also come to the fore.
So yes, I believe that Athens has been promoted as a city break destination but there is always room for improvement.
- GTP: 2021 eventually turned out to be a better year than expected for Greek tourism (with revenue reaching half of 2019 earnings and with the season continuing in many areas of the country). How was the year for the Athens Capital Hotel and and how do you see bookings proceeding for the 2022 season?
Evripidis Tzikas: 2021 has been an excellent year for us considering it is our first months of opening. We have had outstanding results and all our KPIs (occupancy, ADR, revpar, quality performance) were above expectations. International signs and trends for 2022 show that it will be a better year compared to 2021 and I completely agree. We are very optimistic about bookings proceeding for 2022.
- GTP: Just how difficult is it to be the general manager of a new hotel in these challenging times (Covid-19 pandemic)? What are today’s challenges?
Evripidis Tzikas: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented level of disruption to the global hotel industry. Even as the world is beginning to take its first tentative steps out of this crisis, hoteliers face a long and difficult recovery. The hotel industry is used to dealing with disruption, but never on this scale. Reductions in occupancy, uneven patterns of demand, continued uncertainty around vaccine distribution and current consumer uneasiness regarding travel, all present both short-term and long-run challenges.
The hotel industry’s recovery could take many different forms, as much of it relies on how quickly the vaccine rollout occurs. Realistically, a full COVID recovery could take years.
What is certain is that today’s environment is a dynamic and fast-moving one, therefore we should be abreast of changes to the situation and the impacts these may have. We should be all prepared to quickly respond to any changes outside of our normal operating and business processes and make sure to have in place structures that would allow decisions to be swiftly made, communicated and implemented.
- GTP: In your opinion, what do you think will be the long-term effect of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry?
Evripidis Tzikas: The impact is huge, and not yet predictable. The recovery will likely take longer than in other industries, and will vary across segments but travel, both business and leisure, domestic and international, will return, at different paces obviously. Business guests will be slower to return than those staying for leisure, as companies are likely to continue connecting virtually for the foreseeable future. Client-facing visits such as site visits and sales calls are already returning but I believe conferences and industry events will likely be the last to return.
In leisure, travel restrictions combined with economic uncertainty will likely translate into a higher share of domestic and close-to-home travel. Longer international leisure trips will be slow to return, and travelers will expect greater flexibility in cancelation and change fees.
Though we all know travel will recover, the when and the how still largely remain question marks. For now, the best all parties can do is remain agile, follow smart data-driven insights and adapt to new guest expectations. Only time will truly tell the full impact of COVID-19 on the global business scenario.
Housed in an impressive structure that dates back to 1959, the Athens Capital Hotel – MGallery is located on 4, Eleftheriou Venizelou & 2, Kriezotou Streets on Syntagma Square, the most historic square of Athens.