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Old Jun 15, 06, 8:43 am   #1
 
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Arrow Astir Palace Hotel Complex in Greece with L.C., Westin [Master Thread]

http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/060615/20060615005376.html?.v=1

Press Release Source: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Selected to Manage the Famed Astir Palace Hotel Complex in Greece
Thursday June 15, 8:00 am ET
Athenian Riviera to Feature a Westin, Luxury Collection and a W Hotel

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 15, 2006--Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:HOT - News) and Astir Palace Vouliagmeni S.A. announced today that Starwood was chosen to oversee hotel operations for the famed Astir Palace Hotel complex near Athens, Greece. The world-renowned Astir Palace is a luxury resort on the Athenian Riviera, consisting of three five-star hotels, the Arion, Nafsika and Aphrodite, and seventy-six bungalows, with a total of 526 guest rooms. Sprawling across 75 acres of sun-drenched gardens on a pine-dotted private peninsula, the resort complex boasts breathtaking views of the Saronic Gulf on the Mediterranean Sea and three private beaches. In July, Starwood will raise its Luxury Collection flag on the Arion Hotel and the Westin flag on the Nafsika Hotel. In 2008, W hotel will take over the Aphrodite Hotel, following an extensive renovation. The resort complex is owned by Astir Palace Vouliagmeni S.A. which is publicly traded on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASTIR GA).

"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," said Roeland Vos, President of Europe, Africa and Middle East Division of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. "I would like to thank Astir Palace Vouliagmeni S.A. for their commitment to Starwood, and their confidence in the power of our brands. 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."

"I welcome the Board's decision to select Starwood after an extensive and disciplined review of more than 20 interested parties," noted Takis Arapoglou, Chairman and CEO of Astir Palace Vouliagmeni S.A. "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."

Arion Hotel, A Luxury Collection Resort

On July 1, 2006, the 123-room Arion Hotel and its 76 adjacent bungalows will debut as the Arion Hotel and Villas, a Luxury Collection Resort. With its legendary beauty, unrivaled water views, elegant and sophisticated decor, original paintings, private swimming pools and beaches, gourmet restaurants and unique modern luxuries throughout, Arion will be a stellar addition to The Luxury Collection. Famed for its collection of magical hotels like the Gritti Palace, the Hotel Imperial and The Phoenician, The Luxury Collection inspires its guests with exceptional service and unique experiences all indigenous to each destination.

The Westin Nafsika Resort

Also converting in July 2006, the 162-room Nafsika Hotel will become The Westin Nafsika Resort. Contemporary lines dominate the interiors of the hotel which is accented by modern artwork and a soothing color palette. The Westin Nafsika, with its seaside setting, exceptional views and private poolside kiosks, embodies Westin's core values of personal, instinctive, renewal, which have struck a chord with travelers around the globe. Additional features include sea-view lounges, bars and verandas, and fusion and Mediterranean cuisine restaurants Westin Hotels continues to aggressively expand its footprint around the globe, having executed a record number of new hotel projects in 2005, and a robust pipeline of new hotel projects in the work.

W Aphrodite

The 165-room Aphrodite Hotel will continue to operate under its current name through October 2006 at which time an extensive refurbishment is planned to convert the hotel into the W Aphrodite. W is the world's fastest growing luxury hotel brand, known for inspiring its guests with thoughtful, refreshing and stylish experiences, signature restaurants, bars and destination spas. Each hotel offers a unique mix of innovative design, comfort and cultural influences from fashion to music to art and everything in between. Upon opening in 2008, W Aphrodite will feature all of W's celebrated comforts including Whatever/Whenever, the hotel's 24-hour concierge service that can provide guests with whatever they want from a bathtub filled with chocolates to private jet service, as well as a nightlife destination, signature restaurants and a Bliss spa.

Starwood already operates four hotels in Greece under the Luxury Collection brand including the world-famous Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens; the Vedema Resort, in Santorini; the Santa Marina Resort & Villas in Mykonos and the Blue Palace Resort & Spa, in Elounda, Crete.


Source: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
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Old Jul 6, 06, 10:01 am   #2
 
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It looks like the Arion will be a Cat 5 and the Westin a Cat 4 based upon the SPG website. Is anyone planning a stay at either of these properties? I have heard some good things about the views on the "Athenian Riviera."
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Old Jul 6, 06, 10:22 am   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IAD777
It looks like the Arion will be a Cat 5 and the Westin a Cat 4 based upon the SPG website. Is anyone planning a stay at either of these properties? I have heard some good things about the views on the "Athenian Riviera."
Where are you getting these category listings? Both hotels show no category listing under the "new hotels" section and also if you search for properties in Greece and pull up the individual properties.
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Old Jul 6, 06, 11:55 am   #4
 
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I saw the hotels listed when I went to the full list of Level 4 and Level 5 hotels. Hope this helps.
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Old Aug 6, 06, 7:10 am   #5
 
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Finally a Cat 4 hotel in Greece by the beach, where one can exchange Nights and Flights II ...

Being a great fan of Greece (and so is my wife!) as well as Starwood, I can only look forward to more redeeming opportunities in Greece!

Well done Starwood!
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Old Oct 10, 06, 4:57 pm   #6
 
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Westin Nafsika (Athens, Greece) Review

Here is a review of the new Starwood property in Athens. The property is actually located in Vouliagmeni, an upscale “suburb” of Athens next to the water. Starwood took over the Astir Palace Resort complex a few months ago. There is a Luxury Collection property (the Arion), a Westin (the Nafsika) and another hotel which will become a W hotel in 2008. You have the benefit of being in a resort location yet only being a 30 minute cab ride from Athens.

As there have been many reviews in the Starwood forum on the Grand Bretagne, I wanted to provide my assessment of these new properties. We also stayed two nights at the Grand Bretagne in the center of Athens as well to allow for sightseeing in the center of the city.

We stayed at the Westin Nafsika which was recently renovated and was a more modern hotel than the Arion. The hotel with ~150 rooms is built into a cliff (it reminded me a little of Princeville) which provide all of the rooms with a view of the water. The Arion was a classic two sided hotel with half of the rooms facing away from the sea.

Rooms:
The rooms were quite large and very clean and modern. The bathroom and shower area all had frosted glass and the rest of the room was very sleak as well. Our room had a large balcony area complete with table, chairs and a lounge chair. It is probably than nicest Starwood room other than a suite at The Atlantic in which I have stayed. We stayed on the 4th floor which was the club level, though the club lounge was “closed” during our stay.

Positive:

The views of the water from the hotel were amazing. Also, the hotel pool is very large with plenty of seating. The Nafsika seems to receive more business/conference traffic than the Arion. This is actually quite nice as it leaves a lot more open space around the pool and beach. The beach is quite small and is a small area of sand in a protected alcove. However, there are around 6-8 “bungalows” on a concrete platform that extend into the water. This area great and it was not difficult to find an open one while we were staying there. You could sit next to the water with a lot of space between you and the next bungalow/pavilion and then jump into the water when you were either hot or ready for a swim.

The building and facilities are definitely 5* and extremely nice. Food at the resort was quite expensive. For example, the lunch buffet was 40 euros a person. However, the pool menu had many appetizers/dishes that were 8-15 euros and so you could easily have quite a bit of food for two people for 30-40 euros. For dinner, I would suggest going to some of the nearby Greek tavernas and restaurants and not eating at the hotel. We went to Island, a trendy and fairly expensive restaurant and also a wonderful Greek taverna in Voulagemeni in one of the shopping areas (Estiatopio Voyizidhs?? -- our receipt is in Greek unfortunately so I may have the name spelled incorrectly) where the owner even gave us a ride back to our hotel. It had the best food of the entire trip and prices were reasonable as well. There were mostly locals there and very few tourists there.


Negative:

This is a 5 star hotel with 3 star service. My assessment of the service at this hotel is consistent with several of the reviews on tripadvisor.com. While there are certainly a few employees that provided excellent service, the front desk and pool staff were below average. For example, when asking if our room was ready to check in, we were told to wait a few minutes in the lobby. After 45 minutes, we finally were able to check-in, yet it would have been fairly easy to tell us that our room would not be ready for an hour. Also, the staff at the pool took several hours to clear the dishes when you were done with lunch.

The worst experience was learning about the club lounge. We had paid extra to be on the club floor, primarily for the club lounge access. Upon check-in, we were told that it was closed and that “since we are now a Westin, it is closed until we figure out what to do with it. However, you can order room service if you want food.” Note: On the Astir Palace website, the old Club Floor was marketed as a very VIP experience with food, concierge service and free limo transfer to the airport. Needless to say, I did not find this response to be in line with what one would expect from a 5 star resort. Fortunately, two days before we left, I spoke wit the guest services rep. After explaining this issue, she was very nice and told us that we could use the Club Lounge at the Arion hotel next door. The lounge there was very nice and the service excellent. I only wish we knew this from the beginning of our stay.

If anyone from Starwood is reading this, you have picked up a great property. The Astir Palace complex is excellent. However, you really need to get some training for the staff or better trained employees. Also, I do not consider myself overly critical or picky. The check-in staff areless helpful than at most 2 and 3 star hotels (courtyard, days inn etc.) in the US.

Overall:

The Westin Nafsika is a great hotel and I would recommend it to others visiting Athens. Our decision was to stay here for a few days to relax instead of going to an island and then to spend two days in central Athens at the Grand Bretagne for visiting all of the tourist areas. The property is in excellent condition, very nice and in a great location with impressive views. As long as you have expectations of so-so service, you will not be disappointed and I would consider it a good value for the points at a Category 4.
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Old Jan 25, 07, 5:06 pm   #7
 
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The Westin Athens Astir Palace Beach Resort

I am thinking of going here for my honeymoon in June 2008? I would really appreciate some advice from anyone on how this resort is and what our thoughts on it are? Thanks so much.
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Old Jan 26, 07, 12:09 pm   #8
 
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We stayed there in Sep 2006. Here is my review of the place.

Overall, a great resort with ok service. Also, you may want to eat some of your meals at some of the Greek Taverna's down the street in the main area of Voulagameni. More authentic and a lot less expensive.


http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showt...ighlight=astir
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Old Feb 15, 08, 2:59 pm   #9
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Grand Bretagne and Westin Athens Astir Palace

We will be visiting Athens in September prior to a Windstar cruise. We have a reservation at the Grande Bretagne for four nights. However, the Westin Athens Astir Palace looks very nice. I was thinking this might be a nice hotel to unwind for 1 night before taking on all that Athens has to offer and switching over to the Grande. Is this more hassle than it's worth? Any thoughts appreciated.
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Old Feb 15, 08, 5:01 pm   #10
 
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Haven't stayed yet, but just booked 3 nights at the Westin Astir Palace under a great cash & points deal - 4,800 points & $90 / night. My wife and I were trying to decide where to stay in Athens and came to the same final two choices as you. We figured that the hotel has a shuttle to the sights that drops off in the morning and picks up at 3 PM. Between that and public transportation / taxi, we hope to be able to both see the sights and enjoy the beach.

Our trip is in early June - I'll try to remember to post a report, but please feel free to PM me if you'd like a review.
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Old Feb 15, 08, 7:07 pm   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjz View Post
We will be visiting Athens in September prior to a Windstar cruise. We have a reservation at the Grande Bretagne for four nights. However, the Westin Athens Astir Palace looks very nice. I was thinking this might be a nice hotel to unwind for 1 night before taking on all that Athens has to offer and switching over to the Grande. Is this more hassle than it's worth? Any thoughts appreciated.
September is a good time of the year to be at one of the hotels in the Astir Palace complex. Coming from the airport, you don't have to go through the city centre. Moving to the Grande Bretagne is a straightforward 15-30mn taxi ride. Nothing unusual in Athens.
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Old Feb 16, 08, 9:54 am   #12
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Thanks to both for your replies. I'm going to book two nights at the Westin and two nights at the Grande so we can experience both. Both hotels are offering cash and points for our travel dates. To me, that is such a great deal. I'll post some comments when we return. We'll also be hitting the W Istanbul on this trip, which sounds amazing. Istanbul is such a fun place to visit. I'm anxious to return.
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Old Jul 29, 08, 9:28 pm   #13
 
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Any recent Westin Astir Palace Experiences?

A search only found a write-up from 2 years ago. Just curious if there is a shuttle service to the center of Athens. Also is there a lounge? My brother is spending one night here on his honeymoon before moving to the center of Athens for a couple of days.
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Old Jul 30, 08, 12:17 am   #14
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Originally Posted by ghia74 View Post
A search only found a write-up from 2 years ago. Just curious if there is a shuttle service to the center of Athens. Also is there a lounge? My brother is spending one night here on his honeymoon before moving to the center of Athens for a couple of days.
There isn't a lounge at the Westin Astir Palace; there is one at the neighboring Arion, which is part of the Astir Palace complex (they are adding a W), but you need to be staying there. I have had a very pleasant stay at the Westin in June using Cash & Points, but I did not try to see if there is a shuttle, as taxis are quite cheap in Athens.
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Old Jul 30, 08, 9:44 am   #15
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treated very well as a platinum at the Arion and Grande Bretagne last summer. The view from the Bar at the Grande Bretagne is absolutely amazing. Definitely appreciated an upgraded room at the Grande Bretagne--I was told that some of the more standard rooms are fairly small, but I was given a generous room with a huge bathroom. The Arion was fairly quiet and tranquil, with great water sport facilities (their own beach, indoor and outdoor pools, outrageously priced dock for jetski/waterski excursions).
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