Shall we meet in Athens?
The city of the acropolis was buzzing with nightlife and activities amidst peaceful demonstrations when we joined a Marketing Greece MICE familiarization programme to explore the destination’s meetings and conferences facilities. Despite these revitalizing signs, and with the Greek economy on the road to recovery, the country’s meeting, incentives, conferences and events business gurus are being very cautious. They are keen to remind visitors that the country has been through turmoil and is still crawling back to safety.
Luxury still reigns in Athens. The destination has everything to define its mythological stories; city life, the sun, sea, lakes, mountains and frequent peaceful demonstrations.
The city itself is complete with shops, markets, good transport facilities, restaurants, first class hotels and everything that you can ask for in a city. The mountains are evident with every monument taken full advantage of. Of course, you cannot visit any tourist attraction, restaurant or otherwise without being reminded of the famous “Acropolis view” albeit the famous Mount Lycabettus, at 277 meters (908 feet) above sea level and highest point of the city, is also within birds view. Pine trees cover its base, and at its two peaks are the 19th century Chapel of St. George, a theatre, and a restaurant. Nevertheless, Athens’ best kept secret are its beach destinations. Choose a beach destination or city destination and you are in for a treat in Athens.
Leisure activities for delegates:
Delegates may not have a lot of time to spare in Athens so Executive Traveller has put together a quick tour guide for those keen on absorbing some of Athen’s culture and beaches.
The Acropolis and the New Acropolis Museum
For any trip to Athens, one must not fail to visit the Acropolis Museum. This remarkable destination still has conservators working on the Caryatids with advanced laser technology as you stroll through the exhibitions and galleries. Here, there is the opportunity to talk to a museum archaeologist. Visitors can appreciate the unique views of the Acropolis itself from the Parthenon Gallery on the third floor.
A visit to the Acropolis of Athens itself is a must especially as it is what sells almost every events venue in Athens. The sacred rock of the Acropolis was for many centuries the most important religious centre of the city of Athens. This ancient citadel located on a high rocky outcrop above the city contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon. The Acropolis is the crowning beauty and glory of Athens. This is where you immerse yourself into Greek mythology and history and see Proplylea, the temple of Nike, the Parthenon, wonders of the Golden Age of Pericles. From the Acropolis hill you will have a breathtaking view of the surroundings, including the Agora, the Observatory, the Democracy hill (Pnyx), the Philopappo Hill and Mars Hill. You can also admire the theatre of Dionysos and the Odeion of Herodus Atticus where ancient Greek drama was first staged.
Shopping and city life:
After culture, walk through the historic neighbourhood, via the Temple of Hephaestus/Attalos Hall to the Old Plaka neighbourhood through the Pandrossou Street Market to the Parliament building in Syntagma square and watch the changing of the Guards (Evzonoi) in their traditional Greek uniforms. The Hellenic Parliament was initially built in the 19th century as a palace for King Otto and Queen Amalia. It became the permanent seat of the Hellenic Parliament in 1935.
The Pandrossou street market is one of the oldest market streets in Athens with over 110 stores right in the centre of Athens.
Unique Events Venues
Lake Vouliagmeni – Nature-Wellness-leisure
This one of a kind lake can be found on the South Coast of Athens, by the seaside of the Saronic Gulf. The natural beauty of its scenery offers the visitor true moments of relaxation. Its modern and quiet installations are environmental-friendly and are suitable for swimming and body exercise in the natural nursing springs. Our café provides excellent service and is the place to enjoy the view of this ecological paradise. Free parking is also available.
Officially opened in 1888, the magnificent Conference and Exhibition Centre which is now hosting the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs the serve the needs of the Hellenic Presidency of the Council of the European Union has been the venue for many other activities such as Press centre for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, Greek Fashion Week, Royalty receptions, exhibitions and many more. Events can be held almost anywhere within the Zappeion.
The grounds are full of works of art and the conference rooms are fully-equipped with translation systems in 9 foreign languages. There are also luxurious reception areas with very fast internet connection.
New Openings: National Museum of Contemporary Art
Conferences and events properties available in Athens:
An excellent point of reference for conferences and exhibitions will be to visit either www.athensconvention bureau.gr or www.all-athens-hotels.com but here are few that Executive Traveller has visited:
Grand Resort Lagonissi
This is an exclusive resort set in 72 acres about 24 Km from Athens International Airport and 40 km from the center of Athens of a lush green peninsula with several magical sandy coves, surrounded by the blue waters of the Aegean Sea. The hotel combines natural beauty with all the advantages of modern living. It is also 20 Km from Glyfada suburb and Golf Course.
Conference and events facilities:
The resort’s meeting facilities can cater for business events of any size from five delegates to a large convention. It has conference facilities and break out rooms with natural lighting and views overlooking the Aegean Sea. State-of-the-art equipment can be arranged and installed upon request. The magnificent Grand Hall can hold up to 1,350 delegates; it features an outstanding stage, two foyer areas and an open-air terrace. Both indoor and outdoor areas measure more than 2.500 sqm/27,000sq.ft and provide facilities for conferences, exhibitions and social events.
Hilton Athens Hotel
Now celebrating its golden year with Athens, Hilton Worldwide’s long relationship with Greece began in April 1963 when the company’s legendary founder, Conrad Hilton, personally opened Hilton saying: “I agree with those who believe that the Hilton hotel in Athens is the most beautiful Hilton Hotel in the world”. Since the famous two-day celebration to launch the official inauguration of the hotel, many a famous names have passed through the doors of Hilton. Hilton Athens have not only held on to its famous names but has kept some very loyal staff, with some like Katy Kalouta, PA to the General Manager and Michalis Loundas, doorman have worked for the hotel for about four decades. A few more others have also stayed on at the first International hotel brand to embrace Athens.
What the Hilton Athens offers for events and conferences
Located in the centre of the city’s commercial district, Hilton Athens is a mere 25 minutes away from the airport via the subway. It has 22 modern meeting rooms and terrace covering 6,000m2 function space with capacity for 2-1300 people supported by state-of-the-art facilities and a professional team.
The property has 506 contemporary styled rooms with private balcony offering a view of either the Acropolis or city. It has 4 restaurants and bars including one rooftop, heated indoor swimming pool and large outdoor pool as well as a ballroom which can hold up to1100 persons.
46 Vassilissis Sofias Avenue
Arion – a luxury collection resort & spa, Astir Palace
For meetings and Weddings, this luxury property has 123 rooms and suites, 58 bungalows, some with private pools together with 8 meeting rooms and boardrooms.
Boasting of a delightful Riviera location in the elite neighborhood of Vouliagmeni, The Westin Athens Astir Palace Beach Resort is perched on a private peninsula overlooking the crystalline waters of the Saronic Gulf. The resort’s inimitable location provides a peaceful and scenic environment, while offering limitless possibilities for activity and entertainment nearby.
The Westin Astir Palace Beach Resort
40 Apollonos Street, Vouliagmeni, Athens, 16671 Westin.com/athens
InterContinental Athenaeum hotel
The Athenaeum InterContinental Athens offers the largest, and arguably the most flexible meeting and banqueting facilities composed of the imposing Athenaeum Ballroom accommodating up to 1500 persons, together with a sophisticated Conference Centre, function room and several other meeting and break out rooms. The property has 543 guest rooms.
Hotel Grande Bretagne, a luxury collection hotel
Arguable the most beautifully appointed hotel with the best views in town. Hotel Grande Bretagne can be the meeting planners’ ultimate choice for sophisticated business meetings and lavish social events in Athens. Featuring over 1,100 square meters of refined function space, the hotel has repeatedly hosted the most important and glamorous weddings and banquets in Athens. The property has 320 rooms and suites together with grand meeting spaces with capacities ranging from 14 to 800.
Hotel Grande Bretagne
Electra Palace Hotel, Athens
This five star hotel centrally located in the heart of Athens and the old town of Plaka is within walking distances of the Acropolis.
For meetings and events, it has a delightful roof-top restaurant, garden court, 102, standard rooms, 33 superior #acropolis view rooms 9 junior suites, 10 suites and one presidential suite with private pool. Events can be held in any of the hotel’s 7 meeting rooms including three ballrooms, one of which has a capacity of 300.
Electra Palace Athens Hotel
18-20 N.Nikodimou Street
New to Athens – The National Museum of contemporary Art (www.emst.gr) with its impressive roof space.
How to travel to Athens from the UK:
• Aegean Airlines is offering direct flights to Athens from London Heathrow, Manchester and Birmingham until October, from €136,55 per person return including taxes:
• Aegean flight prices are from the following destinations and may change due to airport taxes.
• Total 158.93 EUR (airport taxes included)
• Total 139.14 EUR (airport taxes included)
• Total 136.55 EUR (airport taxes included)
- Rooms at Hilton Athensstart from €119 per room/per night on a B&B basis. For more information on accommodation in Athens please visit the website of the Athens & Attica Hotels Association
• For more information on Athens please visit www.discovergreece.com