Sunday, November 11, 2007

Intercontiental - Athens - two perspectives


From the moment you walk in you know you have entered a wonderful art gallery, which doubles as a hotel.The owner is an art collector and has filled the hotel with originals,wonderful reproductions, photographs, etc. At your arrival you are faced with the Blue Man (sculpture) standing on one arm and one leg, the other arm and leg extended to the skies(depicting North, South, East and West). So now "you have arrived".

Although a large hotel one gets the feeling of intimacy . All the rooms are enormous, with a separate sitting area with loveseat and a large, comfortable chair, desk, etc. Large windows in all rooms - the preffered side faces the Acropolis in the distance. Quite a sight at night when the Acropolis is all lit up. Soothing blues and warm white (not stark white) in Club Rooms. The standard rooms are currently covered in deep greens and whites and will possibly convert to the blue scheme after refurbishing. Be it male or female, the decor is unobstrusive. Not utterly masculine or feminine.Great choice of colors and furnishings and the room amenities were exquisite!

The suites are all wonderful, my favourite being a Jr. Suite(qualifying anywhere else for a one bedroom suite)separate bedroom/livingroom with a great terrace and lounge chair(for sunning on a bright sunny Athens day)as well as table and chairs. Wonderful for breakfast or candelight dinner...There are two of these Junior Suites
with larger terraces.The rest have typical terraces.The Presidential Suite of course was fabulous.The Conference Rooms/Ballroom etc,very well done. Self-contained with its own elevator which takes the conference attendees straight down to that area,or one can use the escalators.

Dining is wonderful throughout.Be it CafeZoe(where we had wonderfullunch and breakfast buffets)to the rooftop diningroom - Premiere - which I was informed received One Hat (equivalent of a Michelin Star).The food delicious,presentation exquisite.Impeccable service.During the warmer months the restaurant has additional seating on their rooftop terrace overlooking the City and the Acropolis. A spais now in the process of being built.

The Club Lounge staff could not have been more helpful and gracious.And last but not least,a lovely,inviting,bar/lounge-where a great time was had by all of us.... excellent wines... and where even at 2 o'clock in the morning we felt welcome....

With a few necessary changes which they are working on
The Intercontinental Athens is a good choice!.

Luisa, Senior Corporate & LeisureTravel Consultant
Travel Exchange - A Virtuoso Agency
125 Main Street | Westport, Ct.
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2. MEETINGS & GROUPS Perspective:

Athens, Greece - a wonderful Group destination! Dining, Shopping, Meeting, Tours, Sophisticated venues and numerous excursions, too great to number are all of the necessary ingredients for success with any group size or event.

The IC in particular offers more than adequate meeting space.With pieces of art meticulously placed in the meeting rooms the owner has managed to transform a basic breakout room into a warm and inviting place to meet. Don't be misled - all of the rooms feature the usual necessities for any meeting: built in screens, climate control, even the occasional breakfront to hold coffee and mid-day snacks.

The meeting space to room ratio is quite impressive. Offering two ballrooms and many other breakouts and spaces for smaller meetings and workshops you can easily provide for a group of 400+.Ceiling height is generous and the larger rooms maximize their capabilities with soundproof dividers offering planners the ability to mix and match to meet their needs.

As the rest of the hotel is undergoing refurbishing I would strongly suggest taking a look at the carpeting in the meeting area and ballrooms. I found them to be worn and stained. The only other point that may or may not be a deterrent - depending on your program type and size is the columns in the main ballroom. Although they act as a nice divider for a reception, etc. they could be obtrusive and sight problems if the entire room was needed for a presentation, etc.

My associate has already submitted comments and observations on the hotel from an individual guest's point of view so I will refrain from the obvious, such as the room decor, amenities, etc. and try to limit my comments to those that apply more to the expectations of meeting planners.

The rooms are consistent throughout the hotel in size which is a plus for groups! The differences are limited to views - City vs. Acropolis. There are decor differences with the Club Rooms but of course the highlight would be the lovely lounge that Luisa has already touched upon. Aside from suites for VIPs - the Club Rooms offer another upgrade possibility for VIPs and different tiered management when doing a larger group.

While everyone was extremely hospitable and always willing to assist I felt that the front door could have use more attentive servicing. There should always be someone at the door, be it bellmen, etc. to greet you, hold a door open, or flag a taxi. On more than one occasion it was hard to locate assistance for these very things. The revolving door was a nuisance as well, since it was set to stop when someone got close and I witnessed many people hitting into the doors.

The other issue of service that I would like to reiterate was the check-in process. While this may be fine for some properties it would not suit a VIP or someone used to Virtuoso procedures. There was no escort to rooms, which is vital to the guest and assists them in locating the amenities and services provided in the individual guest rooms.

The quality and presentation of all food and beverage is superb! With the training that the IC staff will soon be getting and a the refurbishing (updating in-room TVs, soft goods, bathrooms, etc.)

Carrie Negrinelli, Director - Groups,Meetings and Events for Travel Exchange

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