Fully-booked Greek hotel bucks national trend
Jan - 18 | No comments. | Greece
With the eurozone climate remaining uncertain, Greece’s tourism industry has been hit hard – especially in the hotels. Occupancy rates in Athens have dropped along with room rates, leaving some businesses forced to shut up shop.
But on the other side of the country, one place has bucked the national trend. The Blue Sea Hotel on Karpathos, in the heart of the Dodecanese Islands, is already fully booked up for the 2013 season.
It’s no mean feat, the owner Huguette de Chassiron explains to me, although I can already tell that from the size of the place: with 27 bedrooms to fill, the boutique-style hotel with its elegant white finish and blue shutters is cute but deceptively big. It’s a far cry from Fawlty Towers.
“The payments are mostly guaranteed,” she smiles, as different from John Cleese as anyone could be. “It’s completely booked out. The income isn’t enormous at present but it’s steady.”
The location helps, she acknowledges: “Ammoopi beach is one of the top 10 beaches in the Dodecanese!”
There’s no denying that the situation is pretty much perfect: just 150 metres from the coast, the area is surrounded by coves and beaches. And nearby, the port of Pigadia boasts a shiny new Marina, where guests can enjoy water sports and a lively nightlife.
For Huguette, the international appeal is set to expand even wider.
“It’s becoming even more accessible to visitors around the world due to the large international airport. There are daily flights from Athens, Rhodes and Crete.”
While people sound the bells of doom for the debt-ridden Greek economy, for The Blue Sea Hotel, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, Huguette sees no difference between now and 1999 when she and her husband finished building the place: the bell on reception has always been busy. They’ve enjoyed a 90% occupancy rate ever since.
“From the start, it was a hit with a lot of repeat business. Most of our clientele came to our beach restaurant for their main meals.”
You could even add a restaurant on the ground floor, I think out loud, looking around the spacious reception.
“The kitchen is large with easy access to the floor below,” she agrees, walking out of the separate manager’s office. “And a balcony to dine in. There’s a lot of potential.”
I find myself looking out of the window at the olive trees surrounding the property. There’s a couple of hundred kilos of olive oil in those alone, I estimate; perfect for cooking.
She continues to talk about the potential future for the property. A swimming pool, a Jacuzzi or a tennis court, she says, warming to the subject, or even a gym! I nod as the ideas come flooding out. All of them sound like smart moves, I comment, although some might be better suited to a luxury apartment block.
“Oh, you could easily convert this into a dozen flats,” she replies. “There’s loads of space on the site to add the facilities. You could even live in the building, on your own or with a family.”
With so many possibilities, why on earth would she want to leave such a thriving commercial property investment?
“My son’s just left to study at university in Canada,” she explains, “and that doesn’t come cheap! Meanwhile, I’m trying to go back to my old career as a film producer in London. We’re an international family now, so it seems like the right time to sell.”
She pauses as someone appears behind her and asks for assistance.
It’s one of the hotel guests – an endangered species back in Athens. Huguette grins. Unlike the rest of Greece, The Blue Sea Hotel doesn’t need a helping hand from anyone.
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