Today we are chatting with Theodore Katis, Cluster Account Director, Leisure, at two of the best luxury hotels in Athens: Hotel Grande Bretagne & King George, both belonging to The Luxury Collection.
Theodore, please, tell us a little bit about your career path in the luxury hotel business, and what brought you to Grande Bretagne and King George?
Thank you so much Laura for giving me the opportunity to showcase our historic hotels as well as our beautiful city! After my graduation from the University of Surrey in 2001, I was employed by the Metropolitan Hotel in Athens (now Athens Marriott) where I worked as a waiter in the food & beverage outlets for 3 years. In 2004, I joined YES! Hotels & Restaurants, the company who introduced the trend of design and contemporary art in hospitality, in Greece. Having passed through the positions of Front Office Receptionist, Sales Executive and Sales Manager, I was the group’s Director of Sales for 3 years and until the end of 2018. After 14 years in YES!Hotels and as of the beginning of 2019, I took over the position of Sales Director for the leisure segment at the legendary Hotel Grande Bretagne and King George, members of Marriott’s Luxury Collection. I guess that my ambition to grow my career through a bigger organization and my desire for continuous learning and improvement, led me to join the best hotels in Greece!
Can you tell us 3 interesting historical facts for each hotel?
As I love to say, GB is not a story-telling but a history-telling property. And I use the word property because GB has been more than a hotel over the last 147 years. It has always been very much connected to the history of Greece and the social life of Athens.
Firstly, the hotel and the Greek Parliament (ex. Royal palace of Greece) were the first buildings in Athens to receive electricity back in 1888.
Another fact is that GB is the only hotel worldwide that has hosted 2 different International Olympic Committees for the 1st and the 28th modern Olympic Games in Athens (1896 and 2004). The impressive detail of this is that the time difference is more than 100 years apart! The 1896 Reception’s registration book that is "exhibited" in the glass display-case of the lobby, is a notable reminder!
Moreover, the golden plaque next to the main entrance commemorates the fact that that GB used to be the headquarters of the Greek Army during the first year of WWII. This was before Greece fell to Nazi Occupation and hotel becomes the base of the Third Reich. In fact, the War Announcement 1 of Greece entering WWII was addressed to Greek people from Hotel Grande Bretagne.
How would you describe your clientele?
I would describe our clientele as global explorers, looking to combine modern luxury services and experiences, with a cosmopolitan essence of heritage and history. It is also a very diverse clientele! From Winston Churchill to Lady Gaga everybody has stayed with us! Celebrities, Prime Ministers, elite athletes, business tycoons, Royal Families, the list is long!
What is unique about the locations of the hotels?
The unbeatable view to the Acropolis and the city’s most important monuments! You can literally see the hourly ceremonial changing of the Guards in front of the Greek Parliament from your room balcony! Of course, all points of interest, museums, bars, restaurants, shopping streets are within 20 minutes walking distance!
What was your happiest day at work?
It’s every time I host a fam trip! I love to spoil and look after our travel advisors partners during their stay, to acquaint them with our remarkable hotels and luxury services, to talk about historic facts and details and of course to promote our city. It is the best way to build trust and fruitful relationships, as these people will act as ambassadors of our brand!
If your best friends from abroad came to Athens for the first time and had only 24 hours there, what would you recommend for them to experience?
Obviously, a visit to the Acropolis and The Acropolis Museum is a must! 2,500 years of history in front of your eyes! Followed by a stroll on Athens’s impressive street food scene! I would definitely encourage them to try Greek kouloúri (traditional sesame seed bread ring), tyropita, spanakopita and bougatsa (traditional cheese pie, spinach pie and custard pie with fyllo), and of course the famous souvlaki.
In addition, I would take them to one of the three new museum entries of Athens. My favorite Basil & Elize Goulandri Foundation, a museum of priceless authentic rare artworks by some of the most significant Greek and International painters and artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Juan Miro, Paul Gauguin, El Greco and others. The museum is a hidden gem in an Athenian neighborhood and home to the impressive 3 billion dollars private collection of the specific ship-owners.
Lastly, a late evening drink by the sea, mingling with the locals in one of the Athenian beach bars would be a perfect end of day! Let’s not forget that Athens has a 50km long coastline within minutes from the city center!
If you wish to book Hotel Grande Bretagne, a Luxury Collection Hotel or King George, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Athens with Hurlingham Travel, please call us on +44 20 7148 1778 or send us an enquiry.
For more information about these luxury Athens hotels, please click on the following links:
King George Hotel: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/athgl-king-george-a-luxury-collection-hotel-athens/
Hotel Grande Bretagne: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/athlc-hotel-grande-bretagne-a-luxury-collection-hotel-athens/