Located on a quiet sandy bay on the Aegean Sea, close to Athens International Airport and the city centre, the Dolce Attica Riviera is currently undergoing a transformation.
Formerly an all-inclusive resort, the property was acquired by Zeus International last year and now aspires to become the leading MICE destination in and around the Greek capital.
Following an extensive overhaul of the lobby and one sixth of the bedrooms, as well as the addition of seven new meeting spaces, the hotel reopened in April under the Dolce Hotels & Resorts flag.
Operated by Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, the brand seeks to offer business travellers unique locations in which to host out-of-the-ordinary events.
As Vasilis Vasilopoulos, general manager of Dolce Attica Riviera, tells Breaking Travel News: “We have a lot more opportunities, particularly for businesses looking for a place to host a meeting – we want to grow as a MICE destination.
“After the crisis of 2009, the prices are lower here than in other European capitals, and this is now an asset for us.
“If we speak about Athens, it is one of the cheapest capitals in Europe.
“Obviously, the negative part for us is financial, too, but it has forced us as hotel owners to adapt.”
Originally opened in 1978, the hotel is one of the older properties in the region.
For this reason, Zeus is investing substantial sums to bring it up to contemporary standards.
Phase one of the work has been completed, while there are two more planned, with the hotel set to be completely redeveloped by 2020.
After this, Dolce Attica Riviera will provide a stylish and comfortable stay for both holidaymakers and business travellers.
However, it certainly has some key assets already in place.
The location overlooking the sea below gives the property a secluded feel, with swimmers bobbing in the lagoon-like waters.
Even during rough seas, the shallows outside the hotel remains calm, making it a private paradise for visitors.
Wi-Fi is available to the edge of the last sun lounger for those who are truly unable to switch off.
The port of Rafina is also close by, offering ferry trips to Andros, Paros and Mykonos for travellers looking to explore more of Greece.
Guests can choose from several restaurants serving Greek delicacies in relaxed yet elegant settings, including the brand-new Ammos, Thea, and Filema a La Carte, as well as the poolside Secret Restaurant.
Inside, the lobby is home to a large, stain-glass mural which filters sunlight through the ceiling.
During the redesign, it was planned to scrap what is now the centrepiece of the space, with architects having mirrored the glass effect with new vertical flourishes throughout the lobby.
But, alongside these developments, there is more to come.
“Everything, in reception and through the conference facilities, changed during the first renovation,” continues Vasilopoulos.
“The restaurants, the bars, and the public spaces, all have been totally renovated.
“In this period, even including Christmas, when we Greeks love to relax, we completely changed the hotel.
“A total of 50 rooms have also been renovated, out of a total of 346.
“We will continue the work in October, and it will run until February, but the hotel will stay open this time.
“We will give priority to the bungalows, where we will add private pools to around 40 of them.”
Vasilopoulos is also full of praise for the freedom allowed by Wyndham when it comes to developing plans for the redesign of the hotel.
“Wyndham sets criteria for us for the redesign, but we have our own architects and technical team,” he continues.
“We come up with our plans and they give their authorisation, so we take the lead and they are our ideas.
“For example, the colour scheme is all ours, in the reception.
“The partnership with the Dolce brand will allow us to expand, open year-round and welcome business travellers.”
Vasilopoulos does however sound a note of caution.
Dolce Attica Riviera is located close to the Museum of Vravrona, an archaeological site surrounded by lush vineyards.
While this is attractive for guests, it can prove to be a headache for developers.
“It is a protected site, it makes it difficult for things to happen within two-to-three kilometres of an archaeological area,” explains the manager.
“In Greece, you cannot build anything without permits from the government, from the archaeological organisations and from the local community groups – even paint the outside of the hotel.”
Creating a strong team at the hotel will also be vital to its success, adds Vasilopoulos.
“We have changed the team over the past months as we have renovated the hotel.
“Working for a brand of the stature of Wyndham, and in the MICE market, was a new experience.
“We needed people who are proactive, more professional, and we are offering training to help our people meet the new standards.
“There are a total of 170 staff at present, but perhaps we need a few more.
“This is a step-by-step process – and by the start of 2020 we will be there.”
The development of the hotel is part of a wider aspiration from Greek tourism to become a year-round destination – moving away from its traditional image as a sun and sand holiday spot.
“We are seeking to attract people to different areas of the country, in different seasons, to make the destination a year-round location,” adds Vasilopoulos.
“Greece is now known for its summer, for the beaches, for the sun.
“When I talk to tour operators, online travel agents, I tell them we have snow on the mountains in winter, and they look as though they do not believe me.
“This is our fault, we promote Greece from April until October, and we do not promote Greece from October until the spring.
“This will change.”
Dolce Attica Riviera is on a journey – along with the whole of Greek tourism – as it sees to adapt to a changing environment.
Watch this space!
Dolce Attica Riviera is the latest addition to Wyndham Hotel Group’s growing portfolio in Greece, which also includes hotels in key locations in Athens, Loutraki and Alexandroupolis.
Find more information on the official website.