Hilton ready for the Games

«We may have hit upon (this property) by chance but there is no buyer who can pay for Hilton Athens’s real value. Its value its timeless and we intend to keep it,» Yiannis Costopoulos, chairman of Alpha Bank and its subsidiary, Ioniki Hotel Enterprises SA, said yesterday. Alpha Bank may have stumbled upon Ioniki, and the Hilton Athens hotel, when it acquired state-controlled Ionian Bank in 1999, but it certainly prizes this possession. In November 1, 2001, it shut down the hotel for an extensive, 108-million-euro renovation that «left nothing old in place.» Well, almost nothing: The Lycabettus suite is the only room in the hotel with the old, restored, furniture. With Hilton Athens serving as the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) during the Athens Olympics in August, this suite, the hotel’s second-largest, has been reserved for IOC President Jacques Rogge, notwithstanding his declaration that he will stay with the athletes at the Olympic Village. The 220-square-meter Presidential Suite may be given to an executive of the international Hilton chain or to Games organizer Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, a hotel executive said. Hilton Athens reopened on February 11, 2003, although work on an extension went on until almost two months ago. «We were concerned about news that many more hotels will be built but in the end, we were glad people were realistic… The demands of the Games apart, Athens has enough hotels,» Hilton International Chief Executive for Europe and Africa Jurgen Fischer told Kathimerini.