ECONOMY

Astir Palace picks Starwood group for management

The Astir Palace resort, in the seaside suburb of Vouliagmeni south of Athens, has picked US company Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc to manage the luxury hotel group. «This is a move which will benefit both Astir Palace and Greece’s tourist development in general,» National Bank Chief Executive Takis Arapoglou, who is also the CEO of Astir Palace, said in a statement late Wednesday. Astir is majority-owned by National Bank. The tender had attracted 23 bidders. National Bank, the country’s largest lender, had been keen to transfer management of the hotel as part of its broader strategy to divest non-core activities. «The transfer of management to an international hotel player could be the first step to a total exit of the bank from this particular investment at a later date,» Egnatia Finance wrote in a note. Starwood, which will officially take over the management of Astir Palace on July 1, will receive a fee based on Astir Palace’s revenues and operating profit. The contract is for 15 years. Astir Palace consists of three hotels and 76 luxury bungalows. In its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s, the hotel was popular with Europe’s jet set.