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The Expansion of International Hotel Chains into Greece by Dr. Dimitris Koutoulas

The following article contains some key findings from The 2005 Greek Hotel Branding Report prepared by Dr. Dimitris Koutoulas, an Athens-based tourism and hospitality consultant and lecturer at the Greek Open University. This research report is the first hotel brand inventory ever made for the Greek hospitality industry. For additional information regarding the full report, please contact the author directly at: d.koutoulas@ba.aegean.gr.

Greece boasts one of the world’s largest and most mature hotel sectors with nearly 9,000 businesses and a 342,000-room capacity, yet it is among the least penetrated by international hotel brands. According to research completed in autumn 2005, only 3.4% of the country’s hotels (controlling 16.8% of the total room capacity) have an affiliation either with a Greek or an international brand, a situation that reflects the orientation of most accommodation businesses towards the package tour market and their close co-operation with tour operators.

Global brands, such as IHG’s InterContinental and Holiday Inn, Accor’s Club Med, Sofitel and Novotel, Hilton, Starwood’s Luxury Collection as well as Marriott and Hyatt, have established a limited presence, with each one of these brands having up to four hotels in Greece. A comparatively large share has been secured by hotel brands directly managed or affiliated with the major European tour operators such as the predominantly all-inclusive resort hotels of Robinson Club, Magic Life, Club alltoura, Calimera, LTI and Iberostar.

More specifically, tour operator-controlled brands claim one third of all branded hotels in Greece accounting for 84 hotels with 18,700 rooms (5.5% of total Greek hotel room capacity). A good part of these accommodations operate on an all-inclusive basis. The German travel conglomerate TUI is dominating this hotel segment by having five of its twelve hotel brands operating in the country.

The Presence of International Hotel Brands in Greece

There are 95 Greek hotels bearing an international brand (2005 data – see Table 1). Their cumulative inventory is 19,116 rooms, or 5.6% of the country’s total hotel capacity. Of the 26 international brands having a presence in Greece, 13 are owned or affiliated with tour operators, thus being oriented mainly towards the package tour traveller. Most of these hotels predominantly operate on an all-inclusive basis.

The international brands controlling more than 1,000 rooms in Greece are Iberostar, Club Med, Club alltoura, Holiday Club, Magic Life, Sofitel and Best Western, the latter having 22 member hotels in Greece.

Several hotels presently in the development phase will carry an international flag. These projects include a Soneva resort operated by Six Senses on the island of Milos (Six Senses recently entered the Greek market by opening a Six Senses Spa on Crete), a Banyan Tree resort in Pylos and a Mandarin Oriental resort in Western Peloponnese. Hyatt is expected to manage the hotel of the Casino Mont Parnes complex near Athens, presently under renovation.

Hotels Operated Under Tour Operator Brands

The four largest tour operators of Germany, namely TUI, Thomas Cook, Rewe and Alltours, as well as UK-based MyTravel have a presence in the Greek resort hotel market through several of their partly or fully owned hotel brands.

Among the brands represented in Greece is TUI’s Robinson Club with three resorts, Magic Life with four resorts and Paladien with two resorts, Thomas Cook’s Iberostar with eleven resorts, Rewe’s Calimera with three resorts and LTI with one resort, Alltours’ Club alltoura and Holiday Club with five resorts each, as well as MyTravel’s Sunwing with two resorts. Additionally, MyTravel has a minority stake in Cyprus-based AquaSol operating two resort hotels in Greece.

TUI also has a 50% stake in Grecotel, the country’s largest hotel management company and a further 50% stake in Cyprus-based Atlantica Hotels, that has a presence in Greece, as well. Thanks to its five brands, TUI is Greece’s largest hotel operator controlling a total of 43 hotels with 9,960 rooms (2.9% of all hotel rooms in Greece). A sixth TUI brand, Iberotel, recently ceased operating in Greece.

Several smaller tour operators have also introduced their own hotel brands in Greece. Among them are the Italian operators Ventaglio and Gruppo Domina Vacanze owning the VentaClub and Domina brands, the French company Groupe Heliades with the Blue& White Hotels, UK-based Contiki Holidays operating its very first Contiki Resort on Mykonos as well as the Cyprus-based Libra Holidays Group with its Cyprotels group.

The 17 tour operator-controlled brands (13 international brands, three Cypriot brands and one Greek brand) account for 84 hotels with 18,700 rooms or 5.5% of total Greek hotel room capacity (see Table 2).

Table 1: International Hotel Brands with a Presence in Greece

International Hotel Brands (Parent Company)

Hotels

Rooms

Average No. of Rooms

Best Western

22

1,537

70

Blue & White Hotels (Groupe Heliades)

5

710

142

Calimera Aktivhotels (Rewe)

3

768

256

Club Méditerranée (Accor)

4

1,713

428

Club alltoura (Alltours)

5

1,060

212

Contiki Resorts (Contiki Holidays)

1

150

150

Domina Hotel Group (Gruppo Domina Vacanze)

1

160

160

Golden Tulip Hotels

2

288

144

Hapimag

3

299

100

Hilton (Hilton Group plc)

2

930

465

Holiday Club (Alltours)

5

1,199

240

Holiday Inn (InterContinental Hotels Group)

3

560

187

Hyatt International

1

152

152

Iberostar (Thomas Cook)

11

2,590

235

InterContinental (InterContinental Hotels Group)

1

559

559

Kempinski

1

99

99

LTI International Hotels (Rewe)

1

255

255

Magic Life (TUI)

4

1,352

338

Marriott International

1

259

259

Novotel (Accor)

1

195

195

Paladien Hotel Clubs (TUI)

2

299

150

Robinson Club (TUI)

3

927

309

Sofitel (Accor)

3

1,114

371

Sunwing Resorts (MyTravel)

2

452

226

The Luxury Collection (Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide)

4

758

190

VentaClubs (Ventaglio)

4

731

183

Total

95

19,116

201

Source: Koutoulas, Dimitris (2005), The 2005 Greek Hotel Branding Report, p. 12

Table 2: Tour Operator-Controlled Hotel Brands with a Presence in Greece

Tour-Operator Controlled Hotel Brands

Hotels

Rooms

Average No. of Rooms

TUI : Atlantica, Grecotel, Magic Life, Paladien, Robinson Club

43

9,960

232

Thomas Cook : Iberostar

11

2,590

235

Alltours : Club alltoura, Holiday Club

10

2,259

226

Rewe : Calimera Aktivhotels, LTI International Hotels

4

1,023

256

MyTravel : Aquasol, Sunwing Resorts

4

887

222

Ventaglio : VentaClubs

4

731

183

Groupe Heliades : Blue & White Hotels

5

710

142

Libra Holidays Group : Cyprotels Hotels & Resorts

1

230

230

Gruppo Domina Vacanze : Domina Hotel Group

1

160

160

Contiki Holidays : Contiki Resorts

1

150

150

Total

84

18,700

223

Source: Koutoulas, Dimitris (2005), The 2005 Greek Hotel Branding Report, p. 16

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