Z. Georgiadou

Department of Interior Architecture, Decorative Arts and Design, Technological Educational Institute of Athens, Greece

D. Frangou

Department of Interior Architecture, Decorative Arts and Design, Technological Educational Institute of Athens, Greece

P. Chatzopoulos

Economist

ABSTRACT

The product of hotel consists of a combination of services and commodities. The cultural experience is the result of a mixture of these elements. But the location is the one that provides the specific product with characteristics for each unit.

The standard of Greek tourism product (3S) was bound to mass tourism for years. Local resources were exhausted by this standard and areas been developed in an anarchistic and uncontrolled way. Εndogenous development can be a proposal to solve the development problems caused by the previous policy.

“Amalia” hotels group is one of the oldest hotel chains in Greece and includes six luxury hotels located in different touristic destinations, founded during a period of 35 years. Through this 35years long period, the touristic model has been altered, following the developments in transportation technologies (means, information technology, telecommunication, digital communication), as well as social achievements (working rights, social security). These developments took place simultaneously with the tourist product and differentiated the meaning of travelling and hospitality.

The three hotels chosen as case studies in this paper are the following:

“Amalia” Hotel of Athens City (1956) a building subsumed into the modernism movement within the frame of holistic design and qualitative tourism.

“Amalia” Hotel of Olympia (1979) is constructed in a period in which the turn to mass tourism model was completed. Nevertheless, the hotel remains focused on qualitative tourism, which is the “Amalia” hotel group's strategy.

“Amalia” Hotel of Kalambaka (1991) is a building where the architectural design introduces certain elements from the local traditional architecture. During this period the touristic model was transformed from mass tourism product to quality customized tourism product.

The methodological tools for this research are the use of archival material (photographs and architectural plans), interviews and PEST analysis method concerning the characteristics of the touristic models, in order to establish a connection between the hotel environment (macro-spatial parameters) and the intertemporal transitions of the Greek Touristic models. These are connected, in our point of view, with the architectural analysis of the case studies, which will reveal the relationship between location, product and model. In conclusion, we consider the adjustment of the local economy according to the characteristics of endogenous development.

Keywords: hotel architectural design, tourist facilities, local tourist resources, hotel space and touristic model, Amalia Hotels.

1. INTRODUCTION

The period following the termination of the Second World War and the Civil War, Greece multiply injured (socially, economically, politically, ethically), is directed to Tourism industry as a springboard for reconstruction. The years that followed, international developments consolidated tourism as one of the sectors with a higher participation rate in GDP[i] growth, now estimated at 20%. The characteristics of the association and the involvement of other sectors in the production of the Greek tourist product are the connecting factors with the increase of the level of development achieved in the past.

Rising incomes and increased leisure time, improved transportation, the "industrialization" of the tourist production by multiplying the travel organizations and tourist guides, the abolition of borders, the status of lasting peace, the evolution of technology information and, in conclusion, the rise of life standards, were some of the most important factors, that gradually altered the tourist model and signaled a new era with the number of tourists being increased and redistributed in time and place. In the next 20 years (1970-1990), Greece followed the international tourism data, which was constantly growing. Greek tourism reached its peak in 80s, urbanizing basically much of the rural countryside[ii]. In these twenty years the coordinated tourist structured design of the previous period, aiming at the qualitative development model, is weakened and is delivered to an unconditional industrialization – massification of the tourism activity.

Industrialization carries significant load on the infrastructure of the hosting area while uncontrollable building constructions, seasonal character and occasional jobs created conditions of dualism, and one range – sector development model. The peripheral problem and intensity was rather invigorated by the presence of tourism. Local endogenous development may provide a solution to deal with the pathogenic phenomena.

In the late 1980s he first sign of slowing down appears because of the participation in the European Economic Community, the inflationary pressures of this season and the increased of costs prices in the hotel market, leading to a shift of the Greek tourism product to options such as new forms of tourism and qualitative upgrading of the existing ones. To strengthen its turnaround, Greece aims to reclaim the 1996 Olympics.

2. THE STUDY AREA AND THE METHODOLOGY OF ANALYSIS

The hotel group «Amalia» is one of the oldest hotel chains in Greece and includes six luxury hotel establishments in different areas, implemented on different dates in over 35 years. During the 35-year period the tourism model changes, along with developments in transportation technologies (means, information technology and telecommunications) and social achievements (labor rights, working hours, social security). These developments, playing a leading role in tourism demand, caused a significant change in the nature of travelling and hospitality. The evolution of tourism demand is investigated and connected to the spatial features of the hotels «Amalia». The study focuses on three of the hotels of the group, where the connection between tourism model of one period to the initial spatial design in the location is attempted.

The methodological tools used is the Political, Economic, Social and Technological (PEST) analysis[iii] with respect to the characteristics of the tourism model, while three of the six hotels of the group «Amalia» were selected as case studies. Specifically, this study focuses on Hotel Amalia of Athens, Hotel Amalia of Olympia and Hotel Amalia of Kalambaka, as they cover the entire period of tourism model development in Greece from 1956 to 1991. The analysis was carried out in a questionnaire (with closed- ended and open-ended questions in combination), architectural study of archival and contemporary photographic material and economic specialization of the statistical processing. The PEST analysis aimed at studying the evolution of temporal stages. The main target of the argument refers to the exploration of the intertemporal course of Greek tourism. Different periods are successive evolutionary phases. These phases are also common and occur worldwide, whereas their components are found universally. The case study method involves an interview with the head manager of the group «Amalia» and questionnaires to the directors of the units surveyed.

3. CASE STUDIES

3.1. HOTEL AMALIA IN ATHENS

The group of hotels «Amalia» started as a coaching transportation company «Hermes en Greece», which was acquired from 1954 to 1955, by Christos Koulouvatos, which evolved into «Chat de tour». The idea of extending the company to hotel facilities came from the need to accommodate tourists of high economic status (mainly British and Americans during the first period), who, in the context of cultural experience desired to visit historical and archaeological sites. So the first hotel in Athens was constructed in the area of Syntagma Square in 1957, named after Amalia Avenue, in an district covering the capital, the historic center and the Acropolis. (Figures 5, 6). The hotel was designed and created by the rising architect Nikos Valsamakis, who was appreciated for his actualized work and maintained friendly relations with the owner. The building covers 5556 m2 area spread over 11 floors (including the basement) in a land plot of 661 m2, with a capacity of 194 beds in 97 rooms today.

The architectural design, follows the parallel modern development of Xenia project[iv] with many designing samples of qualitative tourist buildings in the same spirit, having as a main goal the creation of « creation of standards in hotel resorts» in selected areas, on the basis of «offering tourist accommodation in high class hotels, and also showing to private investors the aspired level of the new hotel facilities, that should be constructed in order to develop tourism as the new profitable, financial field in which the state aimed for». The design of all hotel units, including Amalia Hotel in Athens, in those years conveys the basic principles applied to the overall architectural composition of the shell, the architecture of interior spaces in terms of the form simplicity, natural materials, color and textures, as well as the standardization of furniture and equipment, in a holistic design concept, and with absolute consistency in the principles of early Modernism[v]. In the publication of the architect’s drafts (1958)[vi] it is mentioned characteristically: «The new hotel at the corner of Amalia Avenue and Xenophon street which will be an A class hotel, will contain 98 rooms with bath, including 30 singles and the remaining doubles. On the ground floor, reception area is provided for as well as a restaurant in the mezzanine. In the semi-basement a refreshment bar and a hair salon will operate. There will also be space for the Directorate offices and the cloakroom. In the basement the kitchens, warehouses, air conditioning and central heating units will be located. The bedroom area of 16 sq.m. (space provided for luxury hotels) will be distributed to the rest of the floors. Those located on the facade will have a view to the national garden. In the terrace of the hotel a small refreshment bar is intended for, converted to a dancing area during the summer months». The building shell has been classified as preserved, a monument of modern cultural heritage, while the interior has been fundamentally renovated twice (1994, 2006). (Figures 1,2,3,4).

The operation of this hotel corresponds to the first period of tourism development, 1950-1960, with Greece coming out heavily wounded both economically and socially of the recent war conflicts. It’s a popular destination for tourists of high income and education level, who are mainly interested in the monuments of ancient civilization. The currency devaluation in 1953 had the effect of making Greece as one of the cheapest destinations.

Figures 1, 2: Bar (1963) Source: Archives of Nikos and Maria Valsamakis’ Architectural office. Restaurant area (2007) Source: Archives of Christos Koulouvatos