Housing for the Olympics: dwindling, expensive

May 30, 2004|By Beverly Beyette | Beverly Beyette,Los Angeles Times

Athens hotel rooms are still available for the dates of the Olympics, but you may have to pay dearly. Private home and apartment rentals are another option.

For those still needing housing, here are some choices:

* While I was in Athens, I looked at six hotels at which Greek Hotels Reservation Center has contracted for blocks of rooms. The company, headed by Athens native George Trivizas, is endorsed by the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels and recommended by the Greek National Tourist Organization.

Trivizas still has 15 executive-class rooms in each of two deluxe hotels, the Divani Apollon Palace & Spa and the Divani Caravel, and is offering these for about $1,390 a night for a double. The nicely renovated Caravel, which has a rooftop pool, is centrally located, whereas the stunning Apollon is seaside in Vouliagmeni, 11 miles from the city's center. (There's a guest shuttle.)

The agency has 65 rooms in five other hotels, one a B-class and the others C-class properties. (Rather than a star system, Greeks classify hotels, depending upon amenities, as deluxe [five-star equivalent], and descending to A, B and C, all the way to E.) Four are in the city center, and one is six miles southwest of the city in Piraeus.

I was shown the C-class properties, on condition that I not identify them. (Trivizas said it would violate his contractual agreements.) I can recommend the small hotel in Piraeus. Although it's not fancy, it has cheerful public rooms and small, freshly painted guest rooms.

The others are problematic. When I visited, they were being renovated. I found several gloomy. All have elevators, air-conditioning and private baths.

The price per double per night for each of these properties: $500, including breakfast. "It is high," acknowledged Trivizas, giving Olympics supply and demand as the reason. Cheaper rooms can be found, he said, "but I wouldn't keep my dog there."

Greek Hotels Reservation Center requires a seven-night minimum stay, but it is possible to dovetail with another party wanting a shorter stay. For more information: call 800-736-5717; or try the Web site, www.athenshospitality.com.

* California-based Cartan Tours, the official Olympics ticket agent in the United States, has available travel packages that include airfare and accommodation (but not tickets). Cartan has an A-class hotel in the pleasant suburb of Glyfada and a deluxe hotel in the upscale suburb of Kifissis, as well as accommodations aboard the cruise ship Westerdam, which will be at Piraeus. Information: 800-360-2004; www.cartan.com.

* Far Hills, N.J.-based CoSport and Jet Set Sports have packages that include hotels and games tickets, but not airfare. The company president, Sead Dizdarevic, said he had 2,200 rooms in "top-notch properties" in central Athens as well as rooms aboard the Queen Mary 2. In early July, he plans to post "whatever we have available" in hotel inventory on the Web site. 877-457-4647; www.cosport.com.

* Another option is private home or apartment rentals. Filoxenia '04, an official Athens 2004 licensee, has properties in A, B, C and deluxe categories for a minimum of six nights. Most are near main Olympic venues. Rentals include transfers and cleaning service.

Information: 011-30-210-327-7408; www.filoxenia2004.com.

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