by Isabella Zampetakis
“We owe it to our guests to offer our very best.”
Panagiotis Goutos, Civil Engineer and General Manager of G.KTIZEIN, addresses the architectural issues relevant to tourism today.
At what stage of development is the Hermione Hills? What are the architectural features that characterize the hotel?
PG .: The Hermione Hills is a tourism development project consisting of a 4-star hotel situated in a 45-acre olive grove close to Kranidi and Hermione in Argolida, in the eastern Peloponnese. The hotel is designed to accommodate a variety of tourism activities, including cookery lessons, congress tourism and agro-tourism. Our goal is to continuously operate the hotel throughout the year.
Like all of us, the Hermione Hills is moving at a pace dictated by the economic reality of Greece today. On the other hand, those of us participating in the project have not lost our courage. We have completed the architectural studies, which are actually in the advanced stage. We have also completed the business plan and a complete communication study. Further, we have received the suitable approval from the Greek National Tourist Organisation and are in the definition phase of the financing scheme. We hope that, in these difficult economic times, the resources are found for developing the project. The official development program providing financial support for young entrepreneurs and SMEs – the main focus of the development policy, has, unfortunately, not been put into practice. Recently, in our area, there have been large scale investments in hotels estimated at 400 million Euros. In medium-scale investments … all is quiet! Here, we must emphasize the complete absence of the banking sector.
Bioclimatic architecture is a topic of much discussion in the hotel industry. Beyond a popular “trend”, how do you effectively implement the principles into the design, construction and operation of a hotel?
CP .: In the design phase of bioclimatic architecture, the architect is influenced by the idea that the structure and environment must coexist harmoniously. But, shouldn’t it always be this way? The time for designing technical projects, without taking into consideration environmental factors , has elapsed. Bioclimatic design has to become the rule, not the trend. In constructing a hotel, emphasis on environmental friendliness and selecting high quality materials clearly affects the cost but at a rate that is acceptable. The hotelier will gain from operational efficiency reinforcing the benefits of his choices and provide a return on his ‘investment’. The hotel operates with low energy consumption, a clear competitive advantage and added value in the real estate market, but also with the many fanatic supporters of bioclimatic architecture.
What are the latest trends in the relationship between the architectural space and the quality of guest experience? What is the minimum cost to create a special experience?
CP .: My personal vision is a holistic experience for the guest. The essence of your question, the relationship between architecture and experience, is deeply philosophical and expressed in one word: harmony. The cost cannot be measured in economical terms; it has to do with the human mind transforming a vision into reality and, in this sense, it is invaluable.
What are the architectural issues that you consider important to the Greek hospitality industry today?
CP .: All, or maybe just one: its existence. Architectural design should be everywhere, in our schools, our cities, our parks, in the rooms of our homes. This is how I perceive the Greek tradition of “philoxenia”( hospitableness and welcome). We owe it to our guests to offer our very best; the best food, the best hospitality for creating the best impression. It is incorrect thinking to believe that, as exceptional as a hotel might be or our natural beauty, the guest visiting the neighboring town, village or the Greek countryside, where irresponsibility prevails — the rubbish, the ugliness, and complete absence of architectural concept and design — will eventually return home with an excellent impression. Personally, permit me to say, I even find the new El. Venizelos airport unattractive. It saddens me every time I travel to think that with the construction of this project, the main gate of our country, we have lost the opportunity for something truly unique. If we want to think long term, with commitment, we have to immediately safeguard the concept of architecture, in every project, in every location, in every corner of our country.
Hotel and Restaurant
Executive Briefing for Tourism and Hospitality Professionals