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‘Greecing’ The Skids

Shaner Italia Expands Portfolio With New Properties Expected To Open In 2019

Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Dennis Nessler
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Shaner Italia, S.R.L., a division of The Shaner Hotel Group, will be adding as many as three new properties to its portfolio, two of which will be located in Greece as the result of a joint venture partnership.

The Academia of Athens Hotel, which will be part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, and the Moxy Hotel in Patras, are both scheduled to open by mid-2019. Shaner Italia, along with Athens-based CS Hospitality, will operate the brand new hotels. In addition, Shaner Italia plans to add a property on the nearby island of Cyprus as well.

Shaner Italia was formed in 2011 with a focus on operating hotels in the Mediterranean in an effort to give Shaner Hotel Group—the State College, PA-based company which operates more than 50 properties in the U.S.--another avenue of growth, according to Plato Ghinos, president, Shaner Hotel Group.

He talked about how Shaner Italia complements the overall company’s strategy.
“The growth in those European countries is much slower than what we are used to in the U.S., but we feel the opportunities are also greater because growth is slow in those countries. By finding good local partners the way we’ve done it, we feel very comfortable in growing and outperforming the market. The U.S. is maturing to a certain level so we’re looking for growth vehicles for the company,” he said.

Ghinos said he expects the Shaner Italia portfolio to be at 4 to 5 properties by the end of 2019 with additional properties in the pipeline. The company currently operates two properties in the Tuscany region of Italy; the Renaissance Tuscany IL Ciocco Resort & Spa and the Grand Universe Lucca.

He referred to Greece as a “natural market for us expanding our Italia division” and pointed out most opportunities for new hotels will be the result of conversions of older buildings.

Ghinos further explained the company’s strategy with regards to expansion. “It’s not how many projects, but we’re looking for the quality opportunities with quality partners there in great locations,” he said.

Ghinos elaborated on the current hotel landscape in Greece and why the company identified the region.
“You’re looking at a hotel infrastructure that has aged, that has a lack of capital and a lack of positioning. So we see it as perfect opportunity to expand with our expertise in bringing in the global brands,” he said.

Greece has a record year in terms of inbound tourism in 2017 with some 32 million visitors, which is also cause for optimism, according to Ghinos. “Tourism is booming right now…The good thing is it’s becoming a global destination and is attracting people year round, not just a summer vacation type clientele. The history and everything seems to be attracting a lot of the Asian and Indian markets and markets that like discovering Europe. It’s becoming part of the stop when people travel,” he said, later adding the country’s infrastructure “has greatly improved” as well.

Located in Syntagma Square in central Athens, the newly built Academia of Athens Hotel will feature 60 rooms and a rooftop garden facing the ancient Acropolis. Ghinos noted the converted office building is going to be positioned as a high-level, five- or six-star property themed as “an ancient greek library where all the philosophers used to go.”

He expects the hotel to have broad appeal. “Obviously you have the major leisure customer, but also we feel the commercial clientele that goes to Athens would be a great market for us,” he said.

The Moxy Hotel in Patras, meanwhile, is located in Patras, which is in northern Peloponnese--one of the country’s largest ports and university towns--and represents the country’s first Moxy.

“All the ships from cargo to passengers, everything leaves from that town. So it’s a busy commercial town, but most important it’s also a major university town and a Moxy would fit perfectly for that demographic of the market,” he said, in reference to Marriott’s millennial-focused brand.

Ghinos elaborated on the partnership with CS Hospitality, which he described as a “great local operator” with seasoned hotel executives which also have “a lot of U.S. experience.”

According to Ghinos, “What that is bringing is the infrastructure we deploy in the U.S., such as selecting the right brand and then operating with social media and e-commerce. It’s the expertise we are using here, which are really applicable to both the Italian and Greek markets. We are bringing those disciplines to a market that’s not as mature as ours.”

Ghinos acknowledged the company has inked a deal for another unnamed property in Cyprus, which he described as another “underserved market.” He added the company has targeted such markets where “the weather, culture and culinary experience make it a great year-round attraction for the global tourist.”

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Dennis Nessler    Dennis Nessler
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