This is the story of George Kritsidimas, his family and their Hotel Byzantinon. The story is set amid an olive and orange grove overlooking the Myrtoan Sea, at the foot of the eastern Parnon Mountains in Greece’s Peloponnese.
Getting to know the family while staying at their hotel is one of those experiences – the kind so rich, that trying to wrap it up in words is difficult.
Perhaps, it is because it is the story that happens when places become people.
The Scout found Hotel Byzantinon, located in the small village called Poulithro, while web surfing prior to our trip to Greece. We knew nothing of the area; hotel reviews were positive. It was one of the few places we booked ahead of time.
Little did we know then, what a goldmine of accommodation and experiences he’d found for us. Our studio was spacious and luxurious.
The bed’s comfort and sheet quality appeared to rival that of a Marriott hotel, we remarked to each other, as we settled in. (Sometimes Greek mattresses can be firm-to-rock hard)
For that matter, pretty much everything in the unit was something of “Marriott quality”. The studio’s size, in fact, much larger than those of Marriott Vacation Clubs in which we’ve stayed.
After so much Marriott talk, we were a bit surprised when we set out to explore the common areas of the hotel and found this - part of a framed display -- on a stairwell:
That would be Bill Marriott, CEO of Marriott Corporation on the left and George next to him in the middle. That medal he’s holding in this photo is the one he’s wearing in the opening photo.
It wasn’t until later in the day, when George returned from tending his vineyard high in the hills beyond the hotel, that we learned about the Marriott connection.
Turns out that in 2003 George was one of 12 out of Marriott’s some 4,000 employees world-wide to receive the corporation’s Award of Excellence.
He was the only employee so named outside the United States that year. The photo display highlights other moments that he and his wife shared during a whirlwind award trip to the ceremonies which were held in Washington DC.
You see, George, age 67, opened his Hotel Byzantinon after retiring from the Marriott Corporation. He’d ended a 30-plus-year career as the doorman at Athen’s Ledra Marriott Hotel. If you stayed there or even walked past it during his tenure, you might recognize the uniformed George in the photo below:
Memories and stories. George has many from his years meeting and greeting travelers from all stations in life.
Our incessant questions finally prompted him one morning to dig out a memory box filled with photos, the medal, and additional award certificates he’d received for outstanding service over the years. George took us on a trip down memory lane with him -- a most special moment in our Greek travels.
Bill Marriott would continue to be proud of this Marriott-ambassador (pictured here with his son, Christos). George speaks highly of the corporation and warmly about the Marriott family.
Because in George’s heart, there is nothing more important than family. Maybe that’s why he made us feel so much a part of his.
That’s it for now.You'll hear more about George in future posts and I’ve got a ‘honey’ of a tale about his son, Christos – so hope to see you back here soon! It is Travel Photo Thursday so head over to Nancie’s Budget Travelers Sandbox for more armchair travel. Then check out Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom?
Click the link for more information on Hotel Byzantinon. And, for those curious ones out there: we paid 60-euro a night, about $75US. Our rate included (a fabulous!) daily breakfast.