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.
Interesting story :)ReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by today!ReplyDelete
Hi Jackie, what a lovely hotel find with an interesting back story! Such a gem. Look forward to read more about George and his family.ReplyDelete
We'd recommend the hotel to anyone traveling that direction. In fact we are already talking about a return trip! I do have to show you our 'find' thanks to George. . .Delete
Sounds like a great place to stay! I'll be bookmarking this location.ReplyDelete
You will love the hotel, the village and the setting. We can hardly wait to return.ReplyDelete
Lovely story, Jackie. It's great that George was able to retire from the Marriott and own his own place -- so many people never make the transition. Congrats to George! If I ever get to Poulithro, I'll be sure to check out the hotel. Thanks!ReplyDelete
Oh, I do hope you get the chance one day to meet George and his family. They so reflect the genuine warmth and welcome we received everywhere we traveled in this special country.Delete
It looks a perfect place to stay, and what a lovely story about George :)ReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by today Johanna. It was, indeed, perfect!Delete
The Scout can rest on his laurels after finding such a wonderful place to stay. Marriott must be a great employer for George to have stayed so long, and still be singing their praises today. The room looks gorgeous.ReplyDelete
I was thinking that after 30 years of dealing with travelers - the good and the bad - that I might not have chosen to open a hotel. But I am certainly glad that George didn't share that attitude!Delete
What a great story! I love the background story and finding his Marriott connection. This hotel looks wonderful and it also looks better than some of the other big hotel chain names we've stayed at. The setting sounds perfect too.ReplyDelete
Hope you get a chance to visit it someday, Mary. You would also find it one of 'those' special travel memories.Delete
It's connections and stories like these that can make travel so worthwhile, isn't it?ReplyDelete
Yes, and it does make this big, wide world feel just a bit smaller at times. Global friendships between individuals. . .a travel perk worth its weight in gold!Delete
Lucky you finding a hotel like that. Love the look of your room and it sounds like George took a great experience and put it over the top. Amazing what you find in small town Greece!! I'll look forward to the next chapter.ReplyDelete
Yes, we prefer the 'out of the way' places in Greece because they have never let us down on our 'treasure searches' and sometimes we are lucky and hit upon the treasurers without having to search very far.Delete
Looks like a great hotel and the story behind it makes it that much better! Sounds like you're having an amazing trip!ReplyDelete
The trip was amazing Lisa. We are already talking about a return!Delete
Such a sweet story, Jackie :)ReplyDelete
Thanks for stopping by, Sophie. See you next Thursday -- if not before, I hope!Delete
Love this heart-warming story about George. How funny that you were making all those Marriott connections before you found out about his background. What a wonderful experience you had feeling like family at the hotel.ReplyDelete
One of the nicest parts of our Greek travels was that warm welcome we received everywhere we went. Just a genuine feeling of being part of the group - no matter where we were staying. And George ranks high on our best of the best list - that's for sure!Delete
That's a great story. It sounds like he really took the Marriott philosophy to heart and incorporated it into his little place. I bet he was proud to pull out the medal. What an achievement! Also a great price for you stay.ReplyDelete