Olympic Contender

Often considered the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy, Athens, Greece, has certainly earned its share of bragging rights. It's a city that can lay claim to many firsts, such as hosting the first modern-day Olympic games, on account of its long and illustrious history. Despite its longevity as one of the world's oldest cities, it isn't the first place most people think of when it comes to spas. Seeking to change that perception, the Athenaeum InterContinental Athens introduced I-SPA by Algotherm. Opened in January, the spa provides guests with a soothing environment in which to decompress from the stresses of everyday life.

 One of the spa's wet areas features comfortable loungers on which guests can relax before or after their treatments.
One of the spa's wet areas features comfortable loungers on which guests can relax before or after their treatments.

The decision to partner with Algotherm was a simple one considering the history between the two companies. "InterContinental had already forged a strong relationship with Algotherm in creating spas at the InterContinental Paris Le Grand and the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa," says resident manager Marco Franck. "We felt that it was beneficial to us, based on our sister hotels' positive experiences with Algotherm, to partner with them for the Athens operation." According to aesthetic services manager Sikseris Dimitris, the relationship helps set the spa apart, making it the only one in Greece to be managed by Algotherm and to use the France-based marine brand.



In creating the menu, the spa looked to its sister spas at the InterContinental Paris Le Grand and the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa for inspiration. "We wanted to keep the same standard of service and offer Algotherm signature treatments, such as the Deep Blue Massage and the InterContinental Jet-lag Massage," says Dimitris. "However, we did adapt the menu slightly to suit the local market. For example, we offer more slimming treatments and packages for locals."

Guests can help themselves to a beverage before entering the spa or fitness center.
Guests can help themselves to a beverage before entering the spa or fitness center.

Notwithstanding the spa's local flavor, its best-selling treatment thus far is the Deep Blue Massage ($186, 90 minutes), an Algotherm signature treatment. "The idea of the massage is to transport guests to the island of Bora Bora," says Dimitris. "Utilizing the benefits of deep seawater products, the massage includes a moisturizing oil effleurage using marine poultices followed by a massage combining relaxation techniques and Polynesian know-how." Although Algotherm is the exclusive skincare product supplier, the spa is also looking to introduce an organic French makeup line.

The spa's use of color light therapy, such as in one of the  wet treatment rooms, helps enhance the treatments.
The spa's use of color light therapy, such as in one of the wet treatment rooms, helps enhance the treatments.

Designed by architect René Damian Pier of Stuttgart, Germany, the spa features an original design concept that is inspired by traditional Greek architecture. For instance, the wet areas have pebble flooring and soft-edged forms that are reminiscent of homes found on the Cycladic islands, such as Mykonos and Santorini. With a VIP suite that can be divided into three treatment rooms, two wet treatment rooms, two massage rooms, and one esthetics room, the spa can accommodate up to 60 clients a day. This summer, the spa also began offering treatments in open-air spa suites near the hotel's outdoor pool.

Spa-goers can indulge in various Algotherm  signature treatments, which draw on the benefits of seawater.
Spa-goers can indulge in various Algotherm signature treatments, which draw on the benefits of seawater.

Although the spa is still relatively new, Dimitris claims it is already experiencing an even split between hotel guests and locals. Attracting both business and leisure guests, the hotel, like the rest of Greece, experiences its high season in the summer. Not surprisingly, this plays a role in staffing, as the number of spa employees varies from eight to 15, depending on the season. To ensure therapists are properly prepared, the spa requires that all therapists undergo a comprehensive, ongoing training program that addresses both technical and language skills. "Training is organized locally and with the French international trainers of the brand," says Dimitris. "The company is also starting a program for therapists to visit and work for a couple of months in other Algotherm centers around the world to give them an international background and experience."

Because the spa is new to the scene, expectations are high to make a great first impression. "Our biggest challenge is to successfully position the new I-SPA as the best spa in Greece and among the leading hotels internationally," says Dimitris. According to him, the challenge in opening in the InterContinental was creating a sanctuary of relaxation and well-being in the busy city of Athens. Playing host to a truly international crowd, both the city and the hotel attract their fair share of worldly travelers. According to Franck, 18 percent of the hotel's guests hail from the U.S. Says Dimitris, "At the I-SPA by Algotherm, we are dedicated to fulfilling the needs of all nationalities by offering a variety of treatments that satisfy even the most demanding of Greek and non-Greek spa-goers."

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