Industry Update
Opinion Article24 October 2016

The Best of Crete: Aldemar Resorts Treats Cosmonauts Well

By Phil Butler, Analyst and Editor in Chief at Argophilia Travel News

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Back in July I covered a story of International Space Station (ISS) crewmembers re-acclimating on Crete, for Sputnik International. This month ISS cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka spent mission critical time on the island, ending their reentry mission at the magnificent the Aldemar Thalasso Resort in Hersonissou. I had the opportunity to speak with the Director of Aldemar Resorts, Alexandros Angelopoulos about how these Roscosmos monitored programs for cosmonauts came about, and how the initiatives can benefit Crete tourism.

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When the famous Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko ended is mission on the Greek island, the world's friendliest destination got a PR boost. Crete, world renowned for its climate, the diet, and the free spirited good will of its people, has always been something of a Mecca for those in need of stress relief. From the touristic value standpoint, marketing Crete is usually about resending the message. Extending the season there, has always been the hurdle, but presenting the island to a Russian outbound market is yet another great potential. I discussed this briefly with Mr. Angelopoulos. Here is that Q & A.

Phil Butler: Given that Aldemar has played host to Roscosmos cosmonauts on three occasions; do you see this program expanding? What other guest values do you see arising?

Alexandros Angelopoulos: When this program started back in 2015, the Municipality of Hersonissos and Mr. Avgerinos in particular proposed that we accommodate the Roscosmos cosmonauts for the duration of their rehabilitation program in Crete; a proposal that we proudly accepted. Aldemar Resorts will always respond positively to such kinds of initiatives that showcase the high standards of Greek hospitality, and also serve to reposition Greece on the global tourism map as a destination that offers top-quality services and a wealth of experiences. Of course, there is room for development in that area, given that the whole idea fits into the context of wellbeing as an integral part of vacationing in Greece. To that end, we are in the process of launching a new, all-inclusive experiential holiday package in Royal Mare Resort of Crete, called "Elements All-In", promoting the elements of relaxation, wellness and healthy lifestyle.

Phil Butler: How big a role do you think aspects like Thalassotherapy play in programs for wellness, such as those prepared for the cosmonauts?

Alexandros Angelopoulos: Thalassotherapy, undoubtedly, plays a vital role in any wellness-related program. It is the closest thing to a natural treatment, as it uses the most known source of eternal life that stems from the depths of the rich seas of the Mediterranean, derived mostly from seaweeds and minerals. Not only that, but Thalassotherapy is the mildest form of therapy or care treatment, appropriate for the majority of the population, as it does not exclude people with health-related issues. When we talk about Thalassotherapy in Greece, it is almost as if we are talking about a brand name.

Our Thalasso and Spa Centre in Aldemar Royal Mare has been recognized as Greece's Best Wellness retreat for 2016 at the World Spa Awards and is listed among the top Thalasso and Spa Centres of the world. All these distinctions validate our continuous efforts to provide our guests with advanced and premium Thalasso and Spa services.

Phil Butler: Many of the stories about these cosmonaut visits talk about relaxation, even the climate of Crete, but how big a role does diet play?

Alexandros Angelopoulos: Nowadays, nutrition or diet is included among the basic selection criteria for a traveler to choose a particular destination, and at Aldemar Resorts we make sure that it is one of our top priorities. Diet plays a key role, especially when we talk about Cretan diet which is considered to be one of the healthiest diets in the world. However, diet by itself is just an individual component. In order to get the "full effect" of wellness, one has, not only to combine it with activities, but also to provide an environment that fosters relaxation, along with conditions that favor this feeling of serenity and the urge of letting go, as is the case with the unique climate of Greece. Only then will we able to come up with "the complete set of Cretan Hospitality" for our guests.

The program being developed for these cosmonauts is not only about luxurious digs and swimming in the pristine Cretan Sea. This "full effect" Mr. Angelopoulos talks about is even more of a fundamental value for regenerative care. This component has been a bit lost in the reporting of cosmonauts meeting with Crete officials and doing photo ops. Even this writer has had difficulty getting down to brass tacks and the full potential here. As Angelopoulos says, the "feeling of serenity" is vital, and not just for cosmonauts returning from 6 months in no gravity. When we visit Crete, when our friends do, this "letting go" aspect is predominant in the psyche.

Aldemar, in cooperation with Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, organizer Thanassis Avgerinos, and EyeWide Digital worked with local authorities and hospitality businesses to develop new age therapies and touristic offers for visitors to Greece. Aldemar is one of the leading hotel chains in Greece with a total 5,500-bed capacity and 1,800 employees.

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