From the late Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi to US pop star Lady Gaga, rich and famous visitors to Athens have long chosen the Astir Palace. The complex of luxury hotels and cabanas on the Vouliagmeni peninsula, whose development was steered by the state, became the accommodation of choice for Greece’s well-heeled shipping tycoons and politicians, as well as the international jet setter. Frank Sinatra came, as did ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev and actress Brigitte Bardot, who in 1976 sent a lookalike to the beach to distract photographers. In the 1990s, Bosnian-Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic held court here as anxious diplomats tried to put a stop to bloodshed during the Balkan wars. In March 2019, the Astir reopened under the Four Seasons brand — its first Greek establishment — after a €480m privatisation and sale to Gulf and Turkish investors. The Astir redevelopment, on the so-called Athens Riviera, is emblematic of efforts to move Greece’s tourism sector further upmarket....

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