Construction of the upcoming Hard Rock Casino at Hellinikon in Athens, Greece, is set to begin. Hard Rock International and ATHEX-listed conglomerate GEK Terna Group held a special event on Wednesday, signaling the official start of their partnership for the construction and operation of an integrated resort and casino, to open in 2026.
The venue will be located in the Athens Riviera area, within the context of “The Ellinikon” development, a “city within a city” at the site of Athens' former international airport. Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Athens is described in a press release as set to become “a unique destination in Europe.”
The resort will feature a 5-star luxury hotel and a world-class gaming floor. Additionally, it will include a premier meeting and convention space, a state-of-the-art entertainment venue, internationally renowned food and beverage, a luxurious Rock Spa and Pool Complex, and a high-end retail promenade.
"We are thrilled to announce the partnership with GEK TERNA Group and further expand Hard Rock's reach across the globe in the great City of Athens," said Jim Allen, Hard Rock International Chairman. "This development will bring over 3,000 jobs to the people of Greece and we look forward to bringing our unique brand of entertainment to provide an unparalleled experience for guests of all ages."
A press statement describes Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Athens as “an international destination, offering its visitors an exciting mix of entertainment, food and beverage,” plus accommodations embracing the Mediterranean climate and providing special outdoor spaces.
"This development will create a premium tourism spot, expected to offer employment to thousands of people, yield significant revenues to the public sector, and add value to Greece's brand," said George Peristeris, Chairman and CEO of GEK Terna Group. "Along with Hard Rock, we are realizing a private investment of over 1 billion euros, reaffirming our trust in Greece's prospects and potential."
The development calls for a casino comprising 200 tables and 2,000 gaming machines, plus a tower that consists of more than 1,000 guest rooms and suites overlooking the waterfront or views across Athens to the Parthenon. Additionally, it will include “the highest outdoor rooftop terrace in Athens,” with a rooftop pool deck, bars, and the Rock Spa and Body Rock Fitness.
Construction of the project is expected to begin within the first months of 2023, and last about three years, setting the opening of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Athens in 2026. Visual media, including renderings of the project, has already been made available.
The design of the project draws its inspiration from what the companies call “basic Greek elements,” such as the sea, the arts and ancient mythology. There will be combined with “the modern requirements of architecture and the inescapable need for harmonious integration” of the project in its environment and location.
Open spaces, gardens and water features are key elements of the project’s design, a press release explains, with total green open space covering close to 205,000 m2. The central tower of the resort draws its inspiration from nautical references, incorporating in its design the waves, the sails and the lighthouse.
Built on three levels, the tower has three different orientations corresponding to the reference points located “within the imaginary triangle that is formed around the project”: the Acropolis, the sea and Mount Hymettus. “Its iconic shape will serve as a symbol of the region and reference the importance of the connection between land, sea and sky,” the parties say.
Meanwhile, the Hard Rock Live’s theater will entertain audiences of 3,000, while the stage extends to the exterior for outdoor festivals and concerts with an additional 7,500 seats. It is inspired by the ancient Greek amphitheater, and the outdoor lawn will bring together culture and entertainment, “harmonically bridging the Hard Rock brand with the Greek lifestyle.”
The resort’s outdoor village will include a variety of retail, high-end local and international restaurants, dining terraces and bar and lounge spaces. Meanwhile, the conference and exhibition center, which exceeds 23,000 m2, will provide a large expo hall, ballrooms, meeting areas and support spaces.
The 30-year concession of the project is a partnership between Hard Rock International (51%) and GEK TERNA Group (49%), with the latter also being responsible for the entire construction of the venue. The concession to develop the millionaire resort was signed earlier this month.
While Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment won the bid to build the complex in November 2019, the company then pulled out of the deal. The IRC Athens consortium, with GEK TERNA as its main shareholder, then secured the license at a price of EUR 150 million ($156 million). Hard Rock afterward acquired 51% of the joint venture, making it the majority partner.