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DREAM BIG

Husband and wife hoteliers Aris Lefas and Maria Zabetaki have been married for 30 years.

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From the first moment he started working on the front desk, Aris was running after me, recalls Maria Zabetaki, who began her career as a housekeeper at Hotel Grande Bretagne, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Athens. ‘To be honest, in the beginning I didn’t take him seriously.’ Pretty quickly though, she changed her mind: ‘Aris is handsome, has a great sense of humour and is a really nice guy. I knew that other girls wanted to date him so I grabbed the chance.’ In 1989, a year after they met, Aris asked Zabetaki’s mum for Maria’s hand in marriage. Six months later, they became husband and wife. ‘I was a little surprised when he visited my mum but I decided to go for it – and thank god I did, everything is so good between us.’

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"Now the children have left home, we are celebrating our second honeymoon and rediscovering ourselves as a couple: it is the perfect time to do things together."

Fast-forward to today and the couple (he is a Director of Sales, she is a Purchasing Manager) have two grown-up sons, Christos and Nikos, who also work in tourism. ‘We are glad that we have inspired them to work in the industry, just as my father did with me,’ says Lefas. ‘He used to work in Hotel Grande Bretagne and I remember twice a year he would take me to the city parade and then we would go to the staff canteen afterwards for a meal.’

When the boys were younger, as a family they spent a week every winter in a different European capital city while summer holidays were on in the Greek islands. ‘Now the children have left home, we are celebrating our second honeymoon and rediscovering ourselves as a couple: it is the perfect time to do things together,’ he continues. At weekends they swim, go out for dinner and have fun – and that includes sometimes staying in hotels. ‘As hoteliers, we know what we’re looking for and that is a comfortable, luxurious place where we can enjoy ourselves.’

Aris and Maria at The Ritz-Carlton Budapest
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A short walk from St. Stephen's Basilica, Erzsébet Square and the River Danube, The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest places guests in the centre of one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Set within a 20th century heritage building, the hotel presents modern luxury with a tint of tradition.

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