Even in a year where we’re increasingly working remotely from home, certain functions, like in-field market research and building business relationships can’t be easily substituted. Such was the motivation for Olivier Vidal’s move to Athens last year. He’s been staying in one of Blueground’s fully furnished apartments since last August and is considering renting another one of our turnkey homes in Dubai or Los Angeles this winter.
Blueprint sat down with Olivier to get his take on Athens, moving during the lockdown, and why renting with Blueground is a smart proposition.
Could you tell us about yourself in a few words?
I grew up in the southwest of France, near Bordeaux, between the vineyards and the Atlantic coast. I then lived in Bordeaux, Paris, and the Paris region. I have my own POS (point of sale) software company, Melkal.
And so you do business in Greece?
Not at the moment, but I’m thinking about it. This is one of the reasons why I moved to Athens, to study if it has market opportunities.
Why did you choose to rent an apartment with Blueground?
A hotel wasn’t a solution for a long stay, so I looked for another suitable accommodation.
Renting an apartment was also not suitable because I didn’t have time to visit places, study contracts in another language, and set up utilities like water, electricity, telephone, etc.
Most of the time the furnished apartments are poorly equipped and ugly. The ads don’t show enough photos and the reality is often far from what is advertised.
If a problem happens in the apartment, what do you do? In this country it isn’t easy to find an emergency technician, so I can’t even imagine in a foreign country…
During the first few months, I chose my apartments with Airbnb. It’s a simple and flexible solution, since the rating system allows you to get an idea of the apartment’s quality. But I was more and more disappointed. You don’t feel at home, their rating system seems wrong and spammed, and I had more and more bad surprises.
Is that when you discovered Blueground?
Yes, I just searched on Google and I immediately loved it! At first, I hesitated because it seemed too good to be true, but I finally took the big step!
What did you like the most?
Everything! The apartments are always well decorated and furnished, the neighborhoods are always very well chosen, the rates are clear, and we have the possibility to book an apartment just before arriving in a new country. Blueground also pays for us the services of water, electricity, internet, maintenance, repair, etc.
All this, without providing a whole bunch of documents. Everything is done online as if you were buying a pencil sharpener on Amazon!
One of the differences from Airbnb is that with Blueground, if I want to stay in the apartment after the end of the contract, I can! I have priority, so I can extend my stay without the stress of knowing that another person is coming.
And once in the apartment?
I was a little stressed when I arrived. I had to choose the apartment while I was away from home at the same time as Covid restrictions were in place. Moreover, I had never before tested Blueground’s services.
But as soon as I arrived, I was reassured. The apartment was exactly as in the photos: new, clean, well furnished, with quality amenities. It looked like a model apartment of a construction program!
I feel good in the apartment. Unlike a hotel or a classic apartment, I moved into a warm, well-thought-out and complete apartment. It’s worry-free accommodation: all services are included.
What about Athens?
I really love this town! Of course, it has nothing to do with Paris or London architecture, because it is a modern city that was built quickly.
From the beginning, you feel good without a specific reason. There’s the “dolce vita” of the cities of the south and an unsuspected dynamism.
I am surprised every day to discover the local industrial and entrepreneurial fabric growing much faster than people around the world think. A good example is Beat, a mobile taxi service. This is a great Greek start-up growing all over the world which has overtaken Uber. It’s rare and no one did it in France.
Even the small companies are very dynamic and professional. I discovered Valania, a company that makes wonderful soaps with all-natural materials. You can see the passion and excellence they put into their products! It is a beautiful example of the Greek productive revival.
In my neighborhood, I like to go to Proskopon Square. There are some nice addresses, especially a Greek café-restaurant that I love, Epireia. It’s run by an extraordinary family and team.
Creating a “café-restaurant” is easy, giving it a particular charm, a soul, is much more difficult. For me, it’s an alchemy between a place, an ambition, and beautiful human qualities. The Greeks are masters at creating this alchemy.
In Paris, we don’t know how to do that anymore! Epireia is a beautiful symbol of this Greek know-how.
I also feel safer in Athens than in Paris. A great success for this country that is going through a difficult period. I think it’s due to better population cohesion. It must certainly have other reasons, but I don’t see which ones at the moment…
My feeling is that the beauty of Athens is its people. Much less demonstrative than the Italians, but very warm, always ready to help, and reliable. I met some amazing people there.
Would you take over a Blueground apartment?
Without hesitation! Working in the startup world, I even wonder how in France we didn’t have this idea before! Paris is full of startups, it is one of the most touristic cities in the world, housing problems are particularly important, and real estate rental contracts are extraordinarily complex.
It is clear to me that Paris should have created a Blueground-type of service a long time ago, yet the spark and dynamism were born in Athens.
Finally, do you have any advice for future Blueground customers?
Take the plunge!
To close out our chat with Olivier, we’ll be leaving you with this new local’s recommendations for seeing Athens’ best side:
Last year changed the way we communicate, travel, and work — and we’re all still figuring it out in 2021. Whether you’re working remotely or heading into an office, Blueground’s turnkey homes are perfect for anyone looking for flexibility.