ILIAS KOKOTOS, Director, ELOUNDA SA HOTELS & RESORTS
Ilias Kokotos, Director of Elounda SA Hotels & Resorts, talks to SPACE Editor Can Faik about how they are making guests feel welcome across their portfolio…
The Family of Spyros and Eliana Kokotos have been in the hotel business all their lives. Spyros Kokotos, an architect, has been specialising in hotels, while Eliana Kokotos was literally born in the hotels that her father, Elias Sotirchos, managed and owned. The two founders of the Elounda tradition met in Crete during the late 1960s, a time when tourism in Crete was in its nascence, and bought land in Elounda with the intent of developing the best holiday destination in the whole country of Greece.
What does your current position involve?
I am the marketing director and a member of the board of directors as Elounda S.A hotels & resorts is a family owned company.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
As a marketing director, I have a very varied role, however I really enjoy the creative elements of my job. Throughout our three properties we host photoshoots, create new websites and brochures, in addition to all the creativity around promoting the beautiful hotels and area.
What are the complexities of meeting the demands of investors, fulfilling the growth of your management team and delivering the brand’s values to the guests?
We are a family owned company and therefore our customer is at the core of our brand and we are truly passionate about their satisfaction. As we are in daily contact with our clients, delivering the brand’s values to our guests through dedication, excellence and customer service is something which is really appreciated by them.
What will Elounda SA Hotels & Resorts have to do to stay one step ahead of its competition, especially in the boutique hospitality sector?
What Elounda S.A Hotels & Resorts has been doing the last 30 years is investing! For us to keep being a step ahead we need to offer our guests new services and facilities especially since we have a very large number of repeat guests. Some of our customers have been repeat visitors for over 30 years and providing something unique and different for them over the years whilst maintaining the expected levels of excellence throughout takes dedication.
What are Elounda SA Hotels & Resorts’ unique selling points?
The key unique selling point of Elounda SA Hotels & Resorts is that we can provide the highest level of service throughout our three boutique hotels, however at the same time offer the facilities of a resort. We offer three beaches to choose from, the only Relais and Chateaux yacht in the world, the only golf course within a resort in Crete, the only Six Senses Spa on the island and the largest kids club in the area. There are a lot of USPs for guests visiting any of our 3 properties.
What is next for the Elounda SA Hotels & Resorts as in new projects?
For the start of the 2018 season, we have just opened a four-bedroom beachfront villa at the Elounda Mare hotel, keeping the traditional style of decoration of the hotel. For 2019 we are planning a whole new waterfront concept for Porto Elounda and Elounda Peninsula, with new pools, sun loungers, bars and recreation areas.
Do you have future plans for expansion to the existing resort or beyond?
Our motto is “even if you are the best, you can always get better” so this is the way we view plans for expansion. We are constantly renovating the properties to try to offer our guests new facilities and services. Plus looking to the future with the key expansions for 2019.
Are Elounda SA Hotels & Resorts looking at any countries in particular for new openings?
We believe that to be able to offer the high level of personal service we are renowned for to our guests we need to be concentrated in one area. On the other hand as our properties are seasonal, we would consider opening a hotel in a winter destination.
Where would you love to open an Elounda SA Hotels & Resorts property?
I personally would love to open a ski resort.
How do you balance the management of three such individual properties?
The most difficult part of my job as a marketing director is to communicate how different our three hotels are:
Elounda Mare is very authentic with a strong sense of place, the only Relais & Chateaux property on the island. Elounda Peninsula is the only waterfront all-suite hotel and villas in Europe and Porto Elounda is the only golf & spa resort in Crete. They all attract a unique audience with different desires and needs and therefore our team needs to be able to cater to these needs efficiently.
Have you noticed any trends in hotel design?
I think that in the last five years there is a trend for hotels with a sense of place and a keen identity. I feel that guests are tired of corporate hotels that could be anywhere in the world and they are looking for an “experience” and a hotel with a strong identity which should follow through even with regards to how the hotel is designed.
How important do you feel hotel design has become when launching a luxury hotel?
For me the most important thing for a luxury hotel is space. I have visited five star hotels that have all the amenities that they should have but the rooms or the public areas are very small or very crowded. For me this is not luxury. Therefore for me luxury hotel design should focus around the maximisation of space to ensure a luxurious and relaxed atmosphere.
What would you say are the three best places you’ve ever stayed?
I have been lucky to travel around the world and I have seen amazing places but honestly I have never found another place that offers everything that Elounda offers: the fact that you really rest. You can stay for a week and not get into a car if you don’t want to, there is so much choice. For people like me who travel and work consistently throughout the year, this is something very important.
Where currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?
At this moment, Japan. I would love to visit and I hope I will manage to.
Let’s finish with the issue of personal and work life balance. How do you aim to achieve a good balance and what do those closest to you think of your attempts?
In family business it is very difficult to maintain a personal and work life balance, because you get emotionally involved in your work. It influences you much more than it should, because of that personal attachment. The only thing that I have managed to do consistently over the last year is to close my email on my phone after 21:00 every day. That way I have three hours before sleep on week days and four-five hours at weekends that I can’t be reached by anyone.