Posted in People on 11 January, 2023

With more than 20 years of experience in hotel management, appointing Iro Orri as managing director was an obvious choice when Epoque Collection launched in 2019. Three years on, Emma Kennedy caught up with Iro to hear how the brand has developed and their plans for the future.

Where did your passion for the hospitality industry come from and what was your first role?
I come from a multicultural family, my father is Saudi Arabian and my mother is Greek, and as a child we used to travel to different places and stay at unique hotels all the time. Even at a young age, I remember how captivated I was every time we stepped into a hotel. I would take in the welcoming smiles of the team, the scent of each place, the plushness of the pillows and the delicious tastes with admiration. 

My first job was in a commercial shipping company, and within a couple of years, I knew that is not where I wanted to be. I then moved to a luxury yacht company, Golden Yachts, and I was grateful to become part of it from its early years, contributing to what it developed into in the years to come. I spent 11 years with the company and loved every minute of it. After that, I moved to Grace Hotels Group, a luxury boutique hotel brand of which again I was part of from day one. With properties all around the world, I saw the brand come to life and flourish into something which gave me countless experiences and contributed greatly to who I am today.

xenodocheio Milos and Atoles Retreat

Where are you currently based?
Athens Greece, although I do travel quite a lot to beautiful islands such as Mykonos and Santorini to visit our managed hotels. I love the diversification of living in Athens. One day you may choose to stay local and enjoy the neighbourhoods of the city, bustling with gastronomy, culture and shopping options, and the next you may want a stroll by the sea or a hike in the mountains, taking in the entire city from above.

When did Epoque Collection launch and how did you become involved?
Epoque Collection was launched in 2019 and I was very privileged to have been trusted and offered the responsibility of successfully building the company from the start together with the Founder and CEO Dimos Stasinopoulos. My role was to setup the company which included everything from branding, team hiring, setting its Mission and DNA, as well as being responsible for the successful opening of all our managed properties, always together with our incredible team. 

What was the ambition behind Epoque Collection?
Our aim when we started was to be the pioneers in luxury boutique hotel management for new and existing high-end luxury hotels, villas, and resorts in Greece. We have continued to grow in that field offering our expertise and personalised solutions based on each property’s potential. At Epoque Collection, we want to redefine the essence of luxury and set a mark in each destination we operate in by providing unwavering quality and tailor-made solutions that enhance the customer experience.

For us it’s all about genuine care; towards our team, our guests and the owners of the properties that we manage.

xenodocheio Milos and Atoles Retreat

Could you tell us a little about some of the properties in the Epoque Collection portfolio?
Currently, we embody a blend of breath-taking hotels in desired destinations with authentic gastronomic experiences and the ultimate immersion of luxury. Xenodocheio Milos, housed in an impressive neoclassical mansion built in 1880 – also the first hotel of the renowned restaurant brand Milos – celebrates the best of Greek heritage, art and cuisine. The Kefalari Suites, an elegant quintessential 19th century mansion nestled in a little tree-lined avenue in a suburb of Athens, is all about exclusivity, privacy and services with modern business amenities. This year we have also been responsible for the opening and management of N Hotel, a beautiful property located in the renowned Psarou beach on Mykonos, as well as the opening of a boutique gem in the relatively undiscovered village of Finikia on Santorini, Danae Suites. At the same time, our occasional involvement in the Sales & Marketing representation of selected luxury villas and smaller properties are also an ongoing challenge which we find very exciting too.

We are also proud that our very first Epoque Collection hotel, OMMA Santorini which opened in 2018, has re-opened this year as Nobu Santorini – being the first property of the renowned brand in Greece. This showcases the uniqueness of this sanctuary which we always considered to be a true hidden gem on the most exclusive and private location of the island overlooking the breath-taking Caldera.

For us, it’s always been about working with unique hotels in the right location that offer one-of-a-kind experiences. So, whilst our focus is on Athens, Mykonos and Santorini, we are also keeping an eye and are in discussions for projects and properties in less discovered, yet equally beautiful Greek destinations.

Clockwise: The Kefalari Suites and xenodocheio Milos

What are you responsible for as Managing Director and what does your typical day look like?
I am responsible for the overall success of the business, through developing and executing the company’s business strategies, preparing and implementing comprehensive business plans to facilitate achievement as well as controlling and overseeing all business operations, people and ventures. I ensure that the company is constantly moving towards fulfilling its short-term and long-term objectives and does not diverge from its strategic guidelines. The day usually involves calls and meetings with our Head Office team and the General Managers of our properties to determine any day-to-day challenges or incidents that require attention. At the same time, we continuously review financial results and business forecasts, making any necessary adjustments to ensure the properties’ overall annual success for our owners. Depending on the time year, the day could be more focused on sales, marketing and strategic direction planning, whilst it also involves a significant amount of operations management. I think anyone in the field of hospitality can agree that there is no typical day as each one is different. I guess this is actually part of what we love about being in this industry!

Which aspect of the role do you find most challenging/most rewarding?
We consider Epoque Collection to be one of the best management companies in Greece as we have a proven track record in hotel operations with a focus on openings, sometimes even with extremely challenging turnaround periods of merely a couple of weeks since handover.

The properties we manage all provide unique concepts with a different story to tell, which we have very carefully designed and ensure we remain loyal to each brand and product offering on all levels, hence ensuring a consistent guest experience of the highest standards.

Our strong asset is definitely our team, who provide significant hospitality expertise each in their own field. But what makes us even prouder is the way our teams work together, support each other and have a can-do attitude no matter the challenge. 

What do you believe drives the demand for the Boutique hotel experience?
In recent years, I think the demand for boutique hotels has grown exponentially. More and more travellers are looking for experiences that are not only bespoke but also provide a memorable holiday experience. When it comes to boutique hotels, I believe three things really make them stand out. One, exclusivity. Each hotel pays great attention to every detail of the hotel’s offerings from its unique style to its distinct character that enchants guests the minute they step through the door. Another, authenticity. From the hotel design and architecture to the specific services provided, each hotel is a complimentary extension of the destination it is located in, its history and its culture. Lastly, personalisation. Boutique hotels have the opportunity to provide experiences and services that are tailored to the needs of each individual and provide value to their stay.

What do you look for in a potential property?
For Epoque Collection, spectacular location and bespoke service is key. Whether it’s a hotel in the heart of the city or a secluded retreat near the sea, each location needs to offer exceptional experiences that complement its surroundings. Another factor to consider would be luxury which must be paired with holistic tailored guest experiences that stimulates all five senses. At our hotels, we want guests to feel the personalised exclusivity and genuine care while they immerse themselves in the experiences of the destination. Overall, we are quite particular and specific with the properties that we add to our portfolio to ensure that we are always able to stay true to our DNA and guest promise. 

What are your Epoque Collections plans for future growth?
I think it is important to keep in mind that COVID has brought about a lot of turmoil and has taught us that no matter how carefully and strategically we plan, we should always be ready for the unexpected. Nevertheless, we are privileged to be running a very promising company with the vision of an entrepreneur that is always on the lookout for new challenges and exciting opportunities. In the years to come, Epoque Collection has a stable development vision of adding unique properties to our portfolio, responding to an everchanging and dynamic hospitality sector that is rapidly developing in Greece.

What would you like Epoque Collection guests to take away from your hotels?
Well, this depends not only on the property, but also on the destination. However, I would say that we want our guests to understand we will always go over and above on even the smallest details and this is because we genuinely care.



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