NEWSWEEK INTERVIEW: STAVROS MITSIS
MITSIS HOTELS: A REMARKABLE DESTINATION, DEFINED BY ITS SPIRIT
As a figurehead of Greece’s champion sector, what is it about the country’s culture and unique approach to hospitality, known as ‘Philoxenia’, that make it so distinct?
Greeks emit this essence of hospitality and the uniqueness of sharing their own emotions with the visitors that transform into guests. Given that Greece had been in the financial crisis for so many years and businesses were not doing that well, there was much turmoil to be absorbed. If it were not for tourism, this essence of hospitality could have been lost. It is clear that, although things were not moving in the right direction for the rest of the country, tourism was thriving. We have been trying our best to fight the crisis off and we have found our way through via the tourism sector.
Your father established Mitsis Hotels over 40 years ago and it has since become Greece’s largest privately-owned hotel chain. Now you are at the helm, what innovative and business-savvy decisions have you made to take the group forward?
There are lots of things going on at the moment and we are preparing multiple projects for the next couple of years. We are trying our best to boost our company and facilitate its entry into a new era. In that context, innovation and modernization are key for us moving forward.
We are turning our attention toward becoming a management company as well. At the moment, we are separating hotel operations from asset management and the real estate sector. We have had the chance to organize the right teams to help us provide consulting services to other companies. We believe that we will become vertically integrated across the whole spectrum of tourism. At the
same time, we are also thinking horizontally. We can offer so many services in so many segments of the business. The second part is still under discussion, but when it comes to consulting, we are pretty much ready and are able to provide consulting to more than eight sectors already. The name of our company will be Philoxenia.
Now more than ever, travelers seek rich experiences and unique activities that deliver a highly curated, authentic product. Why is Greece the ultimate destination for the experience-seeking traveler?
Our geographic location offers many different sceneries. In addition to that, you can meet different people in each place, leading to different specialties, such as unique gastronomies. In other words, it is the richness of this country that creates endless possibilities. The idea behind the versatility of Greece is based upon the right mentality that markets and enables it. In the past, this was not within our scope. The country was not extroverted and that was due to various reasons, historical or not. Now, we are fed up with the situation we have been through throughout all those years, even before the crisis broke out. It was about time that we bounced back, psychologically and economically. The government has shown true extroversion, in an attempt to revolutionize Greece in many aspects.
What is your vision for sustainability within your hotels and their local environments?
We have to go all the way and become 100 percent green. Last year, we were awarded with Travelife’s gold certification for accommodation sustainability and in two years we aim to acquire the ISO 14001:2015 certificate for environmental management and sustainability. The idea is to be able to recycle 100 percent of the garbage that we produce, go 100 percent green and leave zero footprint on the environment. We will be recycling on site and through some external partners. We started a couple of years ago, but the goal is to reach the maximum in these regards.