There are various challenges for those who drive or want to run a business in the tourism industry in Greece. Some of the most important ones are to strengthen cooperation between different organizers and invest in broader areas instead of individual villages or cities. It is in any case something that Ilias Moutzouris, co-owner of the tourist facility Titan's castle in Mani, thinks.
About the facility Titans castle in Agios Dimitrios, Mani, Peloponnese
"The Titans' Castle" is a tourist facility where one of the competitions in the Masters of Champions 2019 was recorded. Elias and I were so curious about the place, the owner and (otherwise) the possibilities for cooperation. I sent an email away and got an answer quite quickly: we were welcome to look at the facility and the owner was curious about our thoughts on cooperation.
Elias and I were dear from the first sight in the "Titans castle": well-maintained, well-planned and tastefully decorated both indoors and outdoors. We came to the facility a little earlier than the set time and I went a bit around to photograph. You gentle, I thought, which place! No wonder it was one of the selected places for the recording of Master's Masters! You can see the presentation of the "Titans' castle" for private persons here and for events, courses and group bookings here.
Pictures from the facility
When we met Ilias Moutzouris we felt at once: when open minded people meet, the magic is born! After the presentation of our own concept, Ilias showed the facility and the houses to us. We were also told about all the development plans that he and his family have for the facility. I was allowed to book a meeting for: for an interview about Mani, the art of running a business in the tourist industry and the story behind the family's Moutzouris facility "Apartments in Mani".
Travel companies in the tourism industry in Greece: interview with Ilias Moutzouris
EK: You and your family have been one of the first to believe in the idea of conducting rental activities in the area?
Correct! It is my mother who is from the area and the land belonged to her family for several generations. When my parents got married and my father decided to build a family house with rental potential here, everyone frowned.
Historically, it was always dangerous to live near the sea: the pirates often attacked and plundered households at all. So the land by the sea was not worth much, and if the ground also lacked olive trees, then it was just a loss to own the land!
Luckily, when my dad, Georg, started building houses, together with his still skeptical father-in-law, they both got a visit from a German gentleman. The German gentleman wanted to buy the land for a hundred million drachmas! "Hmmm, Georg, you might be right," said the skeptical father-in-law, "We are building some apartments for rent". So the first house was built 1992 and was in the first years a holiday home that we all longed for.
EK: And the facility is still a family business?
Yes! Both my mother, father, brother, me and my future wife work here. Here in Mani we believe a lot in family-owned companies: it is a guarantee of honesty, flexibility and stability. And maybe even for passion, love and respect for your job: don't you want to throw away the successes your father and grandfather worked with, right?
EK: You work as a manager for the plant since 10 years ago, is certified in medical microbiology and your prospective wife, who is now part of the company, is a pharmacist. You both worked in Athens within your profession but chose to settle in Mani and work with "Apartments in Mani". Why?
There will be no short answer to your question and I believe my answers will resemble your and Elia's reasons for moving from Sweden. First and foremost: the stress level in big cities is now really crazy! You also need to compromise on how and where you live and who you work for. for Here, my wife and I can enjoy common breakfasts, sunsets and short rest periods: it is only a few minutes to nature's quiet beauty! And of course both you and we want to deliver happiness and balance to other people, right? I remember my own summers in this place: I was so perfectly happy here. And free. My biggest wish is that our guests should feel the same here: be happy and well cared for.
I also know that with my and my wife's background, we can contribute to a more healthy and modern development for our own company but also for the whole tourism in Mani. People here are strong and independent. But if you win their trust, you are a "good" person and they will help you with most things! Did you know that it was only in recent years that you used to sign contracts here: just 10 years ago it was handshake that applied when you wanted to do business. When you are "inside" the contacts between entrepreneurs are so much easier compared to working in Athens. Or in Sweden. Do you agree with me?
EK: Haha, I absolutely do! And I noticed a lot more modern thinking in your company: among other things when it comes to recycling.
Are you certainly aiming at George's vegetable growing? Greeks are generally bad at recycling and composting. We invested quite early on recycling and composting. Today our compost is used for our own vegetable crops in the area. Everything that is grown is given to the guests: you can easily go and pick tomato for breakfast or eggplant for the grill!
EK: Is it true that you are pre-booked 2-3 years to come?
Yes it is true! The facility has been around for so long that no special marketing is required: the returning guests book 2-3 years in a row! And that's the best guarantee for you who are here for the first time, right? Then we always have some gaps in the calendar during the high season and we hope that with your help we can work out exciting suggestions for longer stays and offers that are suitable for Swedish visitors.
EK: I hope so! There is a lot of competition in the market when it comes to rental items. What do you think the current tourist visitors themselves are looking for and how, according to you, tourism in Mani will develop in the future?
I am convinced that the new generation of tourists is looking for opportunities to be undisturbed and to feel at home at the places they visit. Personal service and contact and tips on what to do in the immediate area. More human to man than search engine behavior. And when we talk Mani: it goes a little fast now! We need to strengthen the cooperation between different organizers and be sure not to overload the area. Dare to say no to all inclusive holidays!