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TRAVEL - INTERVIEW

Interview with Fanis Poulimas, Co-Founder of Hostlab, about Mykonos Town Suites

Some travel destinations are known for their natural beauties, and others are known for their nightlife. Mykonos is a magnificent Aegean island offering all kind of features together. I talked with Fanis Poulimas about Mykonos Town Suites.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Fanis Poulimas, Co-Founder of Hostlab

Fanis Poulimas, Co-Founder of Hostlab

TRAVEL - INTERVIEW

by Melisa Kaya

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With its unique climate, sea, beaches, architecture, cobblestone streets and windows decorated with fragrant flowers, Mykonos is an island with unique charm in every respect. It is much more challenging to make a difference in this island, but of course, it is not impossible. Two friends, George Sotiropoulos and Fanis Poulimas, gathered their complementary experiences and talents to form Hostlab, where they can make a difference. They offer authentic Greek hospitality in comfortable buildings that are redesigned without changing the texture of the local architecture. In boutique locations they created, they aim to surprise their guests and to offer them the high-quality service and comfort they can only find in 5-star hotels. I had already talked to George Sotiropoulos, Co-founder of Hostlab, about the Bay Bees Sea View Suites & Homes located in Mykonos. This time I had the chance to meet with the other Co-founder Fanis Poulimas and asked questions about Mykonos Town Suites and Mykonos.

Fanis, before talking about the Mykonos Town Suites, could you tell us about yourself? Who is Fanis Poulimas?

I was born and raised in Athens. From a very early age, I realized my passion for travel and adventure. As I spent all my childhood summers in the Greek islands, getting to know visitors coming to my country for a holiday, the need to offer hospitality was born. I studied tourism with a specialization in hotels. I worked in various luxury hotels and at the end of the last century found me working at the biggest incoming Tour Operator of the times. I stayed there until 2008, serving as director of the Mykonos branch.

Then I became a partner at a company that made online bookings for various hotels in Greece, when IDS were still at an infant stage in Greece. At the same time, I worked as an external advisor at a company that had the management of various hotel units. All these years, I never stopped traveling, mainly to competitive destinations, gaining experience, and observing the way they worked.

How did you come up with the idea of establishing Hostlab?

By the end of 2012, along with my alter ego, a very good friend and partner, George Sotiropoulos, we thought we could combine the different skills each of us had and start a new venture that was not yet in the market. So we built the company which would assume real management of small accommodation units, undertaking all the risk.

We rented accommodation that at that time had neither reputation nor character and turned them into a luxurious unit, throwing ourselves heart and soul into the venture and pursuing to achieve the authentic Greek hospitality that had disappeared over the years. We tried to marry local architecture with some minimal touches without affecting the tradition, using at the same time high standard services focused on locality, in order to offer not just a simple overnight but an experience to the visitors. We thought that a visitor could have a high standard service without having to stay in a 5* hotel.

Mykonos Town Suites

Mykonos Town Suites

What are the advantages of managing multiple hotels under the umbrella of Hostlab? What are the advantages of your guests?

Although each of our hotels has a different character, we have managed for all of them to have a common denominator called hospitality. We want our visitors to get acquainted with the local products, the history and the culture of each place. We have accomplished this by creating an internal manual of operation, which is unique for each hotel, thus offering experience. We strive to get feedback from our visitors about how they experienced their stay and make corrective moves whenever needed. Our staff knows exactly what they need to do to ensure quality at a high level. Our guests have ensured that they will get a 5* service, regardless of whether they have booked a 5* hotel or not. We want to make them feel like home without being deprived of what they have at home. We want them to feel the warmth from the moment they book our hotels - by giving them as much information as possible about what they are going to find upon arrival - until they return home safely.

Mykonos Town Suites

Mykonos Town Suites

Mykonos Town Suites is located in the heart of Mykonos Town (Chora). Please tell us about your location and the advantages of being there.

Mykonos' town is part of Unesco's list of intangible cultural heritage, therefore it's one of our most important live monuments on our planet. Just from this fact alone, you get a special kind of vibe in the atmosphere of Mykonos, which takes hold of you. Our hotel is located inside a quiet garden, which is actually very rare for the Island considering its lack of gardens and vegetation in general.

At the same time, you are located just a few meters away from the most cosmopolitan and bright corner of Europe. Within just a few meters you can literally find whatever you like. From glamorous fashion brands boutiques to small but elegant stores. From high gastronomy to exquisite traditional local cuisine restaurants. From night clubs to small bars with amazing character. From jewelry stores and galleries to small local houses of folk art. Every alley has its own history, its own character, and its own beauty. Staying in our hotel, you're combining the tranquility with the "few meters away" from the heart of the island vibes. In very close vicinity you can take the bus that will take you to the Island's world-famous beaches and then return in the evening to enjoy the picturesque sunset and the intense nightlife that the Island has to offer. In other words, you have everything you need.

Mykonos Town Suites

Mykonos Town Suites

What do you enjoy most about living in Mykonos?

The thing that I enjoy the most about Mykonos is the fact that it's a destination where the people are open-minded, accept diversity, and respect everyone. This is a place where you can find different people from all around the world coexisting harmoniously and having fun together. You can find people with different religious beliefs, different political views, different social classes, and different sexual orientation. It's the verification that people can indeed coexist, there is nothing to divide, and no one is judged. In addition to that, the feeling of safety on the Island is remarkable. Finally, one of the most enjoyable things of this Island is its unique crystal clear sea water.

Mykonos Town Suites

Mykonos Town Suites

Could you tell us about the Mykonos Town Suites and the overall concept?

Mykonos Towns Suites was built by Mr. Panagiotis Kousathanas in the '80s with love and good taste. Offspring of one of the most important and historical families of the Island, whose fame travelled all around the world through his mother, Mrs. Vienoula. She was born in Mykonos in the year 1907, and she was the only person that could speak English in the whole Island. When the first visitors from other countries began arriving right after the Second World War, they would all visit her in order to communicate, since she was the only one they were able to speak to. In 1950 she met Dior's photographer, Florence Henry, who persuaded her to open her own store, in order to sell the things she was weaving. Therefore, a few meters away from where the hotel is today, she opened her store hanging out front the sign "English Spoken." Lots of celebrities of the time visited her store, such as Princess Soraya, Aristotle Onassis, Niarchos, world-famous violinist Yehudin Menuhin, different poets, painters, famous actors, fashion designers, and various artists. She was a very hospitable person, hence why all these celebrities wanted to visit and spend time with her. It's a great honor to have Mr. Panagiotis Kousathanas' trust us with this hotel in this historic neighborhood. The building is of traditional Cycladic architecture, and we renovated it respecting its history and adding our own touch, in order to showcase it and help it receive the recognition it deserves. The concept is the revival of Mrs. Vienoula's Mykonian hospitality and of the era when visitors from all over the world would visit her in this very yard. We combine the architecture, the quiet environment, the local products, and the genuine Greek hospitality, which we inherited from this amazing personality.

Mykonos Town Suites

Mykonos Town Suites

What kind of different suites do you offer to your guests? Could you tell us about their features and design details?

Mykonos Town Suites is composed of 7 rooms of 4 different types.

As mentioned before, Mykonos Town Suites offers to our guests fully equipped houses, studios & suites, so we are not following the typical Hotel scheme. What we created is seven independent houses, studios & suites, all carefully designed, respectful to the Mykonian architecture and attached to the guests' needs. In order to meet our guests' requirements, we have chosen to have seven houses of different capacity, adequate for any type of travel groups; either we welcome a family or a group of friends, we want to offer them a unique experience. Large groups usually prefer our Two Bedroom House, while smaller families are comfortably accommodated to our One Bedroom Suites. Superior Studios are comfortable enough to accommodate up to three guests while, last but not least, we offer our Traditional Studio with a capacity of two guests, usually preferred by couples. Both follow the pattern of the other houses, and they are also fully equipped. All Houses are recently renovated and include any amenity guests may need. Concluding, it is necessary to mention that each House is designed carefully in order to have its own terrace, with garden view, something very rare and special for the Island considering its lack of gardens and vegetation in general.

Mykonos Town Suites

Mykonos Town Suites

What kind of services do you offer to your guest for making their stay unforgettable?

Our main purpose is to make our guests feel like home, comfortably, and offer them the opportunity to make their vacation unforgettable, with every amenity available. So, what we offer to our guests are spacious, comfortable, fully equipped, self-catering houses, in a very relaxing environment and also our willingness and effort to satisfy any requested service. Our guests have ensured that they will get a 5 * service, regardless of whether they have booked a 5 * hotel or not. Further to all these, Mykonos Town Suites is the perfect way to explore Mykonos Town (Chora), as well as the whole Island, as it gives you both the chance to get accommodated in the center of the island life and it gives you the tranquility of a relaxing environment.

Mykonos Town Suites

Mykonos Town Suites

What would you want to say about the gastronomic diversity of Mykonos? How could your guest live this experience in Mykonos Town Suites and Mykonos?

Mykonos, as every other Greek region, has its own traditional products and, as an island, has an extra advantage; the sea. Guests visiting Mykonos can taste fresh fish and seafood, sided by local products and accompanied by local drinks. Mykonos Town Suites doesn't offer meals to its visitors, but has all the facilities, so that each visitor can prepare their own meals. Upon every arrival, we offer a Mykonian welcome treat, just like they used to do in the olden days, but I would like to keep that as a surprise for the visitors! To give you an idea, offering a traditional treat that revives the daily routine of the locals with traditional products of the Island, such as its' rusks, the olive oil, the tomatoes, its' unique spicy cheese and its delicious cold cuts, combined with the Greek grappa.

By welcoming our guests this way, we wish to bring them in touch with the traditional tastes which they most probably won't have experienced so far and have a simple and tasty gastronomy experience.

Mykonos Town Suites

Mykonos Town Suites

How could your guests spend time at Mykonos Town Suites?

We are talking about a small unit in the heart of the town, so what we basically offer is the opportunity to be next to everything and at the same time have the tranquility of a remote place. The fact that they can relax in their comfy private and furnished balconies after their walk in the crowded alleys of Mykonos Town, is something highly appreciated by our guests.

Furthermore, we have observed that many of our guests take advantage of the opportunity to prepare and taste their own meals using fresh local products that they have found while wandering around Mykonos.

What kind of additional services do you offer for the businessperson who can not leave their business life behind?

Our philosophy is to meet the need of any guest we have the pleasure to welcome, including, of course, guests that visit Mykonos for business. Except for the Internet connection throughout the property, businesspeople exploit the proximity to services such as banks, post office, and other public services, essentials for them, as well as the three public parking spaces near the property, since Mykonos Town is not accessible by cars.

Last but not least, businesspeople have the chance to work in a very relaxing environment either inside the houses or at the spacious and comfy terraces.

Mykonos Town Suites

Mykonos Town Suites

Do you have any advantage packs or loyalty program that you offer to your regular and long-term guests?

Yes, we do reward guests that honor us with their repeat preference. This is not something standard though, as there is a more personal relationship with all repeat guests; they have now become friends, and we welcome them in their home in Mykonos.

How can travelers make their individual or business/group reservations?

They can make an online reservation through our website https://www.mykonostownsuites.com/or by sending us an e-mail at our address: reservations@hostlab.gr & info@mykonostownsuites.com, as well as through all Internet sales platforms, such as Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia etc.

Mykonos Town Suites

Mykonos Town Suites

What are the most famous attractions near Mykonos Town Suites? What can your guests do in Mykonos?

The windmills and Little Venice, Museums such as Folklore, Nautical and Archaeological, Lena's House and Bonis' Windmill Agricultural Museum. The enchanting Island of Delos and its museum. And a rich variety of restaurants, bars, and Night Clubs.

If you have only one weekend in Mykonos as a first-time visitor, in this limited time, what are the best things to do?

During the day I would try to visit as many beaches as possible, since they are all unique. A good idea would be to reach them on a small traditional boat (kaiki). In the evening I would head towards "Paradise" or "Super Paradise" to party and at night I would wander around the paths of Mykonos for food and entertainment and if I still had the strength for something extra, I would visit the famous "After" clubs of the Island, such as Cavo Paradiso.

How do you describe Mykonos in one sentence?

A heaven on earth.

Thank you Fanis for your time.

For more information, please click here to visit the website of Mykonos Town Suites