Meet Ektor Giannakopoulos, founder & CEO of LOTOS Properties
By Melina Koufakou Friday 12 April, 2019
Images by Robert Panossian
The mind behind LOTOS Properties talks on how he launched the company and shares his perfect weekend getaway at the mountains of Elis.
Mr. Giannakopoulos holds a BSc in Environmental Sciences, an MSc in Global Urban Development and Planning, and an MBA. Ektor has a diverse professional background raging from Consulting Services to Project Management. His recent shift towards Hospitality came after evaluating new opportunities.
Describe the big idea behind LOTOS Properties? What made you take the leap towards hospitality?
‘All begun back in 2016, in Athens, when I was pursing my MBA while working as a Project Manager for a consulting firm. Although entrepreneurship always fascinated me, I lacked the experience and the technical know-how of building and pitching a business plan. During my MBA, in the context of a course on “Frameworks for the High-Tech Startup,” I conceived of and developed Greenpod, a business plan around Glamping (Luxury Camping). This project ended up going very well, earning an award, something that motivated me to start assessing future entrepreneurial opportunities.’
‘I pivoted my focus on my family’s assets and on how to combine Real Estate, Tourism and Hospitality. All the properties we had, required alterations and additions in order to bring them to date. So, I took the bold, at the time, decision to use most of my savings towards that end, starting with the renovation of Lotos Beach Home that served as a stepping stone for the future growth of LOTOS Properties.’
‘My plan was to start a company focused on what I like to call Genteel Hospitality, meaning the curation of intimate and sophisticated touristic and travelling experiences for the modern Western traveler. “Xenia,” the ancient concept of hospitality, rooted in relations of friendship, reciprocity and exchange, describes the ethos of the company I had in mind. Differently put, I wanted to create for our guests a home away from home. Soon after, LOTOS Properties was born. Its competitive advantage in relation to our competitors, is its value proposition on small-scale tourism.
Where is LOTOS Properties standing today? What are your future plans?
‘Today, we have opened three homes in three different locations in Greece. We try to operate as sustainably as possible, using eco-friendly products and trying to minimize our ecological footprint.’
‘Regarding the foreseeable future, our plans include expanding our portfolio with more locations. We are also trying to build new collaborations with other ‘friends’ from the industries of hospitality and tourism, like restaurants and bars. For example, this year we are launching our signature bottled and ready-to-serve cocktails, made from local products. An idea that came out of an effort to capture the nostalgic feeling of our homes. Our guests’ experience remains at the core of all of our efforts.’
Where are we today?
‘In Andritsaina, near the borders of Elis-Arcadia region, in the shadow of Mount Lyceum, surrounded by steep gorges, mountain peaks, thick forests and rushing rivers. Just a three-hour drive from Athens, Andritsaina is my favorite destination for a weekend getaway. I usually come here with my partner or friends to relax and enjoy nature.’
Describe the perfect weekend in Andritsaina
‘The first day I usually like to explore the village and the nearby locations. I love biking, so this is the ideal opportunity for me to ride my bike.’
‘My first stop is the ancient Greek Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae also known as the Parthenon of Peloponnese. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the temple is a masterpiece of ancient Greek Architecture. Designed and constructed by Ictinus, Parthenon’s architect, it is the only temple that exhibits features of all three ancient Greek architectural orders (the Doric, Ionic & Corinthian).’
‘Back to the village, I stop under the big Platanus tree at the central square to catch my breath and also to get some delicious traditional pasta from Andritsaina, a specialty grocery store. Then, I usually have my lunch at Syntages Mageirikis, a restaurant serving Greek local recipes. After that, I continue towards Andritsaina’s Folklore museum, that hosts 4000 exhibits from the socio-economic life of the wider mountainous Olympia, including tools and equipment from dated professions, as well as manuscripts and war relics from the Greek Independence War.’
‘On the second day, I like to visit the beautiful Oak Forest of Foloi, home of the centaurs and dryads according to the ancient Greek mythology. The forest is part of NATURA 2000, a network of protected natural habitats. Part of this unique ecosystem, are the stunning “Nemouta waterfalls,” an absolute ‘must.’ ‘Depending on the time of the year, I like to do some rafting in Ladon river or lake kayaking on the artificial Ladon lake. What is great is that these places are just one to two hours’ drive from Andritsaina.’
‘Other times, I like to visit the traditional villages of Karytaina and Dimitsana. When I go there, I make sure not to skip a stop at Papakia, an amazing local farm which also has a restaurant, offering delicious dishes with inhouse reared meat.’
‘Before heading back to Athens, I like to spend some time at home. Here are some of the things I like to do:
‘When I’m travelling, I make sure to pack at least one good book. I am currently reading Klara and the Sun by Nobel Prize-winning British writer Kazuo Ishiguro, which is a dystopian science fiction story.’
Listen to music
‘Whenever I’m travelling, I make sure to have the right music playlists with me. There is no better feeling than chilling on the couch by the fireplace, listening to some good music and enjoying my Tunisian Hookah. Don’t forget to check out our playlists on Spotify.’
Download a podcast
‘I love listening to podcasts and (as many others I imagine) I have a recent obsession with Clubhouse. Lately, I’m listening to “Script Apart”, an interesting podcast about the first-draft movie secrets.’
Watch movies or series
‘I consider myself as cinephile since my love for films started from early age. Nowadays, I prefer watching series. I’ve recently finished watching “Raised by Wolves” on HBO Max, a sci-fi drama involving the life of two androids in Kepler-22b.’
‘After a full day of relaxing at home, I am ready to head back to Athens. On my way back, I make sure to stop in Paradosh patisserie in Megalopolis. They have the best “diples,” a famous Peloponnese desert made of thin sheet-like dough dipped in syrup.’