Where do we find you these days?
In Asomaton, working full swing on our relaunch. Vaccines work – that’s the key message. And the moment nursery schools open [so that he can send our kids to school] business is gonna take off [laughs]. Seriously though, I can’t wait for us to open our doors again, although it’s already busy times, working with investors and planning our course ahead
Tell us a bit about yourself and background
I genuinely like to work outdoors. In the morning, you’ll probably see me in one of the cafés in Kifissia working on my laptop. Come to think of it, I feel like a digital nomad myself having lived in 10 countries in the last 20 years or so. I started with Palm Island in Dubai in 2002 where you should imagine Sheikh Zayed road in Dubai only had 3 skyscrapers back then! I later on moved to London, Vietnam, Brussels the US and then came back to Athens working on Project Finance and Private Equity.
We like to believe that we have a unique view on fast pace evolving hospitality industry, because of the lack of hotel background that allow us not to be fixated on pre-conceived ideas (folklore culture). But I do tend to travel a lot which has helped me at work. I visit London and Milan at least once a month and then once a year Montreal and Asia where I meet friends in China and Hong Kong – I love it!
What’s your favourite food destination(s) in Greece and why?
In Athens, I really like,
- Nikitas – small joint in Psyrri; very simple, I enjoy seating outdoors
- Hytra – great menu and cocktails
I love the little tavernas by the beach found all over Greece ( for example Aristos fish tavern in Ormos Panagias, Chalkidiki ) and what I also like about Athens is that it’s getting better at international cuisine.
What’s your favourite travel destination(s) in Greece and why?
I’m not very picky. We often go to Syros where I enjoy visiting a secret taverna, I also like Chalkidiki; but nothing beats Santorini on mid-September, after the crowd fades away.
Destination or restaurant you can’t wait to get back to!
Can’t wait to board on a plane and get away. First destination definitely Milan! My wife works in fashion so we visit every so often and have many Italian friends. There’s this unbelievable restaurant outside Milan where nobody speaks English, not a word – Al Garghet. I still remember when I was last there in February 2020. We went there for lunch under torrential rain – we were the only car when they got there but the place eventually got full. It’s one of a kind!
I like authenticity and I like discovering what’s not so obvious by many. And that’s what happened with the building where Asomaton is housed.
In 1900 this was the industrial border of Athens where Thissio station was built with a link to Piraeus. So the area started becoming a logistics center with lot of workers, in need for someone to maintain their carriages – this garage was housed in the very building of Asomaton. Eventually, those workers wanted to also spend the night. And that’s how the place got transformed into a mansion.
In 1990 it got vacant and we got it in 2017. The building was empty for 25 years, the previous owner didn’t even have keys for it. The roof was collapsed and bird poop had been piling up. We had to do a lot of work with the Ministry of Culture for restoring it back to its original state.
The rooftop terrace, where guests can enjoy the breakfast a la carte or wine with bites in the evening. The view to the Acropolis but also to western Athens all the way to the sea, especially at night, is mesmerizing!
How has COVID-19 impacted your hotel?
A lot. Imagine we were supposed to launch just when COVID-19 reached Greece! But we were pleasantly surprised by the help of State. Ultimately, that was the only source of funding.
We remain very optimistic. Although Athens is experiencing an influx of new hotels during the last years ( more choices for tourists ) the city break offering has also dramatically improved over the years, October and November now are great months to visit! and Athens stills remains a popular destination. With the emergence of new travel experiences like the ones offered by Travel Food People, we’ll see traveller spending more time in Athens.
And with technology, travel in general is getting easier – for everyone.