One of the joys of travelling is meeting local people, adding intrinsic layers to a Journey. Many years ago, one of my dearest friends was from a large Greek family, they ‘adopted’ us and we were included in countless Greek festivities, including Greek Easter. Easter is by far the most important celebration for the Greeks, even Christmas comes second. I admired the close family bonds, the sharing of their traditions; many of my friends know, I don’t dine on lamb, unless prepared by a Greek! Thus, my invitation to Mykonos by the representatives of the Myconian Collection was duly accepted.
The local family who own and manage the nine leading luxury hotels of the Myconian Collection on Mykonos, including three Relais & Châteaux, two Leading Hotels of the World, two Design Hotels and two Preferred Hotels & Resorts live near the properties. There is something about a family business, that synthesis of heritage, loyalty and emotion, that accounts for the strength of some of the world’s great collections. This lies at the heart of the Myconian Collection’s success. Started by the father, who is still actively involved, the humble origins of George Daktylides’ belie the amazing success the entire family now enjoys. In the 1950’s he and his wife began with a bus business and eventually a small 25 room hotel.
Set high above Alefkandra harbor and looking directly onto the famous 16th-century windmills on the edge of Chora, it commanded sweeping views of the Aegean and was an instant hit. His wife, Eleftheria, made breakfasts for all the guests, did the housekeeping and laundry, and provided meals for the 40 construction workers busy erecting the new hotel. She was also raising four sons. During their summer break, the boys were expected to help out at the hotel, serving breakfast trays, setting and clearing tables and learning the trade. Personal touch and attention to detail resulted in a loyal clientele and a reputation that spread by word of mouth.
The hotels are run today by their four sons Panos, Markos, Vangelis and Marios. All four sons have all attended the world-renowned École Hotelière in Lausanne. ‘There was never a question in our minds about whether this is what we wanted to do’, mentions Vangelis. I met and chatted with the sons and was so impressed by their love of family, love of their heritage, and their deep passion for the family business, not just for today, but for their children’s futures. One son, who looks more like a rock star in attire, poured wine to dinner guests, enthusiastically moving from table to table, I’m sure most diners had no idea he was a part of this family dynasty. His young 14-year-old son was wildly excited to begin his summer service. I departed dinner at 1:30 am, following the family – their lifestyle in tune with Greek customs. His younger daughter boasts that she will be the best student at the École Hotelière when it’s her turn to attend.
The shared ethos of each brother builds the amazing success to Myconian Collection. There is a brilliance in their systems, in that there are various marketing platforms and a diverse range of properties, and generally they are geographically close in location. I was told there is a secret stairway between all the properties nestled into the hillside above Elia Bay. Guests enjoy a unique taste of the island through the hotel’s exceptional relationship with suppliers. “In our father’s day, our fresh fish came from Nico, whose sons now supply us. The best of fresh local produce is grown exclusively for our gourmet restaurants. Many are informal suppliers, like our father’s old friend Panagiotis who catches octopus in the waters around Delos solely for his family and our chef. And naturally, the lamb and pork are our father’s own.” “There’s a real sense that we are all connected. As locals,’ says Markos, ‘there is a mutual dependence with the people and the land of Mykonos, and with the rest of the world through our guests.”
As a genuine Myconian family, they welcome guests with warmth and attentiveness and create the ultimate hospitality experience that comes straight from the heart. The Myconian Collection lays claim to some of the island’s most beautiful settings, capturing the essence of the incomparable Myconian charm and beauty which attracts travelers from across the world. Not only was I impressed with the family, each property was equally admirable, their passion and love was evident at each property.
Meet locals, add intrinsic value to your Journey; in this case, I was honored to have met and stayed at Mykonos Collection.