Embracing adversity - the view from Greece

International leisure travel has been at a standstill for the best part of a year and though the closures have not been without their challenges, many brands have used this as an opportunity to take stock, refine their values and reestablish their identity.


With this in mind, we spoke with Katikies, one of Greece’s leading independent hotel groups about their experiences over the past year, how they have spent their time and how they have adjusted to the ‘new normal.’


Ahead of the reopening of travel for the UK over the coming months, we hear from General Manager, Vasileios Koumpis, on what they have planned for their portfolio of properties in Mykonos and Santorini this year.


Kirini Suites & Spa, Santorini

It has been a challenging year for the travel and hospitality industry, how have you and the Katikies team managed?

We invested in renovating all of our properties and completed a two-year development plan in a single season.

Undoubtedly 2021 has been a very challenging year for hospitality. Over the past months, we have used the time gifted us to reflect, take stock, and move forward in an ever-more positive direction. For us, that meant working hard to refresh our brand identity so that it better represents our most authentic values, highlights our intrinsic passions, and celebrates the ideals of our group. We also invested in renovating all of our properties and completed a two-year development plan in a single season.


What has been the most challenging experience?


From the moment travel restrictions were introduced, most of our reservations were cancelled within a matter of a few days. Our everyday business changed completely from interacting with guests and planning bespoke experiences for their visits, to interacting with guests that were fearful of travel and dealing with cancellations. What came only naturally was our updated maximum flexibility policy and the need to reassure our guests that we will be there to welcome them in Santorini and Mykonos when the time is right.

Katikies Garden, Santorini
We needed to reassure our guests that we will be there to welcome them in Santorini and Mykonos when the time is right.

Where do you see signs of optimism or growth for Katikies?


Greece is predicted to be on the “Green List” and Santorini and Mykonos are now largely Covid-free so we expect to see an uplift in visitor arrivals this spring. The past year has reaffirmed the transformative value of travel, particularly after a period of emotional and existential struggle. We anticipate this will show in more last minute reservations for the time being. We are confident our returning guests will honour us by coming back to our beautiful properties.


Katikies Villa, Mykonos

What changes have you had to implement in order to adhere to new guest requirements?


We had to redesign our guest experience by introducing digital assets to avoid social contact as much as possible, while at the same time maintaining the high level of service that Katikies hotels are known for. We have strictly followed the health protocols issued by the Greek government and as members of the Leading Hotels of the World association we have also followed the Leading Quality Assurance programme.


Katikies Mykonos

How have you remained engaged with your loyal and prospective guests while travel has been limited?


Innovation has always been at the core of our business. The pandemic called for immediate action and a quick transition to the new reality. We looked for new ways to keep in touch with our guests while apart, show our support and offer a positive touch through a rather challenging period, always with safety and attention to detail in mind. We broadcast virtual wine masterclasses with our Master of Wine and Wine Director, Mr Yiannis Karakasis; we developed a new Katikies App in order to share our news and latest updates with all of our guests; we even turned hotel rooms into pop up restaurants to serve local guests.

The pandemic called for immediate action and a quick transition to the new reality.

Our new social distancing protocols include fully integrated QR codes at every touch point and intuitive mobile check in, we have also redesigned our signature experiences in order to fit the social distancing regulations and began working with specialist health and hygiene accreditation companies in order to ensure a high level of safety and protection. We have also been donating unused linens to the local central clinics to support our local community.


We were thrilled to be recognised by Leading Hotels of the World for the second year running. This time in the category of Remarkable Experiences for our creativity and vision throughout this challenging year. We pride ourselves on being ambassadors of Greek hospitality and are delighted to inspire people to discover the beauty of our unforgettable landscape through our authentic experiences.

Katikies Chromata Santorini

What do you forecast for the industry for the remaining year?


Undoubtedly this year we will witness an increase in last-minute reservations, but we are confident that the hotels will continue to be very popular. Over the past few days we have observed a steady increase in the volume of bookings and we look forward to steady growth for the latter part of summer.


Katikies Chromata Santorini
Personalisation and brand reinforcement will be a top priority for Katikies Hotels.

Finally, what can we expect to see from Katikies this year?


Personalisation and brand reinforcement will be a top priority for Katikies Hotels.


We are excited to be partnering with Selene Restaurant, one of the best and most awarded restaurants in Santorini and a member of the 50 World’s Best Restaurants. We also have plans to collaborate with Michelin starred Chef Ettore Botrini. We will be reintroducing more wine tasting experiences with Mr. Yiannis Karakasis, our Master of Wine, and will be working with Eleni Petroulaki and Soul Tailors to develop a holistic wellness and personal training programme for the year ahead. We will also introduce the first signature Fleur De Miraval champagne bar to Santorini and Mykonos.


In terms of design and culture, we will be collaborating with the Museum of Cycladic Art to offer unique experiences for our guests that offer further insights into the Cycladic heritage. We will also be launching a LUISA boutique inside the premises of Katikies Garden where guests can enjoy a private shopping experience.


All this and more extensive personalisation and loyalty programmes for our regular guests.


Katikies Mykonos

For more information on Katikies collection: www.katikies.com. Follow them on Instagram @KatikiesSantorini, @KatikiesKiriniSantorini, @KatikiesChromataSantorini, @KatikiesGarden, @KatikiesMykonos, @KatikiesVillasMykonos.


If you are interested in refining your brand message, developing your guest experience or exploring new ways to support current and prospective guests, then we can help. We can work with you to refocus after the challenges of the past 12 months and build a more authentic and meaningful brand experience that captures the attention of your ideal current and prospective guests. Please get in touch here.