Interview by Kostas Maltezos,
Managing Director of Coco-Mat Hotels Santorini & Serifos
to Mika Kontorousi
Recent studies on tourism trends worldwide show that a significant percentage of tourists know or seek information about the environmental systems and practices of hotels. Plus, a large percentage of tourists state that their behavior during their stay in a hotel is influenced by the existence of an environmental policy
In the beginning of 2021, the Greek Tourism Ministry “Save for tourism” program (with a budget of €600 million), aimed mostly at financing the development of “green” hotels in Greece.
This strategy is expected to contribute to the reduction of operating costs, enhance competitiveness of touristic enterprises and help attract tourists sensitized on matters of environmental protection.
Since 2015, over 400 hotels in Greece have been awarded the Green Key.
In this context, the Managing Director of Coco-Mat Hotels Santorini & Serifos Kostas Maltezos describes to Greek Business File the means of aligning hospitality experiences with the new global eco-friendly trends.
“Our constant goal is to utilize more sustainable practices in the future, regardless of receiving green certifications”, he says and adds: “green tourism is the future. And the future is to raise the awareness of staff, customers and the local community to take action on environmental and sustainable development issues”.
Turning old miners’ houses to Eco Residences
Coco-Mat Eco Residences Serifos was built in 1910 and it used to be a complex of miners’ houses. It was completely renovated, respecting the traditional architecture of the island. Furthermore, it was renovated in accordance with modern eco practices. It opened its doors to the public in June 2012 and has 13 houses with one or two bedrooms, kitchen and living room.
Which green practices do you mostly apply to this hotel?
“First of all, with respect to the history of the building and the people who lived here, the architect George Zafeiriou followed the principles of bio-climatic architecture, so that all the houses of Coco-Mat Eco Residences Serifos have natural air conditioning. As for the daily operation of the hotel, no plastic packaging, or plastic water bottles are available and all houses are equipped with water coolers. We also encourage our guests to have their personal water bottles with them, so they can fill them at the hotel and avoid the use of plastic bottles during their tours.
Through solar energy, water is filtered and used. Another practice is to reuse the greywater for watering the gardens.
We are happy and proud, I can say, that our guests follow the same practices back to their homes, such as recycling and avoiding wasting water and energy. They also prefer to move by bicycle and not by car.
Staying in our premises for a few days, in a house where miners used to live a century ago, where the decoration consists of the necessary furniture and useful objects, is a true experience. Coco-Mat’s Interior Design Team has equipped every residence with the necessary furniture, beddings and utilitarian objects, all made with natural materials, such as cotton, silk, coconut fibers, natural rubber, herbs (eucalyptus, lavender), goose down, wool and linen.”
Where did you “import” the necessary know-how from?
“Living in different cities and countries around the world, I realized that our know-how is generously given by the history of the island and the building itself. This is, the way the inhabitants of Serifos built their houses centuries ago, in order to avoid the Cycladic winds (meltemi) and the high summer temperatures. The average annual temperature for Serifos is 21° degrees, and the warmest time of year is generally late July where highs are regularly around 31°C with temperatures rarely dropping below 23°C at night.”
Will you continue to apply such practices to your future investments?
“All our investments are based on sustainable development and good practices, in order to leave the smallest possible imprint on the environment. In our immediate plans is the opening of the Coco-Mat Hotel Santorini, in April. Coco-Mat Hotels is also planning its next steps, to expand its portfolio in Athens and the Peloponnese.”
Is there a global shift to green investment? And if so, why?
“The future of business will be inextricably linked to green practices, not just in Greece but around the globe as well. The extreme need of change, according to green or eco practices, is what already leading businesses and professionals realize and apply to a different investment model. Some investors are looking more closely at the risk, associated with climate change and related to their investment portfolios and targets.”
How will green investment help the development of green tourism in Greece?
“Coco-Mat Eco Residences Serifos is one of the pioneers in the development of green tourism in Greece and a faithful follower in all the changes and compliance required. We are glad that professionals from the hospitality industry are approaching us to share our experience and know-how.”
This article is published in the March/ April issue of Greek Business File, part of the cover story on the top construction industry trend of building green. The cover story presents the history of green buildings in Greece, the pioneers and market leaders. It also looks into the huge gap between the capital and the rest of the country. The March/ April issue of Greek Business File is available here.