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Family ties – the story behind the Elafonisi Villas

In Crete we love “mantinades” – spontaneously improvised songs narrating a story that usually reveals passion and wisdom. My family’s story that inspired the creation of the Elafonisi Villas, has a bit of both and it is a special pleasure for me to share a part of it with you…
Our seven family run villas in Crete reflect a unique hospitality vision based on a blend of natural beauty and abodes of unsurpassed privacy that inspire guests to unwind and feel at home. We believe that half of their magic is due to the location and the other half to the original concept of this exclusive collection of secluded retreats.
It is true: the blissfully unspoiled southern coast of western Crete tempts savvy travelers with genuine, completely new and off-the-radar experiences. Unexploited by hotel chains and tourist groups, the area remains the best kept secret of those seeking thrilling and captivating moments.
My parents, hoping that they would help visitors grasp the full essence of this less travelled part of the island decided several years ago to build the first villas in total compliance and harmony with the area’s peaceful and natural rhythm. But you need to know more about the family. So, let me guide you through our story; A fascinating story that has left its mark on the vision, the creation and management of these amazing properties…

Unrolling Ariadne’s thread
In the late 1930s, a family flees a poor village in southern Crete in a quest for a better life at the capital city of Chania. The oldest son, Manthos Papoutsakis, was just a young man at the time, but the memory of his homeland remained vivid in his memory like an unfulfilled promise of return. This passion became a legacy that a few years ago compelled Manthos’ daughter Stella and her husband Yannis Zouridis to embark on a long-overdue pilgrimage.
As soon as the couple set foot at the remote and uncharted village of Livádia, they were both captivated by its charm and almost without a second thought decided that this was the place they wanted to build the house of their dreams. As hard as it may be to believe it today, 30 years ago, Livadia’s houses had no running water, while villagers shared a single public phone. Nevertheless, the couple insisted and soon, a new beautiful house, perched on the edge of a steep cliff offering sweeping views over the sea, became the family’s private paradise. A few years later, a foreign traveler, a lonesome visitor from Britain who introduced himself as a script writer seeking inspiration, stayed as a guest at the family’s house for a short period. That man, prompted the couple to consider a hospitality concept based on their own experience: What if, people from around the world, could share the feeling of a secluded home away from home, boasting the best view on the planet? What if, people from miles away, could escape the city and go back to nature in a unique chance to reconnect with their family, friends or even themselves?
The vision was greeted with enthusiasm and eventually Yannis and Stella’s summerhouse became the first of the seven Elafonisi Villas, the amazing Villa Ostria that was recently renovated in order to offer its guests all the modern amenities. The second villa, also built in the village, has been named Nautilus due to its resemblance to a submarine emerging from the aquatic embrace of its magnificent pool. Eventually three more villas, Neptune, Calypso and Hermes, have been built a few kilometres from the village on a stunning rugged cape at an area that the locals call Koutoulas.

Raised with my grandfather’s story and my parents’ vision, I grew to share their passion and now I am managing the properties and I’ve already add two new properties, The Old Beach House and Villa San Matteo that will took its name, Matteo, from my grandfather, whose traces led the family back to Livadia village and inspired so many guests to visit again and again the island, drawn by the beauty and the serenity of one of the most fascinating places on earth.
Now it’s your turn to come and live your own personal stories on this remote untouched edge of the world. It will be a great pleasure to welcome you in Crete!

Warm regards,
Natasha Zouridi