Interview with Stathis Cataropoulos from Pelion Homes
We have a soft spot for Greece and it all started when we stayed in Crete a few years ago. Since then, we have got to meet some fantastic people and have been slowly unlocking the culture ever since. More than often, it is the locals that make the best ambassadors of a given place and Greece is no exception. For this reason, we met up with Stathis Cataropoulos, the owner behind Pelion Homes, to find out more about the villas, how his business started and why you should consider Pelion, Greece as your next destination.
Where exactly are Pelion Homes located?
Owner:Our villas, as our brand name indicates, are all located in the mythical mountain of Pelion in central Greece. This very unique mountain that is surrounded by the Aegean and Pagasitikos Sea, is less explored and kind of off the beaten track place to discover. Being in the middle of Greece it means that it is accessible from Athens and Thessaloniki cities easily, and lately the airport of Volos city brings travellers to the region directly from their country. It is also worth noticing that Pelion is close to Unesco Heritage Site of Meteora for a day trip, something not to be missed when visiting this lovely mountain.
How do the villas differ?
Owner:The concept of Pelion Homes concept is mostly based on the idea that true luxury dwells on moments that can be shared with family, friends and loved ones, surrounded by pristine nature and beautiful sea views. For that reason, we consciously chose that all our villas have expansive panoramic sea views and are always located in unique spots that provide this sense of fulfilment. The basis of our concept is that the villas are so well equipped, guests immediately feel comfortable and welcomed, as if it was the house a friend has lended them. We try to care for all the tiny details that matter, from providing everything guests may need to do their own home cooking, down to a saw kit and tools, lots of board games and children’s items, organic vegetable gardens, compost heaps, etc. It is such things that make our guest feel at home, instantly.
How would you describe the style of the villas offered by Pelion Homes?
Owner:Since Pelion Homes is an ongoing project that was not designed to offer a ‘specific stylised’ holiday rental, the feel of each house is somewhat different. Our villas in Pelion Peninsula, conform to the architectural style of the region, with respect to the environment. On one hand, we like to see some historical elements with character in every house, whether it would be it’s heritage architecture, intricate stonework, the exposed roof trusses, or various decorative items that used in the past century.
On the other hand, we want each villa to be practical, comfortable and well thought out, in order to care for our guests’ needs during their holidays. Lately, we fuse a modern spatial approach with a more rural feel, using a lot of custom made furniture and fittings. Most materials come from the surrounding area, whether it is the Pelion grey slate used for the roofs or floors, or the use of chestnut wood for carpentry and furniture.
Are there any extra activities or events that can be arranged?
Owner: We provide a series of services and activities that will enhance the stay experience of our guests, offering valuable insight into the local ways of passing time. Starting with the in-villa services, we can begin by providing a lovely breakfast basket - full of local, hand picked ingredients - delivered every morning to each villa, to a pre-arrival gourmet stocking - with a great selection of local wines, cold cuts, cheese and other delicacies - to nibble on throughout the day. Since the villas are self-catered, we provide the option of a private dining service for guests’ indulgence and convenience where home-cooked, tasty meals from the local women we collaborate with are prepared upon request.
As for guests’ wellbeing, we arrange for private and tailor-made yoga sessions upon demand, as well as organising private daily sailing trips with the addition of picnic basket of Mediterranean treats and local wine, taking our guests out to the historic Trikeri island to discover the old Monastery. As people who are locals in Pelion, we personally like hiking and exploring the forest, so we frequently organise hikes, suitable for all levels (including easy ones for families with young children). One of our favourite pastimes is foraging in the Pelion forest, so depending the season we go for wild mushrooms, wild berries, wild greens known as ‘horta’ where we make afternoon cooking sessions with our cooks that teach our guests how to ‘open’ phyllo pastry and bake an authentic traditional pie, the way the locals have been making it for generations.
We also host Specialised 7 day retreats with the aim not only for our guests to learn something new, but also to explore the lovely diverse landscape of Pelion. For example we organise Yoga Retreats, practicing our ‘Oms‘ in the forest and on the beach, while providing greatly nutritious vegetarian, vegan or raw food. Or for the more active ones we organise a full week of mountain biking to discover all 3 great mountains of Greece ending up here, in Pelion. We start from Athens, exploring the city on the bikes and the surrounding mountain of Parnitha and we end up in Pelion for 4 days of full-on mountain biking in the forest, exploring the intricate network of old cobbled paths and beachfront routes. All done with specialised local guides.
Finally, for anything else our guests could need, we provide a custom-built mobile application. It is, essentially, a guide directory packed with tons of localised information about places to visit and see. Most importantly, we provide them with a live calendar of all the events and happenings that occur during their stay, so they can research at their own leisure, even book tickets. Also, through this app, guests may communicate with our concierge staff to arrange any of the activities previously mentioned.
What makes Pelion special?
Owner: Pelion is a 4 season destination where one can experience the changes of the seasons quite vividly. From exploring the numerous heritage Pelion villages to discovering the tropical-like beaches with maple trees reaching all the way down to the shore, or the lush chestnut and ash forest that holds an intricate network of trekking and mountain biking paths. It is a destination that is perfect for families but equally so for the more adventurous and active types. The uniqueness of Pelion lies in the fact that although you are on the mountain, there are always views towards the sea and surrounding landscape, generously offering unforgettable visuals. It’s worth mentioning that Pelion is one of the few places where you can ski and enjoy sea views below!
For nature lovers, Pelion is a true paradise of wildlife with hundreds if not thousands of wild flowers, aromatic herbs, mushrooms, deciduous and evergreen trees, home to the famous Pelion apples and chestnuts, to name a few. Last but not least, travellers will enjoy the uninterrupted, slow pace of the mountain villages and observe the local architecture that is unique, but also visit the coastal, fishing-type villages that exude a more island feel. All in all, if you visit Pelion Greece, you will realise that it is a place brimming with natural attractions that can be admired and appreciated all year round.
Can you summarise Pelion Homes in 3 words?
Owner: Stylish, personal, liberating. Like a home away from home, welcoming many repeater guests back time and again, our villas are where guests feel at ease, and are provided with comfort and convenience. If we could use three more words, they would be: must return here, as our guests say. There is always more to discover!