Discover the core values that, with a focus on people and authentic communication, prompted the founder of Alianthos Garden Hotel, Manolis Vardakis, to start a business aiming to accommodate travellers from all over the world and make them feel at home. Read the story of our hotel through his eyes and get a glimpse of how important our people are to us.
For all these years, the hotel has given us life
In Greece, the fighting spirit of the Greeks stands out. We can always survive the most significant changes and make things go even better! So we, too, have struggled and gone through all kinds of difficulties but kept our Greek spirit intact. We held high the flag of our dreams and made this hotel a reality, of which we are now very proud.
The period from 1960 to 1970 was not good in our area, so people were forced to seek work elsewhere, with their families, or individually. Many doors opened abroad, especially in Germany. I have been concerned about work since I was in my twenties, as one year was worse than the next, and there was only poverty surrounding us and the general area.
I decided to stay in the region and try to create whatever I could, little by little. I also had a great deal of confidence in my hands, and I was never afraid of working. I never despaired.
In 1966, a large project was put into the area, the Kourtaliotis Irrigation, which brought water here and developed the area. The Agricultural Service of Rethymnon encouraged us to start new crops, and I was one of the first to start it with my brother. I rented two acres of land, as the soil was suitable. So this is how we rented a villager’s land, Irene’s, the land where the hotel now stands.
We built the greenhouse and sowed our land, first with tomatoes and cucumbers. It went very well from the beginning, in 1968, and for the next six years. Since then, I thought about buying this land and saving the rent, but Mrs Irene wouldn't sell it. “Just a little bit at a time,” she said, “to have something to live on.”
Little by little, with the income from the greenhouse, we started to buy the land, and at the same time, we got a small building permit. We created a tiny taverna-restaurant and a few rooms; then, I got a boat to fish so that my family and customers could eat fresh fish.
With a lot of hard work by 1974, we had poured the first concrete until we were caught up in the draft, and my brother and I were taken as soldiers. The conscription ruined us because the sale of vegetables stopped. About 20 tons of fruit and vegetables were destroyed, and many bills in the banks were left unpaid.
Ιn August 1974, our vision was to open the tavern, even if it had to be with borrowed tables and kitchenware. The summer season ended on September 15, but we stayed open with very little to work with throughout the winter. We didn't give up, we persevered, and with the bit of money our two families made together, nine people in total, we survived.
A bad year in agriculture and a mediocre year in tourism followed. With patience and hope for the future, we created this hotel. It took sacrifices from us and other Plakias residents, who also contributed significantly.
We never saw our customers as an “exploitation opportunity,” but as partners, friends, and human beings who needed to enjoy their holidays in Plakias, with services offered with trust and a true heart. So the hotel’s friends multiplied year after year. Every day, we greet our old customers who occasionally come by to relieve that feeling of the first hospitality in Plakias.
"I have passed on these people-centred values of Alianthos Garden Hotel to my children and grandchildren, and thank God everything is going very well."