Welcoming spirit runs through Greek veins! And for Nicholas, it is his profession, and he does it with big passion, which is above any business. Nicholas is a manager of 6 five star hotels in Greece. As an investment and on the basis his own ideas, he is the first in Greece to have developed and produced a new type of electric cars that cost only 5,000 EUR! (Eco Car) First read his interview! My impression after two hours of driving with him around the town was that I have known and liked electric cars since forever! After his driver took me back to the port in the latest Audi, it felt like 20 years in the past :)
My family is originally from Corfu Islands: my father from the north of Corfu, and my mother from Othonoi, a small island close to Corfu. I was born in the USA, I left there when I was 12 years old. My parents were emigrants from Greece to the USA, like everybody else from the island of Othonoi. That was in the 1960s. Even across the Atlantic, the Greek mentality remained in our blood. My parents gave me a brainstorm, and I had to come back to my motherland: Greece. I grew up with the dream to come back. So when I came back at 12, I was very very excited! I came on a small island like Corfu after living in Boston, where I grew up, and the land was really important: the outland, the trees, the freedom that I had here, walking around the fields ... I didn’t have that in the USA.
I had a few problems with my Greek language because I didn’t go to Greek elementary school at all. It was really hard to learn it thoroughly, in a way that would allow me to go to the university, grow up, and do something about myself. This problem was actually very big for me. At the age of 18, I left toward England. I spent 12 years there. I studied at the university, I did two different degrees in tourism. I was the youngest hotel manager of the Hilton International up to date. I was 20 years old, running 9 five star hotels on my own, with about 350 employees. I spent some time there and then decided to come back to Greece and work for the Hilton International company in Greece. I spent 6 months there, but because of my army obligations (2 years), I lost my opportunity to work for that company. I decided to work for another Greek company in Crete. I started from there. I was a hotel manager in Crete, and then went in the Aegean Sea. I did my first company in the Aegean Sea at the age of 23. I had a small hotel, 4 restaurants, 2 in Santorini.
Afterwards, I moved to Athens. I got married, then got divorced, and after that, in 2012, I decided to come back to my home in Corfu. When I was 6 or 7 years old, the only dream I had was to be a hotel manager. I never dreamt of being a doctor, I never dreamt of being an astronaut. A hotel manager, that’s all. And my dream came true. And when you do something not only because you have to do it, but because you love it, you go up. The reason why I wanted to be a hotel manager since I was 6 was because in Massachusetts, all my family used to work in a hotel. When I was there, I loved to be in these big places … So that’s why I studied, I did two degrees: business administration / finance and a master’s degree in wines.
I’m not a businessman. I’m a professional in the hostel industry. I do something that I love, and I provide services to my guests, as well as to my employees. I never saw myself as a businessman, all overcome by financial interests. I saw myself only as a hotelier and a professional in the hotel and tourism industry. My motivation is "I’m not a businessman". It’s completely different. I see people as a professional. It is not my goal to increase the profit.
When you develop a business, your own company, you create it to make some money. To be successful, you have to know what you do. But at the end of the day, when you invest the money, you want to get back the investment within a reasonable time. I don't do it like this. I don’t need to have my investment back quickly. I want my customers to be happy, and my employees to be happy. You pay what you get, in a reasonable way.
I had a mentor, Mr. Asher Svirsky in the Hilton International. He was one of the biggest directors of Ladbrokes, a company that bought Hilton in the 1980. He was my mentor, wherever he went, I was around, helping him as a secretary. And he’s the one who told me: "Whatever you do in your life, the first thing is to believe in it, and treat guest and people the way you want you to be treated." That is very important.
This is the difference between a professional and a businessman. For business, you have to keep increasing your profit, and sometimes it doesn’t match being professional. You have to choose, and I chose to be a professional.
I’m a very easy person. Whatever I eat, everybody eats it. I don’t see myself as successful. I work a lot, I’m the first one to come to the hotel. Nobody calls me manager, everybody calls me Nikkos.
My vision and my goals? To get old, to earn a pension! Because in our days, especially in Greece, it’s really difficult. In about 2 years, I’ll be 50, so whatever I go, I go!
In a five-year term, I’m negotiating with a company to do a joint venture. And I also want to see Yiannis Katehis as a prime minister! We will support him.
What I want in 10 years is to be able to be the way I am at the moment, but with less troubles and problems. I want to continue, but with less stress that I have now. And this joint venture is five times as much stress, but it’s a big challenge.
My advice is that whatever they do, whatever they expect, whatever they want, treat your guests, treat your friends, treat your family in a way that you would want to be treated. In business, in relationships, in family, in friendships.
Electric cars: Everybody has to be eco-friendly; that was a business moment, not a professional one. People are getting more environmentally friendly day by day, especially the youngest. By buying an electric car, they consider themselves as doing something good for the environment. I drive myself a car like that, and really you have to try it, it’s unbelievable. The prices start at 5,000 euros. It has a satellite, cameras in it, everything. Maximum speed is 80 km/h, autonomy is 120 kilometers. Now we are thinking about getting a lithium battery, which has twice the energy. One hundred kilometers cost no more than one euro. It’s been 6 months since I founded the company, and we sold 110 cars for now. We’re doing pick-ups as well, and they will appear on the market at the end of September 2018. A Greek company designs them, and they are produced in China. You can see very similar cars,that start at 35,000 euros, whereas mine begin at 5,000. So once again, you have business, and you have a profession.
Tourism: Greece, like Italy, like southern countries, they want to get over 80% of their income from tourism. They’re trying to completely destroy other types of industry, to make people get involved in tourism. For the 10 next years, I’m already full! So that means that tourism is growing now. 90% of the industry in Corfu depends on tourism. So of course it’s ok for me! It’s better than big car companies, or petrol extraction. The university of tourism in Greece started 10 years ago. Before, young people had to go abroad. This year, they opened 17 hotels in Corfu, big companies.
My father is 93 years old, my mother is in Athens, they are divorced. My sister is a university teacher in Dubai. I have nothing else to do than to be a hotel manager. Yiannis does everything, he’s a musician, a politician … He has things to do. I have nothing else to do. I never take holidays. That’s why after 65, I want a pension and I want to start going on holidays. I have 6 dogs, I take them in the mountains when I want a relaxation, but not this time of the year, more in the winter.
Released by MED Land project / photography, audio conversations, editing: BB / on-location team: Yiannis Katehis, Nicholas Mouzakitis, Charlotte Ballet-Baz, BB / transcription, text : Charlotte Ballet-Baz /text editing: Tadej Turnšek