In a traditional 1968 home in Asfentami at the Lasithi Plateau on Crete, overlooking Heraklion, a group of media representatives were treated to genuine Cretan hospitality: delectable sweets, homemade food straight from the farm, shots of local spirit raki, and homegrown fine wines to the accompaniment of traditional mantinades island songs.
This is the home of Mrs Theano, the mother of Andreas Metaxas, CEO of Metaxa Hospitality Group.
The choice of location for the event was symbolic, recognizing the “message” that emerged from the pandemic about the importance of returning to fundamentals and to the crucial role that social responsibility and sustainable governance plays in the group’s philosophy.
This was also evident in the group’s decision to keep all its hotels open during the Covid-19 pandemic: the Creta Maris Beach Resort and TUI Magic Life Candia Maris on Crete; and the Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa on Santorini, despite the unprecedented circumstances for the tourism sector.
Staying open, says Metaxas was literally about sustainability as dozens of families, local suppliers and the community are supported by the group.
The hospitality extended to the guests was indicative of Metaxas Group philosophy. It was a real-time example of what sustainability means and how this should be practiced by hotel owners countrywide. From the perfectly trained staff that welcomed us, to the breakfast, lunch and dinner prepared with local products, the hospitality experience should be people-centered and inclusive, said Metaxas, who threw away his pre-written speech and decided to speak from the heart evidently proud of taking his father and mother’s legacy a step further in the group’s 46-year history.
Safeguarding the Past, Creating a Future with Respect
The occasion? The presentation of the Metaxas group’s two-year sustainability report which comes at a time when travelers will be seeking to stay at destinations and hospitality providers who can prove that they are protecting the environment. Recent studies bear that out: more brands and companies are realigning their philosophy taking hands-on action to reduce carbon emissions, contribute to nature conservation, support local communities, and safeguard heritage and culture.
The Metaxas Group is a frontrunner in all these areas. Metaxas said the group carried out sustainability reports long before there even was a word for it. “Sustainability is in our DNA,” he said, our first report was out in 1999, 22 years ago”. The previous report was presented in 2019 at its Santorini hotel.
This year’s report covers actions at the group’s three 5-star luxury hotels over the 2019-2020 period based on the United Nation’s 17 Global Goals to be achieved by 2030 focused on climate change and energy efficiency, energy saving, and green energy production.
According to the 2019-2020 sustainability report, the group’s contribution in the last two pandemic years was 10.5 million euros, which went into salaries, 2 million euros to the state, over 7.2 million euros to insurance funds, and some 702 thousand euros to local authorities.
Alongside, the safety and health of its visitors and employees is a priority for the group, which has taken hands-on actions throughout the pandemic. In this direction, the group fully implemented special Covid-19 health protocols, stationed specialized medical teams at its hotels, trained its staff, and received international certifications for its protocols.
Τhe group has and continues to invest in actions that include using renewable energy sources (RES) such photovoltaics and other advanced solutions to cover 100 percent of its energy needs. The goal is to reduce energy consumption with the use of RES hoping to deliver 15,000kW per month. It has also invested in a photovoltaic park in Kilkis, Northern Greece, where 2MW will be produced.
Metaxas’ told journalists that his goal is to “invest more so in the sustainability of hotels” and not in energy.
At the same time, the group implements sustainable actions for water conservation and recycling; converting through its “Food for Feed” initiative leftover food into feed for domestic animals; the sustainable management of outdoor hotel areas with landscaping that includes local tree and plant varieties; promoting organic production and composting practices; training its staff on green practices; and organizing awareness-raising programs for its guests.
With regard to human resources, the group re-hires eight in 10 employees and contributes to local employment. Indicatively, more than 80 percent of the Metaxa group’s staff are locals and 98 percent Greek.
Having the needs of the local communities where the group is active – Crete and Santorini – among its top priorities, the group’s raw materials and products come from the Greek market and specifically from 153 food producers on both islands. Metaxas contributes in this way to linking the hospitality sector with the primary sector. One such initiative is the Futouris program “Crete: First Steps Toward a Sustainable Food Destination”.
With regard to sustainable development, the group also participated in the “We do local” hospitality initiative, which promotes sustainable development and focuses on promoting local gastronomy and culture and has included traditional harvest days to introduce guests to the process of grape growing and wine making; cooking classes with local recipes; and traditional sheep shearing. Metaxa Hospitality Group also involves its guests in its cleanup operations, crisis management program (earthquake and fire drills) and blood donation days.
After concluding the presentation of the group’s updated business model and introducing us to plans for sustainable economic development through activities and actions that support local communities and protect the environment, Metaxas said: “At Metaxa Hospitality Group we have made a promise and we keep it consistently believing that trust is the key that opens the door to the hospitality of the future.”
“With a high sense of responsibility, we minimize our environmental footprint and maximize our positive footprint in the economy and society. With the principles of business ethics, leadership and sustainability horizontally pervading the entire strategy and operation of our group, we create new added value for Greek tourism and contribute to the prosperity of the local communities in which we operate,” he said.
In short: “We are investing in sustainability, creating value for the future while maximizing our positive footprint in the economy and society,” said Metaxas.
Metaxas Group: Looking to a Brighter Future
Founded in 1975, the first hotel evolved into a fully-fledged Greek hospitality group that has collected 44 international awards and dozens of certifications for safety standards and quality services offered to their guests for Creta Maris Beach Resort, TUI Magic Life Candia Maris, and Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa. All three hotels offer a total of 1,061 rooms, suites and villas and employ 724 people (in 2019) and 604 during the pandemic year 2020.
The group is also active in real estate, special interest tourism including conference hubs and thalassotherapy centers. Its strategic plans for the future include the extension of activities at its hotels and investments in new properties.
Our wonderful trip to Crete came to a close with the words of Metaxas which in once sentence outline the actions that must be taken by all tourism stakeholders to keep the sector strong and resilient: “By joining forces and experiences we make the world a better place”.
We will remember these words every time we look as the most precious gift of our trip – a symbol of the Metaxas’ family love for their island and their country: a handmade bookmark made by Mrs Theano with dried flowers from her garden.