Sustainable Hotel Farming: Metaxa Group Taking Sustainability in Greek Hospitality to Next Level
Metaxa Hospitality Group in Greece has launched two innovative projects in its drive to reduce the environmental footprint of its hotels but also to develop a sustainable ecosystem within them.
The two projects – “Sustainable Hotel Farming” and “Sustainable Supplies” – were presented recently to a group of journalists during a experiential press trip on Crete.
Aiming to offer the journalists the opportunity to comprehend sustainability as the Metaxa Hospitality Group perceives it, president and CEO, Andreas Metaxas, presented the “Sustainable Hotel Farming” project right in the group’s very own organic field.
“Welcome to our microcosm…” – Andreas Metaxas
“Sustainable Hotel Farming” project
Located right across the street from the group’s Creta Maris Beach Resort in Hersonissos, the organic field is the “setting” where Metaxa Hospitality Group carries out sustainable practices for the food supply chain in its hotels.
“We welcome you all to our ‘microcosm’, to experience how exactly we perceive sustainability, which we believe is the way all hotels should,” Andreas Metaxas told the journalists while introducing the “Sustainable Hotel Farming” project, which is focused on a farm-to-table concept for the group’s hotels to offer dishes created from in-house organically grown, fresh ingredients.
Through the “Sustainable Hotel Farming” program, Metaxa Hospitality Group focuses on producing its own food through local farming based on sustainable terms; applying cultivation and horticultural practices that eliminate its environmental footprint and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and developing a self-controlled ecosystem in its hotels through the sustainable man-made landscape management with biodiversity zones.
Organic herbs, organic fruits & nuts and organic vegetables are grown with certified sustainable practices in the group’s organic field and in the gardens on the premises of the Creta Maris Beach Resort.
This way, the group directly connects the cultivation of the organic field and its gardens to its hotels’ restaurants and bars. In combination with the “Sustainable Supplies” initiative (second project), Metaxa Hospitality group associates the production of raw materials with quality and responsible consumption and gastronomy.
Each year, the teams of chefs and gardeners decide on the crops. The restaurants’ menu is based on production capacity and the gardens adapt to what the kitchen team wants to offer.
An authentic farm-to-table experience
“On the one hand, though the ‘Sustainable Hotel Farming’ project, we produce the products consumed in our hotels and this is something that our guests appreciate… On the other hand, the initiative educates our customers as they are free to visit the organic field with their children and observe our products – such as peppers, cucumbers and onions – as they develop in their natural environment,” Metaxas said, highlighting that the group’s goal is to connect sustainable food production with gastronomy and offer healthy food options (slow food) to its guests.
The “Sustainable Hotel Farming” program is based on actions that include the optimal management of natural resources — water, energy, food raw materials — the promotion of soil health as well as the management of organic waste through four different application fields: vegetable gardens, herbs, edible nuts and grasses.
Following the presentation, the journalists had a hands-on experience and roamed the field and participated in picking vegetables.
Metaxa Hospitality Group believes that highlighting the best the region has to offer will create authentic experiences for its guests and has placed the local communities, where its hotels are located, at the heart of that effort.
Seeking to build a robust engagement, the group collaborates with local suppliers and chooses local products for its hotels.
Today, 73 percent of the hotel’s suppliers are strategically located on Crete and in Greece and 20 major categories of products are sourced at a local and Greek level at an average of 92 percent.
“Together, with our sustainable suppliers, we are proceeding hand-in-hand on this journey called sustainability…” – Andreas Metaxas
“Sustainable Supplies” project
Aiming to transition from the local product to the sustainable product, Metaxa Hospitality Group took the initiative to create a team of suppliers in the food and beverage field and train them to think in a more sustainable way.
“We have started a very important dialogue with our sustainable suppliers and are proceeding hand-in-hand on this journey called sustainability,” Metaxas said.
The project, which started in September 2021, involves 11 select suppliers of Greek products, with whom the group maintains a close cooperation, and will last until January 2023, for a total period of 17 months.
During this period, participants will receive comprehensive education on innovative entrepreneurship, including environmental, societal, corporate governance, and supply chain practices. Metaxa Hospitality Group is committed to providing the entire information material, education procedures, and KPIs per catering sector.
“Essentially by the end of 2022 what we will want to know is that all of our partners will have grasped the principles of sustainable corporate governance and will have gained essential knowledge of sustainable practices, tools and innovative practices,”Konstantinos Triantafillis, Marketing & PR Director at Metaxa Hospitality Group, said during the presentation.
It should be noted that Metaxa Hospitality Group is the first to launch such an initiative in the Greek hotel sector.
For the needs of the “Sustainable Supplies” project, Metaxa Hospitality Group collaborates with Local Food Experts, a leading social cooperative company that specializes in building sustainable supply chains.
According to Triantafillis, the group plans to expand its sustainability efforts to other categories of supplies in the future.
A trip to Lasithi Plateau:
Getting to know the local producers
Day 2 of the journalists’ experiential trip included a tour of the Lassithi Plateau – an area where the food supplies such as potatoes, dairy products, and fruits served by the hotels of the Metaxa Hospitality Group mainly come from. The Lassithi Plateau is located in the Lasithi regional unit in eastern Crete.
“Our initiative has a positive affect on the families and the society of Lassithi Plateau, giving a big breath to the local economy,” Andreas Metaxas said.
The tour included a visit to the premises of the Agricultural Cooperative of Lassithi Plateau, one of the 11 sustainable suppliers of the hotel group. There, the journalists sampled a variety of cheeses and yogurt accompanied by shots of traditional cretan tsikoudia (cretan raki).
During the tour, the journalists also met Manos Paterakis, a local producer and member of the Agricultural Cooperative of Lassithi Plateau. Paterakis produces potatoes, a variety of vegetable crops including lettuce, cauliflower, tomatoes and fruit such as strawberries, cherries and apples.
“The majority of my products are distributed to hotels through the Agricultural Cooperative of Lassithi Plateau… I am very pleased with this cooperation as my products do their part in Greek tourism,” he said.
We are creating the ‘green bridge’ towards a sustainable tomorrow
“With sustainability being at the heart of our group’s strategy over time, we implement innovative actions and constantly highlight good practices that prove in practice a great truth: If you can dream it, then you can do it,” Andreas Metaxas said, adding that tourism, apart from being a very important economic activity, also has a great power of transformation.
“Tourism creates synergies based on values and shapes patterns as well as attitudes. We use this great transformative power to cultivate a new mentality of sustainability, with benefits for the environment, the economy and society… With a high sense of responsibility and confidence in our capabilities, today we are creating the ‘green bridge’ towards a sustainable tomorrow,” he said.
Active on Crete since 1975, the portfolio of the Metaxa Hospitality Group includes the five-star Creta Maris Beach Resort and the five-star TUI Magic Life Candia Maris (since 1995). In 2016 the group invested in a new destination and opened the five-star Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa on Santorini. All three hotels offer a total of 1,023 rooms.
According to the group’s 2021 Sustainability Report, distributed during the press trip, the three hotels last year recorded a total turnover of 32.81 million euros. The group employs 747 people (52 percent are women and 48 percent are men).
The Metaxa Hospitality Group also operates a conference center in Hersonissos, Crete.
During the press trip, Andreas Metaxas informed on the group’s development plans, which includes a large investment in Kavousi, Ierapetra, with a budget of 126 million euros. The project includes a tourist village, hotel units and a tourist shelter. It will belong to the category of five stars and will have a total capacity of 1,044 beds. The investment has been approved by Greece’s interministerial committee for strategic investments.
Also, Metaxa Hospitality Group’s planned new five-star unit on Santorini, amounting to 14 million euros, is in progress. The unit will be located in Lagadia Megalohori, specifically in the area between Vlychada and the archaeological site of Akrotiri.