Casale Panayiotis staying true to its Cypriot roots
Andreas Papayiannis, general manager at Casale Panayiotis tells us how the small luxury boutique hotel is offering something unique and different to the Cyprus hospitality scene, and how it has brought life back to the local village.
CT: How is Casale Panayiotis different to the rest of the hospitality options currently available in Cyprus?
Andreas: We’ve taken over a village. Our hotel is not based on one location. What we’re trying to provide for our guests is to experience a traditional Cypriot village with all the additional comforts, whether that be WiFi, mini bars, fireplaces, Jacuzzis in the rooms. We’re trying to offer a unique experience. That’s the difference and our main unique selling point.
Adding to the traditional Cypriot experience we only serve local food with a twist, we only serve Cypriot beers and wines, play Cypriot music and so on. For example our crepes are made with 100 per cent Cypriot products, our burgers are homemade with Cypriot Pork so we’re sticking true to what we do, we’re basically promoting Cypriot products. Even when we get bigger we will stay true to this.
CT: Do you feel that your guests really appreciate all these local experiences you are providing?
Andreas: They are actually surprised but they do value it. They tell us that they feel like they met the local culture here.
CT: Where are the majority of your guests coming from at the moment and why do you believe that to be the case?
Andreas: Right now it’s the local market, I would say 90 per cent because we haven’t advertised that much yet. We want to get the product right before we do that. As the local market is on our doorstep we’re focussing on that at present but over the last few years we have started focussing on the discerning international luxury traveller.
Where we feel this market is best suited to us is the English and German speaking markets, whether we focus on hiking, nature walking, gastronomy, and wellness. We believe that these luxury niche markets are tired of going to branded hotels who can’t give what we sell. That’s where we noticed there’s a gap and a market for us. We’re a small luxury boutique hotel that offers something unique and different.
CT: Casale Panayiotis’ founder is actually from the village. He must be delighted with how the property has transformed his home?
Andreas: He had a vision and invested in accommodation at first, then he went to restaurants because he saw there was a need for this, then added more public amenities with our two coffee shops and snack-bars. In the future we’re opening a new gastro pub with Cypriot food but with a twist, we’re also opening a winery, bars. However, the main objective for the owner was not to build a hotel – it was to bring life back to his village.
By doing that he’s actually provided work for people from the village where the majority of our staff come from. Due to the Cypriot economic crisis most people are actually coming back here looking for work because it’s cheaper living. Also, people that used to be from the village and left have now been returning and spent money refurbishing their grandparents old homes and selling them as guesthouses. It’s not just one person but the whole village cooperating together.
CT: For somebody that is completely new to the village, what would you say is its real beauty?
Andreas: If you stay in one of our guesthouses you will see that they are traditional on the outside but inside they are boutique and rustic. When they step outside though they might notice their neighbour is an old lady having a coffee who might invite them over for a cup as well. They will feel like they are part of the village, you don’t get that anywhere else. We do use our natural resources to the maximum, such as our guests can actually go out and fish for their own trout and we cook it for them in a wood-fire oven, we provide quadbike safaris, mountain bike trails with GPS, nature walks, wine tasting, cooking classes, there’s a whole range of local activities we do.
We’ve had people come to us and say that they want to learn how to cook Makaronia tou Fournou (or oven-baked pasta) so we get the chef who teaches them how to make it on the spot. We also have conference facilities which sees us welcome MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, events) business especially from the local market companies. They get away from their routine in the city and combine their business with team building incentives here. We weren’t expecting this type of guest to be so popular but in one year we saw a 100 per cent increase.
CT: To any tourist considering where to stay during their visit, what would you say to them to select Casale Panayiotis?
Andreas: A lot of guests that come to our island only think that it’s sea and sand. What they don’t know is that in the heart of Cyprus there’s beautiful mountains with beautiful villages where they can actually experience real local culture – whether that be gastronomy, hospitality or the people. They will not see a foreigner working within our property unless we have to hire someone which will be more within the accommodation aspect. The experience that we sell is pure Cypriot hospitality at its finest.