International Women’s Day on March 8 each year, is dedicated to celebrate all women of the world. It was adopted with the aim of promoting women’s rights, equality and highlighting their struggles. Today women’s achievements are recognized in many different fields of business and academics, and we meet women in all positions. In a unique tribute and on the occasion of the anniversary of Women’s Day, Campsaround got in contact with women in the Greek camping and glamping industry!
Eight women who with their creativity, empathy but also their love for nature, managed to gain recognition in the area, to modernize their accommodation and to host thousands of visitors on their premises. Each one, a separate personality, with its own unique story, but all with one goal: Satisfaction of their customers!
Keep reading to get to know them better and find out more their story and their premises!
Katerina Sakelliou, owner of Odyssey Eco Glamping in Poros, explains that as a woman, she influenced her own space, the Odyssey Estate.
We had an orchard in our family with olive, orange and lemon trees. It is and always was my favorite place, and we built our house there (we repaired an old house) 30 years ago. I find the place to be “magical” and emanates a peaceful power. All our friends agreed with us. I have been involved in tourism since 1978 via our family business in Poros and later specialised in alternative forms of tourism, offering special experiences to visitors, such as cooking classes, kayaking, painting workshops and olive picking since 2004.
In 2015 I decided to use the estate for alternative forms of tourism and started a different kind of camping! The Odyssey Estate or Odyssey Eco Glamping. I love nature and tradition and here I am able to generously offer both to our guests.
We have fully equipped 2-person tents, each with its own toilet and shower 40 meters away. We also have larger tents for families of 4 or 5 people with their own toilet and shower, as well as a kitchen for cooking. Finally, we also have three cottages, beautifully made and well-kept with all the comforts. Our accommodation is ideal for couples’ holidays, but also for families.
The direct contact with nature, the feeling of sleeping under the trees and being able to count the stars at night! The activities that we organize at the glamping site, such as cooking classes, kayaking, olive picking, yoga and various other activities at our site. Our site itself, is definitely something that differentiates us from many other accommodation.
In answer to the second question,
Us women are different in our approach to business, we often treat guests as if they were our children, we take care of them and give them love and respect.
We give without expecting anything in return, just as we do with our children. I think it also creates a different experience, when visiting an accommodation created and run by a woman. Attention to detail, intuition and empathy, all very ‘feminine’ elements that make us stand out.
Honestly, I have been in the tourism industry since 1978, and I am very, very lucky to have grown up in a family that always treated women as equal. My mother is a very dynamic woman who always had her own business, and my father, brother or husband have never put a brake on my visions, on the contrary they always supported me and treated me with great respect. I know that I am very lucky and that it is not always like this in Greece, but I am grateful and very happy that I have had and have this luck.
Kelly Garyfalli tells us about the NISI Polychoros and the different types of accommodation they offer on the beach of Rachon in Lamia.
Having grown up surrounded by nature and by the sea, it was only natural to seek a creative space, with this campsite as a starting point. Added to this reality were my travel experiences from all around the world over the last 15 years, which have given me many different stimuli that one encounters when coming to NISI.
Staying at NISI is one of the most amazing experiences. The tents offer great space, comfortable beds, chandeliers, fans, power supply, garden with benches and much much more!
Glamping is an international new trend and Nisi Polychoros, skillfully and without exaggeration manages to offer everything one does not want to sacrifice when staying in a tent. Less hassle and more comfort.
Apart from bell tents we are experimenting with natural structures and alternative forms of accommodation that visitors can find attractive. For example, the dream tree house, eco houses, cob tents, the other global trend – tiny homes as well as the self-contained and very unique cordwood bungalows that can accommodate up to 5 people.
NISI is located 30km outside Lamia, at Rachos Beach in Fthiotida, a place of creation and inspiration for young and old, as it often hosts events related to culture, sports, environment and volunteering. It is the ultimate destination for families and young people who love activities.
The comfort that helps to become ‘one with nature’, the strong influence from around the world that you will find in the decoration and design of the space. As a woman, along with other women who work at NISI, I think we bring great attention to detail, as well as warmth through personal touch and smiles.
Women make up a large part of our clientèle and what gives us pleasure is that they are women of all ages and backgrounds. Whether they are mothers, nature lovers, yogis or just girls who dare to try new experiences. The comfort and amenities that are similar to those of a hotel room, such as toilet, comfortable mattresses etc. make women’s stay stress-free.
If anything was difficult for me, it was the work-life balance initially at NISI – the long hours and energy that such a venture takes, may lead you to sacrifice other things. Either way though, it fills you up mentally and spiritually. On the other hand, while I am the only woman among the owners, I have never felt that my opinion is not valued, that my wishes are not respected, as we often hear in other workplaces. Our cooperation has always been harmonious and mutually supportive.
Iliana Zafeirakou talks us about the Gythion Bay campsite in Gythio, Peloponnese and her own experience in managing her tourism business.
After finishing my studies I was looking for a job in Athens. However, after a few disappointments and the fact that I didn’t like living in a big city, I decided to join a development project to modernize my father’s business, namely Gythion Bay. In 2008 I left Athens and became a permanent resident of Gythion. The campsite joined a development program, and with the valuable help of my family, we were able to make this particular investment in our site. By 2013, when the investment was completed, the campsite had completely changed its appearance and was now a campsite of European standards.
Many guests tell us that Gythion Bay camping has a special energy! It has a beautifully landscaped area, where the pool and restaurant are located, which is reminiscent of a 4-star hotel, while the campers’ sites have an element of nature and a beautiful tranquility.
It combines the luxury of a hotel with the freedom of nature.
Also, it is very important for us that every guest enjoys their stay. These are the most important days of the year, what everyone is waiting for and looking forward to! That’s why we try to offer our guests as many moments of relaxation as possible and create beautiful memories that will fuel them with energy until their next holiday. As a mom now, I understand what parents are looking for on their family vacation. That’s why over the past few years we have been and continue to emphasize our little ones. We modernized the playground, built a playground for toddlers and focus on creative activities for children with a teacher from 14.00 to 23.00 daily during the summer months. Thus, both the children and their parents have a good time since our accommodation is suitable for family holidays!
The fact that the job is seasonal is positive because as a woman I am able to spend time with my family in the winter and at the same time improve the business. On the other hand, seasonal jobs always have the difficulty of finding new staff each year.
No difficulties as a woman! On the contrary, I would say that it has helped me in many cases, both in public and private sector, I was treated with great kindness and I managed to develop my business without delays and bribes. The latter is greatest success.
Marina Terizaki tells us about the Agrikies Country Retreat in Marathopolis, Peloponnese and its history from 1980 until today.
The Agrikies Country Retreat is a small family business. It belonged to my grandparents, was passed down to my mother and then to me. I have been coming here since I was a child. I would climb the trees, catch cicadas than watch the sunset at the end of the day. After high school I moved to Athens for my studies and stayed for 13 years. When the rush of the city started to become tiring and unbearably stressful, my thoughts kept coming back to this olive grove and how could I turn it into a profitable business. Life in nature has always fascinated me, as I grew up in a village. My childhood memories played a big role in my decision. So I decided to set up safari tents on our field. Hospitality was part of my life since my parents’ home. In the 80s my parents rented two apartments on the ground floor of my father’s house to families from abroad and Athens during the summer. Families came every year and as a result I developed strong friendships and sweet memories as a child. We would gather in the backyard and grill the fish my father caught. My mother would teach them to cook Greek dishes and we would all sit around the table. But the guests also brought us their own culture. Even when the communication was… in sign language (due to language barrier)! Unique moments powerful enough to inspire me for a lifetime.
Currently the properties consist of four stone-built maisonettes and five luxury safari tents. We built the maisonettes from the stone we found in the subsoil of the olive grove, thus achieving the perfect harmonization of the building with the environment as well as the perfect balance of indoor – outdoor temperature. Each maisonette has its own entrance, courtyard and balcony. This autonomy makes them a safe choice for holidays in times of the pandemic we live in. We brought the safari tents from Africa. A special experience for those who love nature but prefer comfort. Couples can enjoy them for a romantic getaway while families with young children seek them out for adventure!
Our guests can feel the positive energy of nature and our hospitality from the moment they arrive.
The olive grove with our large swimming pool is ideal for relaxation, while we serve local dishes at the restaurant. We do handicraft classes for the little ones and upon request massage, yoga, cooking classes, wine tasting for the adults. Our external partners provide nature and sea activities. In short, we offer experiences to our guest that are impossible to obtain in their everyday life.
Actually, I would personally prefer to run my business through 12 months instead of 6. After all, our region could offer visitor experiences all year round!
On the other hand, I have to admit that the seasonality of my business helps me in terms of work-life balance. I can spend more time with my son. In addition, I get plenty of rest, can travel, meet friends and I have enough time to repair and renovate my business premises.
The difficulties I encountered from the beginning were financial but I don’t think gender played a role. As a woman, I could say that I have found it difficult to do certain manual tasks.
Marialena Tsoli will tell us more about Camping Tsolis and her decision to continue with their family business located in Labiri, Achaia, Peloponnese.
I graduated from Philosophy and Pedagogy at the University of Patras. I was always interested in the humanities, but in the end what won me over was my love for camping! The two main reasons I chose to continue the family business are communication with the world combined with being in nature. Few people have that privilege.
The campsite offers an alternative holiday with pitches for caravans and tents on a 17-acre tree-lined site.
There is also the option to stay in bungalows or yurtes, for those who want to stay in nature without being deprived of comfort.
There is a professional washer-dryer, 24h hot water, newly built complexes with bathrooms and toilets (as well as a special area for disabled) that is being cleaned and disinfected several times a day. Finally, there is a common kitchen area to prepare meals and clean the dishes. As far as our shops are concerned, there is a mini-market for necessary daily goods, a restaurant with traditional cuisine with a variety of tastes, traditional meals, as well as a beach bar to enjoy a coffee, cocktail or snack with a view of the endless blue sea.
“Every beginning is difficult” Isn’t it what they say? At the beginning I faced difficulties, but not gender related ones. As in any business, difficulties of all kinds arise. It’s a matter of being able to face them!
Of course they do! Even women who were initially hesitant about such type of holiday. At the end they had no difficulty at all, because of the facilities we offer and they were glad about their decision to spend their vacation at our place.
Katerina Redzika, presents the story of her own camping site, Akti Retzika on the river of Epanomi in Thessaloniki.
Our camp site was established by our parents in the 1990s. Having both studied Tourism Business in Greece and Switzerland, their dream was to create a tourist unit on the Epanomi River – a beautiful seaside place between Thessaloniki and Halkidiki. So on my grandmother’s property, just a few meters from an endless beach, where they used to grow cotton, they decided to create their own camping site. At the beginning, they have struggled to arrange water and electricity supplies and even the most basic things took a lot of hard work. I remember all of us planting trees together, in specific spots to mark out the sites, growing vegetables that we used to prepare for our guests at our little tavern. All made with love, hospitality from the heart for our guests! This is what we primarily strive for, for our guests, to give them great company! And we are very happy to have guests who have been coming every year for 30 years!
I think that “care” and genuine hospitality is what makes us stand out.
Visitors wake up in the morning and have the opportunity to taste our freshly baked pie and have coffee with us.
The difficulties we have faced – only a few thankfully – were when someone tried to take advantage of our kindness and or break the rules of camping. As the years go by, there are less and less incidents though. At the same time, we try to prevent such misunderstandings ahead of time. We have built a wonderful team, which embraces our values and conveys them to our guests.
This type of holiday is greatly suited for people who love to stay in nature. Afterall, that is the magic of camping.
At Regica Beach, where both glamping facilities and rooms are available, we can accommodate guests who prefer to enjoy nature with more facilities. These facilities are especially important for mothers with babies and small children, who want to be carefree on their holidays.
Georgia Fligas tells us about the history of her own campsite, XeniCamp & Bungalows, in the area of Ancient Assini, in the Peloponnese.
It all started in the 70s, when my father Konstantinos Fligkas and my mother Angeliki Orfanou, decided to create two camping businesses in Ancient Assini, Argolida. It was the trend of the time and many campsites in Argolida and all over Greece were created!
Today, our family business XeniCamp & Bungalows , is located at the foot of Mount Barbouna near the vaulted tombs of Ancient Assini. After a long struggle with the authorities and Archaeology, my father managed to get a camping permit and the summer of 1977 was the first summer of operation of the business.
So I grew up in this business with my family and with tourists from all over the world speaking English, German, Italian, French and playing with children from all over the world. Most of the tourists came from Europe, the Greeks were few and far between. Through this whole experience my love for nature and for people became so strong that I can’t imagine myself away from this sacred place, our campsite!
So at the campsite I learned foreign languages, to respect nature, animals, cleanliness, that a customer is always right and that we should always put ourselves in the customer’s place. I learned to offer tourists the feeling of Greek hospitality, since my parents always gave all tourists local products, all the good things from our farm, such as fresh milk, eggs, oranges, mandarins, olives, olive oil, honey, herbs and wine of our production, etc. Every time our visitors left, they were filled with emotions and promised us they would come back again…!
So since 1977 until today, our family business has been operating with respect to mother nature as we cultivate it with love, and to our guests by offering highly ecological services.
Our site offers a shaded area with electricity, water and internet throughout the campsite, tents with beds for 2-4 people, rental caravans and bungalows with kitchen. There are also common areas such as bathrooms and toilet for men, women and children, washing machines and dishwashers, ironing room, BBQ, coffee bar, mini-market and tavern with local traditional products for our guests. There is also the outdoor area of the tavern suitable for events, as well as an outdoor area in the olive grove ideal for relaxing, sports activities such as yoga, pilates, massage, etc.
Finally, visitors have the opportunity to hike, climb, pick fresh herbs or visit the Vaulted Tombs and the Acropolis of Ancient Assini and learn about the history of this enchanting place.
Working at a campsite as a woman is great, because I have the freedom to get in contact with our guests and ensure that they feel secure about the services we offer. The fact of seasonality can also be a difficulty, mainly when occupancy starts to decrease during April to October. This is the reason, why we started to operate all year round, as there are visitors who are interested in visiting us all year round. Unfortunately, the current situation around the world has brought great difficulties to seasonal businesses such as camping.
In the past, there were many female tourists who chose to camp alone.
In recent years, they choose camping for their holidays, with or without children, only if there are enough facilities at the campsite, and most importantly, if the campsite owner is a woman.
For women who prefer to stay alone and close to nature, we can offer any service they want, with no problem. Than again, women with children might require help with their children, to supervise them for a few hours so that they can enjoy swimming, do some sports, meet other women, have fun or even spend time with their love of their life!
A campsite, therefore to be women-friendly, must have different types of accommodation and activities for women and children, so that they can have a beautiful and carefree holiday close to nature.
XeniCamp & Bungalows is an ideal destination for women, as it offers all the services that make women feel safe and can be reached by bus, car or taxi in only 80 minutes from Athens.
Andriopoulou Natalia Andriopoulou explains her reasons for choosing to start her own family business Camping Palouki, in Amaliada in the Peloponnese.
My father, together with his brother started get involved in what we call organized camping in Kourouta in 1976. Throughout my childhood I was a member of youth group where we begin our days by activities such as building Indian tents and playing in them (as long as they were standing sound), over consumption of ice cream, carrying reeds for no real reason and many, many more.
Palouki camping was established in 1996 and is family owned and operated. It became clear to me early on, that living in nature promotes mental well-being. That is how and why Andriopoulos & Daughters was established in 2011.
The majority of campers are highly eco-conscious. They camp, because they want to sleep under the stars, get dirty, cook with simple means and simple materials. The pine trees, mulberry trees, acacia trees, eucalyptus and walnut trees. People bathing under the sun.
Business is never an individual affair. The attitudes and beliefs of the individuals involved are reflected across the board. I studied Psychology, a branch with multiple applications in tourism, such as investigating the motivation and behaviour of both tourists and the people involved in the tourism industry. Concepts such as enjoyment, psychological flow, humour, interest, and enhancing psychological recovery are central to me, and their application in tourism finds fertile ground.
Women are usually methodical, analytical and with high meta-cognitive skills. It is important to be aware of their potential precisely to reduce the difficulties that come with the profession and the role conflicts that still exist and are likely to persist. I want to avoid feeding stereotypical judgments, however, as we commemorate Women’s Day, I can say that yes women can be capable entrepreneurs. Only a quarter of businesses in Greece are run by women and this does not reflect the true potential of the female gender. The management of a seasonal accommodation constitutes a position of responsibility towards the guests as well as towards the employees of the accommodation. Both the freedoms and the difficulties that a seasonal job gives a female entrepreneur stem from personal and volatile factors. In the high season the demands are many, sometimes you find yourself responsible for more than 200 people. But the tourism product is linked to the promotion of well-being, it is important that those involved in the industry understand this central objective and this is reflected in practice.
The need to travel, discover, seek change and recreation constitutes a deeper and more primal motivation of individuals. Women choose and love this type of holiday and seem to attach great importance to creating conditions that allows them to getaway from the noise of everyday life, to cleanliness and to feel that their needs are heard. Above all, offering them the right conditions to make the best use of the privilege of freetime.
These eight women are just a few examples of all the entrepreneurs in the tourism industry who choose to develop their own businesses with love and respect for nature and their guests.
If you want to experience first hand the hospitality they provide and get to know them better, book your stay in their unique accommodation here!