Mitsis Hotels: the ROI of good relationships (and renovations)

By Nick Carrier
November 3, 2022

Have you ever met someone by chance, who ended up becoming a strong, long-term partner? Whether personally or professionally, I suspect you can think of that person with whom your relationship is so well-aligned, you help each other grow. Stavros Mitsis is one of those people for our team at WATG.

To us, growth requires a willingness to dig deep, to challenge each other to think differently, and to continuously evolve – to never rest on our laurels. Many clients come to us because they’re seeking growth too. With these clients, we consider customers and markets at a deeper level. We work together to create design innovations, often taking something old and outdated and helping our clients visualize its powerful potential to be reborn as a space that invigorates people, improves operations and boosts revenue. And we outline the steps that our clients can take to keep things fresh and relevant over time, mitigating the pace of change with smart, strategic planning. These are the kind of partnerships that keep our work fun and fulfilling.

Stavros is managing director of Mitsis Hotels, Greece’s largest privately-owned hotel chain, and is the source of one of these fun partnerships. Considering a project in Mykonos a few years ago, Stavros found us through That specific project did not end up moving forward at the time, but it led us to discussions about the potential to reposition Mitsis’ Norida Beach Hotel in Kos – a renovation that ultimately proved so successful for Stavros that he asked us to do more for other properties, including a 20-year master plan for the evolution of Mitsis’ entire multi-hotel resort in Kos. And the rest, as they say, is history – a long-term relationship that has proved fruitful and fulfilling for both client and design team.

Mitsis Rinela Beach Resort and Spa in Crete, Greece

Maximizing revenue through a diversified offering.

In every project, we prioritize the experience of end-users – be them guests, residents, visitors, or shoppers – and employees, while balancing business needs and profitability goals for property owners and operators. The evidence of this focus is found in our work, and in the results of our work, and is one of the factors that leads clients like Stavros to trust us as we take calculated design risks.

Considering how each part contributes to the whole, enhanced amenities such as smaller, private swim-up pools, rooftop terraces, glass balconies that create direct sightlines to the sea, and other strategic design interventions not only increase a property’s room rates but diversifies room types as well. At Mitsis’ Rinela Beach Resort & Spa in Crete, working closely with our strategy team, we were able to assist with the introduction of two new room types – suites and villas – appealing to a broader cross-section of customers, encouraging repeat visitation and, ultimately, maximizing revenue.

And the opportunities don’t stop at the guest rooms. Also at Rinela, we saw an opportunity to expand and enhance amenities for families with children, and travelers seeking an active holiday, through more diverse recreational amenities with multi-generational appeal. Transforming the original, underutilized sports courts, we plan to introduce a kids’ club with suspended walkways, a wet bay, and dedicated areas for toddlers, kids and teens. Two tennis courts will be reduced to one, accommodating a broader range of activities such as bocce, basketball, and five-a-side.

Mitsis Norida Beach Hotel in Kos, Greece, after

Mitsis Norida Beach Hotel in Kos, Greece, before

Leveraging the land.

Success is not automatic but is very possible with strategic planning and smart design that leverages the natural surroundings and local context. In the case of Norida, the original property didn’t take full advantage of its beachfront location. Older buildings blocked the view of the sea, and the large pool was essentially an island in the middle of a large lawn area, without the intimacy or privacy that visitors of high-end resorts tend to expect.

Focusing on new opportunities for recreation, food and beverage within these outdoor spaces, our renovation removed the obstructions and opened a complete side-to-side panorama of the sea. We provided more intimate spaces for guests by creating five smaller pools rather than one large one, and we used the landscape to create a journey to the beach. We also added three new restaurants, strategically built into the land in order to enhance rather than impede the views out to the sea.

Ensuring that the renovation did not impact negatively on the resort’s summer operations, work was undertaken efficiently and quickly during its winter closure. As a result of the repositioning and renovations, room rates were able to be increased by 20%.

Mitsis Rinela Beach Resort and Spa in Crete, Greece

Considering renovations holistically to elevate the guest experience.

The success of Norida’s renovation became the foundation for a strong and growing relationship, and led us to the opportunity at Rinela, where renovation is currently being implemented in phases. This densely packed resort has long-enjoyed a wonderful village-like charm, but it was ready for a more modern aesthetic that would better celebrate the connection between the land and sea and create more meaningful experiences for guests.

Collaborating with all five of our studios – strategy, master planning, architecture, landscape architecture, and Wimberly Interiors – and applying the aesthetic and tone set by a previous renovation to the interior public spaces, we have given the Rinela buildings a facelift and upgraded the spaces between them to emphasize indoor-outdoor flow. We’ve retained the vibrant personality of a village, and yet we’ve made it fresher and more contemporary.

Applying an integrated approach helped us deliver to Stavros – and to his guests – a cohesive sensory experience that considers the overall journey from public arrival to private retreat. Animated garden spaces with running water and fragrant Mediterranean vegetation add ambience, especially to the lower guest rooms that do not have a sea view. Swim-up pools and terraces provide more intimate spaces for sun lounges and swimming, giving guests the feeling of being in their own private pools. New gardens, utilizing the once redundant rooftops of adjoining villas, ensure that all available real estate is optimized. Through this cohesive and strategic design approach, Rinela’s tight spaces become an asset for maximizing privacy and intimacy.

Mitsis Summer Palace in Kos, Greece, after

Mitsis Summer Palace in Kos, Greece, before

Layering design details to improve guest experience.

Mitsis Hotels has enjoyed similar room rate and revenue increases at Summer Palace Beach Hotel in Kos. Like Norida, Summer Palace is situated on a stunning elevated promontory overlooking the sea but wasn’t taking full advantage of the view. By creating terraced pools and removing an obstructive elevator core and heavy balustrade, we opened up a panoramic view and animated the outdoor space – reimagining a Mediterranean restaurant that has now become the new hub of the hotel. We also added a rooftop sunset bar and a family-oriented restaurant experience that features sand underfoot and barbecue tables to maximize the Mediterranean experience. And by pushing the kitchen and service area under the pool, we were able to increase the number of sun lounges above for guest relaxation, and the space below for client revenue generation – ensuring that each level’s visual connections between land and water were not interrupted.

Individual guest rooms now feature a sophisticated and relaxed materiality indoors, along with plunge pools. Hillside nests, located in the public areas, feature suspended day beds and terraces – contributing to a sense of luxury and privacy. Fragrant indigenous landscape heightens the experience and brings a soft balance to the hotel’s edgy modern architecture that frames the views.

The upgraded terraced pools at Mitsis Summer Palace Hotel in Kos, Greece

Slow and steady, smart and strategic, wins the race.

When our studios work together, we help clients not only plan season-by-season but also plan for decades of success.  Working with our strategy team, we are able to offer clients an in-depth analysis of market and industry trends and evaluate each property’s past and current performance – illuminating both short- and long-term opportunities. This insight helps our master planning team develop a comprehensive revitalization strategy as well as the tactical process of implementing it through architecture, landscape architecture, and interior design.

In addition to determining which upgrades a property will benefit from, we also consider the most efficient and least disruptive times and ways to carry them out. At Summer Palace, where the guest rooms and recreation spaces are complete and earning rave reviews, the next phase of renovation benefits from that solid baseline to reimagine the arrival experience, and stitch together separate elements of the resort experience. Planning ahead ensures the work is achievable within the allowable off-season time frame, spaces out the financial investments, and enables us to adapt our plans and designs along the way, in line with evolving market trends and consumer preferences.

Mitsis Norida Beach in Kos, Greece

Coming full circle to maximize time, money and opportunity.

Like renovations, long-lasting professional relationships carry benefits and opportunities too. Having worked with Mitsis Hotels for five years (and counting), we’ve forged a strong relationship with the client’s on-site team that enables us to work at an even greater level of efficiency and accuracy. Conceptual designs are quickly understood and easily turned into construction drawings by the people on the ground – maximizing Stavros’s investment in our time and ensuring that we’re spending that time on the kind of work that is most valuable. We’ve become a trusted advisor, and an integral part of the team. After all of our work together, we’ve now had the opportunity to circle back to the original Mykonos property that kicked off our introductory conversations five years ago. With such a deep understanding now of Stavros, his team, his company, and their values and collective goals, we’ve been able to give Stavros a detailed plan that he can take to the local decision makers as he seeks approval to redevelop the Mykonos property in a way that maximizes the experience and investment for all involved. And we’ll look forward to seeing it come to fruition.

Updated facades at Mitsis Rinela Beach Resort & Spa, Kos, Greece

What the client says.

Aiming to reimagine what luxury means and aspiring to welcome our guests to our modern high-end resorts all over Greece, we invest time, capital and expertise to bring into life ambitious infrastructure projects in cooperation with WATG. Determined to continuously adding value to our product, we are upgrading our assets, use advanced technologies and develop improved services, creating a whole new landscape for Greek tourism and hospitality.
—Stavros Mitsis

About the author

As Principal of Architecture at WATG London, Nick Carrier brings over 15 years’ experience in architectural design, management and project coordination to the team. As a studio leader, he has been involved in the design and coordination of urban mixed-use, hotel and resort projects throughout Europe, Asia, Australasia, the South Pacific and the Caribbean. Nick’s worldwide experience has equipped him with the knowledge to approach each project in a culturally sensitive way, complemented by the creativity and attention to detail required to fulfil the needs of the client.

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