Hi Thedi, welcome to our Journal. We are so proud to feature you as our first Travel Expert. For those who don’t know you, tell us about Path Travel Designs.
I can’t thank you enough for including me in this wonderful space. Believe it or not, I am blushing!
So Path Travel Designs is basically my way to assist you in creating your own travel path, and shape it in the way that will allow you to experience Greece in its most impeccable form. I aim for the services I provide to be as individualised, tailor-made, and exceptional as possible.
Well, I can only speak with absolute excitement and pride about my two youngest. They have unfortunately had a rocky start due to the pandemic, and have just now started being properly introduced to the world!
Both conceived in 2019 and launched early 2020. The philosophy behind them is to be able to offer superior quality accommodation in Greece, with a variety of style and budget rich enough to appeal to a wider range of satisfied customers.
Rent A Greek Villa is focused on offering a plethora of privately-owned, stylistically diverse and superior quality villas available throughout Greece. Whether a luxury villa in Mykonos like Villa Maelia, a seafront gem in Paros like Villa Agnes, a well-kept secret in Santorini like Villa Reina or a charming historical island estate full of character like Villa Karystion in Evia, RAGV has it all, and still enriching its portfolio constantly.
Rent A Greek Home on the other hand, covers a similar, yet also distinctly different range of the holiday accommodation spectrum. Boasting some amazing properties that cannot be categorized as a villa, the aim for RAGH is to equally offer quality, character and style, yet in a simpler shape, form and size.
Take Casa Rini for example, a simple yet so playfully impressive traditional cave house located in Santorini. Or Casa Zephyr, an amazing studio complete with a pool designed by a world famous architect in Zanté. More approachable, down to earth and lovable, yet still charmingly idiosyncratic, stylish and unique in their own right.
Due to the nature of the properties within the RAGH portfolio, these are not just suitable for quality and comfort-focused holidays in Greece. They are also proving to be a very popular option for the globally emerging digital nomad tribe. Business amenities have been taking an increasingly more central role in this type of short- or mid-term accommodation, especially so after the global challenges of the past couple of years. I therefore strive to secure properties that can offer my clients as rich in range and as high in quality services as can be.
Where was the need for your business?
Path Travel Designs was actually conceived in 2015 while vacationing in one of my home countries, Greece, enjoying all that the Cyclades Islands in the Aegean Sea can offer.
It was literally a sun-drenched afternoon. Sea salt-covered and very content after a long morning at a ‘secret’ sandy beach with cobalt blue clear water that only locals whisper about, my company and I walked up a spectacular ancient trail used by mariners for centuries, if not millennia.
We ended up having the most delicious piece of homemade apple pie in a small traditional village that had remained virtually unchanged since the time ‘tourism’ was still an unknown word. Visiting this village was recommended by friends whose families descended from this area of extreme natural beauty and wide historical significance from the turn of the last century – that’s how far they can trace back at least.
While for us, this was a possible way of travelling, long tried and much enjoyed, people visiting the same islands would most likely never come across these paths. Their path, often directed by quaint and ever tried tourist guides and cliché travel brochures, would most likely lead them elsewhere, making their experience perhaps still enjoyable, but not special.
The kind you describe as nice but not the kind you reminisce on for months or years after the end of your holiday. However, a whole different world, more authentic, more fascinating, and richer in experience and pleasure, was just around the corner waiting to be discovered. I thought those sharing my passion, my love for travel and unique sights, tastes and experiences should have a chance to know where to look.
So the concept of PATH was born on that special summer day. And here’s a funny twist: PaTh are actually also my initials!
With a career surrounding travel, and particularly Greece, you must love to travel. Where has been your favourite place to travel? And why would you say travelling is so important during our careers?
For as long as I can remember myself I have been travelling. Being bilingual and multi-cultural (Greek, Latvian and Australian) I travelled quite a bit with my family growing up. I can safely say my parents certainly planted the travelling seed in me. I have also been lucky enough to have lived in quite a few countries. They include Italy, Greece, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Singapore and Kazakhstan, to name a few.
I consider this experience to have graced me with the opportunity to really explore and delve into these different cultures, appreciate the diversity, richness and uniqueness of each and every one, as well as learn valuable lessons from their customs and different ways.
Having said that, I am a firm believer that travel makes you realize that no matter how much you know, there’s always more to learn. And what better way to learn if not by travelling?!
I honestly cannot pick one place to be my favourite travel choice. Each location, each culture has its own charms, simply yet beautifully radiated in their own ways. Having said that, for some reason Greece has always been the place I return to… and that may have its own special meaning.
We love your ‘Santorini Sunset Guide’ and your ethos towards authentic travel. Santorini is certainly on our list, what’s your top three tips for travellers looking for a new Greek destination?
I have always considered Santorini to be a marvellously unique, a wondrous place in the world. I have had the opportunity to explore and be totally mesmerised by it, as I have actually lived on the island for 3 years back in the day. It is a remarkable destination that is justifiably on many peoples’ bucket list. Yet, I always feel the need to discuss various and diverse options with my clients. Sometimes I just cannot say it enough: Greece has so much to offer, remember that. Explore the bucket list destinations, they are globally known and appreciated for a reason. Though also consider the lesser known, the more unexplored gems, and you will be rewarded.
My tips for anyone interested in exploring Greece are the following:
- Do some research: Greece actually has more than 200 inhabited islands. Each one with its own unique traits, character and style, appealing to an individual for their own personal reasons, and there is so much more to discover in the mainland.
- Also, most consider Greece as an ideal choice for their summer holidays. Yet, and this can be a surprising twist for many, there are some fantastic winter vacationing choices available. Some people are just now discovering the authentic charm of living in one of our islands during winter. By the way, how many are aware that Greece also has a considerable number of small winter ski and snowboard resorts across the mainland?
- When deciding on your choice of a Greek destination, it can be very helpful to take into consideration what your personal needs, wants and likes are. What you are seeking from the specific trip and experience at that specific time. For example, are you looking for a culturally and historically rich, children-friendly and safe destination to enjoy for a couple of weeks with your family, or are you up for an adventure, seeking adrenaline-rich extreme sports locations, trekking, climbing, or otherwise? Do you need a place to relax and sip cocktails or a glass of wine sunbathing by the pool for a little while to recharge your batteries, or are you seeking to socialise, barhop and delve into the party scene at this point in time? You most likely wish to travel to a destination that will be able to offer and deliver the holidays you are looking for, the type of holidays you need at this moment in your life, and most probably deserve!
- Trust an independent travel agent/consultant. It may sound cliché, and some might think “Why would I? I can always do my own research!”. To that I say “You certainly can! And you may find some great choices out there. Yet, how likely is it that you will be able to discover all that is on offer, as a local would?” Some of the information and insight locals share and enjoy is mostly never made available online. Once it is, it becomes popular, and often increasingly busy. That almost always takes away some of the magic. So locals and the few others in the know usually move on to some other, yet unexplored spot that retains its unspoilt charm. So why not grace yourself with the opportunity to experience something more authentic, something more unique and still pure, while exploring Greece? With me it’s an ever-evolving and never-ending personal bet. I strive to constantly learn, seek out, and offer you the most appealing choices out there. To bust a popular myth, as boutique agencies, we are not more expensive, we‘re just smaller, and often better!
Launching in 2015, you must have had to deal with many rollercoaster, and external contributors. How did you shake the ‘lockdown funk’ with travel being banned for many many months?
I won’t try and paint it in vivid colours. It was brutal. Especially when the first lockdowns hit worldwide and cancellations were pouring in. It was basically the only aspect I could not control, nor could I fix somehow. Me, like many other small business owners out there, just had to patiently wait and see what the future would hold for us.
What’s next for Path Travel Designs? Where do we see you in the next year?
I hope Path Travel Designs (including my other two ‘babies’ RAGV and RAGH off course!) will grow with me and evolve. My goal is for all three ventures to become the independent point of reference for everything Greece.
A longer-term goal would be expanding to other quality holiday destinations across the globe. However, my more approachable mid-term goal, dream and personal challenge would be for Path to grow into also being able to offer a small luxury retreat in a very special location in Greece, that I am still keeping secret off course! I would love to be able to host micro-weddings, workshops, specialist retreats and fully private yet serviced short-term luxury residence choices in this fantastic setting.
Lets delve into you as an entrepreneur, are you an early riser or a night owl, and do you have ritual which you stick by to maintain productivity?
I think I would say I am a night owl, without a specific ritual. I am lucky in that respect though, as my services are bespoke and I get to work from anywhere. It is therefore not hard for me to maintain my productivity and remain inspired! On the contrary I believe that helps me learn and evolve, in order to keep creating and offering unique experiences that will be memorable for a lifetime.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
I know this will probably sound as a typical cliché, but my first inspiration was definitely my mother. While backpacking through Europe in the 60s she fell in love with Greece and my father who she had just met, and never left. Her free spirit and that love of exploring new destinations, cutlures and continents was definitely passed on to me.
And then I would have to say my other half, my partner in crime and my one true love, is my other biggest inspiration. He not only puts up with my often initially wild-sounding ideas, but he also actually helps me organise and turn them into reality. I don’t know what I would do without him.
What advice would you give to your 20 year old self?
- Trust the journey, or should I say the PATH?!
- Celebrate every single win, whether big or small.
- Don’t allow yourself to be put down, but actually learn and grow from any mistakes, difficulties and challenges that come your way.
Finally, what piece of advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs at the moment? … and are there any small businesses you would like to say ‘hello’ to?
Never give up would be my primary advice. Whatever the dream, however scary it may initially seem, stay true to it. It may evolve and that is natural. Yet, be honest about it and trust whatever greater power you believe in that you will accomplish what you have worked so hard for, when the time is right.
Being a small business owner myself, I mostly work with, and shop from small businesses – we have to stick together.
I would so love to mention every single small business I adore, but the thing is I will definitely forget someone and even then the list will be huge. So here are just some of those who do an amazing job and have always had my back one way or another:
- Anna and Louise, the amazing duo behind Equipp. They not only have an amazing philosophy, they are also actually the strongest women I know.
- Donna Tweedale, who tackles the fashion industry with a much needed ethical approach.
- Kerry the Sleep Fixer, her ethos is outstanding.
- Jemma from Martin & Cox, whose next chapter I can’t wait to see.
- The one of a kind Lisa Pauley whose offerings leave me speechless.
- Ashlyn from Bless Stories, who recently reminded us all to open up our hearts and homes.
- Photographers Emily Daniel and Jemma Watts and artist Vivienne Schadinsky, all of whom create amazing work through their art.
- Nicola from Precious Time Design, who creates amazing spaces even remotely!
- Ellen from Stretch Frames, who bloomed in her new industry.
- Dania Trapani, who loves life more than anyone and lives every moment with a healthy twist.
- Carly Caps, who cracks me up while also speaking words of wisdom and truth through her “Unravelling Blocks” podcast.
- Last but certainly not least, my two biggest cheerleaders, as any woman would be lucky to have them by her side: Pippa from The PR Set, and Hayley from the Southwood Social Hub.