These are new times in Mani, the Peloponnese. It is no longer only pensioners who choose to live in the area. Bettina and Michael decided to start and run in Mani a business and to move to this area together with their son.
We thought it might be a bit difficult because we were no longer the tourists who make the locals richer but intend to earn our own money from tourists. But this was not the case. People in the area respected us from day one, Bettina and Michael Weil
Elias and I met the whole family in the autumn of 2020, we see their company car almost every day but because we all work a lot the interview had to wait until we all found time for a longer conversation. I hope the interview below can inspire more young entrepreneurs in Europe.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Run a business in Mani: people in the area respected us from day one
EK: Hi Bettina & Michael, can you help me with a short presentation of your family?
Hello Elwira, we that is us plus our son Julian, are all Austrians but living abroad for quite a while. Julian was born in Germany and grew up there for his first four years. Bettina and myself were working in hotel business internationally for many years. We had always strong ties to the Mani as my mother married in her second marriage to a Greek, 30 years ago.
EK: When you visited Greece for the first time? And what part of Greece was it?
Bettinas first time was a holiday on the island of Rhodos in 2010. Michael’s first time was a bit earlier, I would say a holiday with his parents on the peninsula of Kassandra (near Thessaloniki) maybe in early 80’s.
What is your “why the Peloponnese” history?
The Peloponnese story is actually about my mother. She met a Greek 30 years back in Agios Nikolaos, waiting for the bus bringing them to Kalamata. Well, they had some time to talk and when they arrived in Kalamata, they fell in love. The marriage was taken place one year later in the Mani, and this is how Michael fell in love –with the Mani in the early 90’s.
You decide to move in September 2020. Do you remember your first memories of “living for real” in Greece?
Our journey started on the 30th of July in 2020 when Michael lost his management job in Germany due to Corona. On the same day we both decided to move to Greece – now – and to open our business. Six weeks later we were on the ferry from Venice to Patras. I remember arriving at the harbour in Patras, loosing some tears of relief, we finally made it. We had a huge spirit which took us through all the obstacles of our last weeks in Germany and our first weeks in the Mani.
You did not just move to the area. You also run a company here. And it is not a rental business that most people want to invest in. Tell us more about your company. What is your experience of Greek culture when it comes to meeting foreigners?
Our goal was to open the first “Property Management Company” in the Mani, looking after private holiday homes and taking care of professional holiday rentals. So our company relies on three pillars: “Property Management” for private holiday villa owners. “Rental Service” for private holiday homes and professional rentals, which means guest correspondence & guest relation services. The third pillar is “Cleaning Services” for professional rentals.
We were surprised but the openness of the Greeks, when they realized we are doing a business here. We thought it might be a bit difficult as we are not any more the tourists but now are earning our money with tourists.
But this was not the case. People in the area respected us from day 1 of what we are doing and sometimes we feel that they are even a bit proud that foreigners are starting a business in Greece, despite of the difficult situation the country and the people had to go through the last 10 years.
Can you sum up the first two years? Has the company developed as you thought?
Although we had a difficult start last year as corona was effecting the tourism in the beginning of the season, we were positively surprised by the amazing feedback we have received, from Greeks as well from foreigners. We think we can say, the company has established itself and we are so proud to have such a great team of different nationalities including Greeks, Albanians, Germans and English.
What is the most important for us, is giving our employees the possibility to live well from their salary and to know that we are taking care of their medical insurance and their social insurance for unemployment and their pension.
Can you describe in just three words how and if your lives have changed since you decided to move to Mani?
We love it!