For hotelier Agapi Sbokou, luxury in the hospitality industry is intimately tied to authenticity. As co-CEO of PHĀEA RESORTS, the Crete-based hospitality company she runs together with her sister Costantza, Agapi is intimately aware that authentic experiences speak to the heart of sophisticated travelers. Inspired by the warmth and openness of the Greek island’s culture, the company was founded four decades ago by Agapi’s father and has since expanded to five award-winning resorts in Crete, including the magnificent Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa in Elounda, and the just relaunched Cretan Malia Park, member of Design Hotels™. Although quite different in character, the brand’s resorts combine refinement and comfort with a strong sense of place that gives prominence to a truer, more timeless Greece, as well as shares a genuine respect for the natural environment. In the crowded world of hospitality, authenticity is a key differentiator, especially when partnered with creativity and outwardness - values that reflect Agapi’s business ethos. We recently caught up with the young hotelier to get to know what moves and inspires her.
How would you define yourself in three words?
Enthusiastic, caring, balancing between logic and emotion
A project/initiative you’re most proud of?
Making Blue Palace a brand and help build Marketing Greece, private sector’s initiative to promote Greek tourism.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Visual Content, people’s stories, museums, making unexpected choices, and traveling around the world.
Which art/design/style icons you are most inspired by?
Jean Cocteau, Audrey Hepburn, Marella Agnelli, Joseph Dirand, Studio Ko, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Saul Leiter, Yiorgos Kordakis, Valentine Schlegel, Julien Capron, Paul Gauguin, Yiannis Moralis, Theodore Ralli, Rodin, Kavafy…. The list goes on!
Which colours are you currently enamoured of?
Warm yellows, all shades of blue, bright white.
A timeless design piece you own?
Ilias Lalaounis’ 70s Jewelry.
What’s an accessory you had for ages?
Espadrilles have always been my summer staple.
What item in your closet do you wear the most?
My white summer dress.
Favourite destination and hotel?
L'Hotel Marrakech luxury hotel by Jasper Conran.
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life?
That I got married.
What do you miss most when traveling?
The hug of my loved ones.
Which city would you choose to live in if you had to move?
I’m instantly happy in NYC but if I had the chance to live abroad now, I would try Sao Paolo or Beirut.
The beauty product you can’t live without?
Diptyque Eau Rose perfume.
A stylish gold bead necklace from the Minoan and Mycenaean collection by Ilias Lalaounis c.1970s, the necklace designed as a continuous row of flattened round beads with a beautiful softly hammered finish interspersed with textured rondels and with a concealed screw clasp.
22ct yellow gold signed Ilias Lalaounis and with maker’s mark and K22, 16" long, 240 grams.
What souvenirs would you bring back home?
Anything artisanal: jewelry, artwork, food. I love a house filled with treasures amassed over time from different places. And books. I try to buy my books abroad because beautiful publications make such a difference to me and also because I love spending time in bookstores. It gives me a rare glimpse of what a local would do in his neighbourhood.
Your latest discovery?
My own voice.
The Benaki, the Archaeological Museum of Athens, and the Museum of Eleutherna, a hidden gem in Crete.
What is on your bookshelf?
All sorts of books. From fiction and biographies to poetry art, photography, and design books.
Who is your favourite hero or heroine in fiction?
Justine in The Alexandria Quartet, by Lawrence Durrell. I read that book some 20 years ago and so far, nothing beats the multiple layers of each character and their stories.
What quote do you live by?
I live by intuition….
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
‘Evidently’ and ‘I think’.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Checking out horoscopes and new Instagram accounts if I am tired. A glass of whiskey on the rocks to celebrate.
What is your most treasured possession?
The photograph of an old Cretan man by William Abranowicz, given to me by an old friend at the end of his exhibition in NYC.
Your idea of happiness?