To say that Greek architect Costantza Sbokou-Constantakopoulou has developed a mastery in the hospitality industry would be an understatement. As Senior Architect of T.E.MES. S.A. she has been intimately involved in one of the most ambitious hospitality projects in Greece, Costa Navarino, while as co-owner and CEO of PHĀEA RESORTS, the Crete-based hospitality company she runs together with her sister Agapi, she has been overseeing the rebranding and expansion of her family business to five award-winning resorts, including the magnificent Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa in Elounda, and the relaunched Cretan Malia Park, member of Design Hotels™. Under her stewardship, PHĀEA RESORTS has redefined the concept of luxury hospitality with a renewed focus on authenticity, tradition and a sense of place, and a genuine respect for the natural environment. And as if that weren’t enough to keep her busy, Costantza is also Chairman of Endeavor Greece, a non-profit organization that supports high-impact entrepreneurs, Member of the Board of Trustees of the Benaki Foundation, Board Member of the Captain Vassilis Foundation, and Board Member of The Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP). We recently caught up with the architect and hotelier to ask her about her inspirations, favourite destinations, and idea of happiness.
How would you define yourself in three words?
Straightforward, passionate, decisive.
A project/initiative you are most proud of?
My family. This is the most demanding, ongoing but also the most rewarding project. It fulfills me, it empowers me and gives me strength to handle everyday’s challenges.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
From anything, usually from the most unexpected sources. Mostly from people and their actions. From the life of Adrienne Clarkson, the former Governor General of Canada; the style of Melina Mercouri; the vision, the decisiveness of Eleftherios Venizelos, and his focus on solutions.
Which art/design/style icons you are most inspired by?
By archetypal forms from my culture, but also by specific and diverse projects: The “Mitato” stone structures on the Cretan mountains, the Museum of Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakech by Studio KO, the Vitra Fire Station by Zaha Hadid, Tadao Ando’s Naoshima Art Museum, the Nicos Valsamakis’ Residence in Anavissos, Ricardo Bofill’s futuristic apartments, Luis Barragan’s colourful houses, Casa Malaparte, Gaudi’s architecture, especially Casa Batlló, Picasso’s surrealism, Moralis’ forms, Rothko’s pallet with its hypnotic powers.
Which colours are you currently enamoured of?
I am obsessed with finding the right tone of blue, the “cleanest” white and a specific yellow.
A timeless design piece you own?
A yellow dress designed for a special occasion by my friend Sophia Kokosalaki; a collective piece by Jean Paul Gaultier.
What item in your closet do you wear the most?
A white shirt.
The beauty product you can’t live without?
Three Instagram accounts you check daily?
@Slow_roads, @diachronique, @suitcase.
Favourite destination and hotel?
andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge in Tanzania.
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life?
A month of backpacking from north Spain to Morocco, ending in Fez, with €200 in my pocket.
Which city would you chose to live in if you had to move?
Istanbul… after we sort things out!
Your latest discovery?
Diving. Not that recent but discovery nonetheless!
The Benaki Museum; I have a special connection with the historical archives.
What is on your bookshelf?
Homer’s Iliad translated by N. Kazantzakis & I. Kakridis, “Constantinople: City of the World’s Desire 1453-1924” by Philip Mansel, Captain Michalis (Freedom or Death) by Nikos Kazantzakis.
Who is your favourite hero or heroine in fiction?
Captain Michalis, Iliad’s Hector.
What quote do you live by?
Create your own opportunities.
What is your most treasured possession?
An icon of Saint John that came with a unique story; a family heirloom from my Cretan grandparents who unfortunately I have never met.
Your idea of happiness?
To live in the moment; to create; to leave a positive mark… to round off a workday with a good glass of wine that you share with dear friends.