Our history

Eleni Nakou, the inspiration behind Koutsounari Traditional Cottages, began charting new directions in hospitality in Crete in the early 1960s.

From 1961 to 1973, she created some of the major tourist resorts in Lasithi Prefecture, such as Minos Beach Hotel in Agios Nikolaos and Elounda Beach - Elounda Bay in Elounda, unknown village at that time but very famous and cosmopolitan, after the opening of Eleni's Nakou hotels.

She started developing Koutsounari Traditional Cottages in 1974 with the help of renowned architects V. Zerva-Vozineki and T. Zervas. By investing all of her creativity and inspiration into this project, Koutsounari Traditional Settlement became part of the cultural heritage of both Greece and Europe. In 1978, it received a Europa Nostra cultural heritage award in the restoration category “for the fine restoration of abandoned buildings and their conversion into a tourist resort”. Koutsounari Traditional Cottages opened their doors for business in 1976.

In 1978, Manolis and Dora Mantalas both graduates of the School of Tourism Education, were hired at the Elounda Beach Hotel, where they met Eleni Nakou. Recognizing their excellent training and professionalism, she asked them to come work for her at Koutsounari Traditional Cottages

Two years later, Eleni Nakou decides to entrust the Koutsounari Traditional Cottages to the Mandala couple and hands over her "sternopaidi" aka "last child" to Manolis and Dora, as she called the traditional Koutsounari settlement.

To complete the experience of the guests at Koutsounari Traditional Cottages, Eleni Nakou urges the Mantala couple to operate the facility's tavern.
The tavern is called "Kyra-Leni" and offers homemade food prepared with care by Dora Mantala. "Kyra Leni" becomes a family affair, since the whole Mandala family contributes (Manolis, Andreas and Ioanna). It is greeted with great success and it was a always a pleasure for Eleni to come with friends and enjoy the wonderful cuisine of her "Doritsa" and the family friendly atmosphere.
The collaboration between Eleni Nakou and the Mantala couple is perfect and together they decide to create a new hotel unit, again small in size, with a unique village style at the highest point of the settlement with a panoramic view of the Libyan Sea.
In 1985, the Mandala couple, with the help of the architects-engineers, Popi Dermitzaki and Epameinondas Linardakis, began the construction of the first part of this unit, on a plot of 10 acres.
Mutual dreams were overturned by the sudden death of Eleni Nakou, in 1986. Wanting to honor their cooperation and friendship with Eleni Nakou, the Mantala couple name the accommodation Nakou Village. After 9 years, the construction of the second part of Nakou Village is completed.
After the death of Eleni Nakou her partner Erik Holm, following her wish, founded The Eleni Nakou Foundation in 1990.
The Foundation's objectives are to promote deeper mutual understanding within Europe, also taking into account the problems and opportunities Europe faces in general.
The entrance to Nakou Village is adorned with a bust of Eleni Nakou, painted by British sculptor Nigel Boohnam and donated to the Mantala couple by the president of " Eleni Nakou Foundation", Erik Holm in 1998.


The couple’s daughter, Ioanna, having grown up here and then completing her studies at the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, added her own touches in 2004 by updating and augmenting the amenities and spaces of the family business.

Endeavouring to keep up with changing demands, Nakou Village was upgraded in 2007, with modernised facilities and amenities to make it more environmentally friendly.
From 2011 to 2015, Koutsounari Traditional Cottages underwent a creative renovation using environmentally sound and guest-friendly materials, including microcement, wood and stone. The result: Simple lines and design elements that create a comfortable, warm environment.

In an era of exaggerated overstatement meant to impress, you can enjoy the authentic simplicity of Nakou Village and Koutsounari Traditional Cottages. A quick look through the guest book will reveal visitors’ desire to return again and again to the place where they experienced warm hospitality and love.

Eleni Nakou & Koutsounari Traditional Cottages