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 the cosmopolitan region of the same name.

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, after graduating from the Advanced School of Tourism Education, Manolis and Dora Mantalas were hired at the Elounda Beach Hotel, where they met Eleni Nakou. Recognising their excellent training and professionalism, she asked them to come work for her at Koutsounari Traditional Cottages.

Two years later, Eleni Nakou entrusted the couple with the facility, and gave Manolis and Dora control over her “youngest child”, as she called the Koutsounari settlement.
Their partnership worked well, and they decided to create a small hotel together, styled as a village and located at the highest point in the settlement, with a magnificent view of the Libyan Sea.

The Mantalas embarked on building the facility’s first section in 1985, on a plot of 1 hectare. But their shared dreams were dashed with Eleni Nakou’s unexpected death in 1986. The Mantalas named this first section of the facility Nakou Village in honour of their partner and friend, Eleni Nakou. The second section of Nakou Village was completed nine years later.

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