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Independent Minds: Margarita Markantonaki, Casa Delfino Hotel & Spa

Meet the Cretan Old Town mansion with a thoroughly modern outlook

Casa Delfino

With its enviable Old Town location, far-reaching ocean views, and warm Greek hospitality, Casa Delfino Hotel & Spa brings together the very best of Crete. But something special radiates from the original stone walls of this beautifully restored 17th century Venetian mansion, a heartfelt feeling of homeliness which can only be found in family-run hotels. Now in the hands of sixth generation hotelier Margarita Markantonaki, Casa Delfino is steeped in history which all started in 1835 when Giovanni Delfino, a knight and ship owner who travelled widely across the Mediterranean, was shipwrecked in Crete. Drawn in by the beauty of the island and bustling harbour town of Chania, Delfino settled on the waterfront in 1840 where his family and descendants have called home ever since. To this day, Casa Delfino remains an integral part of the original family’s legacy, while looking to the future of Cretan philoxenia.

What does being ‘Independently Minded’ as an hotel owner mean to you?

Casa Delfino has always been family owned and run – to us, it is a synonym for heritage, unique identity, and soul. It is the place where our ancestors thrived and, therefore, means much more than business to us. Every single element and every detail of Casa Delfino captures the love it has been made with, a love that we try to share with our guests by making them feel part of the family. It comes down to maintaining and evolving the family’s constantly adjustable DNA, with the flexibility that allows us to adapt the required standards and operational procedures to our philosophy and showcase the principles underlying our homeland.

Casa Delfino

Our focus is on avoiding a cookie-cutter philosophy that typically applies to chain hotels. In this way, we can be individual and engage our guests in an approach that they appreciate. As part of the operation team we are accountable to our clients, always trying to understand their needs and wishes. Then, every family member is involved, no matter how small the personal touch – for example, most cakes served for breakfast are homemade by the owners.

What was the inspiration behind the hotel, and where do you continue to find sources of inspiration?

Casa Delfino is a 17th century Venetian building where the Delfino family resided. My father, a fifth generation descendant of the Delfino family, had a vision and a passion. In 1989 he undertook the challenging task of transforming what used to be a ruin into a beautiful hotel with 12 rooms and an impressive handmade pebbled mosaic courtyard. Our guests’ reactions are often our source of inspiration and their constructive feedback is our benchmark for improving from a competition viewpoint. Our guests appreciate learning about the family history, as well as about the history of Chania town.

How do you think your hotel stands apart from other boutique hotels?

Margarita Delfino

98 year old Margarita Delfino heads up the family’s fourth generation – a woman of impeccable taste who defined the future of Casa Delfino, her very own home.

Luxury and heritage blend in a harmonious and authentic way. Although in recent years competition led several locals to launch similar projects, the location of Casa Delfino and the way it is built make it an incomparable oasis of peace and serenity right in the heart of the town. Hospitality runs in our veins and our guests are kings to us. We are committed to accommodate them in every possible way and are most happy to receive their compliments about our staff. We also foster a close relationship between our staff and the owning family members, which creates a cosy, homely feeling and a truly relaxed atmosphere.

If you only had 24 hours to get a taste for your hotel experience, what would you recommend a guest must do?

Casa Delfino

Casa Delfino

I would kick-off my day with the homemade delicacies served in the mosaic courtyard and spend the rest of the morning reading a book in the relaxing environment of the majestic courtyard. Then I would visit the culture shop for souvenirs and gifts which are inspired by Greek mythology. In the late afternoon, I would enjoy my private steam room and Jacuzzi at the spa and also indulge in the ultimate glow treatment. I would watch the sunset with a cocktail at the roof terrace, then end the day by having dinner in one of the exquisite tavernas located just two minutes’ walk from our hotel.

How would you describe your own perfect luxury experience?

Casa Delfino is both a name and a place that define the destination and experience. The perfect luxury experience for me is an experience that mostly remains undiscovered, just like a hidden gem – it is not about buying it but about unveiling it and letting it shine genuinely and authentically.

Do you have a vision for the future of the hotel?

Chania

My dream is to be able to offer more off-property experiences to our guests, enabling them to get the most out of Cretan philoxenia and authenticity. Crete is a versatile island with untold hidden treasures that need time to be explored properly. To me, success is not only about offering our guests an unforgettable stay but also creating unique experiences around the beauty that the area has to offer, and tapping into the wonderful local community. Sustainability is also among our priorities and we intend to become greener and greener each year! For us, respecting the environment means respecting our guests and the time they dedicate to us.