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Independent Minds: Dinos & Lena Tornivoukas, Eagles Villas

Fourth generation hotelier Dinos Tornivoukas, together with his wife Lena, are continuing their family’s long-standing status for elevating Greek hospitality with a collection of laid-back luxury pool villas on the picturesque Halkidiki Peninsula where they have “created their own vision of paradise” for their guests. A passion project with deep-rooted cultural connections to nearby Thessaloniki, where Konstantinos Tornivoukas Senior founded the city’s first luxury hotel in 1925, Eagles Villas champions its Aegean setting from the inside out.

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

I think the main difference between chain hotels and independent properties is the sense of personal touch you get, as independent hotels are usually created from the love and the vision of a single person or a family. We do not represent a brand created far away from the hotel, from people in an office somewhere around the world. We are there, on the ground, every day, defending our vision for what the best possible hotel means. We are more in touch with our staff, with our guests. Of course all independent hotels reflect the owner’s personality and passions. Eagles Villas is a prime example of my wife’s passion for architecture and interior design, our common passion for understated luxury, privacy, gourmet experiences and boating and being by the sea. In a way, we have created our own vision of paradise for our guests.

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

Our hotel is a family affair, or should I say a love affair. My parents, who were already renowned hoteliers in the city of Thessaloniki, took me for a family boating excursion every year around Halkidiki. It was there that we discovered the lot where Eagles Resort would be built, at an isolated but amazingly beautiful beach where there was no paved road yet. My father bought the lot and built a small house in the beginning, and then constructed Eagles Palace which opened its doors in 1974.

My own passion project was to develop the rest of the land, but without ever destroying the personal, boutique style of the hotel, and without guests ever feeling crowded. So instead of building more rooms, we decided on building 42 luxury villas, from 60-180 square meters, that would offer families staying at the hotel the space they craved to have even more privacy and a home-away-from-home so to say, with all the comforts of a luxury resort and a boutique hotel combined. Sustainability was also very important to us. The rooftops of our villas have gardens planted on top of them, so in a few years the vision of the hill from above remains integral.

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

A phrase that we hear tossed around a lot is that hotels are about location, location, location. I would say that we at Eagles Villas have location, location, people as our strong suits. Yes, we are located on an amazing long sandy beach, just opposite a quaint little island complex perfect for boating excursions, next to Mount Athos and its monastic community. But what really makes our hotel different, what makes the guests return to us year after year is our teams, our people, the way we become so close to our guests during their stay and beyond their stay.

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

Stay at one of our Junior Villas and enjoy a private breakfast spread served in your garden, with breathtaking views of the sea and the island of Ammouliani below. Take one of our Axopar boats with our legend of a captain, Vasillis, for a trip around the island of Ammoulini, where he can help you discover all its secrets. For lunch, tuck into a Greek picnic accompanied by a glass of ouzo under the single cedar tree right on the beach the hotel operates on the most beautiful stretch of sand in the area, Drenia.

A Junior Pool Villa with private garden at Eagles Villas.

After lunch, take the 15-minute ride back to the hotel beach and take a stand-up paddle board around for a spin. Enjoy a crisp Asyrtiko wine at our beach bar and watch the beautiful sunset. For dinner, choose the award winning Kamares restaurant for its breath-taking views and unique gourmet dishes, and close the night off with a glass of champagne at Eagles Club, listening to live music.

How would you describe your own perfect luxury experience?

My own perfect experience is very much about feeling at home at a resort, taking some precious time to relax, as well as feeling recognised as a returning guest by the hotel’s owners and management. I expect luxury, I expect renovations and adaptability to new trends, I like finding new things at a resort each year (for example, new spa treatments or a restaurant that has changed its concept). I think when hotels cease to evolve, to change, to challenge themselves, they start to lose out. At Eagles Resort, we strive to offer a new experience to our returning guests, a surprise to find each time they visit.

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

Sustainability has always been a focus for us as a hotel. We strongly believe that we have a mission to protect and preserve our environment, to keep our seas and our beaches clean. It is for that environment that our guests choose to visit us, year after year. We also believe we have a responsibility to support our local community in Halkidiki, as it is in the community that we find our staff, our brand ambassadors. Those two pillars have always been and still remain a big part of our corporate responsibility and we plan to build upon these actions in the future.