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Independent Minds: Ellie Barmpagiannis, Grand Forest Metsovo

Ellie Barmpagiannis lives and breathes the beauty of Epirus, the rugged region in north-western Greece where she has made Grand Forest Metsovo a nature-inspired haven for all her guests.

Perched on the slopes of the Pindus Mountain range at the footsteps of Pindus National Park, Grand Forest Metsovo is the height of sophistication and serenity. Designed with its surrounding peaks and black pine forest in mind, getting back to nature comes easily at this secluded mountaintop hideaway which makes the most of all four seasons, from skiing to wild truffle hunting.

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

Operating the hotel in an ‘independently minded’ way allows for greater flexibility and personalisation of life-enhancing guest experience and service quality. Service quality includes tangibles, reliability, assurance, responsiveness and empathy.

Guest satisfaction relies upon the joint efforts of many working as a team by respecting each other’s support and significance. Thus, success is measured through the guest experience and their feeling of a sense of belonging. Therefore, operating a hotel that is ‘free’ from external control, unlike big hotel chains, allows for the expression of the family’s hospitality philosophy, which for us has been and will always be a way of life.

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

The Grand Forest is a family affair, inspired by its land and location in Metsovo. Established as a destination in its own right, it is a unique combination of architecture, experience, endeavour, people, and its mark.

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

The Grand Forest is marked in only 10,000 square meters in a total land area of 2 square kilometres. Its design and structure have been vigilantly deliberated to enhance guests’ experience of the forest environment, reflecting nature through materials, patterns, and management styles that are sympathetic to the surrounding vernacular features.

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

Start the day with an e-mountain bike or horseback riding above the Aoos springs lake and enjoy a picnic lunch on the spot, followed by a deep tissue massage at the Fontus Spa, and private dinner at The Pines, an exclusive space centred around two cosy fireplaces. After a goodnight’s sleep, take breakfast with a stunning view over the Pindus mountains and a farewell one-of-a-kind experience – wild truffle hunting with our highly trained dogs and live cooking at the small wooden house by the river.

How would you describe your own perfect luxury experience?

Remotely connecting with nature in a respectful way, in full privacy enjoying meaningful details taken care of by genuine people.