Naxos Experiences – ELaiolithos is sure to leave you with a story to tell, and a deeper understanding and knowledge of Naxos island….
….an ongoing love affair with the region….
The founder, creator, and owner of ELaiolithos Luxury Retreat in Naxos, Greece, is a living proof that travel has the power to change lives, and helps you grow. Born and raised in Naxos’ island mountainous region, Helen Marakis was exposed from her early childhood to pristine nature, local village life, farm-to-fork food, hiking, and supporting the local community. As a child, her hobbies involved playing outside in nature, climbing up steps and onto rooftops, going to the fields with her father, and completing all jobs related to the sustainable food production, observing the baby birds and climbing up to their nests; but the most significant of all was the gathering of olives, in which she was the fastest kid in the whole village. She used to gather olives from the ground so fast that people used to call her to help them and paid her 50 drachmas for every bucket she collected.
All that Naxos experiences happened till the age of 18 when she moved to the United States, in New York, to study. Graduated, then created her own family, opened her own business, and whenever she had free time she took trips with her children to upstate NY into nature. Eco friendly living was always their lifestyle.
She always felt nostalgia, though, that warm fuzzy emotion that you feel when you think of fond memories from the past, regardless off your personal milestones and achievements. Nostalgia feels bittersweet — mostly happy and comforting, but with a bit of sadness. This is the feeling that motivated her to return to her native island and village, and to create ELaiolithos Luxury Retreat there.
It was only much later, after 30 years, that an idea and a dream grew within her to build a very different sort of staying up there in Naxos island, a home away from home, a sustainable and eco friendly hotel where guests could experience the extraordinary feeling that emanates from this place and Simply DREAM… …… just as all of us have experienced it as a child…
Focusing on Authenticity: The past Naxos experiences, her love for nature, her father’s village, Heimarros with its unique lunar landscape, and her mother’s village Moni, (where ELaiolithos is situated), fascinated her back as a child. Being immersed in this environment and having such Naxos experiences since birth, put her under its spell along with the expansive views into the distance she lived from up here, and was the driving force in creating a sustainable hotel, in which every guest would have the opportunity to enjoy Naxos’ nature at its fullest.
Helen says “ ELaiolithos integrates everything in my life and I offer it to the world to visit and experience Naxos. I felt the beauty of this place needed to be shared, so people could come here and enjoy the same views, and landscape that I was so fortunate to have encountered. I want to offer-share my genuine philoxenia that comes from my love and passion for Greece’s Naxos mountainous region”
Her sustainable and eco friendly lifestyle gave birth to a sustainable and eco-friendly hotel in Naxos island, Greece – the ELaiolithos Luxury Retreat. Here, the visitors experience Naxos, the real Naxos, away from the popular touristic spots, and live like the locals. ELaiolithos respects the wisdom of nature, its surroundings and divine aura as well as the desires of the people who come here – by providing a sustainable luxury accommodation in Naxos without interfere with nature in any means. The name “ELaiolithos” came to mind when reminiscing of her old hobby, collecting olives; ELaiolithos is the millstone that was used to grind olives.
ELaiolithos is a compound word formed by joining the two words
“Elaion” and “ Lithos”
and reveals also
EL Eleni/Ellas/Ellin/Light – AIO/ELAIO Eternal/Olive – LITHOS Stone
The Eternal Stone of Eleni, inside the Olive Groves
Construction was completed within 3 years, ELaiolithos opened its doors to the world in 2017, and Helen shifted her career from a decorator in New York to full time hotelier in Naxos. She is the founder, creator, designer, and inspiration force behind this whole sustainable project.
“A goal of an eco-friendly hotel was not just met; ELaiolithos surpassed it. It came out exactly as I had imagined it – a retreat with a sensuous aura, attentive and authentic just as the surrounding area. ELaiolithos was built with love for humanity, respect for Naxos, respect for the environment, and passion for life. Opening up an area as a travel destination is a huge responsibility and risk, and needs every possible effort to preserve the original character of the area. That requires authenticity and transparency, but it comes very easily because it matches perfectly with my personality. ~ Helen says
ELaiolithos offers amazing Naxos experiences with its easy access to scores of picturesque and historic stone villages in Naxos, Greece, stunning views of the Drymalia valley, the imposing Mount Zeus with its 8 pyramid-shaped mountain tail, and the backdrop of Ios and Sikinos island of the Aegean Sea. Visitors fall in love with this remote lush green and fertile region, the thousands of aged olive trees, the village life that feels like time has stopped, the centuries-old monuments in the vicinity, and the fresh culinary delights with produce coming from farming traditions that have remain intact to nowadays.
What do you love most about ELaiolithos and the Naxos’ mountainous region?
I love the mountains, they’re honest, pure, simple, divine. I love the peace and tranquility of the region, not having to do anything, being able to do everything, the delicious feeling of freedom, and the contemplation of life is simply all witnessed here. Hear, feel, smell, understand – a sustainable living which creates itself. Heartiness comes from within.
I want guests to feel welcome, comfortable, and have a good time here.
The way we see the world? Spreading some happiness and healthiness at ELaiolithos
Choose the best time for you and….come to meet this wonderful place where the mere presence of nature is enough to make an impact on the human psyche. ELaiolithos is a simple step in attempting to strengthen the long forgotten bond between the human soul and Mother Nature. Experience Naxos at ELaiolithos, the authentic side of Naxos!
Credits: I dedicate ELaiolithos to my three wonderful children that I deeply love, and I thank them for having the patience with me for having taken yet another challenge which decreases the amount of time I can spend with them.
Thanks to all my friends for sharing my happiness when starting the project of ELaiolithos and following with encouragement when it seemed too difficult to be completed.
Speaking of encouragement, I must mention my dear brother Mihali for his continuing contribution throughout the process of this project. Special thanks to him. Without his work, patience, expertise, honesty and decency, this project would not have completed. He is a great person and I can only be grateful to be his sister.
Last, I send special thanks to all the teams they have worked on the site and they were hard working, honest and prompt and completed their job with excellence. They know who they are.
I thank you all for your part in my journey……..
Building ELaiolithos was another Naxos experience for me….
Wishing to all of you,
A Heart filled with Love, and as the king of Olympian gods, Zeus, said:
“A true hero is not measured by the size of his strength, but
By the strength of his Heart”
A touch of Naxos Folklore & History…
on the premises….
ELaiolithos is the first luxury green hotel of its kind in central Naxos. It’s one-of-a-kind, contemporary, with character, a warm heart and authentic Naxian soul.
There is so much to see and do in and around the premises. One of the many surprises that awaits for you in the entrance of ELaiolithos is the display of the original antique olive oil press, dating back to 1540 -1969 according to the hearsay of the locals (from the adjacent Moni village). It is a unique attraction; that was carried with great difficulty onto our premises, along with different objects of that period.
Everything has been re-assembled as found in its original environment; the olive press, the huge stones and the elaborate rotating mechanism, the millstone – it’s all there and catch the visitor’s eye!
Olives were placed on this large stone slab of 3.5 tons weight, where pressure was applied with a round stone (the millstone) 1.5 ton weight. This procedure produced a paste which was then taken to the olive press. The first type of press consisted of one or two millstones, rotated with the help of a thick, wooden beam. This was the “Trapetum” (from the Greek verb “trepo” – to turn).This type of mill of mills was used also in Byzantine times. After the 18th century, olive presses in Europe were driven by machines, but up until the 1970s, animal-driven presses were still in use in Greece.
The olive press along with all its accessories was offered to Helen Marakis by Eleni and Dimitrios Nanouri from Moni village. This rare folklore treasure represents many centuries of local life. ELaiolithos displays it in its entrance and offers the opportunity to its guests to come in contact with this local cultural inheritance. This exhibit constitutes an authentic and real evidence of the traditional way of making olive oil.
ELaiolithos is the Greek word for the mashing antique olive oil millstone in the ancient times (or elaiopetra or melopetra). ELaiolithos (Frantoio) is the large cylindrical rolling stone that crushed the olives to produce the pulp and ELaiolithos’ role was to turn and roll on the large stone. The stone was held upright by an axis, which was connected to a long handle. The handle was pushed by humans or animals. The mashing stone rolled along a cavity on the circumference of the base crushing the olives. The crushed olives would then be collected into a basket-then further processed by the oil press.
ELaiolithos is an accommodation in harmony with its surrounded environment by aged olive trees and strong rocks. It has been designed with attention to detail and offers a pleasant and relaxing flow of indoor and outdoor living with privacy and tranquility.
Let yourself be spoiled, and above all Enjoy!