Born in Piraeus, raised in Thessaloniki, he left the co-capital, as he revealed himself, in one night, to go to Athens and since then he lives in the capital… “and I didn’t even go to collect my stuff” he admitted with honesty. Markos Machairopoulos is considered the “master” in the organization of events, who may have been accidentally found in Tinos, but his success is not by chance.
In an amazing place at the foot of the Acropolis, Markos Machairopoulos spoke to “Tinos About” with the grace of a…confectioner, who creates imaginative sweets. Because of the family ties with the rest of the confectioners of the family, that’s what he studied. However, his accidental acquaintance and his collaboration – which eventually lasted 14 years – with an event organization company led him to create his own dream. Today he is considered the “Guru” in the organization of elegant weddings, but also fashionable baptisms or even business events of high demands. Markos Machairopoulos is behind every fine event.
How did you choose Tinos and not Mykonos?
“I chose Tinos, the island chose me I can’t tell you. It happened by chance. One weekend when I didn’t have what to do I decided to go to Mykonos. My meeting with my sculptor friend Theano Terkenli was decisive, as I bought her house, which she was selling in Tinos. I didn’t know Tinos, I hadn’t been there before and as soon as I got off the ship I wanted to make a U-turn and go back. I didn’t like it at all. But the house was in Arnados, next to the monastery in Agia Pelagia and when I saw the view and its beauties I realized that this was it. And so I just loved the island. It is a beautiful place, with many honest and authentic people, which is nothing other than what you see. They may seem “closed” and “inhibited” at first look but that happens until they get to know you. As with everyone, I believe. But I stand by their sincerity.”
You loved the island as a place. As a businessman, however, how did you decide to invest in an island that is not famous for its night life? It is the island of Virgin Mary and not the island of nonstop revelry…
“I had never combined the island with religious tourism and Virgin Mary. Apart from the Church and all these exceptional things that take place on the 15th of August, there is also the celebration with the lanterns, on January 30, for the discovery of the icon of Virgin Mary, which I consider one of the most beautiful celebrations in Greece. Tinos is not an island for nonstop revelry and partying, but none of our islands are, except for the “Big 4” of the entertainment, Mykonos, Santorini, Ios and Paros. We set up the “Komisa”, the restaurant in the village of Komi, which I really liked as a village and I used to go there as a tourist to eat.
We are a team with Laertis Grigoriadis and the children of the kitchen led by Thanos Chalastis and we wanted to do something for the island, to offer the flavors of the island and to do something very beautiful and picturesque. I have also never thought about it as a professional in organizing events. In other words, to set up a shop for events. We did it because we like the food, the island, but also this particular village.
So you use and advertise the products of the island…
“Of course. Vegetables and the “queen” on the menu, which is the artichoke. But also the meats, our fish are local and they are very tasty. People have loved the Countess. We’ve gotten very good reviews, the first year we worked on it. We want to go even better and satisfy more the people who come and make them feel even better. To make them feel a little at home. If we can make it, it will give us a lot of joy. We have no ambition to enter the gastronomic map of the country. If it arises because we love what we do and we manage it then it is welcome. But it’s not our purpose.
Do you see “Countess 2” or even 3? Creating a chain of restaurants on the island or elsewhere?
“No for now, because we want to build the right base first and then if and when done it’ll be welcome. We do not rule it out of having a “Countess” somewhere else. In Athens or somewhere else, but for now no. We want to create a more solid base, to create a good team, which I consider the most important thing-because I bond with people as well.
Do you think that Tinos can be put on the map of the Greek islands, which will be the protagonists? Not so much in entertainment, but e.g. in sports tourism?
“First of all, Tinos has now been included in the gastronomic map of the country. There are businessmen who, with their shops, have proven that they are at the top of the gastronomic map of Greece. The island could also be put on the architectural map, because it has architectural monuments, such as dovecotes and has artists, sculptors, painters and writers, originating from Tinos, who love the island very much. Tinos has the makings to enter the sports map, as we can take advantage of the wind of the island and host a big surfing or sailing event or whatever”.
Does it have the infrastructure?
“It has beaches. Infrastructure must be created. But they are built slowly but steadily…Also, there are Tinians, who promote the island in various ways, such as this quality magazine and of course its portal, which give another dimension to what they do attracting business interest. With the vision to make Tinos a destination for events.
The organization of weddings and social events was not a “tradition” in Greece. It was considered, in the early years, “American”. Now the climate has changed…
“I will say characteristically when they first came to the office, 22 years ago, they could not understand the provision of our services and why it was useful. Now it is very widespread and it is done very well, up to some level. The rest we see is from people who try to achieve situations by using some means, but not all their potential.”
Has the pandemic affected you for the last two years?
“Too much. We are a tourist product and as a tourist product we have also created an association called GDPA (Greek Destination Planners Association) with which we try to create the infrastructure, not only for us, but to improve the conditions with which we can communicate and coexist, in places and “sell” the country to foreigners much more easily. Feeling safe, without making fun of them, because there was also this treatment, by strangers. But at the same time we must also create the conditions for the younger ones who will be involved in this work and there must be some protection for them.
We have claimed them to exist for them as well. It is very important to be able to do a job knowing certain things safely. When we started there was nothing. There was not even a legal framework. You couldn’t insure your event. These have emerged over the years. Since 1998, for 24 years these have not existed. We went to insurance companies and they didn’t know how to insure the event, which can be affected by various factors, such as the weather.
Is there any help from the local authorities to promote all these things?
“I don’t think there is the appropriate promotion of businesses and generally in this part there is not enough help. They may have institutional issues that the local leaders of the island have to solve, but they should be solved, because how will someone come to invest in the island, when he is not properly treated? When basic functions, which will make your life easier, are delayed in the 21st century.
What are your goals for the new year?
“My goal other than being well and healthy, is to be well with our neighbors. To show love and understanding and this is very important. The health issue is very serious and it seemed that we didn’t take into consideration it’s importance. We took our health, our freedom for granted. Everything that comes, it comes to teach us some things and I think you get what you give. You give good you get good. My personal wish is to be able to be even better at “Countess”. People come and enjoy the shop and if we find ourselves on the gastronomic map of the country, it will be nice.
Our advice: if you find yourself on the island it is worth visiting this restaurant. You will feel like…a “Countess”.