Elena Papanicolaou Talks Fly Me to The Moon’s Bespoke Travel Offers To Greece
Specialising in bespoke travel design, with both a private and corporate client-database, Fly Me to The Moon provides unparalleled attention to detail and a personalised approach to each endeavour.
Established by Elena Papanicolaou, in Athens in 2014, ‘Fly Me to The Moon’ is a Destination Management Company — specialising in bespoke travel design — serving both private and corporate customer requests. Growing exclusively through word of mouth, the company is revered for its local expertise, extensive network of contacts, unparalleled attention to detail and a personalised approach to each endeavour. With bespoke itineraries and easy access to a 24/7 line of communication, ‘Fly Me to The Moon’ prides itself in providing each guest with the most authentic travel experience.
You established Fly Me to the Moon in Athens in 2014, how unique is the Company on the Greek bespoke travel scene?
I believe we are unique because of who we are, why we started the company and what our mission is. I have spent many years in top management positions in the corporate sector, from shipping to finance to chemical manufacturing. While pursuing a career in a very demanding business environment, traveling for individual and professional purposes provided me with a profound pleasure for all the senses, enrichment and balance. I started Fly Me To The Moon out of passion with a clear mission of sharing these feelings for my home country, Greece, with well-travelled people looking for life changing experiences that will gift them with a footprint on their soul — experiences that truly matter. Crafting on a blank canvas, without limiting ourselves to the sector mechanics, focusing solely on creating out of the box itineraries far from the usual industry practices and must dos, searching and monitoring continuously and working with elegance, authenticity, imagination and attention to detail, is what defines us and makes us unique.
What is the profile of your typical clients? What specific & customised experiences are they looking for?
Our clients are well-travelled, culturally curious and sophisticated, discerning people with limited time to spare on research and travel arrangements. Individuals and companies that know why they travel and seek a professional who understands their specific needs and desires; alleviates any risks of bad choices and handles any issues before and during travel, in order for them to get the best out of their trip seamlessly and meaningfully. Most importantly, our clients know that we will always include elements that are unexplored, authentic with a sense of place, otherwise impossible to know.
You are dealing with both private clients as well as corporate ones, how different are the requests?
Having been a traveler in both camps, I think that the ultimate request is the same. On the surface, corporate travel requires more meeting arrangements and offsite travels, while individuals need relaxing, thematic experiences, celebrations, etc. However, it all boils down to satisfying the basic human needs of body and soul. Relaxing, rejuvenating, enriching, giving back, connecting, are all feelings which are beneficial to our private lives that consequently reflect our business lives.
You know all about Greece secret destinations and unequalled experiences. Without revealing all, could you let our readers know of your three favorite exclusive travel spots?
We are lucky to be in this small but extremely special part of the world. Even though Greece is stereotyped for its more than 6,000 islands out of which only 227 are inhabited, amazing as they may be, the mainland also offers an immense variety of exhilarating experiences ranging from ski resorts, gorges and creeks, to fishing villages, cities with a deep past and the longest coastline in all the Mediterranean basin. Add history, culture, rich gastronomy, unique customs and the genuine Greek “Filoxenia” aka hospitality, literally meaning “friendly to strangers” carried strongly throughout the centuries from ancient Greeks, the choice is endless. As there is a right place for everyone and at any period of time, it is very hard to pick just three favourites but in my top list I would include the tiny island of Paxos in the Ionian Sea, Santorini’s little sister island of Folegandros and the region of Laconia in the Peloponnese. Apart from the choice of location, we love showcasing Greece’s unique elements, namely its indigenous wine culture, historic and prehistoric civilisations, contemporary craftsmen and designers, national and international festivals, scenic driving routes and so much more.
Give us one example of a request you have received which sounded like “Mission Impossible” which you finally managed to deliver?
Staying true to our mission and passion, nothing is impossible as long as there is respect to nature and people. It is outside our philosophy to craft fragmented experiences based on show off and extremities, just for the sake of it. As we design the whole travel experience from start to finish, we incorporate special elements that blend and complement each other seemingly. Usually our clients tell us why they travel and leave the rest to us e.g. a surprise birthday celebration in an old monastery on a desert island, a 4×4 road trip deep in the Natura region of Pindos, a senior partners and BoD offsite in a remote ancient settlement, an ancestry trip of diaspora Greeks, whose family left Greece in the 1800 ’s.
You also have the ability to organise customised yacht charters for sea-lovers and families, is that correct?
Yes, absolutely and private yacht cruises are one of the top experiences we offer. We have a great list of yachts that we charter for our clients both motor yachts and motorsailers. The Greek seas are incomparable compared to the whole Mediterranean and the options are endless. From cosmopolitan islands like Mykonos, Corfu and Santorini to secluded desert-like islets, sea caves, fish taverns on the water and trendy beach clubs. Apart from the breath-taking sunsets and spectacular full moons you will almost certainly spot dolphins and sea monks swimming along.
How can your guests appreciate more of the Greek rich culture and authentic elements of the local “Art de Vivre”?
We can take pride at Fly Me To The Moon to always introduce and immerse our guests with Greek culture, arts, gastronomy and the Greek way of life — that is itself the “joie de vivre”. We always stress the topicity element in our itineraries. We brief our guests about the history and characteristics of the locations they visit; we take them to meet local artisans and craftsmen and introduce them to authentic gastronomy and PDO products. We suggest they follow traditional festivals, use the best experts to guide them to the sites and understand the continuity from the past to the present; we network people that may have similar interests (in archaeology, gastronomy, nature activities, etc) over home dinners and much more.
Three words to describe the values Fly Me to The Moon always puts forward?
Passion, Individuality, Respect.
When is the best time to visit Greece?
There is such a variety of locations and experiences perfect for everyday of the year. It all depends on what people are looking for.
Would you like to name a Greek historical figure who has inspired you and continues to inspire you in your life?
Another difficult choice with such a huge historical heritage but I will go to pre-history: Achilles – for his bravery and empathy, uncompromising stance in life and staying true to his values.
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