Kamari Beach Hotel - 40th anniversary

As strange as it may seem, the tourism industry in Santorini has a history of not more than few decades. The first "tourists" were a few well educated visitors, fans of ancient history and culture who were arriving with the old slow in speed ships to admire Ancient Thira or to study the "open geological book" of Santorini.

 The discovery of the archeological site of Akrotiri gave a significant thrust in tourism, however the scale was still small compared to the present. The tourist flow was related mainly to the capital of Santorini, Fira, while Kamari was consisted by a small village created by MOMA organization after the 1956 earthquake and farms and vineyards, that due to their location near the sea, were not  producing sufficient amount of products and people considered them as barren.

A Great risk

A few hundred metres  away from Kamara, the old customs house that gave its name to the area of Kamari, Karamolegos brothers, children of a very poor family had a small piece of land that was giving them more trouble than corps. The older son George Karamolegos, was a carpenter in Brahami, Athens and was working day and night to survive. "We were working for over 15 hours per day" he remembers. At that time, the well known ship owner and politician Markos Nomikos asked to buy that salty piece of land in order to create beach facilities for tourists. It was then that the honest and hardworking carpenter realized the opportunity and decided to take that risk. "Even if we have sold it, what would we, three brothers would have earned at that time" he still asks himself. That was the reason he decided with enormous sacrifices and countless hours of hard work to built together with his wife Irene Koch a small hotel.

It was named Kamari Beach, built of course just on the beach of Kamari, but with no easy access. Roads were not paved and the services were hard to be delivered. It was the first hotel in Kamari and was surrounded by vineyards and waterless land. The present well paved promenade street in front of the hotel was just a dirt road. The predictions were not good and  the advice given were not encouraging such a venture that took the efforts of a lifetime to be built.

 Kamari Beach Hotel not only made it but became the centre of the whole area. "The first visitors were Germans…….only Germans" Mr Karamolegos remembers. Perhaps Kamari Beach Hotel owns its success to one more factor. On the official opening da,y Karamolegos Family welcomed  a new member. Margarita Karamolegou was born on that day and today she is top executive member of the large company that was developed out of that first small lodgment.

Landmark for Kamari

Hard work and genuine hospitality gave so much that the small hotel became the landmark of the area and the reason that other tourist facilities were created. Discos, hotels, tourist agencies, restaurants. George Karamolegos however was always a step ahead. He opened a restaurant, built a huge swimming pool and he mainly invested in human recourses. Many people worked for many years in the hotel and some of them never changed company until the time they retired.

This year Kamari Beach  Hotel celebrated its 40th anniversary and Mr George Karamolegos surrounded by his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren celebrated the success of a business venture that would have driven him and his family in poverty again if they wouldn't have succeeded in it. The small hotel was the centre of a local,  financial empire, however still remains the point of reference and the true "home" of Karamolegos family.

" For us Kamari Beach is our home" says Margarita, that now represents the new dynamic generation of the family and who of course has a very good reason to love this hotel: She was born on the very same day it opened.

Article written By Mr Dimitris Prassos, journalist, on the 3d of August 2012 for www.santorinibusiness.com

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