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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Demetrios (Mimis) Zerbas. Paxos Beach Hotel; A Founding Father of Paxiot Quality Tourism

You wouldn't believe that Mimis Zerbas (in times gone by the name was spelt Zervas) is 84 years old. He began his successful hotel back in 1964, and the twenty stremmata area is admired for its good taste, environmental and artistic sensitivity. His parents were both artistic, painters of portraits, and Mimis developed símilar qualities which must have informed his vision and creation.

The hotel developed gradually, without reliance on bank loans, from the time when Paxos had no water and no electricity supply, and unreliable sea connections with Corfu (remember the Kamelia?). The Italians and French started coming first, then the British.

Many Paxiots came over from Epirus, originally, from places like Parga and Souli. Mimis' ancestors were Souliots. His family tree can be traced back to the mid seventeenth century.

Maybe that's where the love of dry-stone walling comes from? Paxos has plenty of stone with which to build. The hotel was built by hand, stone-by-stone.  You can't fail to admire the beautiful and extensive terracing, the substantial stone walls, the discreet and unpretentious Mediterranean landscaping, the trees and shrubs, the placement of large clay pots and natural stones; the whole complex is like an intuitive sculptural installation, an instinctive form of environmental or Land Art.

The trees and shrubs hide the small stone bungalows and feel absolutely right in the environment: olive, lemon, bay, cypress, pine, myrtle, lentisk, angelica, oleander, hibiscus, bougainvillia and more.

Kalo gousto! Bravo! Mimis Zerbas can be credited as the creator of twentieth century tourism on Paxos. It's high time he wrote his autobiography, or an account of the history of his hotel and of life on Paxos. His father set a fine example.

See the hotel website

I first visited it in 1967, but I was camping in a small tent on a nearby olive tree terrace above the sea.

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