In order to have a vision, it helps to have a captain at the helm, and Costa Navarino had just that. Messinia, in the Peloponnese region of Greece, was the home of Captain Vassilis Constantakopoulos who, following his business prowess in the shipping industry, sought to invest in protecting the land he loved. Although he passed away in 2011, this early environmentalist’s aim to create high end, sustainable tourism facilities in Messinia, lives on today through the company he created, Temes S.A. At the core of Temes’ philosophy since its launch in 2006, is respect for Messinia's nature, rich cultural heritage and local communities. Although this is a collection of mixed-use resorts integrating deluxe hotels, signature golf courses, spas, conferences and sport, there is still only one brand that matters. Messinia. Promoting the destination had always been the captain’s orders, injecting long term investment into infrastructure, cooperation with local communities and the environment, with eco practices accounting for ten per cent of development budgets. For example, pre-construction Temes created two water reservoirs for river winter runoff to cover irrigation needs, including the golf courses.
Temes has proved itself to be a vastly important investment in Mediterranean’s sustainable tourism. For example, they have developed one of the largest photovoltaic facilities in Greece, which not only supplies all of Costa Navarino’s electricity needs but feeds back to the national grid, backed up by a giant geothermal installation. And they have put in place the largest olive-tree transplanting program in Europe, as well as 6,000 indigenous trees and 200,000 endemic shrubs.
Messinia’s biodiversity needs stretch beyond tree planting however and, always quick to respond, Costa Navarino launched a monitoring and protection programme for the loggerhead sea turtle in partnership with the NGO Archelon. They contribute to a program in the Gialova Lagoon (a Natura 2000 site) to protect the habitat of the only European population of the African chameleon and they funded Navarino Environmental Observatory together with Stockholm University and the Academy of Athens, which is dedicated to Mediterranean environmental research. Navarino Natura Hall is one of Costa Navarino’s latest developments. An interactive nature and environment centre, it is aimed at educating local schoolchildren on the region’s natural heritage.
The Captain’s vision continues to grow on Messinia, but with more than a thousand people employed here during peak season, seventy per cent of whom come from Messinia, he has ensured that not only are all hands on deck but that this destination is definitely in ship shape.