Interview with Petros Stathis: Mykonos’ King of Luxury

Interview with Petros Stathis: Mykonos’ King of Luxury

Petros Stathis is an Athens native whose career has led him to success in several industries. His business odyssey began in the planning stages of the 1996 centennial Athens Olympics bid before scaling to the pinnacle of the luxury hospitality, food and beverage sector.

The sole owner of private equity and investment company Monterock International, which today employs 2,500 people across 18 countries, Stathis has built a business empire out of his passions. Today, he resides in the United Arab Emirates and owns NAMMOS Dubai, which recently overtook giants such as Nobu in Malibu and Cipriani’s in Manhattan to become the world’s highest-earning restaurant.

Luxury Travel Magazine recently sat down with Stathis to learn more about his backstory, the key to his success, and his latest venture, CE LA VI.

Tell us a little bit about your backstory. How did you begin your career in luxury restaurants and hotels?

Well, it began a long time ago, in Athens, where I was born. I was actually an advisor to the Minister of Culture and Sport in the run-up to the 1996 centennial Athens Olympics bid. It was an exciting and important project to be involved in because it was about so much more than just the symbolism of the Olympics returning to their ancestral home: it was about launching Greece and the infrastructure of Athens into the 21st century.

We didn’t end up getting the Olympics in ‘96, Athens had to wait until 2004 before its time came to host. But I still caught the real estate bug and began building up a construction business from scratch, which we eventually ended up taking public with an IPO. It was great, but not nearly as thrilling of a business as sports. So before long, I went out and bought AEK Athens Football Club – one of the historic giants of Greek sport. In the meantime, I also met my wife, who is from Montenegro.

This was around 2006. With her, I traveled across the Balkans to her home country and also to neighboring Serbia. It’s on this trip that I became enchanted by the wider region’s food, drink and culture of hospitality and spotted an untapped opportunity in its food and beverage sector. Montenegro was hugely underdeveloped as a holiday destination, but there was huge potential to turn it into a luxury travel hotspot. So I go to work, opening up high-end restaurants and hotels along the Montenegrin coast.

Fascinating. So, what happened next?

While I was in Montenegro I came into contact with a Japanese fund that was interested in disposing of a collection of assets, which included, among other things, 8 million square meters in Upstate New York and a long-term lease for the Montenegrin island of Sveti Stefan. I bought it all up and opened up an AMAN resort on the island in 2011. It was beautiful, like something out of a picture book, built amidst a 16th-century coastal village. It was so successful that my business partner and I decided to expand further across the Adriatic. Our next stop was Venice, where we opened another highly successful AMAN Hotel.

Interesting. But from what we understand, you didn’t just stick to southern Europe. You’re based in Dubai now, where you do most of your business, is that correct?

Yes, that’s right. My decision to Dubai came quite organically – it wasn’t pre-planned. I just kind of felt drawn to the Emirates. I did think about opening another AMAN Hotel there because that’s what was familiar to me. But at the time I wasn’t exactly impressed by the room occupancy rates in Dubai, so I decided to look into the Food & Beverage [F&B] sector, and decided that I would be better off opening a restaurant than a hotel.

Now, one thing that you should know about Dubai is that two things are key: luxury and brands. People in the Emirates are very discerning and they’re attracted to brands with a certain pedigree. After a bit of thinking, I settled upon NAMMOS in Mykonos, which is probably the most famous beach restaurant on the planet. It struck me as a perfect fit for Dubai, so I approached the people at NAMMOS to see if they might be interested in franchising the brand to me so I could open one in the Emirates. They liked the idea, and we opened our doors in December 2019.

That’s interesting timing. Just before the Covid pandemic…

I suppose ‘interesting’ is one way of describing it. Interesting, and unfortunate. It was probably the worst time in recent history to open a hospitality business. Many restaurants went under during that period. Fortunately, however, we managed to weather the storm and, today, I’m proud to say that NAMMOS Dubai is the most profitable restaurant in the entire world.

Incredible. What’s the secret to your success?

Well, there were a number of factors. Firstly, we did our research and noticed a gap in the market. Dubai is one of the most profitable, and indeed, oversaturated, restaurant locations in the world. But I noticed that it didn’t have a luxury lifestyle Mediterranean F&B experience. At that moment it became abundantly clear that there was a real opportunity in bringing some Mediterranean flavor from Mykonos to the Emirates… and that’s how NAMMOS Dubai was born.

At the same time, I think it’s important to point out that, aside from due diligence and hard work, people are really important in making any business a success. You need to put the right people in the right places so you have a really coherent and effective team. I genuinely believe that we have the best team in the world at NAMMOS Dubai, which is why we’re so successful.

But you’re not exactly someone to rest on your laurels are you? You’re always searching for the next opportunity and you seem to have found that in the rapidly growing luxury lifestyle group, CE LA VI, which was recently acquired by ADMO – the joint venture between your company, Monterock, and Alpha Dhabi. Can you tell us more about that?

Yes, CE LA VI, which translates to “This is Life” in French, first opened its doors in Southeast Asia. Drawing inspiration from the region’s rich artistic heritage, the brand is deeply rooted in the artistic influences of Southeast Asia’s art, carvings, paintings, and temples. It has expanded over the years and now has a presence in gateway cities such as Singapore, Dubai, Tokyo, and Taipei, with its unique multi-concept dining and entertainment offerings in iconic venues. It  continues to attract guests from across the world who seek spectacular and unforgettable experiences.

Why did you decide to acquire CE LA VI?

Well, there were a couple of reasons. This acquisition is not just a strategic move to expand globally, but a bold statement of our vision and pace to identify and invest in brands that have a distinct market presence and transform them into world leading brands.

ADMO is proceeding with utmost speed and enthusiasm in forging a robust platform of luxury, lifestyle, F&B, and entertainment brands. This acquisition not only expands ADMO’s global lifestyle presence to the east but also underscores our focus on building and nurturing a portfolio of world-dominating lifestyle brands. CE LA VI, with its unique brand essence and significant presence in key global markets, is a testament to our commitment and a valuable addition to our ever-evolving portfolio.

How would you describe CE LA VI?

At the heart of CE LA VI’s offerings are its restaurants. They’re Asian culinary havens that are among the region’s premier dining destinations. Complementing the dining experiences at the restaurants are CE LA VI’s Skybars, epitomes of luxury and indulgence that treat visitors to breathtaking views and exotic Asian flavors, and club lounges, which are renowned for both their  resident and internationally acclaimed DJs.

These lounges have also become synonymous with marquee events such as electrifying Grand Prix Nights organized around Formula 1 races in their vicinity and festive New Year’s Eve parties. It’s all about curating experiences that are eagerly anticipated and remembered long after the last song fades.

And where is CE LA VI located?

There are a few of them, in Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Dubai’s Address Sky View Hotel, Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing, and Taipei’s Breeze Nanshan Plaza. But we expect to expand further.

So, to conclude. If you could use one word to describe your menu, what would it be?

The finest.