NIKOLAOS DOVAS’ FAMILY HISTORY
LIFE TRAJECTORY FROM GREECE TO EGYPT
AND THE RETURN TO GREECE
Our family history and our dealing with the hotel business and tourism, initially, and with soap, later on, starts in Alexandria and Mersa Matruh in Egypt and continues in Greece, up until today, in Platanias, in South Pelion.
It was in those days, around 1890, after the revolution of Pelion against the Turks, when our great – grandfather Nikolaos Dovas left at a very young age, together with other young people, from Argalasti in Pelion for Egypt, in search of work, for a better and a safer life. The Greeks prospered in Egypt and through their labor and their sweat, they created enviable conditions, worthy projects that people today would still aspire to. Their business acumen aimed at making the most of the most important regions and products of Egypt, not only within the country, but also in the Mediterranean coast.
Therefore, after our ancestors settled in Alexandria, with the security of the strong Greek diaspora and the spiritual warmth of the Patriarchate, they put down roots and made progress, working at various jobs.
From there, grandfather Nikos Dovas and grandmother Victoria, flew with their family to Mersa Matruh, the ancient Amunia. They had two children, our father Yiannis and our aunt Aikaterini. The name Amunia comes from Amun – Ra* (Amun – Zeus for the Greeks).
Mersa Matruh, at that time, was the most beautiful tourist resort and the safest natural harbor.
It was called the Egyptian Riviera, and it was considered “the pearl of the Mediterranean”.
It was not by accident that the notorious queen of Egypt, Cleopatra the Third (160 – 101 B.C.) chose that place to establish the famous sea water baths, nor that the German General Rommel chose to set up his headquarters and his shelter there, because of its geostrategic position. It was 300 Km away from Alexandria and one hour and a half away from the famous oasis of Siwa.Thus, after 1930, many Greek hotels started to build, all of which, up until 1960 – 1965, served the tourist aristocracy of northern Egypt.
1947In that bewitching bay of Mersa Matruh, after World War II, the Dova family decided to lay the foundations and build a beautiful seaside hotel, HOTEL ZEPHYR.
1950-1965It was in Mersa Matruh, that small town, where the art of soap – making was developed, with the most representative factory, “The Sahara soap factory”, which provided all northern Egypt with soap. Grandmother Victoria worked in that factory, and, later, after she had mastered the art, she started working with soap in her own hotel. She used to make two kinds of soap, using both the hot production and the cold production processes.
Το σαπούνι με την θερμή μέθοδο το έφτιαχνε από τα κατακάθια των λαδιών και τα τηγανόλαδα της κουζίνας του ξενοδοχείου, και το χρησιμοποιούσε για την καθαριότητα και την λάτρα της κουζίνας, καθώς και για το πλύσιμο των σεντονιών του ξενοδοχείου. Έκανε τότε αυτό που θα λέγαμε σήμερα ανακύκλωση των αποβλήτων. Είχε δηλ. η γιαγιά για την εποχή της αναπτυγμένη οικολογική συμπεριφορά και ευαισθησία για το περιβάλλον.
Το σαπούνι με την ψυχρή μέθοδο, το έφτιαχνε από καθαρά λάδια, κυρίως ελαιόλαδο, φοινικέλαιο, και λάδι καρύδας, για φυσικό αφρισμό, και το χρησιμοποιούσαν, η οικογένειά της για σωματική καθαριότητα και φροντίδα και οι πελάτες του ξενοδοχείου.
All the experience that grandmother had gained in the art of soap – making was brought to Greece and became the basis of our soap production.
At the time, everyone in Greece used to make soap only with the hot production process and as you realise, the cold production process used by our grandmother, was a novelty by itself.
1960Unfortunately, with the advent of socialism and the accession of the socialist president Nasser in Egypt, a countdown in the life and the blooming trajectory of the Greek diaspora of Egypt started, with the forced and violent nationalisations of Greek people’s assets. In 1960, some years before the family’s departure to Greece, Yiannis and Evanthia Dova had twins, Nikos and Vasiliki.
Finally, in 1965, they decided to leave. The healthiest and more economically robust part of the Greek diaspora was gone. Others left for their homeland, Greece, others for the North of Europe, Australia, America, South Africa and all over the world.
The conditions of settling in Greece were very hard, since people had to start again from zero to build a new life. Abandoned by everyone, especially by the Greek government, left at the mercy of God, they tried, on their own, but also with ploys, to rescue what was left.
Our grandmother, Victoria Dova, used to stuff the bars of soap she made herself and the meatballs she fried, with 2 – 3 gold coins, without any of the family knowing about it. Exporting gold, valuables and currency was then punishable with heavy penalties. The ships landed the Greek people from Egypt at the port of Piraeus where they were crammed for days, homeless at first, until they found someone to put them up. Finally, with God’s help, our family settled in Platanias, in South Pelion, where our mother, Evanthia Dova, comes from.
Finally, with God’s help, our family settled in Platanias, in South Pelion, where our mother, Evanthia Dova, comes from.
In Platanias, our father Yiannis Dovas and our mother Evanthia, built in 1965 – 1966 the first tourist guesthouse, in South Pelion, by the name “The Villa of Roses”, laying, thus, the foundations of tourist development in the entire region.
That hotel experienced moments of glory and continues, as “Hotel Des Roses”, its creative and developmental course, by the proprietor Nikos Dovas, his wife Yianna Vasdeki – Dova and their children, Yiannis and Thomas.
We, as the family’s third generation, since 1993, have carried on the art of hospitality in our Hotel.
We have organised a very tasty and healthy cuisine, since we use mostly local and fresh products, and we have retrieved old local recipes to create a different sense of flavors.
At the same time, we recommend a very interesting ecotourism programme for our visitors, with memorable activities. It includes walks and trekking and visits to archaeological sites, promotion and elevation of natural resources, Thetis’ mythical caves, and the manufacturing of handmade natural organic soap NIPSON Pelion Natural Soap.
WORKING WITH SOAP
We have inherited this latter activity, the art of soap – making, from our grandmother Victoria, first in Egypt, and later in Greece, we have developed it to a new trade, a new business, with the brand name Pelion natural soap, that is, we produce certified natural homemade soap as an eco – bio cosmetic.
ΤThe soap is produced with the cold production process of saponification, a method which outclasses the hot one, with proven advantages.
With the cold production process, the glycerin and water produced during saponification are retained, are not rejected, and they truly constitute the most ideal moisturising element for the skin. In combination with over – fertilisation, the high quality organic olive oil, the natural extracts from medicinal aromatic plants and herbs, such as chamomile, laurel oil, rosemary, lavender, myrrh, rose, the beneficial goat milk and the divine donkey milk, they create prime products for the modern worn - out person.
We believe that those pure materials, with our patented cold production method of soap – making, are offering increasing resistance – on the part of producers and consumers – to the massive use of hazardous chemicals, not only in cosmetics, but also in our nutrition.