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Ella Pienaar

Relaxing on the island in 1970.

The story behind Villa Ella

Ella Pienaar, a South African woman who visited Skiathos in 1965, stayed for what was intended to be a few weeks and turned out to be a lifetime. When she arrived there were no guesthouses on the island, so she rented rooms in the village.

She became so entranced with the island and its people that she decided to build her own house. This was a huge undertaking in those days, in which she was helped by Yiannis Mitzelos, who today owns his own holiday villa and remains a close family friend. Soon Ella added rooms to her house and started accommodating guests. Some guests from the early years still return with families every summer.

Ella quickly mastered Greek and out of respect for her adopted habitat set about understanding the culture and heritage of her new environment. This endeared her to the local community, as did her enterprising spirit and the example it set, which over time resulted in her becoming something of a legendary figure on the island. Besides all her other interests, gardening was Ella’s consummate passion, as anyone visiting her Villa immediately notices.

Ella passed away at the age of 85 early in 2003 and the family is now continuing the tradition, wanting Ella’s dream and memory to live on. So Villa Ella continues to be a heaven for so many, as it was for Ella.