Meet Aleks and Emilie, the couple who resurrected the historic building of Agora, giving new life to Lefkara.
Text: Romina Xyda
Photos: Panagiotis Mina
Aleks Eng and Emilie Green Novel left Denmark and found a new home in sunny Cyprus. They chose to live in Lefkara, a village with a great cultural tradition. Soon after, they breathed new life into the historic Agora Hotel. The locals welcomed them warmly. Their efforts to transform an abandoned building into a beautiful hotel prove that if you want something badly enough, you can achieve it.
A trip to Cyprus we made years ago was enough for us to fall in love with the island, the landscape, the people and the climate and, finally, to call it home. At the time, I lived in Manhattan while Emilie lived in Oslo. We had a long-distance relationship. We wanted to change everything, relax, spend more time together, and live. That’s how I sold my business, and we found ourselves here. It wasn’t a difficult change because we were always on the move, working and living in different places.
The people here were so friendly and warm that they made us feel at home from the beginning. We were taken in by the island’s sporting community, as Emilie and I competed in triathlons and cycling, respectively. I have cycled 46,000 kilometres on my bike and have seen every little corner of the island. Cyprus is gorgeous, especially the mountains, and the simplicity and quality of the food are something we enjoy every day.
We never imagined opening a hotel, even though the business is related to Food & Beverage, where I have previous experience, and Emilie has experience working for large hotels. During our long-distance relationship, we used hotels as common ground. They were our home, so we started to appreciate the details. When we discovered our building, now the Agora Hotel, we got excited about the idea of running our own.
Our vision was to create a place to meet new people from all over the world. We wanted to create a hotel where guests could spend time together, feel at home, work, relax, enjoy luxurious yet unpretentious services and ultimately want to stay forever.
A great story comes from the history of the hotel. From the 1920s until the late 80s, the building was the Agora (marketplace) for Lefkara. We have photos of the building showing old stone tables where farmers sold their produce. Then, in 1990, the market became the Agora Hotel. We decided to keep the name for many reasons; the most important lies in the etymology of the ancient Greek word for a place of gathering, which was perfectly in line with what we wanted to create together.
This magnificent building in the middle of the village includes 18 double rooms, a small gym, a yoga studio, a cocktail bar and a study. In the courtyard is a heated salt-water pool and patio extending from Novél, a Mediterranean Bistro.
The best compliment we have received is from an MIT professor who wrote in our guestbook, “Agora is the peak of hospitality and made me feel like part of the family.”