How I Launched: Scorpios

Scorpios founders Mario Hertel and Thomas Heyne.

Soho House Berlin members Mario Hertel and Thomas Heyne share the story behind Scorpios, their holistic beach experience in Mykonos, which is now part of the Soho House family

By Kate Lough Thursday 6 June, 2019

Last month, we welcomed Scorpios to the Soho House family — the first experience of its kind for members. Conceived as a contemporary interpretation of the ancient Greek marketplace, the Mykonos escape unites musicians, creatives and storytellers from around the world, echoing a philosophy shared with Soho House’s creative community. We spoke to the founders, Soho House Berlin members Mario Hertel and Thomas Heyne, to hear how they established the holistic beach experience.

The backstory
Mario Hertel: ‘I’d been in the nightclub business in Berlin for 20 years and was ready for a change. In summer 2004, I went cruising around Greece on a military boat, throwing private parties and I never left. I was offered a struggling nightclub and together with my friend Thomas Heyne we turned it into one of the best clubs in the world.’

Thomas Heyne: ‘Ten years after launching, it had become a very different business. We couldn’t stand EDM music any more and wanted to create a more holistic concept that was about the experience, not the DJ.’

Changing tack
MH: ‘There was a hotel 500m from our club and the owner was always calling the police complaining about the noise. Eventually they asked if we wanted it. We had no idea how to run a hotel, but it had always been on our wish list.’

TH: ‘We took on San Giorgio for romantic reasons; we were getting older, Mykonos was going up and up and the hotel was a jewel. We designed it in an organic, Bohemian style so it felt like the house of your best friends.’
Woman reading book in the sun
Bedroom interior
Hammocks above a still pool
Window of opportunity
MH: ‘In the same bay as our hotel is a peninsula – now the home of Scorpios. Originally it was just a simple restaurant because no one could get the permit for a club. We’d been excited about this place since we lived in Mykonos because it has such a spiritual atmosphere. It’s only 25m up from the sea and has a really unique sunset over Delos, the island of the gods.’

TH: ‘I saw the spot the first day I arrived in Mykonos and we always said we would kill for it. For years we were begging the owner to let us have it. Finally, after seven years, he said yes.’

Forming a plan
TH: ‘We wanted to create something more special, more sophisticated for our age – somewhere we’d want to stay throughout the day and night. The idea was to create a Greek agora [gathering place] where art, design, food, music and healing came together to form our “rituals”. When we started this, everyone was laughing about us, saying “what the fuck is this shamanic house music?”. It was very risky.’

Building the brand
TH: ‘Jackie Onassis made Mykonos famous in the 1960s, just like Brigitte Bardot did with St Tropez. Her family’s private island was called Skorpios. She loved it and brought all the celebrities there; it was a great time when everything was beautiful – that’s what we wanted to bring back. Our overall design philosophy is based around wabi-sabi [the Japanese aesthetic of transience and imperfection], so we built into nature, not onto it. Scorpios is supposed to feel as if it could have been there for 500 years.’
Simplistic dining area with stools
Two chairs in the shade overlooking the sea
Hammock inside a living area
Launching to market
MH: ‘Scorpios was really a learning process. When we launched in May 2015, it was horrible weather and no one came. No one had heard this music before. But we didn’t compromise and make it more commercial. Instead, we concentrated on the restaurant – our first in Greece – and decided to grow slowly from there.’

TH: ‘It was so hard that Mario split with his wife and my fiancée left with my dog. On the day we opened, the banks closed during the Greek debt crisis and no one knew what was happening. I hadn’t smoked for 18 years, but I started again. Every day we were counting our cash and asking, what do we buy today? Fish? Champagne? We were afraid, but we held our line. Our core crowd came
and started talking about it; if you attract the right people, this two per cent brings you the rest.’

Cementing the concept
MH: ‘We don’t have people sitting on tables, spraying champagne – these cheesy things weren’t allowed from day one. Our crowd is more LA and London. Now we have people flying in just for one night for our Sunday parties.’

TH: ‘We’ve created a lifestyle and a community that people feel a part of. I don’t know one [beach experience] that brings together everything we do – that’s the secret of our success.’ 
Interested in becoming a member?