I had only heard tidbits about Croatia and it’s beautiful coastlines from a few friends who had visited by yacht, but I had no idea that it had so much more to offer! I didn’t do my usual (borderline obsessive) extensive internet reconnaissance since my itinerary was being planned and organized for me by my amazing host Antonia, the team at The Stories Hotel Brand, the Croatian Board of Tourism, and Croatia Airlines. I had no clue that my trusty travel sidekick Kaya and I were in for one heck of a phenomenal education and a lifetime of amazing memories!
I can’t begin to express how thrilled I was when Stories Hotels asked me to be their media ambassador for the launch of their new Croatian hotel brand. My experience included a 15-day tour of seven islands and visits to ten of the brand’s seventeen luxury boutique hotels!
When we landed in the ancient city of Split, we were whisked away by speed boat to the Adriana Hvar Spa Hotel, and immediately the bar for Croatia was set high! This hotel has the all-important 3 “L’s”…. Location, Location, Location! The Adriana has possibly the best breakfast buffet in Europe and a killer spa! It’s set in the charmingly beautiful town of Hvar that famously comes alive at night. The town is (rightfully!) known as one of the top three party islands in Europe. We spent our first day nursing our jet lag on the private pontoon the hotel secured for us, floating above the unbelievably crystal clear waters of the uber popular Banj Les Bain Beach Club. This spot is a must!
The next day we set off by speed boat to swim in the blue and green grottos of Vis (ala Capri), and then spent the rest of the day at the amazing lounge/bar beach club at Laganini on the Island of Palmizana. This should not be missed for any reason! There’s really no way to describe it other than you’ll want to cry when you have to leave! Note to self: Must get back here and stay a month/need to hit Vis properly next time as well.
Each of the Stories Hotels has a unique history or “Story” that makes every luxurious property incredibly special. We were pampered by the unparalleled, personalized hospitality from the first step through the perfectly preserved entrance of the 1700-year-old Vestibul Palace Hotel inside the UNESCO World Heritage Diocletian Palace in Split! If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you have to tour the Palace to see where the dragons were imprisoned in season 4!
The next day we were transported to the beautiful Martinis Marchi Fortress on the Island of Solta by their awesome “James Bond” speed boat! The delectable wine-pairing lunch at the hotel made for an amazing afternoon in this quiet, charming island. A trip to Solta comes complete with a bee & honey farm and an artist colony that is housed in an ancient village only accessible by the Martinis Marchi off-road jeep.
One of the great highlights was being introduced to the phenomenal Croatia wines (they sadly don’t export much if any due to small batch production), if you happen to find some here in the states buy it up immediately, you won’t be sorry! A tour through one of the many phenomenal wine regions landed us at the elegant and beautifully designed Villa Dubrovnik. The Villa has a highly coveted location and stunning views of the famed Fortress City and the jaw-dropping Walls of Dubrovnik! And again, if you’re a fan, don’t miss the full Game Of Thrones tour in the old city of Dubrovnik. Your “Iron Throne” selfie is sure to give you bragging rights at your next GOT viewing party!
The lovely Pucic Palace Hotel is steeped in history and located in the heart of the city. The hotel boasts one of the best bar hotspots in town, and for the more private, peaceful side of Dubrovnik, there is the romantic intimacy of the Hotel Kazbek with its wonderful gastronomic restaurant and perfect perch on the new marina.
Two of the four hottest restaurants in Croatia are in Dubrovnik, so make sure you get a coveted reservation at Nautica and 360. Both restaurants feature gorgeous views and fantastic food!
I was truly floored by the beauty of the old city of Dubrovnik and its walls and fortresses. Everything inside the city, including the streets, are built of white limestone, polished smooth by the throngs of visitors. The streets are power hosed clean every night at 3 AM by a team dedicated to keeping the city spotless for the next day’s admirers. The white of the stone literally glows in the moonlight!
All of the old cities I visited in Croatia feel as though you are stepping back in time to the day they were originally built. That’s how beautifully and perfectly restored and preserved they are- Truly remarkable!
Stay tuned for week 2 of my Croatia Chronicles, coming soon!