Sunday, 19 December 2021

Croatian Hoteliers Seek NYE Concessions Amid Pandemic Rules

December the 19th, 2021 - Croatian hoteliers are seeking concessions from the National Civil Protection Directorate as epidemiological rules remain in place, limiting their time of operations to midnight on the clock. They're after ''wedding rules'' in which they can remain in operation until 02:00.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, unlike back on New Year's Eve 2021, in which celebrating was practically banned for Croatian hoteliers and others in the catering and hospitality sector due to then then very strict epidemiological measures, a welcome to 2022 is on the cards for many Croatian hoteliers, with great interest shown so far from guests.

However, this year isn't really going very smoothly either, because according to the current measures of the National Civil Protection Directorate, gatherings are still allowed only until midnight, so unless something alters, it won't be possible to test that glass of champagne we all enjoy without the risk of a penalty. That's why the Croatian Hotel Employers' Association appealed to the Directorate back in November to set out some different, more relaxed business conditions which are in force at the moment for weddings only one night, and that the party should be allowed to go on until 02:00, confirmed Bernard Zenzerovic, the director of the aforementioned association.

"We conducted a survey among the members of our association and it turned out that a little more than 200 hotels will be opened for the New Year festivities, and we hope that there will be more guests here than last year. But when it comes to organised New Year’s Eve parties, we have an operational problem because we don’t know how we can work, and guests want to know what awaits them when they arrive at the hotel. Our proposal to the Civil Protection Directorate is to organise that one night according to the ''wedding regime'', to make it possible for people to enter with valid covid certificates, to report the gatherings to the Civil Protection Directorate and to be allowed to work until 02:00. We believe this is a reasonable and rational proposal given the context. We're in contact with the representatives of the Ministry of Tourism and the Civil Protection Directorate, and we have information that the decision on this matter will be made next week,'' explained Zenzerovic, adding that since the beginning of the pandemic, Croatian hoteliers have proved themselves as very responsible.

Currently, Croatian hoteliers are advertising what their offers are differently, most of them aren't clearly defining how long they intend to keep things running, but the programmes typically show that they are counting on ''wedding regime'' working hours. Many have live music, a late breakfast offer, and some even communicate quite openly that the fun will continue after midnight.

''Liburnia invites you to an unforgettable party in Opatija, announcing that the big celebration and New Year's Eve will be held in a spectacular place with the most beautiful view of the Mediterranean, with a five-course menu and live music,'' reads one such tempting offer.

Welcoming in 2022 with Maja Suput...

That offer might work as an instant way to turn some people off, but still... the luxurious Maistra Grand Park Hotel is also announcing a 5-course dinner, New Year's Eve with live music, and after midnight a party and late snacks in the Viva Eufemia lobby bar. The New Year's Eve 2022 party at the Olympia & Olympia Sky hotels is announced with a performance from Maja Suput, and a replay of the welcome is even planned one day later. Valamar's website clearly states that their programme of events in Porec is subject to changes in accordance with the epidemiological measures that will be in force at the time of the event, and currently each event seems it will definitely end at midnight.

It will also offer a New Year's Eve programme at noon, intended for families with small children, and the Spinnaker restaurant will host a New Year's Eve dinner with 7 courses, with a glass of champagne for a toast at midnight.

So far, the agencies are selling New Year's arrangements well and aren't currently recording cancellations, but everything is still on a slippy surface and depends on the epidemiological situation.

"We've noticed a great level of interest from both the organisers and guests for the New Year's packages and so far there have been no cancellations, but we are aware that there could be if the situation with coronavirus becomes more complicated. This weekend there was unofficial information circulating around that Istria is canceling things, but we called the hotels there and no one is planning to do so yet. We received a number of packages from the hotel that we can sell as a welcome, the rest can only be sold as accommodation if there are free rooms left. In this way, Croatian hoteliers have limited the number of people gathered at the New Year's celebration itself,'' they said from Azur tours.

For more, check out our business section.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Croatia is Key Market for New Sustainable Quartz Inn Hotel Chain

November the 23rd, 2021 - The Republic of Croatia is a key market for the new Quartz Inn hotel chain, and the move could finally kickstart Croatia's more sustainable ambitions as a tourist destination, as this chain places an emphasis precisely on that.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, after the recent official presentation at the London Tourism Fair WTM, a new European hotel brand will be launched in around one month, the new Quartz Inn Hotel chain for independent sustainable hotels, and one of the main markets they plan to expand to is Croatia, where they're already negotiating with facility owners.

The was confirmed to the above-linked publication by Ignacio Merino, the co-founder and director of the Quartz Inn Hotel chain, revealing details of the expansion to at least 100 hotels across Europe. Quartz Inn Hotels Ltd. was founded by Spaniard Merino and Dutchman Alexander Zawadzki, both of the men have extensive experience in the hotel industry, as well as with online travel agencies and travel startups.

“We're the first sustainable hotel brand for independent hotels in Europe, our goal is to connect sustainable accommodation from all European countries, while preserving the authenticity of each facility. We're helping hotels become ''green'' and creating a more sustainable tourism industry. By joining our brand, hotels gain greater international visibility, which leads to higher revenue and more direct bookings,'' explained Ignacio Merino of the business idea that came to him in the midst of a global pandemic, partly as a result of the crisis it caused.

"Independent hotels have been hit hardest and don't have the same resources as larger chains do in order to properly overcome this situation. We talked to many people and decided to form a community that will support them. Through our partners, we provide them with the latest technology to manage things for them, covering all commercial areas, such as OTA distribution, connectivity, marketing, online reputation, online sign-up, additional sales, reservations and revenue management, to optimise hotel prices and maximise benefits,'' he explained.

They also offer members a free academy for hotel owners and their staff. It will focus in particular on direct bookings to bypass online platforms and expensive commissions, ensuring more revenue for hotels and a better deal for guests. Hotel owners aren't charged a fee to enter the Quartz Inn Hotel brand and they promise the lowest commission on the market, depending on the services the hotel wants to provide. In addition, the goal is for each property they're associated with to become a brand shareholder.

“Hotels make up our brand, so they deserve to own part of the Quartz Inn Hotel chain itself. Depending on the number of shares and the length of the cooperation agreement, we will determine the amount of shares that we'll assign to each owner,'' said the co-owner of the brand whose name is inspired by the mineral quartz, which has is very hard and is claimed to purify energy.

In addition to hotels, guesthouses and holiday villas are also welcome to join the chain. So far, they have dozens of contracts signed across Europe, and in 2022 they plan to conclude with at least 100 facilities in the Quartz Inn Hotel chain. Although they say their focus is primarily on sustainability, the propositions for members don't seem too strict, the main goals sound rather generic - to reduce energy and water consumption and eliminate the use of disposable plastic in rooms, all while encouraging sustainable healthier eating habits and contributing to local culture and economy.

That said, if a certain facility doesn’t meet the criteria, they can still work with them, and they'll be helped and provided with technology to grow and aid them in becoming much more sustainable. Once they reach the sustainability standards of the Quartz Inn Hotel chain, they incorporate them into their portfolio. Chain members get keep their names, but are free to add a brand name to it should they so wish. They're completely focused on Europe, and Croatia is one of their main markets, they consider it an attractive coastal destination and a paradise for nature lovers.

“I visited Zagreb for the first time back in 2009, and learned more about Croatia while working in a hotel in Munich with several Croatian colleagues who were proud of their country and recommended many places to me. Since then, I've visited not only places on the coast, but also many national and nature parks. We want to offer our guests a wide selection of conscious and sustainable accommodation. We're currently in talks with several hotels from Istria and Dalmatia and I sincerely hope that Croatia will soon become part of our hotel family,'' concluded Ignacio Merino.

For more, check out our business section.

Thursday, 30 September 2021

October Looking Promising for Croatian Hotels, Vital Segment Revived

September the 30th, 2021 - The month of October in Croatian hotels looks extremely promising indeed, in some cases exceeding the pre-pandemic period. One vital segment for Croatian hotel business at this time of year is also making a comeback.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the autumn occupancy of Croatian hotels this year will, as stated, exceed the pre-pandemic period, and this has been well and truly confirmed by the Bluesun Hotels & Resorts group, whose hotels are open due to demand almost until the end of October. They also report a strong return of congress guests and events.

"With the arrival of September, due to the beginning of the new academic/school year, the structure of our guests changes, and there is a change in the motive for coming, it's not just the sea and the sun anymore. These are guests who require much more additional content, are much more active, much more mobile, more inclined to explore their destinations, the hinterland, the interior of Croatia... They're also usually more involved in sport, more dedicated to themselves, and therefore more into exploring local gastronomy and using the wellness facilities,'' said Stjepko Sosic of Bluesun Hotels & Resorts.

As such, the company put the offer of sport, gastronomic and wellness facilities and packages in the foreground, and in their promotion they addressed couples and individuals, who are the most represented in this period of the season because they want to avoid the biggest crowds and the brutal Croatian summer heat.

In addition to the above, regardless of the fact that the whole of Croatia has been on the ECDC red list since the beginning of September, it seems few people pay attention to it and new reservations are still coming in on a daily basis. "In some terms for the end of September, we had to stop selling due to lack of capacity. Considering that the weather was very nice through September, a large part of the guests extended their stays by a few days compared to the period they initially booked,'' added Sosic.

Currently, in Bluesun's nine open hotels, six of which are on the Makarska Riviera, and one campsite, in addition to an increasing number of individual guests, are sports and fitness groups.

"At the end of September and through October, we have numerous MICE (meetings, incentives, congresses and events) events in our hotels with congress facilities. MICE is much stronger this autumn than we expected and there's been a strong demand from the corporate environment, and we're especially pleased with the recovery of this sales segment, which is extremely important for the extension of the season. These are working meetings and mostly Croatian companies from the field of medicine, the IT sector and the pharmaceutical industry,'' revealed Marija Benjak, the head of direct, group and MICE sales for the company.

For more on Croatian hotels, check our our travel and business sections.

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Excellent 2021 Croatian Hotel Postseason Expected

August 26, 2021 - The 2021 Croatian hotel postseason has excellent expectations, especially with September bookings. 

Based on the current state of reservations, the largest Croatian hotel houses are announcing an excellent postseason, especially in September, reports HRTurizam.

Although the end of school holidays in Croatia in our most important countries will significantly reduce the number of guests in family accommodation and camping, announcements for hotel accommodation are excellent.

“We are especially looking forward to the return of groups, whether it is events, congresses, or trips of special interest. Following the epidemiological instructions received from the national and local civil protection headquarters, careful preparation is the key to successfully implementing the stay of larger groups of tourists. It is estimated that based on market interest, about 800 hotels (80-90% of the number of hotels now open) would continue to operate during September and thus further improve the results achieved so far," said Veljko Ostojić, director of the Croatian Tourism Association.

Croatia remains the epidemiologically safest EU country in the Mediterranean. This is confirmed by comparisons of all relevant public health institutes. For example, according to the 14-day incidence, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control ECDC ranks Croatia 8th on the list of EU members in terms of security, with a significantly better epidemiological situation than other Mediterranean countries.

The German Robert Koch Institute, which monitors Croatia by counties, did not put any county in Croatia on the list of risk areas in the last update on August 20, while all Mediterranean countries have been on that list for weeks. Also, on the European map updated daily by the American Johns Hopkins University, according to the rolling 7-day average of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants, Croatia has a significantly better situation than its Mediterranean competition.

Two counties that attract a total of more than half of tourists to Croatia, Istria and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, also have a better epidemiological situation than the national average. Istria County has a 14-day incidence of 46 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants, and Primorje-Gorski Kotar County has an incidence of 55, making these two counties a safer environment for most tourists from Europe than they have in their home countries.

On Wednesday, 677 new cases were recorded, so the number of active cases in Croatia on Wednesday was a total of 2,951. Among them, 356 patients are in hospital, of which 46 are on a respirator. In the past 24 hours, 282 people recovered, and 10,453 were tested.

The jump in new cases in Croatia is worrying, and everyone in tourism has been anxiously awaiting Thursday when the new ECDC epidemiological map comes out. Although there is the worry that Croatia will turn red this week, it is certain that such a drastic drop, i.e., the number of tourists, will not happen again, like last year.

However, this year, the context and situation are different, as a large number of the population has been vaccinated or contracted Covid-19. Additionally, test centers have been secured, and, regardless of the spread of the Delta variant, much more is still known about the coronavirus. Therefore, the biggest problem may be caused by the possible need for quarantine, which would certainly lead to a drastic decline in tourists in Croatia. 

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to the Republic of Croatia, including test centres, vaccination points, and travel and border rules, make sure to check out and bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

500 Would-be Small Croatian Hotels Hindered by Outdated Regulations

August the 17th, 2021 - As many as 500 small Croatian hotels with forward-thinking owners are being hampered by Croatia's draconian, outdated rules and regulations. The pressing matter is set to be discussed soon.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the topic of the non-competitive match between small family hotels and private accommodation will be on the table in a few days at a meeting with the Minister of Tourism Nikolina Brnjac, this time at the initiative of the group of small luxury hotels - Stories. The topic was already opened at last week's meeting of the sector with Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, as has since been learned.

“We have a lot of facilities that are de facto hotels, so they falsely present themselves on rental platforms, and operate as apartments or rooms, and consequently have significantly lower operating costs and tax burdens, which is why they represent unfair competition to small Croatian hotels which cater primarily to families.

At the same time, we can see that it's the segment of small Croatian hotels which are classed as luxury across the country that are recording great business results, a segment that fills the budget and creates added value for destinations. The Croatian Government is aware of the problems, and we'll soon discuss the details with the competent Ministry,'' Nenad Nizic, president of the Stories group and the owner of the Vestibul Palace hotel in Split stated.

The goal is to devise new incentive measures to strengthen the segment of small Croatian hotels, which currently has about 400 facilities, with great potential, but above all, regulations need to be changed.

Namely, small Croatian hotels still have the same standards as large ones have, which imposes high business costs and demotivates businessmen. The transformation of part of the private/apartment accommodation into small hotels, with the opening of new facilities, was one of the failed tasks defined by the previous Tourism Development Strategy.

The National Programme for the Development of Small Family Hospitality from 2013 envisaged the creation of a more appropriate and stimulating institutional environment for the development of small family hospitality units, through more flexible labour legislation, the less rigid prescribing of minimum technical requirements and the establishment of financial or fiscal incentives. Quite unsurprisingly, absolutely none of this was ever actually implemented.

Anamarija Cicarelli, the founder of a family accommodation counseling centre with many years of experience in renting rooms in and around Split under her belt, shared her experience:

"As the former owner of a building with eight apartments which could accommodate 45 guests, I'd be very happy to convert it into a hotel, but due to a number of technical requirements, it was too expensive.

For example, the law requires a small Croatian hotel to have an internal staircase, a reception, a breakfast room, and if I only invested in that then my project wouldn't be sustainable, and at the same time there are many criteria that are no longer crucial for the quality service of a small hotel. There are a lot of such examples on the market, we meet more and more owners who would like to expand their business, but the current requirements for categorisation discourage them,'' warned Cicarelli.

She pointed out that in Dalmatia there are more and more landlords who, due to the increasing turnover, are moving from the status of natural persons in terms of property rental to legal entities. This brings with it higher costs, but also better creditworthiness and opportunities to invest in quality, and thus higher profits.

There are currently about 400 small family hotels across Croatia, and several incentive measures were crucial for their development at the beginning of this century, such as the Incentive for Success lending programme and Under the Old Roofs.

It can be seen from the Croatian eVisitor system that about 600 thousand beds in private/family accommodation are currently owned by natural persons, while 101 thousand such beds are owned by legal entities. Nearly 400 privately owned properties offering breakfast services are available on in September.

This represents a proverbial pool from which at least another 500 small Croatian hotels could be recruited. If Austria and Greece have 10,000 such hotels each, and there are over 23,000 in neighbouring Italy, this would be just the beginning of more serious and rational development for Croatia.

For more, follow our business section.

Monday, 19 July 2021

Terme Sveti Martin First Hotel in Croatia Awarded EU Ecolabel

ZAGREB, 19 July 2021 - The Terme Sveti Martin hotel in Međimurje is the first hotel in Croatia to receive the EU Ecolabel after it met the relevant 22 criteria about general management, energy efficiency, the use of renewable resources, rational water consumption, reduced waste, and proper waste management.

Tourism Minister Nikolina Brnjac presented the EU Ecolabel to the hotel's director Igor Nekić at a ceremony held on Monday in the hotel located in the town of Sveti Martin na Muri, the ministry said on Monday.

The EU Ecolabel is approved by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development for products and services that motivate innovations and contribute to the aim of the EU's climate neutrality by 2050 and the circular economy.

Congratulating the hotel on that important step towards sustainable business and a sustainable destination, Minister Brnjac recalled that market surveys around the world have shown that guests no longer look for massive tourism but that they prefer sustainable and ecologically aware destinations that provide an authentic experience and an active vacation and services providing health tourism which comprehends spas and wellness treatments.

She said that the government encourages and invests in developing green and sustainable tourism through its National Recovery and Resilience Plan and the Multiannual Financial Framework.

The Terme Sveti Martin comprises the hotel, apartments, a wellness center, and other amenities. There are more than 200 people employed in this establishment.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Overnight Stay Share Rises in June as Croatian Hotels Regain Momentum

July the 6th, 2021 - The share of overnight stays realised in Croatian hotels as the epidemiological situation improves thanks to vaccinations has risen, providing hope for the height of the 2021 tourist season which is yet to come.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, unlike the first pandemic-dominated year in which Croatian hotels sadly had the lowest occupancy of all accommodation segments, hotels this year can be relieved at least in that regard, as can already be seen from the first tourist statistics.

Although the busiest traffic is still expected, in the first half of the year, Croatian hotels had 83 percent more overnight stays than last year during the same period, and in June there were as many as 2.8 times more overnight stays realised than in June last year. No less important, currently out of a total of 1187 Croatian hotels, 846 of them have been opened, 200 more than were open before the peak of the last summer season.

What has changed? There is also some maths to be looked at in this equation, as Croatian hotels were closed to a greater extent last year due to epidemiological measures than this year, but again, until recently the borders were barely open to tourists. With the vaccination programme giving tourism some optimism as opposed to the uncertainty of 2020, what has perhaps changed the most is the perception of guests this year.

This year, many guests see Croatian hotels as safe facilities, whose service and organisation of operations can guarantee guests will not get infected. This is due to the fact that last year no tourist staying in any of the Croatian hotels was recorded as having caught coronavirus from a facility. Then came the introduction of the national Safe Stay certificate.

"In 2020, Croatian hotels, when we compare all types of accommodation capacities, had the largest decrease in arrivals and overnight stays when compared to 2019. The index of arrivals was 24.36 percent, and overnight stays 27.12 percent. The lowest quality hotels had the smallest decline, which is proof that quality is in demand in the conditions of this crisis and is certainly a signpost for the future,'' pointed out Bernard Zenzerovic, the director of the Croatian Hotel Employers Association (UPUHH).

He noted that the success of this summer season will be measured by its length, if we're in the green all summer and during the post-season then we can expect great results.

Croatian tourism success will also be counted in terms of revenue, and Croatian hotels are known to be the strongest link in the sector in that regard, all the more so because the pandemic hasn't significantly lowered hotel accommodation prices.

Current figures from eVisitor from the Croatian National Tourist Board indicate that overnight stays spent in Croatian hotels in the first half of the year accounted for 23 percent of total overnight stays realised, compared to 19 percent last year. So far this year, the largest share of overnight stays of about 30 percent is held by private accommodation, which in the pre-pandemic year of 2019 was still slightly lower (27 percent), while hotel overnight stays in 2019 amounted to 35 percent of total tourist traffic.

With 3.5 million overnight stays (at 660 thousand arrivals), compared to 2019, family/private accommodation is currently at about 48 percent of turnover, while hotels are at 29 percent of the realisation of overnight stays when compared to 2019.

The Association of Hoteliers points out the data of the Hotel Benchmarking study conducted by the Faculty of Management in Tourism and Hospitality from Opatija, that in accordance with the increase in the number of overnight stays in June, the utilisation rate of work capacity in hotels increased from 7.18 percent in May 2020 to 26 , 97 percent in May 2021.

"But when we know that the capacity utilisation rate in hotels was 65.76 percent in May 2019, according to the same study, we can see that there's a long way to go ahead of us to reach that record year," explained Zenzerovic.

The quality of service and investment in numerous protocols have contributed to the growth of guests' trust in Croatian hotels, noted Zenzerovic.

"Croatian hoteliers have decided to create their own health & safety programmes and protocols, as well as branding, promotion and cooperation with international certification companies in order to emphasise this component that is currently crucial for guests. We've shown all guests that we know how to set up and manage hotel operations in a way that provides them with the pleasure of staying there while respecting epidemiological measures. This is exactly the capital we're bringing into the tourist year 2021. At the same time, projects such as "Safe stay in Croatia" raise the image of Croatia as a safe destination. All of the above gives us reason for optimism regarding the business performance of the hotels, and we expect a better season than last year,'' concluded Zenzerovic.

Vaccination is also considered an important link for optimism. Spring polls show that 70 percent of hotel staff want to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, and they are now dealing with an estimate that about 60 percent of the entire Croatian tourism sector has been vaccinated.

For more, follow our dedicated travel section.

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Varazdin Hotel Turist to Open Doors Thanks to Spancirfest

June the 29th, 2021 - The Varazdin Hotel Turist, which is one of the most significant tourist facilities in the town, has faced some questions of late. It seems that despite rumors, it will not be altering in any way and will soon open its doors to visitors once again.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, following a change in the ownership structure of the most important tourist accommodation facility in this Northern Croatian town, the Varazdin Turist Hotel, at the end of last year, there was a fear in the baroque city that they could be left without significant accommodation capacities because the new owner allegedly planned to turn it into a retirement home.

Late last week came information that the hotel should open its doors soon. Namely, as the new mayor of Varazdin, Neven Bosilj, said, the Varazdin Hotel Turist will be in function for Spancirfest, and the new rooms will have 4 stars.

“I spoke to Darko Kisicek, the new owner. We talked about the opening of the Varazdin Hotel Turist, the full arrangement of which is set to be completed over the coming days. It will be a capacity increase of 60 rooms with 120 four-star beds. It has been promised that for Spancirfest, the hotel will be operational, so we'll have increased capacities for receiving foreign guests,'' said Mayor Bosilj.

He adds that he doesn't know whether the renovated space will be a nursing home, a senior hotel or something else, and that he doesn't want to enter the business policies or plans of the owner.

The Varazdin Hotel Turist is otherwise the largest hotel in all of Varazdin, which has been operating since 1964, and was privatised in 1991. For the next 30 years it operated under the ownership of the Bek family. Its capacity was 174 beds in 46 single and 58 double rooms, and the hotel has become well known for its conference facilities over recent years because it could accommodate about 500 guests in its halls. Before the coronavirus crisis struck, it employed 69 employees, and in 2019 it had a revenue of 16.2 million kuna.

At the end of last year, the Varazdin Trading Company (TPV) took over the ownership of the Turist company, which manages the Varazdin hotel of the same name.

For more, follow our business section.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Croatian Accommodation Providers Must Adapt for Tourism Recovery

April the 22nd, 2021 - The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has changed the whole world as we know it. Working from home has proven more than possible in several sectors in which it was previously unimaginable, and the leisure and tourism industry, which has taken among the hardest blows, will have to change considerably. Croatian accommodation providers will need to adapt as guest habits change and recovery begins.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, summer resorts are a growing focus of investors of late, as this segment of tourism is expected to be the first to recover after the coronavirus crisis finally draws to a close, and despite the fact that issues continue to persist seemingly unrelentingly, optimism still reigns in the sector.

That being said, investors and decision-makers must keep in mind that the pandemic has changed guest behaviour and accelerated hotel business transformation trends, primarily through the development of mixed-use resorts and residential properties, as was explained by Philip Bacon, the director of planning, development, valuation at Horwath HTL, in an interview for Hospitality Insights magazine. As Croatian tourism and Croatian accommodation providers rely heavily on summer resorts, alterations and adaptations are in the works.

This crisis is lasting longer than expected. What keeps your hopes high?

I believe there are differences between where we were a year ago and where we are today, and that tourism will continue to show resilience and introduce innovations that will save the day. It's important to keep in mind that this virus will not simply disappear, we're all going to simply have to learn to live with it. The good thing is that this isn't a demand crisis but a supply crisis, and with more than a year of working from home, we've never stopped working with our clients, helping them plan for the future and aiding them to adapt to changes in consumer behaviour brought by the pandemic.

This bizarre situation has served to accelerate some trends which were already taking place before 2020: a focus on healthcare and wellness, combining work, travel and private life anywhere in the world, the power of technology to connect people more effectively and efficiently, and the importance of truly sustainable values, especially those related to the production and consumption of energy and food. There's also the realisation that in tourism you cannot simply sit back and take anything for granted, where there are still only two types of hotels, the ones that needs to be changed and the ones that you have to demolish.

Numerous hotel companies that have developed business or city tourism are now turning to resorts. What advice would you give them?

We mustn't forget that bringing urban hotels to the beach was a good idea about 40 or 50 years ago, but that the world has changed significantly since then and guests are no longer attracted to the 20-square-metre air-conditioned room spread over several floors with narrow hallways. The way of life and the demands of guests have changed, and it is time to give people what they want, not what you already have, which is why the transformation of summer resorts across Europe has already begun. Today’s guests, especially when it comes to families and small groups, want a much more independent, residential style of accommodation, combined with excellent service when and where it's needed. As a result, more and more hotel operators are looking for a real estate concept, and this pandemic has only heightened the value of that approach.

Furthermore, it's time for a rethink in terms of the concept of health and wellness and we need to use it to create more reasons for people to come to a certain facility - the breadth and depth of the health and wellness segment is so extensive that today there's no reason not to put it at the centre of creating a measurable competitive advantage.

Which regions will be the first to return to the game when it comes to holiday tourism?

Currently, the possibility of safe travel without too many practical problems will determine the rate of re-growth for individual destinations in the short term. We're already seeing plans to create passenger corridors between countries based on a set of rules. This can create some short-term shifts in travel patterns, and of course, short trips close to home will be more popular, which could lead to rural destinations around the world being recognised as being just as attractive as beach resorts.

Places that offer a sense of space and place a real emphasis on health and wellness will be what many people are looking for now, and I believe this could become a long-term habit of guests. We'll also see a growing interest in travel involving adventurous experiences with little impact on the environment, especially to more remote regions of the world. This comes down in part to a change in generational attitudes that had already begun a few years ago, and what is interesting is the convergence of the older generation and the younger generation in terms of values ​​and behaviour. I think we’ll see more of that, as well as less strict segmentation based on age groups. What brings people together is their shared values.

How has the pandemic affected the real estate segment in the rental market?

Most of the development projects that have preoccupied me over the last year have been either combined-purpose projects (hotel and branded residences) or have focused on service apartments, either in urban centres or in resorts. Even before the pandemic struck, we knew we could work from home, and the digital nomad wasn't something simply thought up and invented last year. When travelling away from their primary place of residence, many will look for a place where they can easily set up their home offices and work.

Some guests want to stay longer than the holidays, and this will affect the operation of such resorts. We're also seeing a growing interest in residential private membership clubs, both in urban areas and in resorts. The desire to meet the people you're sharing a holiday with is stronger than ever.

Branded residences have long been a great opportunity for tourism and that's why they're still finding ready and willing buyers all over the world. That's why more and more hotel chains are entering the market of branded housing and the market of short-term and long-term rent. There are more and more projects that aren't putting much focus on the traditional hotel room, but instead are offering more flexible forms of accommodation in a residential style that can be used in multiple segments and at different times of the year.

For more on Croatian accommodation in 2021, from high end hotels to hostels and everything in between, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Heritage Hotel Fermai Split: MGallery Hotel Brand Comes to Dalmatian City

April the 17th, 2021 - The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has shelved many a previously planned investment, placing business plans firmly on pause and waiting for better times. The Heritage Hotel Fermai Split hotel was just one project which faced delays, but didn't let the global crisis stop it entirely.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the pandemic postponed the opening of a planned new hotel in the Dalmatian city for a year now, the Heritage Hotel Fermai Split, which will open its doors in May, and from July it will operate under the prestigious brand MGallery of the global hotel chain Accor.

This is the result of a long-term franchise agreement between Accora and Quatro Company, a local construction company owned by Ivan Pulic, for whom this is the first entry into the hotel business.

All on their own, they renovated the old rectory building a few steps from Diocletian's Palace, invested a total of 5.5 million euros in a boutique hotel with 35 rooms, a cafe and a garden terrace, and entered the popular MGallery chain. The building itself is the work of architect Petar Senjanovic from back in 1914, and the interior was signed by Studio Franic Sekoranja.

“The designers did a fantastic job and we implemented all their solutions, so the partners from Accor provided us with a contract without any adjustments as soon as they visited the facility, with praise for both the project and the performance, which makes us especially happy. We're in the process of joining and we'll enter the chain on July the 1st, we'll open the Heritage Hotel Fermai Split at the beginning of May,'' Denis Pulic, the sales director of the aforementioned company, stated. The hotel will employ about 25 people, and the name ''Fermai'' was given as an honour to a localism which means "stop, wait".

“Croatia, and especially Split, are the perfect place for all those who want a dream summer holiday. Each MGallery hotel offers its guests unforgettable moments and rituals of relaxation. The Hotel Heritage Fermai Split will provide the most authentic experience of Mediterranean culture to travellers coming to Split from all over the world,'' said Dilek Sezer, Accora's Director of Development for Southeastern Europe in a recent statement.

It's worth mentioning that Pulic started cooperating with Accor a few years ago when they had a plan to build a 150-room hotel in Split that would be carried by the Mercure brand, but this project is still awaiting GUP changes and is not currently in the company's focus.

Collaborating with Accor on the Heritage Hotel Fermai Split project was logical as it fits into the philosophy of the MGallery brand, a luxury 4 and 5 star hotel chain that promotes authenticity and local architecture and heritage, design and history. Back in pre-pandemic 2019, Accor removed Sofitel from the brand name, and their plan is to develop MGallery in new, undiscovered destinations in addition to global capitals.

"Through a franchise agreement with such a global brand, we get their know-how and sales channel, their reservation system, with our own pricing policy and management, which suits us very well," explained Pulic, who hopes that this tourist season the hotel will bring enough traffic at least to cover costs, although it is currently very difficult to make predictions because of the ongoing public health crisis.

Unlike the tourism business, which was devastated by the unrelenting pandemic, the sale of apartments in Split is going very well and the coronavirus crisis is failing to affect the growth of real estate prices, confirmed Denis Pulic.

The company is signing for a number of luxury residential and business projects in Split, including serviced apartments in the Bel Etage project, which worked in cooperation with investors from both Germany and Russia. The successful realisation led them to embark on Bel Etage 2, a similar project in which they entered independently, and the apartments are already sold at an average of 3.5 thousand euros per square metre.

For more on Croatian hotels and other forms of accommodation, from hostels to private houses and everything in between, make sure to check out our dedicated section.

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