Sunday, 17 October 2021

Company Investing 800 Million Kuna in Hotels on Beautiful Dalmatian Island

October the 17th, 2021 - One large and well known company is set to invest a massive 800 million kuna into creating new hotels and summer resorts on one beautiful Dalmatian island.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the Supervisory Board of the hotel company Helios Faros from Stari Grad on the island of Hvar has adopted the proposal of Capital Investments (Capex) for 2022 in the total amount of 223.2 million kuna, the company has reported.

This represents a continuation of investments in the repositioning of the tourist portfolio of this successful Hvar-based hotel company, which was taken over by the pension fund PBZ Croatia osiguranje (insurance) with a 78 percent share, and Valamar Riviera with a 20 percent share at the end of the bankruptcy proceedings which took place back in 2019.

According to Valamar, these investments are mostly related to the construction of Valamar's first sustainable eco-resort, the completion of investments in the Hvar Places hotel by Valamar, the construction of the Aquamar pool complex and the overall arrangement of the tourist zone.

“The nature resort is the new Valamar concept of a fully sustainable eco-resort positioned for family holidays. The construction of the resort will be achieved by respecting the highest standards of green building, which includes environmentally friendly materials with minimal impact on the environment, the use of renewable energy sources and a high level of energy efficiency. The Valamar nature resort on the island of Hvar is the first tourist project that will use prefabricated buildings and modular construction designed according to Valamar's accommodation quality standards,'' the company pointed out when discussing their next moves on this beautiful Dalmatian island which is popular with guests from across the globe.

The concept is inspired by nature and sustainable design, meaning that the future resort’s architecture will blend into this beautiful Dalmatian island’s stunning natural environment in the design of the buildings themselves, while the interior design will be ''signed'' by local designers and artists using local tradition and materials. Felled trees will be used in the landscaping, and each felled tree will be replaced with newly planted ones.

Great emphasis will also be placed on offering local food and groceries produced right there on the island by locals, while digitalisation will eliminate the use of paper throughout the hotel. The project is planned to be carried out in two phases during 2022 and 2023, and in order to realise all green initiatives in their full potential and acheive all aspects of sustainable development of the resort, the plan is to apply for so-called ''green'' EU funds for the project.

During the global coronavirus pandemic which well and truly marked the unprecedented circumstances of 2020, business operations Helios was restarted, and in 2021 the first renovated hotel, the Hvar Places hotel by Valamar, was finally opened.

Helios Faros' business development plan otherwise assumes investments totalling about 800 million kuna in sustainable high value-added tourism that will positively impact the island of Hvar's economic growth, the company said. By the year 2025, the reconstruction and construction of three more hotels and resorts of categories 4 * and 5 * with a total capacity of 700 accommodation units is planned.

For more, check out our business section.

Friday, 15 October 2021

Valamar to Open First Sustainable Eco-Resort in Croatia

October 15, 2021 - Valamar and PBZ Croatia Osiguranje will continue with significant investments in repositioning the tourist portfolio of Stari Grad on the island of Hvar with the first sustainable eco-resort in Croatia valued at 220 million kuna.

The construction of Valamar's first sustainable eco-resort is only part of the investment that Valamar and PBZ Croatia Osiguranje are planning to manage mandatory pension funds for 2022, reports HRTurizam

Namely, the Helios Faros Supervisory Board decided that Valamar and PBZ Croatia Osiguranje will continue with significant investments in repositioning the tourist portfolio in Stari Grad on the island of Hvar to 4* and 5* in the amount of HRK 220 million.

In addition to the already mentioned sustainable eco-resort, it is planned to complete the investment at the Hvar [PLACESHOTEL] by Valamar, the construction of the Aquamar pool complex, and the overall arrangement of the tourist zone.

The eco-resort is Valamar's new concept of a fully sustainable eco-resort positioned for family vacations. The construction of the resort will be achieved by respecting the highest standards of green building, which includes environmentally friendly materials with minimal impact on the environment, the use of renewable energy sources, and a high level of energy efficiency.

Valamar's eco-resort on Hvar is the first tourist project that will use prefabricated buildings and modular construction designed according to Valamar accommodation quality standards.

The concept is inspired by nature and sustainable design, so the resort’s architecture blends into the island’s natural environment in the design of the buildings while the interior design is signed by local designers and artists using local tradition and materials. Felled trees will be used in landscaping, and each felled tree will be replaced with newly planted ones. Great emphasis will also be placed on offering local food and groceries produced on the island, while digitalization will eliminate the use of paper throughout the hotel.

The project is planned to be built in two phases during 2022 and 2023, and to realize all green initiatives in full potential and all aspects of sustainable development of the resort, the project will apply for green EU funds.

Valamar and PBZ Croatia Osiguranje d.d. jointly acquired Helios Faros, a tourist company in Stari Grad on the island of Hvar, through bankruptcy proceedings. During the Covid-marked 2020, business at Helios was restarted, and in 2021 the first renovated hotel Hvar [PLACESHOTEL] by Valamar was opened.

Helios Faros' business development plan assumes investments in the total amount of around HRK 800 million in sustainable high value-added tourism that will have a positive impact on the economic growth of the island. By 2025, the reconstruction and construction of three hotels and resorts of categories 4* and 5* with a total capacity of 700 accommodation units is planned.

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

Friday, 15 October 2021

Hvar Named Best Tranquil Destination by Sea, 3rd Most Tranquil in Europe

October 15, 2021 - It has been a good few weeks for Hvar. Having been voted the best island in Europe once more by Conde Nast, more recognition as the best tranquil destination by the sea, and the 3rd best tranquil destination overall in Europe. 

Just a few years ago, at the height of the crazy party tourism insanity - a time when Hvar made a list of the top 7 bachelor party destinations in Europe - it seemed that the damage of Croatia's premier island might be tarnished forever. 

What should have been a higher quality holiday experience based on natural beeauty, sun, culture and gastronomy gave way to a party story making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

And then something happened (and perhaps the pandemic helped a little). 

A new direction for Hvar Town with a focus on higher quality tourism came into being. And slowly, but very surely, the results are being felt, as I wrote a few months ago in Peak Season Hvar Town 2021: a Destination Returning to High Quality.

And the new direction was noticed. Last week, Hvar was voted the Best Island in Europe at the annual Conde Nast Traveler Readers Awards the second time in three years, having also won the award in 2019. 

I have noticed Hvar appearing in a lot more lists this year related to quality tourism. I am not a fan of these lists, as most are clickbait and few have any substance behind them, but one that came out this week offers an interesting snapshot of Hvar's directional change, and it comes with a plausible meethodology. 

Europe’s Most Tranquil Escapes by OVO Network, had lots of good news for those looking for a more relaxed Hvar experience, as it once was.

Our research also shows that the best seafront location in Europe for tranquility is Hvar, a charming island in Croatia right on the Adriatic Sea. Hvar offers better access to hotels than any other area in the study and has the fewest people per km2. 

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(Source www.ovonetwork.com)

Of course, one can find tranquil destinations far from the sea, but Hvar scored very well here too, coming third in Europe overall. 

About the methodology:

OVO Network set out to discover which European cities offer the most tranquil surroundings for holiday goers.

In order to put this together OVO Network analysed a wide range of data sources including:

  • Google Maps API to collect the number of spas and hotels within a locality
  • Google Keyword Planner to get search popularity and trends data over the past few years
  • Air Quality to estimate how untouched by tourism a locality is
  • Density of people per km2 which was calculated by taking the population and dividing it by the size of the relevant city or area

Once all the metrics were collected, a ranking system was put together in order to score these cities and an overall ranking column was created to rank from the best to the worst performer.

Interestingly, one of the areas were Hvar was marked down was its relative lack of spas per capita. A situation that one may assume will be rectified once the transformation from party image to best tranquil destination by the sea is complete. 

Learn more about Hvar in the TC Hvar guide.  

You can see the complete list here. 

 

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Conde Nast Traveler Votes Hvar Best Island in Europe (Again!), 6th in World

October 6, 2021 - The annual Conde Nast Traveler Readers Choice Awards are out, and the Best Island in Europe is once again Croatia's premier island of Hvar.

One of the most prestigious traveller awards lists is out, after more than 800,000 votes, and the results confirm what many people in Croatia already know - Hvar is the Best Island in Europe. Again. 

The annual Conde Nast Traveler Readers Choice Awards, now in their 34th year, placed Hvar at the top of the Best Islands in Europe category, beating no less than 7 Greek islands in the top 20. With a total score of 96.56/100, Hvar was also voted the 6th best island in the world, behind Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique (98.20), Cape Breton, Canada (97.97), Siargao, Philippines (97.77), Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia (97.67), and Palawan, Philippines (97.54).

The Conde Nast Traveler Readers Choice Awards are also responsible for Hvar often being described as one of the world's top 10 most beautiful islands, after making the list back in 1997, just two years after the Homeland War. 

Hvar's position as the best in Europe is a repeat of 2019, when it also topped the Conde Nast Readers Choice Awards. 

You can see the full list of top 20 islands in 2021 here.

Petar Razovic, Hvar Tourist Board Director, was delighted with the award:

"This is the crown to our successful season that is behind us. We are honorred to be in the company of the world's best islands - this is a reward for all tourist stakeholders in our city and our island. Special thanks to the Government of the Republic of Croatia, led by Prime Minister Plenković, our Hvar local man, and the relevant Ministry, for their help in preparing for the challenging tourist season. The tourist boards of the island of Hvar in the post-season will continue to position our island on the world map of year-round destinations with a diverse offer, and we believe in further tourist growth."

There was a great result for Croatia too, which made the top 10 top destinations in the world, coming in at number 9

Learn more about Hvar in the TC Hvar in a Page guide

Friday, 1 October 2021

Solar Energy Conference: Procedures Need to Be Stepped Up

ZAGREB, 1 Oct 2021 - The solar sector is developing very slowly in Croatia even though the price of solar energy has never been lower, hence it is necessary to encourage greater efficiency by the competent institutions and to educate citizens, a two-day solar energy conference on the island of Hvar heard on Friday.

"The price of electricity from solar power plants today is lower than ever but Croatia's solar sector is developing very slowly and the relevant procedures need to be stepped up and people need to be educated," Professor Neven Duić of the Zagreb Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture said at the conference.

The conference, entitled "Days of the Sun", brought together key stakeholders in Croatia's energy transition - members of the academic community, equipment producers, representatives of the banking system, investors, regional and local government officials as well as representatives of state institutions and ministries.

Apart from discussing various financial models for the solar sector and its launching, the conference will discuss the new legislative framework for the green transition, the future of photovoltaic power plants and solar technology in Croatia, innovations and application of solar energy in the business sector, the use of renewable energy sources in agriculture, and the implementation of the EU Green Deal at the national level.

"Local government has an opportunity to be more active in the coming period to inform citizens and promote the use of renewable sources, develop strategies and plans and actively participate in investments... these projects bring concrete benefits that can have a positive effect on the communities they govern," said Maja Jurišić of the Island Movement association, one of the organisers of the conference.

She underscored that renewable energy sources should be treated as a public good.

The director of SolarPower Europe, Walburga Hemetsberger, underscored that the solar energy sector was expected to grow significantly over the next five years, primarily due to the acceptable costs of such projects.

SolarPower Europe is a leading European organisation of stakeholders in the use of solar energy and it comprises research centres, banks, investors, entrepreneurs and others in the solar energy sector.

Friday, 24 September 2021

Forbes 30 Under 30 Chef Mario Mandarić Plans Next Move: Digging Wells in Uganda

September 24, 2021 - Forbes 30 under 30 chef Mario Mandarić is trying to do something meaningful before his 30th birthday and decided to swap the high-class clientele of Hvar for Uganda, where he will dig wells this offseason.

After a successful season at Hvar restaurant Passarola, young Croatian chef Mario Mandarić, recently included in the Forbes 30 under 30 list, plans to spend the next few months digging wells in Uganda, reports Index.hr.

"One morning, I scrolled through Facebook and came across information that in Uganda, children are dying from infectious diseases due to lack of drinking water. Then I researched and realized that Uganda ‘lies on the water’ because of the Nile river source. Some companies dig those wells, but that drilling is expensive. So I started inquiring, I found out a little more about it; I saw that Uganda is beautiful. I sent a couple of emails to some associations and Caritas, and I was contacted by Amar Gader, who has dug more than 200 wells so far. Digging a well costs from eight to 12 thousand dollars," says Mandarić for Index.

The chef plans to go to Uganda with his restaurant team, fund one well, and launch a campaign to raise money to dig a few more wells. He says that he wants to do something big before his 30th birthday and that he will finance the digging of one well, but that his goal is to dig at least five of them.

“Since I have nothing to do until next season, it occurred to me to do a crowdfunding campaign, raise money, and dig as many wells as possible when I’m already there. Then, if there is still money left, I plan to leave Amar to continue digging those wells even after we leave," adds the chef, who also plans to organize a humanitarian dinner in Split.

“I don’t like to fall into monotony after the season; I don’t like routines. I want something exciting. I think I can influence someone to help. It is better to travel and help someone than to travel and spend money," concluded Mandarić.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Friday, 10 September 2021

American Travel and Leisure Mag Praises Hvar and Dalmatian Islands

September the 10th, 2021 - It's no secret that Americans love the Dalmatian coast and the very many stunning Dalmatian islands. Hvar, known as Croatia's premier island, as well as the sunniest, has been having its praises sung by one popular American travel mag.

As Morski writes, throughout this challenging tourist year, when the Croatian tourism sector's goal was to promote Croatia as a safe destination in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the desire to achieve the best tourist results, the renowned American monthly Travel + Leisure magazine (which boasts a highly impressive 3,360,589 monthly readers) ranked the island of Hvar in the TOP 20 best European islands.

The truly gorgeous island of Hvar has earned a prominent position among the ranks of the islands of Mílos, Folegandros and Santorini (Greece), Madeira (Portugal), Sicily (Italy), and others.

The editorial board of Travel + Leisure magazine, which, along with National Geographic Traveler and Conde Nast Traveler, is one of the most influential travel magazines in the world, decided to compile this list of 20 islands, emphasising that Hvar has a rich history and culture, touching on Hvar wines and stays in the island's top accommodation.

There were almost as many Americans on Hvar this tourist season as there were back in in pre-pandemic, record 2019. Petar Razovic, the director of the Hvar Tourist Board, emphasised that once again Hvar has been recognised as a destination by the breadth of its offer and the highest tourist criteria it offers to its visitors.

He added that this recognition was greatly helped by the Safe stay in Croatia project launced by the Ministry of Tourism and Sport, and that tourists from the United States in July and August in the overall structure of arrivals and overnight stays recorded results similar to those seen back in 2019.

For more on Dalmatian islands, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Neil Patrick Harris Makes Anniversary Instagram Post with Photo From Hvar

September the 9th, 2021 - American actor Neil Patrick Harris was recently seen holidaying on the Croatian coast with his husband and two children, and he clearly can't get Croatia's premier island of Hvar out of his head as he makes an Instagram anniversary post mentioning the Dalmatian island once again.

As Morski writes, this summer, the well known actor from the popular American show ''How I Met Your Mother'' enjoyed cruising the Mediterranean in the company of his husband and two children. An unmissable stop for the family this year was, unsurprisingly, the stunning Dalmatian island of Hvar, where the actor has been coming for the last few years.

His Instagram profile is full of photos and videos where he can be seen enjoys the joys of the Croatian Adriatic sea with his family, jumping into the crystal clear water from various locations on ​​the island of Hvar.

Neil Patrick Harris recently posted a photo on his Instagram profile in which he and his husband David Burtka are standing together without a T-shirt, in their bathing suits in front of a beach club on Hvar, which is excellent free promotion from the actor for the island which is famed for boasting the most sunshine.

''Seven years ago today, we got married in Italy. Last week, we were swimming in Croatia. Who knows where we’ll wind up next, but there is no one I’d rather travel the world with than you, David Burtka. Your adventurous spirit combined with your nurturing heart continues to impress and inspire. Our children are so fortunate to be surrounded by your love, your dedication, and your light. We all are. Happy anniversary, bubba. Can’t wait to see what happens next. @dbelicious #grateful #anniversary'' writes the actor.

For more on celebrities in Croatia, make sure to check out our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

New Generation of Architects Launch Morpharos Studio on Hvar

September 8, 2021 - The innovative and young team that makes up the new architectural office Morpharos Studio on the island of Hvar creates contemporary Mediterranean architecture. 

For years, there has been talk of young people leaving Croatia as a problem facing all young members of the European Union. However, instead of going to a bigger town, a young team of architects decided to focus on designing in a smaller town and opened an office in Stari Grad on the island of Hvar. Unlike architecture tied to large urban centers, they turn to authentic, local interventions that balance traditional and contemporary.

Morpharos is an architectural office focused on creating timeless Mediterranean architecture and atmosphere. The buildings are planned from the conceptual stage to the construction details and interiors. The projects combine new technologies and contemporary design with the values ​​of local heritage and traditional construction techniques in the Mediterranean to create architecture that simultaneously belongs to the context of the island but also to the present time.

From the project of small interventions in the city center where the border between interior space and garden is removed, through holiday villas surrounded by olive trees, to the town square in Stari Grad on Hvar, Morpharos puts its stamp on understanding the new island tradition and the Mediterranean region. This is how they create their vision of contemporary Mediterranean architecture.

Stone as a basic building material and a landscape element of the Mediterranean is the basis of the key visuals of Morpharos. Evoking the island's natural elements, they display a set of influences - from smells and tastes, through tactile experiences, to manifested forms - while the Mediterranean context also inspires the color palette. The visual identity for Morpharos is signed by Filburg, an award-winning Zagreb studio for branding, design, and communications.

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

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Hvar Through the Lens of a Croatian Digital Nomad Permit Holder

August 26, 2021 - Digital nomads give back to communities in various ways. The fourth in a new series on TCN, following the lens of Steve Tsentserensky, one of the early recipients of the Croatian digital nomad permit. Where better to continue than gorgeous Hvar?

One of the discussions in Croatia these days surrounds digital nomads. What EXACTLY does Croatia get from digital nomads, especially if they do not have to pay income tax locally with the 12-month permit?

It is a classic Croatian tourism short-term mindset, which has become sadly familiar over the decade I have been writing about the subject. 

For me, there are three key wins for Croatia - and they all cost nothing.

1. Permit holders may not pay tax, but they are spending on rent, food, drink, entertainment once they leave their virtual office. Think of them as long-stay tourists if you will. I never heard of anyone here complaining about tourists spending here.

2. The mindset. This, to me, is one of the most exciting aspects of the digital nomad era. People with fresh ideas, different experiences, stimulating lifestyles. If they are moving to Croatia because it is so great, perhaps Croatia has something to offer, rather than the sad path of emigration. 

3. The fabulous free promo from digital nomads, clearly in love with this beautiful country. They decided to come, love what they find, and want to tell the world how amazing Croatia is - through blogs, Instagram posts and various other forms of social media. Kind of like the national tourist board's job if you like. Only better. 

This series will focus on the last point, the fantastic free promotion of Croatia by these longer term visitors. TCN is thoroughly enjoying our working partnership with one of the early recipients of the digital nomad permit. Steve Tsentserensky from Ohio. Steve first came to my attention with this fabulous video of Zagreb.

We are big fans of Steve's work, and we met recently over a beer or three in Zagreb. Steve will be travelling around the country over the next 12 months (actually, we think a little longer) documenting Croatia through his lens. We thought it would make a nice feature on the site, as well as showing how just one nomad with the permit is spreading the word about this beautiful country, so that others may see and come. 

And so continues our new series - Croatia through the lens of a Croatian digital nomad permit holder, this time in Hvar. Steve visited Hvar Town and Total Croatia partner Suncani Hvar recently. 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. And so too a great video. So I will shut up now. 

You can follow Steve on Instagram, where he picked up almost 2,000 new followers this week, after his CNBC News video about the Croatian digital nomad lifestyle went viral. Check it out below.

To learn more about the city, check the TC Hvar in a Page guide

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