Wednesday, 10 June 2020

The Road Less Travelled to the Top of Hvar Paradise Pop-Up Bar (VIDEO)

June 10, 2020 - Looking for socially-distanced tourism this summer? Take the Road Less Travelled to the Top of Hvar Paradise Pop-Up Bar.

It is never a dull moment when you catch up with Ante Lacman, owner of Hvar's most innovative tour agency, Hvar Tours.  

Normally, we meet and chat about Hvar tourism of his other DMC which covers Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia, but a couple of weeks ago, the topic was a little different, and a little more pressing. 

My car died on the way out of Split towards the motorway. On a Sunday. The only person I knew who lived nearby and would possibly help was young Lacman. 

And so it proved. Within minutes, we had got to a garage, where his friend was the mechanic, and within 15 minutes of the phone call, he was taking a look at the problem. 

And while we waited for the prognosis, we talked about the season, and what there might possibly be for his agency. 

He was philosophical and positive, determined to enjoy the summer with his family if there were no guests. 

But the thing with Lacman is that there is always something new that he wants to explain, some new idea. 

Hvar Tours was the first agency to do proper wine tours on Hvar, and their range of options now is outstanding, from speedboat wine tours to a winery in a hidden cave to a private tasting with a certified Master of Wine. 

He told me about his new plans, which were extremely interesting for Season 2021, and then he remembered.

"Oh, we got the video done. Remember that private group on the top of Hvar with its own pop-up bar you wrote about last summer?

"Watch this. I think we will call it Taking the Road Less Travelled to the Top of Paradise."

If you can make it to Hvar this summer, I think it will be the season of a lifetime for chilling. 

Looking to learn more about Lacman's tours?

To learn more about Conde Nast's Number 1 islands in Europe for 2019, some digital tools for Hvar from our Virtual Croatia series

Monday, 12 August 2019

Thirsty? A Pop Up Bar on the Top of Hvar

August 11, 2019 - The luxury tourism sector in Croatia is having a great season, with agencies such as Hvar Tours using innovative ways to show the very best of the country. 

It took me quite some time when writing about tourism on the island of Hvar to realise that most of the best stories never reach the public domain. Indeed, the island has a reputation for being very egalitarian and a place where celebrities can relax and be left alone. And unless you are a British prince falling drunkenly into a nightclub swimming pool, celebrity visits generally go unreported, certainly until the famous guests have left. 

I learned part of the extent of this when I met Dagmar Meneghello on Palmizana for the first time during which we had a wonderful chat about 50 years of Palmizana and all the famous people who had visited. She had a strict rule of no paparazzi in the restaurant and only very rarely - and with full consent - did news of their visit come out, and always after their departure. 

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There has been an increase in innovation, originality and attention to detail from some Croatian agencies in recent years, among them Hvar Tours on the island of the same name. Locally run and with an intimate knowledge of what is possible on Hvar, Hvar Tours has arguably the most diverse range of tours on Hvar, from speedboat wine tastings in caves and romantic sunset dinners in award-winning olive groves to the only Blue Cave Tour which also takes in the majesty of Secret Inland Vis on the same day. 

And they know exactly where the very best spots on the island are for their VVIP guests to enjoy the best views on the island in total privacy and seclusion, surrounded by Hvar's pristine nature. 

And a cocktail-shaking waiter with a full range of chilled refreshments for the enjoyment of the VVIP guests. 

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Welcome to the first pop up bar on the top of the island of Hvar. I take mine shaken but not stirred. 

For more luxury tourism innovation from Hvar Tours, check out their standard offer and then contact them with your specific needs



Saturday, 27 July 2019

Is Anyone Having a Record Tourism Season in Croatia? Oh, Yes - Ante from Hvar Tours

July 26, 2019 - As the Ministry of Tourism restricts access to the transparent and award-winning eVisitor statistics system and last available statistics pointing to another record season, many destinations are reporting the exact opposite. So is anyone having a record season in Croatia? 

The debate on the 2019 Croatian tourism season continues while we wait for the Ministry of Tourism to restore access to its real-time tourism statistics programme, eVisitor, I decided to feature some businesses who are having a record season while so many are complaining. What were they doing differently, and what are their thoughts on the direction of Croatian tourism. A reminder first of what the UNWTO said about eVisitor when it gave Croatian tourism chiefs a prestigious award for the programme, for which congratulations:

eVisitor is a unique online information system that provides insight into tourist traffic and accommodation capacities (commercial and non-commercial) in Croatia. It generates statistical reports and marketing indicators in real-time (i.e length of stay, location, gender, age, country of residence, type of facility, destination, etc), which enables more efficient monitoring of tourist traffic and revenues, allowing better control over the collection of accommodation fees creating a synergistic effect of all Croatian tourism stakeholders and contributes to ensuring their competitiveness.

Can we have access back please?

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A few days ago, I posted on my Facebook wall that I was looking for any tourism businesses who were indeed having a record season to be featured on TCN. Although it is the peak season and people were busy, I was expecting a few replies. I received just one reply, which you can read below (the offer is still open, details at the bottom of this article). 

Meet Ante Lacman of Hvar Tours and Intours who is enjoying his record season. He nicely explains how he is doing so well when others are not, and he offers a few thoughts on the direction of Croatian tourism. Fasten your seatbelts. 

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1. Tell us a bit about your business and what you do?

My name is Ante Lacman. I am the owner and co-owner of two DMCs.One is the regional leader and is regionally based - Intours DMC -  and specialises in MICE (meetings, incentives, conference, events), also PCO….With offices in Ljubljana, Split, Dubrovnik and Montenegro we work and cover the entire region. 

The second DMC, my “precious”, my “firstborn child” is Hvar Tours DMC, a local story, exclusive tailor-made programs with personal care and character. A destination experience programs with the Hvar Tours DMC signature. Simply put, I love my home, and everything that makes it so special; landscape, lifestyle - in my way of course, people - at least my circle of people that are charismatic and in some way the essence of this beautiful island. Each year there’s less and less of them..The bottom line is we put our guests, clients in touch with all that and them, without fabricating… Genuine authentic experiences.

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2. Lots of people are complaining about a terrible season - how is it for you?

Never better. We are breaking every record since we opened! In some moments we were praying for a bit of relaxation. My team, the people “who run the show” needs to be fresh, relaxed in order to provide the best out of their personal character. 2018 season was a year of disappointment and well as an “eye-opening” period in the context of some of the associates, experiences and direction I want to take further with my Hvar Tours DMC. You can’t imagine how people around us are not creative, and all they can invent is just a copy-paste process…

When we started with the Blue & Cave tours in 2005/2006 there was nobody.. When we started with Hvar wine tours in 2006 there was nobody…. Now, there’s lots of flies around the sh*t…And up to 2018 each year I made, two, three steps forward just to make and perceive my product as different from competitors; I would invest time and money into new programs and then either your competitors copy-paste you, former associates whom we helped to grow their business go behind your back to current suppliers who also forgot who launched them and put the on the map o destination experiences, and they in hurry, don’t understand that getting to a 100% occupancy ratio is at least middle terms process of 3-.5years which has its own rules of how to get to a certain level. 

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Luckily and in the past 2 years, we have filtered a really good team of suppliers - local hosts who literally leaned and gave us entirely to invent, create & book their services, venues, experiences exclusively through us. This is how we process and control the quality of service and assuring constantly the same standard of delivered service.

We bring business and the business environment we both (us and suppler) agree - for example, massive crowds, mainstream places published on every God Damn guide is not where we go and prefer…For example we want our guests to meet hosts - crazy winemaker who is at the same time TOP chef and is creating just for us authentic, extinct  grape varieties that you can not try in any other place that his home, try medical wines paired with the medical food(oh’ you will hear soon about it). we want them to do some crazy things they can not do in their homes, like swimming and wine tasting at the same time, or wine tasting in the cave underwater, or go with the master museum custodian on the tour at the backstage of our Hvar history etc, etc….

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We provide different thematic tours, provide small niches within the regular category tours, immerse history though a nice, healthy and interesting way  - for example see our latest Island Hvar Olive Adventure - Pick Your Own and Make Your OwnCrazy locations, originality is the direction we set and successfully are sailing towards. The end, well we hope we’ll never reach it. Those ones who share the same mindset and philosophy we invite to join us on the amazing journey. We promise it will never be boring…There’re some new tours to  be launched very, very soon - I wish Don LaFontaine here with his preview guy voice here ha ha ;))))

3. What services in particular are proving popular?

As mentioned, we provide exclusive, tailor-made Hvar Tours DMC signature programs… Without any false modesty, I’m proud to say that we are the leading destination experience provider when it comes to tours that are connected with the culinary, gastronomy, wine…Especially wine tours. Above all are of course sea experience programs. 

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4. Why do you think so many people are complaining?

Ah, wrong mindset mainly from the authorities that create laws and rules - government, ministry, the national tourist board and their local staff who are 99% political appointments. Then it just trickles down to the people that are part of the machinery. I was warning about the manpower, noncreativity or copy-paste process problem 10 years ago.

And look what we have now. Instead of having specialised schools for tourism - because whether we want to admit or not - this is the only way for prosperity and some kind of development, in every coastal place like Umag, Rovinj, Opatija, Rijeka, Krka, Pag and down the south, including our proven professionals from different tourism branches - Zirojevic, Rudi Štefan, Bibich Alen, GM and sales director successful hotel companies, marketing like B&Ž,  - as who could not only teach but crucially INSPIRE kids and people to stay in Croatia and become  TOP chefs, or top waiters, sommelier, GM, experts in their fields ..What we do!”? We don’t give a, ah You know….I would close borders for two years and go through an entire reorganisation reset; professional & private, restoring the nature. Which in a way would create a demand for Croatia. Imagine, just sending seductive photos of places, food... Hm, I'll think about it and might come up with an essay. 

We make huge numbers on private tours through Hvar Tours DMC, I bring at least 25-30 MICE  groups to Hvar , read PRE & POST SEASON. ! I do not want to bitch and give tutorials and explanations on how, etc - but do you think has anybody asked me and said how we can improve it! What can we do to support  You to make it even more successful. Once I asked, and I got "I'm sorry......."

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5. Are you happy with the direction of Croatian tourism? What would you improve?

Mindset!!!! Everybody would like to get rich with few drops of sweat!  And it’s just doesn’t go that way …

OK for some places in Croatia to be orientated to  massive/resort category of tourism, but in 99% I would turn to small, boutique, family tone...As it's proven in fact to be the right course. Small, boutique, family there’s always some kind of story, experience, connection that makes guests interested and gives him a feeling of being at a unique position and place. Look at social networks, that’s why they exist ;))))

For example restaurants, maximum 5,6 tables so that you can pay attention equally to every table in terms of food, service, communication. For example, one of the most popular, and fastest-growing restaurants in Hvar in last the two years has the following philosophy; owner - one of my childhood best friends -  is a diver catching fish during the morning, and top chef in the evening. He makes traditional meals like octopus salad but like not any other(I will not reveal secret;) but also has some signature meals you will not find anywhere else in Hvar and on planet earth. In general, when I look at the restaurants from Montenegro to Istria, there are lots of similarities. Only a few of them have made changes, only a few. Because they have guts and courage to step out with forward-thinking, by being creative, their main mojo is creating something original, to make them self-distinctive from others. Not money….Don’t get me wrong, we all work for money, but we live & serve for gratitudes/applause and maximised experience. At least that's how I look at this…In this scenario, guests will want to take a part of that, and pay really well for the experience.

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Wages - for God sake, pay your people, workers properly because without them you are nobody!!! Talk to them, they might share some nice ideas with you, reward them for that! Don't do or treat anybody differently than you would your own children. 

When we came to wages - I have one maybe weird explanation and solution for improving the general mindset in Croatia, until the moment the teachers in schools will not have at least 1.500 - 2.000 EUR per month than do not expect any progress in any sense and meaning of our mentality, mindset, environment, raising children, emigration and birthrate.

Learn more about the services of Hvar Tours on their official website

Are you having  record season in Croatian tourism and would like to be featured in this series. Please contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject - Record Season. 

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

5 Great Tours to Give That Little Extra to Your Hvar Holiday

July 10, 2019 - With SO many tours being offered, how to choose the best, and where to find tours that offer that little extra? Five of the best from the island of Hvar. 


1. Looking for a wine tour? Do it in style with Wine and Waves

Hvar has a fascinating wine story dating back to the arrival of the Ancient Greeks back in 384 BC, and it has several indigenous grape varieties which only grow on the island. Wine tourism is an increasingly important business, and while there are several more traditional tours, if you want one in true style, check out Wine and Waves - a speedboat tour from Hvar Town which passes the gorgeous southern coast of the island, before heading to Zlatan Otok, one of Croatia's top wineries in beautiful Sveta Nedjelja, complete with underwater tasting room. But you are not finished yet, as there are two more unique tasting experiences to choose from - wine tasting in a cave by the water, and in this stunning vineyard above. Learn more about the tour


2. Want to visit the Blue Cave? Why not do the Blue, the Green, inland Vis AND Palmizana in one?

The Blue Cave at Bisevo just off Vis is understandably one of the top attractions on the Adriatic, and it has become incredibly popular. Too popular, unfortunately, as tour groups now come from as far away as Split (and even further), and tourists can end up waiting a considerable amount of time in the sun. The standard tours take in the Blue and Green Caves and a swim on a beach on Vis. Not a bad day out, but you can do SO much better. 

How about the Blue Cave, the Green Gave, a fascinating tour of inland Vis with its incredible military history and tunnels, with a final stop at idyllic Palmizana on the Pakleni Islands on the way back to Hvar Town? While others wait, your tour just gets better. The secret is an early departure from Hvar Town (8am) and the best local knowledge. Few tours on the Croatian coast pack in as much fun as this in one day. Find out more


3. Heading to the beach? Check out six of the best by speedboat. 

With so much to explore on Hvar and with limited time on holiday, how to get the most out of your stay? Take beaches, for example. Hvar's beaches are often listed among the best in the world in various lists - and with good reason. But finding the best ones takes time and transport. What if you could be given a selection of the very best, time to sample each, then head off and discover the rest - by speedboat!

The Hvar 6 beaches tour takes in six of the very finest beaches on Hvar and the Pakleni islands, all in one day. Starting and finishing in Hvar Town, travel in style to the very finest beaches on the Hvar coast. Learn more here


4. Looking for a romantic spot for that special occasion? A Bohemian dinner with the best sunset on Hvar

Looking to impress a loved one?

Meet the Bohemian Romantic Sunset Dinner, the most intimate and romantic dinner setting for the 2019 season. And a setting which is faithful to those core natural Hvar values. A spectacular location on this sunniest of islands, with dinner timed to coincide with what is one of the most fabulous sunset vantage points on this incredible island. An intimate setting, with private table for just one couple (or maximum four people if you want to share the experience), set in total isolation in an olive grove whose oil bears testament to that Mediterranean diet UNESCO heritage. Learn more.


5. Arts and crafts - learn how to design your own coral jewellery

Not everyone wants to be on the beach, and there is plenty to do on the island if you are looking for something a little more stimulating. Hvar as a very lively arts and crafts scene, and one of the most interesting options to to learn how to design and make your own coral jewellery. 

Mediterranean coral has been a traditional part of the region’s historical and religious heritage for millennia. Imbued with magical powers, coral legends abound with tales of hate and spells, of miraculous curative powers and more. Croatia’s most talented coral Jewel artists live and work right here on Hvar. Their boutique-gallery within the historic centre of the Old Town is world-renowned. They have created a unique coral jewellery workshop for travellers who are looking to experience something beyond the ordinary. Imagine the sheer pleasure of being able to transform natural objects and polished coral berries into unique and beautiful pieces of jewellery! While learning how to create your own coral piece, you will also learn about different types of coral, pearls and other naturally created gems, beads and stones. Learn more

To learn more about the island, check out the Total Croatia Hvar in a Page guide


Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Blue Cave 2019: Wait in Midday Sun or How to See Island Vis as Well

June 12, 2019 - The Blue Cave of Bisevo near Vis is one of the top day trips in Central Dalmatia. What you need to know to avoid a long wait in the midday sun, and how to maximize your day from Hvar to see the island of Vis as well.  

Like many tourism jewels, the Blue Cave is a lot more popular than it was even ten years ago. Back then, apart from day trips from neighbouring Vis and a little from Hvar, there were hardly any tours. Fast forward to a booming Split, and these days there are many daily tours from Hvar, Brac, Split and other destinations. The result?

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Yes, you guessed it - what can be a fairly lengthy wait in the hot midday sun as the queue of boats in front of you slowly gets to this wondrous natural treasure. The last time I was on Vis a couple of years ago, several of the locals told me it was almost like watching a motorway in the channel between Vis and Bisevo. And the sad reality is that in order to get the most from your Blue Cave experience. Tash Pericic wrote a typically honest and impartial piece on the Blue Cave experience from the point of view of a yacht hostess for TCN a couple of summers ago, which I heartily encourage you to read if you are planning a visit. Check out the August vibe in the video below, from 2017.

The key to getting the most out of your day is to get there before the crowds. Not only will there be less waiting time, but you will also have less time in the hot sun, which can be a real issue in the peak summer months. And bear in mind that if you are starting from as far away as Split, you are going to join a reasonable sized queue. Some agencies sell the tour, and the wait is part of the package, while others try and use the opportunity not only to get to the Blue Cave early when it is cooler and less congested, but also then to make much more of the day by including the wonders of the magnificent island of Vis in the itinerary, as well as a visit to Palmizana on the Pakleni Islands. 

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Starting and finishing in Hvar Town, just an hour by speedboat to the Blue Cave, the Hvar Tours Blue Cave tour starts at 08:00 from Hvar Town, leaving plenty of time for the Blue and Green Cave, a swim at the famous Stiniva beach, before an outstanding tour of Secret VIs with local experts, before an hour on the Pakleni Islands and home in time for an evening out. 

Certainly beats sitting in a queue in the midday sun! Here is what is on offer.

Experience an island that is the birthplace of European cricket outside the UK. An island which has had huge British military impact over the centuries and houses Allied cemeteries, soldiers who paid the price for the strategic positioning of Vis in the Adriatic which has attracted visitors – friend and foe – since time immemorial. An island which was closed to foreigners until just 25 years ago as it was home to the largest missile base in former Yugoslavia with its own submarine base and secret military installations – all these you will visit. An island which hosted the first sailing regatta in the world. An island of fabulous wine, food, tradition and history, reassuringly far from the mainland, and one whose second town has more families living from fishing than tourism. An island of outstanding natural beauty, of traditional stone Dalmatian stone villages and fertile fields contributing to the healthy and natural Mediterranean diet. 

And an island that many tourists visit only for a famous beach, Stiniva, which was voted the best in all Europe, as part of a visit to neighboring star attractions, the Blue and Green Caves, but missing all of the above. It is like visiting Paris but missing out on the Eiffel Tower, or Venice and San Marco Square. Stand out from the crowd and join us on our private tour of Secret Vis, one of the most fascinating islands of all. Join our local experts to explore the island's rich military history, bizarre sporting claim to fame and fabulous food and wine, including its indigenous white wine gem, Vugava.

Two tours for the price of one, and wait until you exchange your Blue Cave and Vis stories with other tourists who spent much of the day queuing... 

This is a group tour three times a week – Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Tour description:

Of course, it would be foolish not to visit those popular attractions above, but in order to get the most out of them, it is advisable to do them first, before the crowds – two amazing caves and the best beach in Europe for a little swimming. Not a bad way to start the day before we discover Vis away from the crowds. 

Suggested itinerary – please note that an earlier departure is possible – even advisable given the growing popularity of the caves. It should also be noted that crowds at the Blue Cave may delay the schedule somewhat. 

08:00 Hvar town departure and straight to the Blue Cave. The early bird gets the worm, and enjoy the relative peace and lack of queues, unlike other tours which arrive later in the day.


09:00  The Blue Cave  is a water-logged sea cave located in a small bay called Balun (Ball in the local dialect), on the east side of the island of Bisevo and about 4.5 nautical miles (8.3 km) from Komiza. The grotto is one of the best known natural beauty spots on the Adriatic and a popular show cave because of the glowing blue light that appears at certain times of day.


09:40 Stiniva bay – hard to spot with its cliffs protecting its location, Stiniva is divine, a small ray of heaven which is collecting several international accolades, the latest of which was voted the best beach in Europe by European Best Destinations. Enjoy the moment with a dip in true Dalmatian heaven. 

10:15  Another cave, another colour, including time for a swim at the Green Cave, which is not as popular as its Blue cousin, but well worth a visit. The Green Cave (called Želena Spilja by the locals): a small opening in the ceiling of the cave lets the sunlight pass through, creating an image very similar with a flashlight cone in the night. The cone is also visible in the water and you can clearly see the spot where it hits the seabed. 


11:00 Collection by Pino Vojskovic and our Vis team for the Vis Inland Tour. Discover the role the British have played over the centuries on Vis, with their forts, Allied cemeteries and role in refugee evacuation to the Sinai Desert. And as fascinating as those stories are, Vis is famous for its submarine base (you will visit), as well as its tunnels and ramparts built into the hills by Tito, as well as a missile loading site. Imagine a current tourist island which was closed to the world just 25 years ago.


2:00pm Arrival in Vis Time and free time to explore until 4pm. Alternatively, you can book lunch at Roki's estate, a veritable feast of Dalmatian peka, and the sitting of one of the most remarkable stories in Dalmatia, for your host Roki was solely responsible for continuing one of the island's more unusual claims to fame – the oldest cricket club in Europe outside the UK. With regular international games and tournaments on the edge of the military airfield which played such a crucial role in World War II, the stories and setting are a match for the excellent gourmet experience. Please note that this lunch must be booked in advance, as do two other additional options, wine tasting at Lipanovic of Roki's. 


4pm departure for the Pakleni Islands, the island jewels of Hvar tourism.   

5pm Arrival at Palmižana, the most popular spot on the largest of the Pakleni Islands, St. Clement, where among the other unusual attractions, there is an arboretum and art gallery and peacocks freely roam. 


6-6:30pm Return to Hvar.

For more information about the tour, visit the Hvar Tours website

To learn more about the magical island of Vis, check out the Total Croatia Vis in a Page guide.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Looking to Impress Your Love? Meet the New Hvar Bohemian Romantic Sunset Dinner

June 28, 2018 - A new romantic sunset offer from the island of Hvar. How much do you want to impress your loved one?

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Where is the Best Beach on Hvar? Try 6 in a Day by Speedboat

June 23, 2018 - Summer is here, and so is the rush for the beach. How to find the best ones on Hvar, and visit them all in a day?

Sunday, 3 July 2016

A Cooking Class in an Abandoned Village? Look No Further!

You come to Croatia, you eat the traditional Croatian food, and your first thought that follows your exquisite meal is: how was that so good and how can I learn how to make it? Fortunately you’re in luck, and Hvar Tours has just the right experience for you.