Thursday, 12 August 2021

Croatian Author Igor Pavela on Hospitality and His Scientific Book

August 12, 2021 - Croatian author Igor Pavela who wrote the first Croatian scientific book on hospitality, is currently waiting for the book to be translated into English. TCN reporter Ivor Kruljac met up with Pavela to discuss both the book, but also the current situation in the Croatian hospitality sector.

April 2021 saw the release of ''Excellence as a Standard in Hospitality Business'' (Izvrsnost kao standard u ugostiteljskom poslovanju), the first Croatian scientific book on hospitality in which author Igor Pavela explored what it takes to successfully run a business and ensure both an excellent offer and enjoyable atmosphere for the guests.

The book's author, Igor Pavela, has been in the hospitality business for the past 16 years. He has gained invaluable experience in various aspects and from multiple positions. Back in April, he was a manager in one of the largest American cruise ship companies and today works for the Maslina Resort in Stari Grad on Hvar island.

He has closely worked with top managers and CEOs of various big international tourism and hospitality companies in his rich career, and he also found time to train management and other employees with his educational material helping them to increase the quality of their overall standard. The educational materials Pavela has written for his training sessions eventually pushed him to write this book, now reviewed and praised by the academic community both in Croatia and in the wider region.

The book boasts a combination of his personal work experience and extensive scientific research encompassing marketing, communication and even ethics (to name just a few), and how one can go about applying it to hospitality sector success.

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Maslina Resort management team. From left to right: Mario Kolumbic Maitre'D , Chris Edwardes as consultant, Igor Pavela Bar Manager © Maslina Resort

Ground rules in one place

With academic opinion being relevant for knowledge when it comes to scientific literature, Pavela, at the very start of the interview, also said that the first version of the book, which was constructed as his personal business manual, was reviewed by his close friends, colleagues, and ex-partners, all those who have been established in the hospitality business for decades.

''The first information I got as their feedback was that they'd never seen such valuable information presented in a way which is both easy to read and easy to implement. It combined the scientific research that provides the facts and my personal experience which I tried to pass on in the book like a tutor would in order to say what works and what doesn't,'' recalled Pavela.

Pavela pointed out that the hospitality sector encompasses a very broad range of occupations, and there are differences between cruise ships, fine dining restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, and other types of hospitality businesses. With that being said, there are also basic ground rules that are the same for every type of function. His colleagues who learned what works in business the usual way, by experimenting and seeing how things work out before changing and adapting things, rated the book in such a positive way, and Pavela looked more than happy with the impression his writing had had on others in his field so far.

With support from University College Aspira that both published and also held a book presentation for their former student, significant developments are happening for the book as it is currently being translated into English. With the global market not really having a scientific book of this kind under its belt yet, the options seem endless once the translation is complete. Ambitious but realistic, Pavela revealed further plans for the book.

''The book just recently came out in April (it could've come out earlier, but we waited for the unprecedented and catastrophic period for hospitality as a result of the pandemic to calm down). The translation will take around a month and a half to be completed by a professional agency that we hired, and after that, it will be reviewed. As the Croatian version was given to three doctors of science to be reviewed, it will also be reviewed by three very well-known and established names before going out onto the European market. They will, upon agreement, get an example of the book to review it and score it objectively,'' explains Pavela.

He continued by explaining that the book is now the subject of negotiations with a very known high-level sponsor in the hospitality sector. While not being able to reveal the name of the sponsor, Pavela says this sponsor plans to open an academy and to educate their staff based on Pavela's book, which is making its way to hospitality-related education in Croatia, from those in high school to those in higher levels of education. In addition, there is a plan to distribute the English version as an electronic book. The plan is to connect with big e-book distributors such as Amazon to make the book accessible globally, for students, professionals, those who want to start their business and those who are just curious readers with a desire to learn more.

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© Maslina Resort

Switzerland is the place for experimental physicists thanks to CERN, Japan is doing wonders in robotics, and American and British scientists are making significant historical contributions to the fields of sociology and anthropology. Maybe this book would position Croatia as a leader in scientific observations of hospitality. When asked about this, Pavela said that it is a wonderful idea, and his greatest desire.

"My first intention when I started writing this book was to collect all global experience, which is different, if not more advanced than what is garnered in Croatia alone. I wanted to bring it home because at the end of the day, this is my home and where my heart belongs. Croatia has natural resources that need to be used more, and that also means not just promoting them, but we should be on the level required to be the high-level destination to attract high-level clients from all over the world.

I think Croatia, unfortunately for years now, hasn't been at the required level, and there has been a sea of negative comments from guests as a result. There were good sides too (tourism has been growing more and more since the Homeland War), but from the side of science, we have to see the negative sides because that's something we need to look at in our analysis and research to see what is wrong and why something is wrong so that we can work on it,'' explained Pavela.

The up-to-date research needed to scientifically and successfully explore what works and doesn't work truly needs to be constant, and the spirit of that mentality is reflected in the fact the book already has references and findings in regard to COVID-19.

Hospitality isn't just business but a purpose, too.

When it comes to things that need to be worked on, Pavela pointed out that many people in Croatia who work in hospitality are students and people who don't really take much interest and aren't really educated in the sector, thus bringing down the level of the country's hospitality services in general.

Within twenty minutes of interviewing Pavela, it became clear that he talks about hospitality with the kind of passion that isn't unusual to see among journalists or maybe even lawyers and doctors for their fields, professions who are generally quite romanticised in pop culture and where workers in the field don't view it as a job to put food on the table, but rather a call to contribute to better future. However, it is very unusual to recognise such passion for hospitality among people. How does one find such a spark in an field most people only view as a side job to achieve some higher goal? I asked.

''In one specific moment, I saw hospitality from a completely different level. I was still involved in the operational part of the industry, the back of the counter, serving and having conversations with hundreds of people every day. At one point, I had this click in my mind where I realised that just as food and water are a necessity for the body, these places of socialising are food for the soul that will not disappear even as the world changes with all this technology,'' Pavela said, recalling how he first fell deeply in love with hospitality.

He looked around the beach bar where we sat with delight, which, if more people could recognise it, would no doubt make your morning coffee in a cafe be taken in with a completely different view.

In recognising the energy which takes place when socialising after a hard day at work or school, he saw all members of the hospitality sector, from the highest decision-making managers to the waiters, as actors all involved in the collective task of making socialising as good as it can be.

''Hospitality isn't just an economic transaction of buying a product, here we offer so much more. Our service can make someone's day,'' said Pavela proudly, reminding me of how business deals, relationships, friendship and so much more is formed in a great atmosphere of hospitality service, thus really making a difference to the world.
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Maslina Resort's Mediterranean John Dory © Nikola Radovani

As you read through the book, Pavela stays true to his words, pointing out good examples but also bad ones from which other employees and owners can learn what to avoid. Despite positioning some of the aforementioned negative practices to his hometown of Split and the wider Dalmatia area, Pavela at no point mentioned a specific name or a venue that fitted any negative practices. Pavela is sure this doesn't damage scientific data and gathered knowledge, and his scientific objectives are evident in him not name dropping people or places that have good practices either. In this way, he avoided the potential accusations that his book is either paid trash talk or a paid word of praise for some business, which would put a serious strain on Pavela both as a scientific observer and as a hospitality professional.

''When you're writing something like this, it's a very sensitive thing. The purpose of the book isn't to call anyone out for doing bad things, and I don't think that should be in the book. If somebody does something bad and it ends up in the news or with them being sued, then there are other ways to learn about that. The book is about focusing on changing bad practices to positive ones, and even though I had specific places and names in my head, I didn't want to bring them out and sound unprofessional,'' explained Pavela.

''What I want is for those people behind positive and negative examples to recognise themselves,'' he said.

Solidarity should trump competition when building a destination.

In the end, this book of science and practice has an aim of helping others improve their own business. That wouldn't be weird if Pavela had already retired from the business, but with his active employment for Maslina Resort, an outsider's point of view might leave you thinking whether or not it is wise to ''spill the beans'' and all the tricks of the trade as direct competitors could out beat the master as the students of his findings and knowledge. That's a very logical question from outside, but Pavela only smiled with confidence as he assured me that this book's release would neither sabotage himself nor his colleagues.

''The beautiful thing about hospitality is there is something for everyone. The more types of hospitality we have present in our destinations, the better, because opening a new bar doesn't mean stealing guests from another bar. It means offering something different. Everyone can find something for themselves. Somebody will want to hit a brew bar. Someone will want a clubbing experience, and so on. Passing on knowledge is not damaging any of the places. The point is that we all grow together in terms of quality and the commitment to what we do,'' elaborated Pavela, revealing solidarity in hospitality which is hard to deduce from the guest's point of view.

As his book clearly elaborates on, it is wrong for a hospitality owner to try to catch everything and everyone with his offer. Specialising and targeting a particular audience (e.g. those who love quality food and wine, leaving out those who want cocktail bars as you focus on improving your gastronomic offer), along with investing in quality ingredients and keeping your workers happy are the key to success, as Pavela mentioned himself. These are just a few of the points you can find in the book, but in the end, it's best you read it for yourself here. Either in Croatian or you can wait a little longer for the English version.

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Maslina Resort's Chocolate Cherry Sphere © Nikola Radovani 

It's worth remembering that science never sleeps, and with Pavela himself warning of this - the situation is changing constantly. Today's top formula for happy guests may be completely outdated tomorrow. Researching and learning are always welcome in order to show all those involved in this industry the way to providing the best service possible.

Learn more about Stari Grad on Hvar on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Maslina Resort on Hvar Listed Among Best New Hotels by Elle Decoration

March 23, 2021 – With the anticipation of a corona-free summer, Elle Decoration featured Maslina Resort on Hvar as one of the 'The Best New Beach Hotels' in Europe 2021.

Britain's most stylish homes magazine, Elle Decoration, showcases inspirational homes and hotels with design expertise that transform living spaces 'from tired to inspired'. Only the most stylish and aesthetically pleasing interiors are featured on the list, and this year, Maslina Resort on Hvar made the list for "The 7 Best Hotels by the Beach to Book in 2021."

Situated in Maslinica Bay on Hvar, the resort provides its visitors with a perfect combination of luxury and wellness. The focus of the resort is Mindful Luxury, with the aim to provide all visitors with a "high-end hospitality experience inspired by the rich cultural and natural heritage of Hvar."

The Elle Decoration writes:

"Settled just along the shore from the cobbled streets of Hvar island’s sleepy Stari Grad, Maslina’s series of wood-fronted pavilions are designed to create ‘a vertical rhythm’ with the surrounding trees. And it’s here that Léonie Alma Mason sought inspiration for the interior, too, layering the subtler shades of blue and dark grey found in the pines with Iroko wood and stone from neighboring Brač. The holistic, natural approach is heartfelt – think restorative spa treatments powered by herbal goodness from the organic garden – earning Maslina a Green Pearls eco stamp of approval. While the low-slung, landscaped approach minimizes intrusion, its happy byproduct is maximized views of the crystalline Adriatic, which stretches out from every room."

Among Maslina Resort, located on one of the most popular islands in Croatia, six other stylish resorts across Europe made the list: Oku in Ibiza, Ekies All Senses in Greece, Strandhotel Zoomers in the Netherlands, the Royal Senses in Crete, Hospedaria in Portugal, and Panoptis Escape in Mykonos.

In the past year, hotels around the world have been affected by the ongoing global pandemic, including beach hotels. With the hope of a corona-free summer and easing of restrictions, that first post-lockdown holiday will be one to remember, so why not do it in style?

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

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Thursday, 7 May 2020

Meet Patricia Yeo, Celebrated Head Chef of Maslina Resort on Hvar

May 7, 2020 - Maslina Resort is a five-star boutique hotel, slated to open this summer in Maslinica Bay on the island of Hvar, just minutes away from the UNESCO-protected Stari Grad.

As Maslina Resort gears up for its summer opening in Maslinica Bay on the island of Hvar, it is actively recruiting to craft the ideal team. 

With a mission to honor the UNESCO-protected Mediterranean diet on the island, the Wine & Dine department at Maslina Resort is of crucial importance - and perhaps the most prominent character to the puzzle is pronouncing the perfect chef - Patricia Yeo. 

By fusing elements of an international upbringing that took her from Malaysia to England to the United States, with a precision that she honed as a trained scientist, Patricia Yeo has been celebrated for her unique cuisine ever since her first restaurant, AZ, opened in 1999. The favorite of The New York Times also received two Michelin stars in 2002. 

But the accolades didn’t stop here. After AZ, Yeo received three New York Times stars for a Mediterranean concept Pazo in 2004, and in 2008, two New York Times stars for a French-Vietnamese restaurant Sapa, all while consulting and launching projects in Boston. 

After over twenty years in fine dining in Manhattan, Yeo explored a more corporate role in national and international restaurant groups, and her culinary prowess was pivotal in restaurants within hotels in Las Vegas, the Caribbean, London and Singapore. Hooked by the luxury travel bug, Yeo roamed to remote and exotic locations around the world, from stints in Oman and Turkey with Six Senses to Shina Mani Wild in the jungles of Cambodia while overseeing food and beverage services at Shinta Mani and Treeline in Siem Reap.

Promising to balance traditional and innovative techniques, and local and international culinary styles, Patricia Yeo is the ideal candidate to lead the culinary team at Maslina Resort. TCN met up with Patricia to learn more about her role in the new luxury resort. 

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Nataly Lee

First, tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to being head chef at Maslina Resort?

I am culturally confused; I'm of Chinese ancestry born in Malaysia, raised in the UK and the US. I’ve also lived for extended periods in five other countries.  All this traveling is a real advantage culinarily.  

I was browsing LinkedIn and saw a post for the chef position at Maslina, I usually would not respond, but on a lark, I sent Zoran a note, he responded in 2 hours, and two weeks later I was moving to Croatia.  

How would you explain your culinary philosophy? 

I think my food is very much ingredient-based. Use the best ingredients and treat them with respect. This means using meats that are ethically grown and killed humanely, using the whole animal not just the prime cuts, fish that is locally and preferably line caught (i.e., not trawled with large nets which catch fish indiscriminately trapping young breeding fish interrupting the live cycle), produce that is locally grown and in season. This means I do a lot of preserving, whether it is pickling, curing, jamming, dehydrating. It allows me to use cherries in December because I brandied it in June.  

How will this philosophy integrate into the cuisine at Maslina Resort?

Part of the reason I am so excited to be at Maslina, is because it is a prolific growing region with a great variety of fish and game. I have gone foraging with a local lady who is an ethnobotanist, and there are so many wild plants and herbs that are edible. Having the ability to use local, foraged ingredients is such a treat. I can’t wait for the mushroom season this fall. As someone who is inspired by ingredients I am in heaven, nothing inspires and excites more than picking perfect kumquats from a fruit-laden bush or watching figs ripen on a tree down the street. Really, everywhere one walks on Hvar, there are sights and smells that inspire, rosemary, pine, wild sage, briny sea breeze, lemon blossom. It is fabulous.  

How will you implement local producers and suppliers?

We are fortunate at Maslina to have a great organic garden that is in a sheltered bay with lots of light, water, and well protected from the winds.  Mario, our fabulous head gardener, will be able to grow a lot of herbs and soft greens for the kitchen. We are also going to work with a number of farmers from the Stari Grad Plains, and in some cases, they will grow specialty products for us and in others, we will simply use what they normally grow.  We have made really good contacts from local goat cheese producers to beekeepers for honey and wax to fishermen. Because of the style of the menu (which will change daily, we are able to work with whatever ingredient they bring us. It is a more organic way of cooking, letting the ingredients dictate what we cook rather than having a menu dictate the ingredients we use. It is also a lot more fun.

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Nataly Lee

What would you name as the key differences between working in a hotel or resort and a standalone restaurant?

The main difference is not the work in the kitchen, by that, I mean the cooking and production of good food are the same in both cases. The difference is the financial aspect of the business. As a chef of a standalone restaurant (especially if you are also the owner), there is a constant worry about making enough to pay the bills. In a resort or hotel, one of the most expensive fixed cost is eliminated. Rent usually takes up as much as 40% of a restaurant’s revenue, so with not paying rent, you are already ahead of the game.

From a Food & Beverage perspective, what is required to operate in a luxury resort? 

Producing good food, whether it is in a luxury resort, a fine dining restaurant or even in your home kitchen, is the same, I think. You need to care about what you are doing; you need to be flexible and adapt to the needs and desires of your guest, you need to create a great environment for your guests to enjoy the meal. Luxury means different things to different people.  Luxury, for me, means having a choice, be it caviar and champagne or a grilled cheese sandwich. Our goal is to provide this choice. 

Has the island of Hvar and Croatia been able to provide everything you need so far?

It has been fabulous, not just in terms of cuisine but also in terms of a wonderfully beautiful place to live. The people in Stari Grad have been so warm and welcoming. They are so willing to share recipes, cooking techniques, local knowledge of ingredients.  

What are you looking forward to most about running the kitchen at Maslina Resort? And about being in Croatia?

One of the first things I am going to do once I can get into the kitchen at Maslina is cooking for my co-workers, who have become my family in Croatia. There is nothing better than cooking for the people you love.

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Nataly Lee

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Maslina Resort Introduces Health and Safety Leader for Life After Corona

April 23, 2020 - Maslina Resort is a five-star boutique hotel, slated to open this year in Maslinica Bay on the island of Hvar, just minutes away from the UNESCO-protected Stari Grad.

While health and safety should always be at the forefront of the hospitality industry, in the corona era, this has never been more true. 

Thus, a new luxury resort on Hvar Island is getting ahead of the game by introducing a Health & Safety Leader to their team just in time for its opening this year. 

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TCN caught up with the Communication Specialist of Maslina Resort, Matko Kovacevic, to learn more.

What inspired you to implement the Health & Safety Leader position into the Maslina Resort team?

It all started with defining our concept of Mindful Luxury, which concentrates on wellbeing in the broadest sense possible. This includes acting mindfully towards our guests, our employees, the local community, and our beautiful planet. Health and safety are naturally one of the first prerequisites for wellbeing. The widespread corona crisis that is permanently changing the world as we know it further validated our approach and reaffirmed our commitment towards wellbeing, health, and safety. The trend of wellness and health-related luxury travel had been growing steadily for years, and, in the post-corona world, there will be even greater demand and emphasis on health, safety, and security aspects of travel. Undeniably, there are emerging health-related challenges and opportunities for the hospitality sector and the ones who manage it correctly will be the winners of the new era of travel. The world and the hospitality industry is changing, and we cannot take the risk to stand still or wait for another crisis to happen. We want to lead the way.

What experience will you look for when hiring the Health & Safety Leader?

This is a very good question that doesn't have a simple answer. That is, in a way, because we are basically inventing this position, at least in this context. There are no best practices to look for. The world is in a novel situation, which gives us a chance to create some new benchmarks in the hospitality industry. This is why we are approaching it with a blank drawing board, the desired outcome, and some basic common sense. We always like to say that when recruiting, we're looking for authenticity, common sense, and high openness towards new experiences. Obviously, some kind of a health and safety-related background and basic knowledge of the hospitality industry would be some experiences that we are looking for for this position. However, equally important is the alignment with our hospitality philosophy.

What is the role description of the Health & Safety Leader?

In one sentence, the Health & Safety Leader will be responsible for implementing health, safety, and risk management processes to ensure that guests receive the highest standard of service and hospitality in a safe and secure environment. We are open to discuss and consider different procedures and measures that would contribute to achieving that ultimate goal.

What are the tasks of the Health & Safety Leader?

The main responsibility of the Health & Safety Leader is to establish and implement health and safety-related procedures in the hotel. Staff training is another area that is under the responsibility of this position, as well as initiating various design and operations recommendations in line with the health and safety procedures. Moreover, this person needs to establish communication channels with governmental bodies, healthcare officials, and the local community to stay on top of all the related requirements, measures, and expectations. Crisis response planning is yet another important area of responsibility.

How does this new position fit into the Maslina Resort philosophy of Mindful Luxury?

It fits perfectly! Mindful Luxury draws inspiration on the rich cultural, natural, as well as the therapeutic heritage of Hvar Island. I'm not sure how many people are aware that the first organized tourism in Europe came into being right here on Hvar Island with the founding of the Hvar Health Society on May 15, 1868. Back then, Hvar was recognized as a health sanitarium, basing its tourism on health and recuperation, rather than historical sites or hip parties. This is something that we want to put back in the limelight with our commitment to wellbeing and mindful luxury. This concept has many layers, from a natural, low-impact architecture and design, to using organic linens, offering produce from our organic garden, producing locally inspired and organic in-room guest amenities and spa cosmetics, and minimizing the use of single-use plastic. We believe that our guests should experience high-end hospitality that is authentic, sincere, respectful, and adventurous. Mindful Luxury is the alchemy between intimate yet professional and wholehearted service, engaged leadership, and authentic and transformative experiences. Not just for guests, but for everyone involved, from employees to the local community.
 
To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.
 
Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Maslina Resort Open Day Gets Hvar Island Excited About Summer Opening

March 3, 2020 - Maslina Resort held its first Open Day on Saturday at the Stari Grad Theatre Hall. 

With a new tourist season soon approaching, it’s safe to say you’ve heard a thing or a two about some of the newcomers to the scene this summer, like Maslina Resort on Hvar island.

Slated to open this June in Maslinica Bay, just a short skip away from the 2400-year-old town of Stari Grad, Maslina Resort is a five-star, boutique hotel that thrives off the philosophy of ‘Mindful Luxury’ - fusing high-end hospitality with chic interiors and respect to the environment, all while ensuring guests an authentic experience of Hvar island.

There is quite a bit to share about this soon-to-be haven of Hvar island, like how it implemented low-impact architectural design and is using all-natural materials to honor the island environment already in place, or that the hotel will be energy efficient and use homegrown herbs and spices from their organic garden in guest's dining and wellness experiences. But that's not even half of it.

Thus, while the hotel is still under construction, the Maslina Resort team invited Hvar island inhabitants to learn more about the project during an ‘Open Day’ event, held at the Stari Grad Theater Hall last weekend. 

In a business-to-consumer style ambiance, curious visitors were given a chance to sit face-to-face with members of the Maslina Resort team to understand what the project is about through an animated presentation, ask their biting questions, present their resumes, or offer their locally-made products to be used within the resort. 

A staggering 200+ visitors were counted in Stari Grad on Saturday morning, which is more than the Star Wars screening in the town!

Islanders young and old showed interest in the careers available at Maslina Resort, while an incredible number of locals presented their products, from lavender salt, infused olive oils and wine to essential oils, perfumes, bath salts, and aromatherapy sachets. 

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As a thank you, visitors were greeted with the Stari Grad treat, or 'paprenjak' honey and black pepper biscuits decorated with the Maslina logo.

If you missed Maslina's first Open Day event, stay tuned for another chance (or two) to catch them this spring. 

To stay in the loop about Maslina Resort, you can follow the official Facebook page for the latest updates. 

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Learn More About Maslina Resort this Saturday in Stari Grad

February 24, 2020 - Learn more about Maslina Resort this Saturday, February 29, 2020, at the Stari Grad Theater Hall.

Maslina Resort is a full service, luxury five-star seaside boutique hotel, overlooking the scenic Maslinica Bay on Hvar island. Slated to open this June, the Maslina Resort team is hosting an Open Day in Stari Grad this weekend, welcoming anyone curious to learn more about the project. 

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So, if you want to learn more about what's going on in Maslinica Bay, are interested in joining the Maslina Resort team, or have a product or service you think would be useful for Maslina Resort, join the team for an informal get-together this Saturday, February 29, from 09:00 to 13:00 at the Stari Grad Theater Hall.

Stay in the loop about everything happening at Maslina Resort by following their Facebook page

To read more about everything happening on Hvar island, follow TCN’s dedicated page

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