Friday, 22 October 2021

Olive Picking Experience in Podstrana: A Short and Visual Story

October 22, 2021 - After patiently waiting a year for the next olive picking season, I encouraged myself to take a closer look at this tradition. The result? A beautiful day, a great experience, thousands of olives, new friends, and many, many photos!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a reflection as a result of the two years since I arrived in Croatia. In it, not only did I want to share several anecdotes about that time, but I felt encouraged to list ten reasons why I believed that it could be easy for someone to adapt their lives here in Croatia, based on my own experience. If I could be able to summarize that article in a few words, I think I could do so by saying that Croatia is a country that successfully manages to harmoniously combine heritage, ruralism, and ancient traditions, with development, urbanism, and Western influence. It is a country where you can walk the elegant streets of Ilica in Zagreb or Marmontova in Split, as well as visit the fields of Slavonia or the vineyards of Istria, and not feel any kind of barriers or class gaps. It is, in short, a country for everyone.

There are many ways to prove to yourself that you have managed to adapt effectively to a new country: learning the language, making new friends, finding a job, buying a house, learning how to prepare a local dish, and more. But I feel that I personally cannot feel fully integrated in Croatia if I do not follow closely the activities and traditions that its people have carried out for hundreds of years. The great thing about Croatia is that there is a peaceful coexistence between these traditions and their respective industries (and in some cases, it can be exclusive to home production). In my country, on the other hand, many of these traditional activities are being displaced by large industries, such as consumer fishing, wine, or agriculture. However, it is not my intention to delve into a very complex topic that may require me to know about topics that I still need to learn more about. What I want to say is that in Croatia I find it very difficult for an activity inherited by generations to be interrupted by a dominance of the industrial sector, but rather that people can continue making their rakija, their wines, their olive oil, their harvests, and their fishing, with an authentic feeling of belonging and, at the same time, feeling fairly rewarded for their effort, as people here value highly their local and home-made products.

olive-picking-8.jpg

Olive oil, in particular, has always been one of the cornerstones in our kitchen at home, where my parents have always done wonders with its help. We were glad to know, when we moved, that in Croatia it was equal or even more important in their diet than in ours. It took us little time to recognize the high quality of Croatian olive oil. However, I was sad that after two years in Croatia and consuming its world-renowned olive oil, I felt so distant from the enormous process behind its production. I knew absolutely nothing about how olive oil is made, or about olive trees, or about olives. Nothing at all.

In Podstrana, where I live, I find myself surrounded by small fields of cultivation of apples, lemons, watermelons, cabbages, as well as olive trees. Throughout last year, especially at the end of the summer, I have noticed different people who come to take care of their crops, but few or no people in the olive trees. It was in October-November of 2020 that I saw people pick olives for the first time, and that's when I discovered that it was in fact the season. I felt like I had missed a huge opportunity (laziness and shyness won me over, not gonna lie) to get closer and learn more about olive picking. I decided that in the following season I would learn more about this tradition.

olive-picking-6.jpg

I patiently waited this year for October to arrive, and a few days ago I saw that they were picking olives in the distance. This time I did not hesitate, I took my camera and walked over to where they were. It was there that I met one of the kindest families from Podstrana. From the moment I introduced myself, I had never felt so well received by strangers, and they did not hesitate for a second to allow me to accompany them and document their work. For me, it was a great relief, since at some point I overthought that they would feel invaded by my presence both on their property, and in a time where they can share their privacy in a traditional family activity. But they didn't bother, and I think they were not only impressed and glad to hear me speak Croatian, but they may have been happy to see someone genuinely interested in learning more about olive picking.

The father, Jozo, dedicated almost three hours to telling me everything about his olive trees and olive oil, while he collected olives along with his wife and son. Jozo and his son Ivo educated me on the technique used to carefully extract olives from the trees, using a small plastic rake to ''brush'' the branches full of olives, as well as the high quality of these olives, called ''Levantin'', for the subsequent oil production process that would come later. The weather was perfect, as it felt like a summer day infiltrated in the fall, with a radiant sun that did not burn your skin. Still, the shadow of a twenty-year-old olive tree protected us. All you could hear was Jozo's endless but nourishing olive lessons, as well as these constantly falling like rain from the tree over the blue plastic carpet.

 olive-picking-14-4.jpg

After three hours of a lot of learning and thousands of olives scattered on the ground, it was time to go and it was time for the family to collect all the olives in bags. It was a very fruitful afternoon for everyone, as I returned home with much more knowledge about olive picking as well as numerous photos and videos, and they returned home with almost 150 kilos of olives, from a single tree! According to Jozo himself, this particular year had been a very good one for his olive trees, and the gentle climate was key for them to produce so many olives.

Before I left, I exchanged phone numbers with Ivo, and it was there that I passed them the photos I had taken and, soon, a small short film that I will prepare about this particular experience of olive picking. They also promised me a bottle of their olive oil, which I look forward to trying soon.

It has been one of those (few) days and anecdotes in which I return home with a real smile, and that reminds me of how right my decision to come to Croatia was, and how close I am to being able to adapt to this beautiful country. If there is one thing I am sure of, it is that I will not be able to die in peace without at least one olive tree in my future home!

Here are some pictures I took from this wonderful day of olive picking in Podstrana:

 olive-picking-2.jpg

olive-picking-3.jpg

olive-picking-4.jpg

olive-picking-5.jpg

olive-picking-7.jpg

olive-picking-13.jpg

olive-picking-9.jpg

olive-picking-10.jpg

olive-picking-16-4.jpg

olive-picking-11.jpg

olive-picking-15-5.jpg

olive-picking-12.JPG

When it comes to olive oil, Croatia is one of the leading countries in the industry. From Istria to Dalmatia, you can find all the information you need to know about the origins, processes, and where to buy Croatian olive oil on the Total Croatia page, now in your language!

For more news like this, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Saturday, 7 August 2021

History of Le Meridien Lav: Luxury Split Hotel Celebrates 50 Years

August 7, 2021 - The history of Le Meridien Lav as the famous luxury hotel near Split celebrates 50 years. 

On August 8, 1971, today's luxury resort Le Meridien Lav opened its doors under the then (temporary) name Kairos in Podstrana near Split, reports HRTurizam.

Two hundred guests from Italy, France, and the United States were greeted by only one of the three hotel buildings planned within the hotel complex. The media reported that "the hotel could not resist the onslaught of tourists and was forced to start work" because the guests themselves "gave up one hundred percent comfort when they saw what kind of environment the hotel is in." It was then one of the largest hotels on the Adriatic and the most modern in the high B category. It had 373 rooms, a hall for banquets and meetings, lounges, a casino, a nightclub, a snack bar, a barber and hairdresser, an infirmary, various sports fields, a bowling alley, its own beach, a winter pool, and other recreational facilities, built by the Split company Lavčević.

However, Lav celebrates three birthdays on dates that, in a way, marked its beginning. That is why the current Le Meridien Lav resort will mark this great anniversary by connecting all these dates, from autumn 2021 to late spring 2022.

Except for August 8, when part of the hotel complex was "opened under the onslaught of tourists," important dates at the beginning of work include October 24, 1971, when the entire hotel complex was inaugurated on the 27th anniversary of the liberation of Split, and March 1972, when the then hotel complex "Kairos" was renamed into the now legendary "Lav."

To mark the 50th anniversary, a series of events and activities will be organized from autumn 2021 to spring 2022. At the very end of the celebration, in the late spring of 2022, a multilingual monograph on this legendary hotel in Split will be published.

Hotel Le Meridien Lav has been owned since 2016 by the private Czech equity fund Odien Group, more precisely its subsidiary, Odien Hotels N.V.

"We have owned the Le Meridien Lav resort for only a few years, but we are looking forward to this anniversary as if we were here from the beginning. Lav has a rich heritage and special importance in the identity and collective memory of residents, so it is important to us, in cooperation with our employees, partners, and associates, and our neighbors from Podstrana, with whom we share the most beautiful memories of our hotel, mark the first 50 years in a quality and interesting way. Furthermore, with our business plans and investments in the last few years, we have shown how important this resort and destination is to us and how we want Le Meridien Lav to continue to be the leading tourist brand on the Adriatic coast," said Mike Saran on behalf of Odien Group, which owns Le Meridien Lav from 2018.

Arnoud Zaalberg, General Manager of Le Meridien Lav Split, does not hide his joy over this great anniversary: “I have been in Lav for almost a decade, and I am sincerely looking forward to this anniversary because it reminds me of all the interesting and beautiful moments I experienced with employees, guests and partners and the stories I have heard about Lav from past and present employees. Furthermore, we are especially proud of the fact that Lav celebrated its 50th anniversary in a new guise with many new and improved, high-quality content, which we strive to preserve the quality and values we have inherited daily."

Le Meridien Lav is a 5-star resort with a total of 378 accommodation units and 12 modern conference rooms in an area of 5000 square meters.

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

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

As Pandemic Continues, Podstrana Pools in Private Houses Sought

May the 26th, 2021 - What exactly do tourists in Croatia want as the situation with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to alter as time goes on? Podstrana pools have been popular since tourists began arriving and the epidemiological situation becomes more favourable, but the market trends have altered since the appearance of the virus, and regardless of the vaccine.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, in the rugged hills above Podstrana near Split, almost every single house, some of them being very old, has been converted for the purposes of tourism. Some are full of glass and boast a modern appearance and others have kept their Dalmatian character with traditional stone, most of them, regardless of their styles, come with pools. These Podstrana pools have never been more sought after by visitors than now.

Luka is just one such homeowner to have turned to tourism and done up what he inherited in the hills above Podstrana, a location which offers not only isolation but some stunning views over the Split area and the glorious Adriatic sea. From Luka's Podstrana pool and terrace, the view of Split lying below is precisely what draws attention.

''They like to be left in peace, they don't mix with others on the beach," Luka Bakota told Dnevnik.hr when discussing what tourists in Croatia now seek the most as the pandemic continues to change habits and desires.

In a period ten years, more than 150 holiday homes with swimming pools have been built in Podstrana alone, and one owner, Mario Tomasevic, recovered following contracting COVID-19 back at the time around Easter this year.

"I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, it was utterly horrendous," Tomasevic stated as he recalled his personal experience with the infection caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. 

Having unpleasant personal experience firmly under his belt, Mario more than understands why some guests want to be very careful and seek out isolation and safety when in Croatia. Now better, he now has guests and some good reservations to speak of, among them a duo from Germany.

''We came in earlier years and there was no pool. Now we've come and the pool is there. We feel like VIP guests,'' said Peter from Germant. Several more villas are being built nearby, also with swimming pools. The Podstrana Tourist Board has also confirmed that Podstrana pools are in great demand, and they're recording much better overall numbers much better than they did last year.

"We have 10,000 overnight stays, that's 40 percent better than the way things were last year," assured Zdravka Svenda, the director of the Podstrana Tourist Board.

For more about tourists in Croatia, follow our dedicated travel section.

Saturday, 17 October 2020

From Trogir to Podstrana, Split to Dicmo: Public Bicycle System to Connect Urban Agglomeration of Split

October 17, 2020 - The cities and the municipalities that make up the urban agglomeration of Split will soon be connected by a public bicycle system. 

The project for the development of public bicycle systems in the Urban Agglomeration of Split plans to further popularize the use of bicycles as an alternative form of public transport in the UAS, by developing and improving the cycling infrastructure network that will enable faster access to public transport stops, but also serve as an upgrade and supplementing the existing form of public transport on the daily routes of the inhabitants of the urban agglomeration.

The project is called "Choose a bicycle!", which was applied for co-financing with European Union funds within the ITU Call "URBAN MOBILITY - Development of public bicycle systems in the Urban Agglomeration of Split."

As part of the activities of this integrated project, the City of Split and 7 partners - cities and municipalities from the Urban Agglomeration of Split (Solin, Trogir, Kaštela, Podstrana, Klis, Dugopolje and Dicmo), will receive 41 new stations with a mixed contingent of 242 bicycles and two bicycle roads will be established - in Split (in the area of Trstenik Bay) and Trogir (in the area of Brig-Lokvica). Through project activities, an analytical basis will be prepared - a document for establishing an integrated system of bicycle roads in the Urban Agglomeration of Split, which will be the basis for establishing a planned integrated system of bicycle roads in the Urban Agglomeration of Split.

These 41 new locations with bicycle terminals will be distributed in eight local self-government units per the analysis of needs and possibilities for the implementation of the system, as follows:
City of Split: 16 terminals with 50 electric and 20 classic bicycles;
City of Solin: 6 terminals with 12 electric and 26 classic bicycles;
City of Trogir: 3 terminals with 10 electric and 10 classic bicycles;
City of Kastela: 6 terminals with 30 electric and 30 classic bicycles;
Municipality of Podstrana: 2 terminals with 6 electric and 6 classic bicycles;
Municipality of Klis: 2 terminals with 4 electric and 8 classic bicycles;
Municipality of Dugopolje: 4 terminals with 10 electric and 10 classic bicycles;
Municipality of Dicmo: 2 terminals with 4 electric and 6 classic bicycles.

The project's total value is HRK 13,609,435.83, of which the grant amounts to a total of HRK 10,893,396.68. It is planned that the activities for implementing the public bicycle system will be carried out by June 2021, and the construction and marking of bicycle roads by mid-2022. The project application was prepared by the Development Agency Split - RaST d.o.o., with the support of the Service for International and EU Projects of the City of Split.

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

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages.

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Expats in Isolation Top 10 Croatia Experiences: Monique from Romania in Podstrana

April 15, 2020 - As people look for escape from the mental stress brought on by the corona crisis, a new series on TCN with local expats in isolation, looking back at their top 10 Croatia experiences so far. Nex up, TCN owner Paul Bradbury from Manchester in Jelsa. 

I have had a LOT of emails and messages asking if TCN could write about something happier than the constant corona updates. I hear your pain, but with so much (sadly bad) news to report and limited resources due to the crisis, this is not so easy. But then I thought of a nice series which might perhaps pique people's interests, focus on the happy stuff, and even unearth some hidden gems to explore at a later date. 

Having done a very successful series with over 30 submissions from expats around the world on their self-isolation experiences in Croatia compared to what is happening in their home country, and then following that with a series on Croats in the diaspora with their corona viewpoint of their country of residence compared to the Homeland, perhaps a happier and more interesting series would be to look at expats here today and their top 10 experiences in Croatia so far. 

We started in Split with Ionut Copiou from Romania

Next up, another Romanian - Monique Ioanitescu, who is currently in Podstrana. 

If you would like to contribute to this series, contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Top 10. 

 

I am also from Romania, from Transylvania region ?‍♀️, near the well known Dracula castle ? . I am new in Podstrana, near Split. In the 7 months since I moved here, I have had amazing, beautiful experiences.
 
monique-ioantescu (16).jpg
 
1: My first Christmas in Croatia with fake snow & music & dance! This elegant and warm welcome in a new country I will never forget! 
 
monique-ioantescu (17).jpg
 
monique-ioantescu (18).jpg
 
2. The great Croatian people! It is so easy to make new friends! You people are so open, friendly and nice! I am thankful for my new Croatian friends who show the beauty of my new country and give me a homey feeling! Hvala vama! (Goran Vukovic & Melinda Borzic = below) 
 
monique-ioantescu (19).jpg
 
monique-ioantescu (20).jpg
3: My Croatian online lessons with, in my eyes, the best teacher in the world, Zrinka Madunic Spiljak! Thanks to her talent & patience ? I learn how to say in Croatian the most important things and step by step to trust myself to speak ?? Bok! 
 
monique-ioantescu (21).jpg
 
 monique-ioantescu (22).jpg
4: The fairytale sunsets from Podstrana ? I feel like Alice in Wonderland, each day when I admire them ☀️ 
 
monique-ioantescu (26).jpg
 
5: Day of Culture at the Romanian Embassy in Zagreb! The way Croatians & Romanians celebrate together and share artistic moments was a moment to remember! 
 
monique-ioantescu (27).jpg
 
Top 6: #pomalo #fjaka #kava I discovered the relaxed way of life and also I learned to make time for my friends, to taste the joy of life & to love the taste of cappuccino with a view on the Riva! ?☕  Can't wait for the bakeries to open again ? 
monique-ioantescu (23).jpg
7: The theatre in Split! I attended a modern dance spectacle - so many talented dancers in a beautiful, old building!?
 
monique-ioantescu (15).jpg
 
8:  The Adriatic sea itself! This dream beaches & the clean water & the fabulous view! To live by the sea is a totally different way of life! Ia volim more! ? 
 
monique-ioantescu (14).jpg 
 
9: My motto for travelling in Croatia? In Dalmatia we are cruising & each ride is a little adventure! 
 
 
10: Business Experience - I opened my own company where I support young women with an international mentoring programme! The support I get from Hitro/Fina as well from my Croatian business partner is great! #girlssupportgirlsaroundtheworl??‍??‍?
 
Thanks Monique! I think that is a record number of emojis ever in a TCN article. Stay safe, and stay just as positive.
 

Are you an expat in Croatia with a little time on your hands and some fabulous memories and experiences to share? If you would like to participate in this series, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Top 10.

To see the other stories in this series, as well as expat self-isolation stories compared to their home countries, and corona voices in the diaspora, visit the dedicated section

Friday, 14 February 2020

EU-Funded Podstrana Projects Include Walkway and Bike Path, Recycling Yard

February 14, 2020 - The Municipality of Podstrana can boast that it has implemented projects, worth approximately 20 million kuna, co-financed by European and national funds.

“Employees of the Administrative Department for Public Procurement, Economy, Social Affairs and EU Funds of Podstrana Municipality work hard to apply and implement projects co-financed by European and national funds,” said Mayor Mladen Bartulovic.

Vecernji List writes that one of the most valuable projects is the sea-river promenade and the Podstrana walk & bike track, worth around 10,000,000 kuna. It was funded by the European Union from the Cohesion Fund for 8,500,000 kuna.

As part of the project, a bicycle path and promenade from the mouth of Zrnovnica to the sports harbor Strozanac were constructed and equipped, along the left bank of the river.

“This project created a recognizable appearance of the Podstrana Municipality, and thus enriched the tourist offer of our municipality as an attractive tourist destination,” emphasized Bartulovic.

Podstrana municipality is a leading partner of the ECOMAP project, which is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund as part of the INTERREG ITAL-CRO cross-border cooperation program. Six other Italian and four Croatian partners are participating in the project. ECOMAP is a project for environmentally sustainable management of marinas and tourist ports, with a total value of around 2.8 million euro. The EU finances 85 percent of the project's value, and the remaining 15 percent each partner finances by themselves.

The aim of the project is environmental protection to improve the quality of the sea and the coastal area. The Municipality has submitted a project for the construction of a sewage system to be constructed as part of the coastal zone from Strozanac to the Lav Hotel, worth approximately 619,000 euro, of which the EU funds 526,000 euro. One of the project partners is the Strozanac Sports Fishing Association, which will acquire and install equipment for chemical and physical treatment of wastewater generated during ship washing, as well as provide a device for pumping and receiving fecal, i.e., black water, from boats and yachts.

Significant for all Podstrana residents is the construction of the Perun Recycling Yard, an ongoing project worth 9,160,000kuna, co-financed by the European Union from the Cohesion Fund, in the amount of 4,200,000 kuna. Related to this is the Thinking ECO project, worth around 1,200,000 kuna, co-financed by EU Cohesion Fund (85 percent). The project promoter is the City of Solin, and the municipalities of Podstrana, Klis and Dugopolje are co-owners of the activities. The Thinking ECO project is designed as a program of information-educated activities aimed at raising the environmental awareness of the residents of the towns involved about their active role in reducing and preventing waste.

The reconstruction of the intersection of Hercegovacka Street and King Zvonimir Street, worth approximately 1,380,000 kuna, is co-financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development of 894,388.41 kuna.

The project Zaželi, worth around 6,100,000 kuna, of which 1,697,449.20 kuna refers to the Municipality of Podstrana, was financed by the European Social Fund. For the preparation of project documentation for the sports center Miljevac, the Ministry of Regional Development and EU funds approved 600,000 kuna, and for the amendments to the Strategic Development Program of the Municipality of Podstrana, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development approved 48,000 kuna.

Podstrana Municipality has submitted 20 projects for various tenders, of which 20 projects have been approved for co-financing: improving the coastline from the mouth of the Zrnovnica River to Strozanac, Phase 4 to be co-financed by the Ministry of Tourism in the amount of 225,000 kuna; fixing the beach with stone material co-financed by the Split-Dalmatia County of 400,000 kuna, as well as repairing damages in the coastal area in the municipality, which again is co-financed by the County in the amount of 100,000 kuna. The Split-Dalmatia County co-financed the arrangement of roads in the Podstrana area for 36,500 kuna. Podstrana Municipality has been granted a voucher of 15,000 euro to provide free wi-fi access to the public areas of the municipality to local residents and visitors.

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

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

''Podstrana Walk & Bike'' Walking and Cycling Path Largely Funded by EU

The new ''Podstrana walk & bike'' project includes new 363 metres of cycle paths and promenades along the left and right bank of the Žrnovnica river, 1,610 metres long.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/PD i VL native tim writes on the 20th of August, 2019, Podstrana has now got a first-class promenade and a bike path. The opening ceremony of the Podstrana Tourist Board saw the final conference of the Podstrana walk & bike project held, organised by Poslovni tjednik (Business week), Vecernji list and the Podstrana Municipality, presenting the recently completed project which was largely co-financed by EU funds.

During the aforementioned event, a panel discussion was heled which primarily focused on ''the importance of development of sports infrastructure for the development of tourism, the economy, and for improving the living standards of citizens".

The Podstrana Municipality's Mladen Bartulović pointed out the fact that the cycle path and promenade are part of a more comprehensive project for the coastline from the mouth of the Žrnovnica river to the Strožanac sports port, which has cost more than 18 million kuna in total.

"The coastal promenade project cost us 10 million kuna, of which 8.5 million kuna was received in grants from EU funds, while 1.5 million kuna was provided by the municipality, and we also withdrew this part from other funds. From the mouth of Žrnovnica to the Lav (Lion) Hotel, we got a beach, a car park, communal infrastructure for restaurants and other facilities; a children's playground, two sand volleyball courts, a promenade and a cycle path,'' said Bartulović.

This is all taking place in an area that was actually sandy beach around fifty years ago, however, the area was systematically devastated due to natural causes.

"That lasted until 2010, when we in the municipality adopted a plan for the landscaping of the area, and then in cooperation with the Faculty of Civil Engineering in Split, we prepared the project documentation. Danira Zanki explained that the projects of the Urban Agglomeration of Split were approved by the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds for the use of the ITU mechanism. Integrated territorial investment is a European Union (ITU) mechanism introduced to strengthen the role of cities as drivers of economic development.

The territorial scope of the Urban agglomeration of Split comprises seven municipalities and six cities. The Podstrana walk & bike is located in the western part of the Podstrana Municipality, and includes new 363 metres of biking trails and promenades along the left bank of the Žrnovnica river. The location of the trail is ideal for relaxation, rest and recreation, it is properly equipped with information boards, smart benches and display cabinets with charted routes.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

The Villa Week in Croatia: "A James Bond Lifestyle Holiday Without the Stress"

May 9, 2019 - Looking for a luxury holiday in Croatia where all is included so you can literally #LeaveYourWalletAtHome? Meet the unique and innovative The Villa Week.

What is there was the complete holiday package for you and your friends to experience the ultimate in Croatia, where every single detail had been thought out and arranged in advance? So well in fact that all you had to do was show up and enjoy. So all-inclusive that you could safely leave your wallet at home.

 villa-week-16.PNG

Croatia has so much potential as a luxury tourism destination, but the supply of quality options is far behind the demand. But meet one man, whose innovative new concept on the Dalmatian coast, is providing an outstanding luxury tourism holiday which truly encompasses the very best that this diverse region has to off. Meet Grgo Gunjaca, CEO of The Villa Week, a new concept in luxury hospitality, which is certain to soon move beyond Croatia's borders.

villa-week-7.PNG

A holiday experience which one guest summed up as "a James Bond lifestyle holiday, but without the stress."

But before you read our interview with Grgo, I encourage you to check out The Villa Week promo video to put you in the mood:

1. The Villa Week is a very cool new concept for luxury travel. How did it come about?

Obviously, a completely new luxury travel concept based on our motto “Expect Everything, Miss Nothing” couldn’t just pop up out of thin air. I have been working in tourism for 17 as a young med student - running, adapting, renting apartments in our family house. As we provided more and more services beyond the classic villa rentals, such as activities and excursions, I found that although we had a foundation of properties and a network of trusted partners, it was tough to convince people to book holiday upgrades and extras with us as they preferred to trust agencies.

villa-week-15.PNG

So it became obvious something completely independent from the villas was required to enable such a project to be conceivable in order to catch the entire holiday value under one roof to be able to offer it on the market. Another important consideration in the concept were groups from The Yacht Week who would book villas to get a proper relaxing holiday typically after

villa-week-5.PNG

The Yacht Week. Clearly exhausted from the previous week, they would always emphasize that they just couldn’t keep up parting with the youngsters and missed real beds and showers to actually get some rest as well as actually get to know the country they’re in. Nevertheless, my personal invitation to a wedding in January 2017 from a former guest of mine Sonia Ramdoo triggered the whole story, as the bride planned out a full packed itinerary in Trinidad (Indian weddings last for several days) with trips and activities and parties at night for her guests who were of all age groups from all over the world.

villa-week-1.PNG

It was noticeble early on that the 30 year-olds somehow naturally gravitated to each other way more and got along exceptionally well. Now why was that? I would say perhaps this age group is more receptive to meeting their own kind and attend all kind of events unlike, younger that were interested only in partying, whilst the older were not so much up for adventure activities or parties.So I thought, wouldn’t it be great to recreate this again just for this 30-something group who are still young in spirit but seek and require comfort and quality?

villa-week-8.PNG

And what better way to provide it all than to organize it with accommodation in villas. It should be noted that during recent years typical holiday agency trips focus more and more on specialized narrower groups of people that gather around one certain interests like yoga or party, which are obviously easier to organize than something that includes a lot of diverse activities.

villa-week-19.PNG

The idea to do something that would include everything instead of just a yoga or fitness workout holiday. Why can’t we get to experience everything that can fit into a week with the flexibility to choose what we like and how much we want to do? Meaning sightseeing the best places, experiencing the greatest adventures, and partying at the best places accompanied with top quality accommodation as a key feature.  Accompanying all that with quality cuisine at authentic dining experiences forming modern mainstream lifestyle nowadays are the essential last ingredient in the puzzle.

villa-week-11.PNG

2. Take us through the concept in more detail.  

I really had a hard time explaining the whole project into a sentence or two as less is often more, but in short it is an all-inclusive week in luxury villas boosted with more than 20 different events crafted into one ultimate holiday. Now even that sounds long right? However, once you reach a wider audience people that are not into it but get the whole picture can summarize it like no one from within. Therefore, the most descriptive comment we received on YouTube was “it's like a James Bond lifestyle holiday – just without the stress”. I don’t know if it’s the best description possible but don’t you just love it? Says pretty much everything. 

villa-week-17.PNG

3. You are starting in your home town of Podstrana near Split. Tell us what is on offer?

Apart from the fact that Split is getting more popular every year as an exceptional destination, the location itself offers much more being ideal to create a week of diversity. We want our guests by the end of the week to feel they like have visited multiple destinations on different continents. There are not many locations in the world that offer caves and casinos, islands and waterfalls, mountain canyons and rivers all within half an hour of your luxury beach villas. So we’ll definitely have a tough time finding new destinations once our customers inquire for them, but we already have something on the horizon starting with Montenegro.

villa-week-13.PNG

4. Who is the target audience?

Our target audience is business oriented 25-45-year-old people that due to work don’t have time to organize a fully organized holiday in an interesting new destination. Offering a batch of new experiences to blow their minds and Instagram feed while all wrapped into a carefree holiday where they don't not need to pack and unpack every day in order to reach that new place and meet new people. However, all this is just a subjective starting point as it was easiest for us to create a project based on our personal needs and desires. Looking at the big picture TVW can literally be everything for everyone as we can just create different weeks for different groups of people like gay, parents with kids or pets.

villa-week-10.PNG

5. What is included and what is not?

Once you think of villas, your first impression must be “oh this is great but how on earth will a gather a group of friends to fill up an entire villa”. Well the beauty of the project is that we offer both rooms and villas in shared or entirely private weeks so you can have your own friends in your villa not mixing with others or go the easier even more fun path to rent a room with a friend or partner or alone just like in a hotel or a cabin in a cruiser to share the experience with new people. And now to finally get to the question – everything is included meaning not just all food and drinks but tours and activities and even massages and 100 euro worth of chips in the casino. So instead of complicated explanations of what’s included, we just use just the hashtag #leaveyourwalletathome.

villa-week-9.PNG

6. Your promo video is very enticing. Tell us about the making of that.

Well, one would think that a group of people having the fun of their lives just filming from the side would be enough to create some great content, but the reality couldn’t be further from it. Once the camera shows up even the most casual person freezes so the entire video usually comes down to a 2-3 persons typically female true talents that can relax in front of the camera in order to create this level of content. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes as we have just started implementing new ideas as dividing the video in different days of the week as different themes, really so much can be done as the project is so diverse.

villa-week-6.PNG

7. What has been the feedback been so far?

Feedback has been great from the mouth to mouth advertisement because it is the only true channel that’s founded on trust, skipping a huge hurdle right there. On the other hand social networks and our website people are much more in disbelief as they tag Billy McFarland and the Fyre festival after seeing what we have to offer, and we can’t judge them as this is still way ahead of time – a one-click full-experience carefree holiday.

villa-week-14.PNG

8. Tell us about the team involved.

Now that’s a colorful bunch of random young people and it just keeps on increasing. Apart from myself who am a GP with 17 years in tourism, our 3 villa hosts who take care of all our guests to 4 developers on working in completely different spheres from E-learning to VR and car rental managing systems, to our newest addition of a young entrepreneur in in Split focused on digital marketing and AI systems in that and our latest member IN our UK office that is doing the social marketing and consulting abroad, not to forget are our partners for photo video content as all the partners that provide the services used in the trips and activities themselves as part of the villa week itinerary. 

villa-week-3.PNG

9. Where do you expect The Villa Week to be in 5 years?  

Unlike most of the projects that are based in Croatia the potential of The Villa Week is catchy as theoretically if there would be enough interest any villa in the world could run the program crafted for its destination. However, in the short term we are working on a new very simple addition in parallel called The Villa Weekend - quite a rational offshoot from The Villa Week,  themed and suited for pre and post season especially attractive as a jump start for the week as its half the time, half the price so way easier to onboard.

villa-week-2.PNG

Learn more about The Villa Week on the official website.

That video again...

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

From Osijek to Makarska, Booking.com Users Rate Croatian Hosts

What do Croatian and international travellers think of their hosts when staying in private accommodation? How do they rate them, how much interaction is too much and are privacy and inside information the key?

As Lea Balenovic/Novac writes on the 9th of April, 2019, almost two thirds of Croats believe that the host is a key factor when staying in an accommodation facility, and those who are the best rated in the Republic of Croatia, both from domestic and foreign guests, can be found in in Rakovica, Osijek, Bibinje, Korenica, Kaštela, Makarska, Brela, Senj, Trogir and Podstrana.

They are the results of research conducted by the world's leading rental company, Booking.com, on a sample of 21,500 travellers worldwide. As the survey showed, 63 percent of international travellers and 62 percent of Croatian travellers think that their stay was better because of their engagement of the host who did everything they could to make it a better stay for them.

Most travellers want to feel "at home," as they have indicated in such surveys. For 62 percent of international travellers, the main advantage of non-hotel accommodation is the ability to take advantage of the knowledge and information available from the host and decide to stay in a property owned by someone who actually comes from the region in which the property is located. The same goes for 48 percent of Croatian travellers.

Nearly half of the international travellers who partook in the survey, or more specifically 45 percent of them, and 59 percent of Croatian travellers consider the local knowledge and information at their disposal from their host important for their overall budget because they hope to be given insider advice that will help them save some cash and avoid potential tourist traps.

However, while it seems that all travellers who took part in this survey generally consider the same things to be significant, each traveller is looking for a different type of engagement from their host. Therefore, some travellers are satisfied with a simple warm welcome, while others have slightly higher expectations from their hosts.

For example, 52 percent of international passengers and 40 percent of Croatian travellers believe that their host should only be seen once during their stay in order to make them feel welcome, and more than a third of international travellers and almost the same number of Croatian travellers expect their hosts to contact them only during their arrival, registration, and then again when they eventually check out and leave the premises.

What is often even more challenging to hosts is the fact that many travellers also expect them to have some sort of sixth sense and know just how much of a personal touch is needed for each traveller. 69 percent believe that hosts should intuitively know the right amount of time they should be spending with their guests, and that is also what 73 percent of Croatian travellers think. For four out of five international travellers and the same number of travellers from Croatia that means respecting their need for personal space, which means that the feeling of privacy is key.

The hosts also agree. Namely, nearly 80 percent of Croatian hosts think that the most important thing for guests is to be able to properly ensure their privacy.

"Our research reveals that it's very important for the owners and managers of accommodation facilities to find a balance which ensures the best experience, regardless of whether guests are staying in a vacation home, an apartment, in accommodation with their hosts or any other type of facility," explained Olivier Grémillon, the vice president of Booking.com, adding the fact thatt "what is crystal clear is that there is nothing like the ability of ordinary people to turn something into an unforgettable experience."

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle and travel pages for much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Lea Balenovic for Novac/Jutarnji

Monday, 14 January 2019

Split and Podstrana to Finally be Connected by Pedestrian and Cycling Paths

Pedestrian and cycling paths will finally connect Podstrana and Split! 

Page 1 of 2

Search