Saturday, 23 July 2022

The Rise of Quality Hotels in Hvar Town and Stari Grad

July 23, 2022 - The Four Seasons may have never opened, but that didn't affect the quality of hotels in Hvar town and Stari Grad over the last few years. 

International media has not been shy about Hvar as the hotspot of summer, but that's to no one's surprise. However, instead of praising Hvar Island as one of the best in Europe (well, it was named that again, too), a different aspect of Hvar is in the spotlight this time around, outside of the sun and sea - its hotels.

Hvar Island has seen its accommodations enhanced to another level in the last few years as the rise of quality hotels have taken the front seat - and Hvar Island is now the only Croatian island with three 5-star hotels! 

So, who is international media raving about?

A look at the quality hotels in Hvar town and Stari Grad. 

Let's kick things off with Hvar town jewel Palace Elisabeth, a 5-star heritage hotel and historic landmark that opened in 2019.

With a vibrant history that dates back to the 13th century, Palace Elisabeth was rebuilt in 1898 and renamed Spa Hotel Empress Elisabeth, after the Austrian Empress Sisi, a crucial asset to its construction. Hvar's oldest hotel and Empress Sisi inspired Sunčani Hvar's 100 million kuna investment to transform the 3-star Hotel Palace into Palace Elisabeth, the first 5-star hotel on the island. Costing nearly 300,000 euros per room, Palace Elisabeth was also one of the most significant investments in the Croatian hotel industry. With 45 rooms and suites, Palace Elisabeth offers refined luxury and timeless design and is a member of the prestigious The Leading Hotels of the World. And things have only gone up from here. 

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Suncani Hvar

Sunčani Hvar continued their investments to heighten Hvar town's hotel accommodation this year, also recognized by American business magazine Forbes

Namely, the newly refurbished 4-star Beach Bay Hvar Hotel opened earlier this month as Hvar town's first-ever sustainable hotel, located just around the bend from the busy town harbor. The hotel's renovation revamped 21 rooms with many eco-friendly features for guests to enjoy an interpretive travel experience inspired by sustainable development and care for the environment. All rooms and suites also have a sea view! 

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Suncani Hvar

Sunčani Hvar also pumped 40 million kuna into the newly renovated Riva Marina Hotel, one of the first hotels in Hvar town, which opened in 1914, or 15 years after Palace Elisabeth. Targeting guests primarily from the British and American markets who are after superior service and high-quality accommodation, Riva Marina offers 50 new unique rooms and suites and an upgraded restaurant and bar concept. And it's pretty hard to beat its iconic outdoor terrace with a view of the Hvar town's yachts and marina.

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Suncani Hvar

Conde Nast Traveller also couldn't forget to mention the family-friendly Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort as one of the best hotels in Croatia this year, another product of the Sunčani Hotels brand. 

Newcomer Moeesy Blue & Green Oasis Hotel was also applauded by Forbes as Hvar town's newest 5-star hotel just 10 minutes from the city center. With foundations dating back to 1929 (formerly known as Hotel Croatia), Moeesy has 37 rooms and four suites, pools, and a beautiful garden, spa, and Mediterranean restaurant. Its green area spans approximately 5000 sqm! 

And that's just Hvar town. 

The Daily Mail recently revealed it was smitten with Stari Grad, especially the 5-star Maslina Resort, a Relais & Chateaux hotel that opened in August 2020. Applauding its 'Mindful Luxury' philosophy which is seen at first glance as the facade 'blends seamlessly into the pine-tree-clad hillside,' Maslina Resort has revived Maslinica Bay with 50 rooms & suites and three villas, a standout spa, Michelin-recommended restaurant, beach bar and beach area where high-end hospitality is king. Conde Nast Traveller also named Maslina Resort one of the best hotels in Croatia this year, where Hvar's history as a well-known healing destination (since 1868) is reflected in its philosophy. A savvy, safe and serene choice away from the hustle and bustle of Hvar town. 

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Maslina Resort

But Maslina Resort isn't the only newcomer to Stari Grad. The Valamar [PLACES] lifestyle hotel brand launched last year with the opening of HVAR [PLACESHOTEL] by Valamar, designed for travelers seeking "freedom of choice and a vibrant Mediterranean holiday in a hotel by the sea." Taking over the former hotel Lavanda, HVAR [PLACESHOTEL] by Valamar welcomed a 53 million kuna investment to reinvent accommodation suitable for the millennial generation. Offering 179 rooms, a pool complex, bars, DJs, modern design, and smart features like cashless payment and contactless check-in, this hotel is also only 50 meters from the sea.  

And all this without the Four Seasons ever opening.

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

 

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Roman Mosaics Unearthed in UNESCO-Protected Historical Centre of Stari Grad, Hvar

February 20, 2022 - Founded by the Ancient Greeks more than 2,400 years ago, Hvar's oldest town continues to reveal secrets of the past, this time from the Roman Era.

Text from the Stari Grad Museum Facebook page

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Archaeological excavations are currently underway in Stari Grad on the island of Hvar, because of the construction works on the town's water supply and sewage network. Part of the excavation was carried in the Middle Street (about 20m in length) where, in addition to the previously known mosaic (discovered in 1923), we found the remains of several other rooms with the remains of mosaic floors.

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The mosaics are decorated with multicolour geometric and floral motifs and are of superior workmanship. By analogy with similar mosaics and known workshop styles, thy can be dated to the 2nd century AD. We will have a better insight into the purpose of this luxurious building of the Roman Faria after the analysis and interpretation of archaeological finds and after merging all the plans of rooms with mosaic floors under surrounding houses, which were excavated in previous decades.

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In the past one hundred years, this area has been excavated by numerous archaeologists (Frane Bulić, dr. sc. Jasna Jeličić-Radonić, Ana Kordić Galić), while the last conservation and restoration work on the mosaics was carried out by dr. sc. Branko Matulić and dr. sc. Tonči Borovac. The current excavations are led by dr. sc. Marina Ugarković from the Institute of Archaeology, while the deputies are Andrea Devlahović from Stari Grad Museum and Martina Korić from the Institute of Archaeology. Dr. sc. Sara Popović from ArheoProjekt and a multi-member team of young archaeologists from all over Croatia are also participating in the excavations, which are conducted under the supervision of Saša Denegri from the Conservation Department of the Ministry of Culture in Split.

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Finally, we should mention that the decision on the presentation of the preserved mosaics will be made by the Conservation Department from Split in cooperation with the Stari Grad Municipality.

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[We remind you that the use of photos is allowed as long as the photographer's name is mentioned.]

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To learn more about this amazing town, check out the Total Croatia Stari Grad in a Page guide

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Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Roman Mosaic in Stari Grad on Hvar Discovered Under City Streets

February 15, 2022 - A Roman mosaic in Stari Grad on Hvar has been uncovered thanks to archeological excavations in the historic core of the town. 

Protective archeological excavations have begun in the historic core of Stari Grad on the island of Hvar, which together with the Stari Grad Field was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008. The research carried out by the Institute of Archeology in cooperation with the Stari Grad Museum is a continuation of the excavations carried out in 2021, which precede the installation of a new infrastructure system and water supply and sewerage network, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

"The research is taking place at sites that hide significant archaeological remains of the Greek Pharos and the Roman Faria, to get better insight into the degree of their preservation and distribution and new contextual data on the rich past of Stari Grad," said research leader Marina Ugarković, a research associate at the Institute of Archeology and leader of the "AdriaCos" project, which also included excavations at several locations in the ancient city (384 BC) during October and November.

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Her deputies at the latest excavations are Andrea Devlahović, curator of the Stari Grad Museum, and Martina Korić, a doctoral student at the Institute of Archeology, under the supervision of Saša Denegri from the Conservation Department of the Ministry of Culture in Split.

Now, archeological works are taking place in the area of Duoljna and Srinja kola, after which the research will be carried out on Vagonj Street, in front of the Sv. Roko Church - the patron saint of the city, and on St. Stephen's Square.

"Already during the first few days of excavations, the continuation of the Roman mosaic in Srinja kola was discovered, whose segments are already known to experts and the general public. Depending on the final results of the archeological works, the competent body of the Conservation Department in Split will determine further measures for the protection of the cultural property and the conditions for the continuation of construction works at the mentioned location," explained Dr. Ugarković.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

 

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

New Valamar Stari Grad Nature Resort to Reposition and Redevelop Hvar Tourism

November 2, 2021 - The new Valamar Stari Grad nature resort will be a fully sustainable resort positioned for family vacations that respects the highest standards of green building.

Hotel company "Helios Faros" d.d. from Stari Grad on the island of Hvar launched a significant investment cycle in its facilities after a 2019 recapitalization by the new owners of "PBZ Croatia osiguranje" to manage mandatory pension funds and "Valamar Riviera" from Poreč, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

So far, more than HRK 91 million has been invested, which includes the renovation and launch of the first hotel under the new brand "Hvar (Places Hotel) by Valamar" in Stari Grad - Faros (formerly the hotel "Lavender") and landscaping "Arcade Sunny Hotel by Valamar".

A few days ago, the Supervisory Board gave the green light for additional investments of HRK 223.2 million, which is, of course, an excellent reason to talk to Vladimir Bunić, the director of the Stari Grad hotel.

Slobodna Dalmacija asked how tourists reacted to the novelties in their offer, as progress is more than evident.

"'Places Hotel by Valamar' has genuinely become a hotel chosen by guests looking for an easy beach holiday in attractive locations. They especially liked the design of the hotel and the excellent offer of the new restaurant and bar concept, with extended breakfast time and an all-day à la carte offer. In the 2021 season, we welcomed them with renovated accommodation facilities, renovated existing ones, and built a new restaurant with sunbathing areas.

Hotel 'Arkada' became part of the brand 'Sunny by Valamar' and welcomed guests with renovated rooms, restaurants, and exciting children's facilities. This investment will contribute to repositioning the destination according to higher value-added services and further developing tourism in Stari Grad and Hvar."

And what are the effects of those investments?

"Helios Faros" is a listed company, so we will be able to talk about the season's results only after the quarterly financial report is published. Nevertheless, we are satisfied with the high level of guest satisfaction with the new hotel "Hvar Places by Valamar", intended for guests seeking freedom of choice, modern design, and an authentic destination experience with full respect for nature and the environment. One of the most significant features is the offer that gives guests complete freedom to enjoy the restaurant offer in the rhythm that suits them best."

Fantastic pool complex

"It is true; this complex is increasingly becoming the center of daily entertainment with live music and DJs, which continues after sunset. The hotel has 179 rooms that are a blend of Mediterranean tradition and modern design. All are equipped with extremely comfortable beds with top-quality mattresses. They also have a smart TV, super-fast Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and everything that a modern traveler needs to experience a dream vacation. The freedom of cashless payment with a bracelet and contactless check-in also contributes to maximum comfort."

And now an investment of HRK 223.2 million?

"Let's say that the investments are mostly related to constructing the first sustainable eco-resort in the "Valamar" portfolio on our coast, completing investments in "Hvar (Places Hotel) by Valamar", constructing the "Aquamar" pool complex, and arranging the overall tourist zone. "Nature resort" is the new "Valamar" concept of a fully sustainable eco-resort positioned for family vacations. The resort's construction will be achieved by respecting the highest standards of green building, which includes environmentally friendly materials with minimal impact on the environment, the use of renewable energy sources, and a high level of energy efficiency. Furthermore, the "Valamar nature resort" in Stari Grad is the first tourist project to use prefabricated buildings and modular construction designed according to "Valamar" accommodation quality standards."

A concept inspired by nature and sustainable design

"Yes, the architecture of the resort fits into the natural environment of the island in the design of buildings, while the interior design is signed by local designers and artists using local traditions and materials. Furthermore, the felled trees will be used in landscaping, and each felled tree will be replaced with newly planted ones, while digitization will eliminate the use of paper throughout the hotel. In addition, great emphasis will be placed on the offer of local food and produce, so all interested producers and family farms who grow and produce organic indigenous island varieties and ensure they come directly from the field."

When will the construction begin?

"The project will be implemented in two phases during 2022 and 2023, to realize the green initiatives in full potential and realize all aspects of sustainable development of the resort. We also plan to apply for green EU funds, and upon completion, the conditions for issuing green building certificates will be met. Bungalow-settlement "Trim", although it retains its original architectural form, will experience major changes and improvements in the interior design in a new and modern "Valamar" brand focused on guests' comfort."

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Helios Faros render

What about the staff?

"Caring for employees, their development and education, as well as the overall working conditions, is key to the long-term success of the company and ensuring a high level of quality and service we provide to our guests. As we have mentioned before, we intend to include as many staff from the local population as possible, in the spirit of the idea of doing business on and with the island."

Very ambitious medium-term development plans

"We intend to put Stari Grad on the map of the most luxurious resorts in Croatia, as evidenced by the "Helios Faros" Business Development Plan, which assumes investments totaling about HRK 800 million in sustainable tourism of high added value. This will positively impact the economic growth of the city and the island and the opportunities for the further career development of our employees. Furthermore, by 2025, the reconstruction and construction of new hotel and resort capacities of 4* and 5* categories with a total of 700 accommodation units are planned, which speaks for itself about employment potentials for the inhabitants of the island of Hvar," concluded Bunić.

You can watch the full video on HRT.

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

Friday, 15 October 2021

Valamar to Open First Sustainable Eco-Resort in Croatia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 20 September 2021

Stari Grad Through the Lens of a Croatian Digital Nomad Permit Holder

September 6, 2021 - Digital nomads give back to communities in various ways. The sixth in a new series on TCN, following the lens of Steve Tsentserensky, one of the early recipients of the Croatian digital nomad permit. Where better to continue than gorgeous Stari Grad on Hvar?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so continues our new series - Croatia through the lens of a Croatian digital nomad permit holder, this time in Stari Grad on Hvar.

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

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Wednesday, 8 September 2021

New Generation of Architects Launch Morpharos Studio on Hvar

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Valamar Lifestyle Brand [PLACES] to Launch with Hotel on Hvar

March 25, 2021 - The brand new Valamar lifestyle brand [PLACES], aiming to target younger travelers, will launch with a hotel opening on Hvar later this spring. 

HRTurizam reports that lifestyle hotels have been a trend in the international hotel industry in recent years because they aim to create an authentic experience and push the boundaries of the traditional hotel concept. They are especially sought after among the younger target group of tourists, i.e., millennials.

Following new trends and signals from the market, Valamar has launched a new lifestyle brand called [PLACES] by Valamar.

The new hotel concept is based on getting to know the destination's true local Mediterranean lifestyle, focusing on authenticity. The brand is intended for guests seeking freedom of choice, modern design, and an authentic destination experience with full respect for nature and the environment.

One of the most significant features of this hotel is the [PLACESFLEXI] offer, which gives guests complete freedom to enjoy the restaurant offer in the rhythm that suits them best, according to Valamar. If for any reason they missed lunch or dinner - 25 euros of their daily credit can be used in a restaurant or hotel bar. What they don't spend that day, they can transfer to the next. Attention should also be drawn to the pool complex, which becomes the center of daily entertainment with live music by local bands and DJs, and the party continues after sunset.

With the introduction of the [PLACES] brand, Valamar continues to follow the latest trends in the hotel industry, said Davor Brenko, Valamar Riviera's vice president of sales and marketing, adding that this is a hotel concept intended primarily for millennials, young professionals, and those who recognize themselves in the specific lifestyle values that [PLACES] promotes.

The first Valamar hotel under the new brand will be HVAR [PLACESHOTEL] by Valamar in Stari Grad on Hvar (ex hotel Lavanda), for a renovation of which a total of around HRK 53 million will be invested. According to current plans, it will open in mid-May. The hotel has 179 rooms which, in addition to high-quality workmanship and equipment, will also have the possibility of cashless payment with a bracelet and contactless check-in.

"For HVAR [PLACESHOTEL], the most important will be the markets of Great Britain, the United States, Germany, Austria, and of course, the Croatian market. Hvar is a destination that has successfully positioned itself in the market segments of younger, relaxed, and at the same time experientially and environmentally aware people. That is why we chose Hvar as a destination and an ideal place to launch our new brand, from which we have high expectations in the future. In the next period, we plan to open several more hotels under the [PLACES] brand," Brenko points out.

The visual identity of the [PLACES] brand by Valamar is signed by Studio Sonda from Vižinada near Poreč, and it is one of five Valamar product brands that operate under the umbrella identity All you can holiday (Valamar Collection, Valamar Hotels & Resorts, Sunny by Valamar, and Camping Adriatic by Valamar).

For the latest travel updates and COVID-19 news from Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, 7 February 2021

Plastic-Free Croatia: Croatian Cities and Islands Moving to Reduce Plastic Waste

February 7, 2021 - Dubrovnik, Trogir, Stari Grad on Hvar, and Sali on Dugi Otok will be the first in Croatia to reduce plastic waste and use alternative solutions by participating in projects implemented by the Split Association "Sunce" for Nature, Environment, and Sustainable Development, setting the pace for a plastic-free Croatia. 

Glas Istre reports that "Plastic Smart Cities Croatia" and "For Plastic Free Croatian Islands" aim to reduce plastic waste and use alternative solutions. They analyze the use of disposable plastics and waste plastic management in the local communities involved, develop and implement a "Plastic-Free Plan" with a participatory approach and workshops, as well as organize "plastic-free" public events, i.e., events and public forums aimed at raising awareness in the local population about the consequences of plastic pollution.

One of the important activities is implementing a national campaign to raise awareness of the impact of plastic pollution on the marine environment and available sustainable solutions in the island communities on Hvar and Dugi Otok. The Split Association for Nature, Environment and Sustainable Development "Sunce"is currently working on organizing workshops for networking partners and environmental organizations engaged in this topic.

It is in this project that the pioneer association "Sunce" began implementing the projects "Plastic Smart Cities Croatia" and "For Plastic Free Croatian Islands" to reduce the plastic footprint in various segments of social life in local communities by reducing the use of disposable plastic and encouraging the use of alternative solutions for plastic waste. One of their project goals is to raise the awareness of citizens and the public about plastic waste.

After the completion of the project, a final conference will be held aimed at disseminating the project results and encouraging the further reduction of plastic waste for representatives of local island authorities, national and international NGOs, local government units, representatives of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, tourism, relevant ministries, and other stakeholders, with the message "Reduce the use of disposable plastics and look for more sustainable solutions!", which the Sunce Split Association has been advocating for many years.

They remind that a new Law on Waste should be adopted in Croatia this year, which, among other things, contains some provisions of the EU Directive on reducing the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. At the end of last year, independently and in cooperation with other environmental protection associations in Croatia, they sent their comments on the Waste Act's draft proposal.

They add that the European organization "Seas at Risk," which brings together several associations dealing with protecting the marine environment, assessed last summer that the EU directive is an ambitious plan to dispose of ten non-reusable plastic items, and which can most often be found on beaches across Europe, but that its implementation into national legislation in most European countries has been halted.

The COVID-19 crisis has led to a dramatic increase in the use and the rejection of disposable plastic objects in nature.

"The Mediterranean Sea is one of the world's most polluted seas, and half of this enormous amount of waste comes from the mainland. With 400 kilotons of waste generated annually, Croatia ranks third in the region. Hence, it is imperative to take urgent measures and raise awareness to numerous visitors about the need for urgent action, i.e., reducing disposable plastic use.

Namely, tourism has been identified as one of the key actors, so part of the awareness campaign within the "Plastic Smart Cities" project is aimed at foreign and domestic tourists, the Sunce Split Association points out.

The EU directive on plastic waste was adopted in 2019 after a trialogue, i.e., negotiations between the European Parliament, the Commission, and the EU Council. This year, all EU countries must finally implement it. The Law on Waste in Croatia should be adopted by July 3 at the latest. Croatia should also throw out disposable plastic products, namely plastic q-tips, cutlery, plates, straws, drink sticks, and balloon holders.

After adopting the directive in the European Parliament, the then Croatian MEP Davor Škrlec from the Green Group said that the directive should be used to encourage change for us as a society to produce less garbage and become sustainable.

"If we do not change our attitude towards production, consumption, and waste, the human species will become consumable like a disposable coffee cup. This directive will help us abandon disposable plastics on the road to less consumption, better designed reusable products, more innovation, and a cleaner environment," Škrlec said then.

The directive also includes provisions for the disposal of cigarette butts, which are a significant polluter, the objectives of collecting beverage bottles, and the requirement to redesign beverage stoppers to connect them to bottles. The directive also includes national targets for reducing the consumption of plastic cups and food containers, and ultimately a total ban on oxo-degradable plastics often referred to as biodegradable but in reality fragmented into microplastics.

Disposable plastic products and fishing gear together account for 70 percent of Europe's marine litter, so it is expected that Europe's seas will be significantly cleaner by implementing the directive.

According to the Commission, the directive will bring many benefits for the environment and the economy. Environmental damage would be avoided, costing €22 billion by 2030, and saving consumers up to €6.5 billion, with an adjustment cost estimated at €3.2 billion for manufacturers.

At the end of last year, the Commission adopted new rules on the import and ban on exports of plastic waste to third countries that do not have the capacity to manage it in a sustainable way, which is one of the main points of the European Green Plan and EU Circular Action Plan.

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Sunday, 3 January 2021

New Promo Video for a Very Old Town: Meet Stari Grad on Hvar

January 3, 2021 - Its 2400-history is reflected in its name ('Old Town' in Croatian) and a new promotional video - meet Stari Grad on Hvar.

With distance comes perspective. 

For 13 years, I viewed the town of Stari Grad on Hvar from a close distance - my beloved adopted home town of Jelsa 8 kilometres away. 

Both Jelsa and Stari Grad are located in the centre of the island, less fashionable and less popular than their more glamorous neighbour to the west - Hvar Town. 

Jelsa and Stari Grad were similar but different, and both very pleasant places to hang out. As a patriot, of course, Jelsa was the better place to be.

Moving away from the island 4 years ago, perspectives have changed, and so too is Stari Grad. 

It is partly the investment in the new hotels we featured recently in The Rise of the Quality Hotel Scene in Stari Grad on Hvar. It is partly the rise in nautical tourism brought on by the extension of the waterfront in the historic old town, which dates back to the arrival of the Ancient Greeks in 385 BC. It is partly due to the town's commendable direction to avoid party tourism and focus on its authenticity, heritage and natural beauty.

Perhaps the changes are due to my perspective only, but I don't think so. In recent years, Stari Grad has seemed to be more at ease with itself as a destination, with great new restaurants opening (several all year), local arts and craft shops rather than cheap Chinese souvenirs, and an ever more diverse tourism offer.

The Stari Grad Tourist Board released a new promo video for the destination a few days ago, which I really liked. And for the first time, I saw Stari Grad for what it has become - a complete destination.   

Here is the new video above. I am sure that an English-language version (at least with subtitles - I would be happy to help with this) is forthcoming. But even if you don't speak Croatia while we wait, the footage is excellent. 

Looking to learn more about Stari Grad on Hvar? Here are 25 things to know

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