Bon Jovi Signed Guitar Just One Hvar Celebrity Summer Memory at Gariful

By 26 October 2019

October 26, 2019 - The A-List Hvar celebrity love is returning to Croatia's premier island, with some stars leaving gifts. 

I had never heard of the island of Hvar until two days before my first visit in 2002, from which I emerged with a property purchase and a new home. My first impressions were that it was an island of breathtaking beauty and great food. But I really had no idea what treasure I had actually stumbled upon. 

And as the years went by, and especially when I started research for the first modern guide book about the island, I was increasingly impressed. For Hvar has the oldest public theatre in Europe, the most UNESCO heritage of any island in the world, the most island sun in Europe, and so much more. 


Including celebrities. Soon after I started writing about Hvar online, the celebrities seemed to be falling out of the sky and onto this idyllic island. Or, in some cases, falling into swimming pools as Prince Harry managed back in 2011. 

Just a few weeks later, Beyonce turned up and revealed her baby bump to the world. Not only that, she went on to name her daughter Blue Ivy, after a blue ivy tree on Hvar.

The global pop star continued her love affair, returning to paradise once more as she recorded her love of Hvar and Dalmatia. 

Writing about the Hvar celebrity arrivals was easy. And they kept on coming...


Tom Cruise was a high-profile 2012 arrival, the latest global name that had been coming to the island for many years - it was here that Orson Welles filmed The Deep (above) and Mrs JFK came water-skiing back in the 1960s, and Edward and Mrs Simpson popped in for lunch on honeymoon in 1936. 


As the years went by, so too did the type of Hvar celebrity visitor evolve. 

I had no idea what a YouTuber was when I was alerted that Joe Sugg and Oli White were heading to Hvar, but a little Internet research and a couple of phone calls later and I found myself interviewing the influential British YouTubers, location Restaurant Gariful. Gariful has long been known as THE destination for celebrity diners. Roman Abramovich, Bill Gates and Giorgio Armani have all dined there, with Armani putting the Hvar waterfront fish restaurant in his top 7 restaurants in the world. 

And the YouTubers were impressed, and even more intrigued with the underfloor aquarium complete with baby sharks. Why not go for a swim with them, I suggested, surely that would be great YouTuber footage. And so filming began of the most-watched Hvar video of all time, almost 4.5 million views.  

While many celebs visit the island away from the cameras - and Hvar is now for its egalitarian approach to its visitors, leaving the rich and famous to enjoy and relax - I have noticed less Hvar celebrity news pieces in recent years. That changed this year, as Hvar had a great season moving away from its party image to one of quality, culture and luxury. The opening of the oldest public theatre in Europe, built in 1612, after a 20-year renovation, was a very symbolic change in Hvar's direction. Take a tour inside in the video below. 

This was followed in September with the much-anticipated opening of the first 5-star hotel on the island, Palace Elisabeth, hvar heritage hotel, located on the place where organised tourism in Europe began back in 1868. 

And nowhere was the Hvar celebrity sightings more prevalent than at Gariful during a very busy 2019 summer. 

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One man who seemingly had the time of his life, judging from his social media postings, was Hollywood star Neil Patrick Harris, whose 2-week stay at Villa Gariful behind the famous fish restaurant was filled with regular visits to his favourite restaurants. 


Charlize Theron was not only happy to pose for the cameras... 

... but also keen to congratulate the chef on an amazing gourmet experience.  Goldie Hawn was also a summer visitor from the world of Hollywood. 

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 And if the Hollywood stars themselves were not able to make it, their families more than happy to enjoy Hvar hospitality. Sylvester may have been busy with work, but the rest of the Stallone family had a great time. 

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Rock star diners of previous summers included Bono Vox, but Jon Bon Jovi was the musical icon of 2019 on Hvar. And he left a gift...  

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I don't know how many guitars Bon Jovi owns or how many times he eats out a month, but I can't imagine he leaves too many signed guitars in the restaurants he frequents.  

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And while the guitar, which is now on display at Gariful, serves as a permanent reminder of the Bon Jovi visit to Hvar, there were plenty of Instagram memories in the opposite direction.  

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And it was not just famous visitors from Hollywood and the world of music - Prince Albert of Monaco was in very relaxed mood during his visit. 

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And where would the world of fashion be without Tommy Hilfiger? 

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And it looks like Hvar's tourism future is in safe hands. Goalkeeping legends Manuel Neuer and Keylor Navas enjoyed Hvar fish celebrities, just part of a world-class football team of visitors which included Dejan Lovren, Sami Kedhira, Ander Herrera and Samir Handanovic, while tennis legends included Jim Courier, Donna Vekic and Jelena Jankovic. 

It is safe to say that Hvar is once more a top hit. The only question remains - who will we see on its famous waterfront next summer?

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

Tagged under: hvar gariful