Stay Here: Maslina Resort, CroatiaBy Howard Malin
Hvar got news for you!!!
Hvar is the best known and largest of the Croatian islands, off the Dalmatian Coast. This ancient fortress town is full of history and – despite its lavender fields, olive groves and vineyards – is now a famous party town, with clubs, bars and restaurants galore.
Renowned for its mild climate, 2800 hours of sunshine every year, and wonderful gastronomy (Hvar was the birthplace of organised tourism) at the time its’ main attraction being health and recuperation.
But there is another side to this island. The oldest city in Croatia, inhabited by the Pharos since 384 BC, Stari Grad (meaning Old Town) oozes charm with ancient winding streets and pretty squares dotted with artisan cafes, bakeries and little shops – and at its heart a marina, protected by a deep inlet from the Adriatic that made the town so attractive to the early settlers, that is home to hundreds of boats and yachts, and which provides the perfect backdrop to the bars and restaurants ranged around it.
A mere 20 mins walk from the marina, lies the beautiful newly build hotel – Maslina Resort – nestled in the olive groves and pine forests of Maslinca Bay, on a slope rising from the sea shore. Health and wellness is again a central attraction on Hvar, this time with luxury added for good measure.
Maslina Resort has mindful luxury and wellness in mind – the resort is built around its Pharomatic Wellness centre – in the same way that the reception area was built around the spectacular 12-ton slab of limestone from the neighbouring island of Brač that serves as the reception desk in the lobby (interestingly similar limestone from Brač was used in the construction of The White House in Washington).
Designed by Tomislav Alujević of Studio Aalto in Split, the property has 15 rooms, 35 suites and 3 villas – all housed in low-rise modern and eco-efficient pavilions across an 8000 square metre olive grove – with the pools, restaurant and spa at its core. The judicious use of wooden slats clad to the exteriors soften and reduce the impact of the buildings on the surrounding forest, and to a large extent camouflage the view of hotel from the sea.
With interior design by Lam Studio of Paris, utilising terracotta herringbone floor tiles, Brač Island stone, brushed brass and wood, and furnishings by Internova of Istria, (80% of all furniture being custom-made for the hotel) the design and furnishings reflect the colours and feel of the island itself.
With stunning views over the Adriatic, two pools, the sumptuous Pharomatic Wellness centre, a fully equipped gym, a children’s nursery, restaurant, cocktail bar, and the Abay Bar at the water’s edge – Maslina Resort has enough going for it to keep the most discerning guest fully engaged in the resort. I loved the location, the focus on wellbeing and health, the general ambiance and super friendly staff.
The hotel only opened in August 2020 and the newness and shininess of the resort has not worn off one bit – all the rooms and public areas were sparkling, the staff were more that welcoming, and the service sharp.
My panoramic suite was simply perfect, and much larger than I expected, at 60 square metres. The very comfortable bed was placed directly in front of the huge sliding glass doors that gave on to my spacious balcony – with views over the Adriatic only a few yards beyond. I never closed my curtains, not wanting to part with the view for even a moment and rejoicing when falling asleep to the darkening starry sky and waking up to the sun bouncing off the sea.
The resort’s eco and wellness credentials are evident throughout – even the room key cards are made of wood, and printed with the legend by Confucius “roads were made for journeys, not destinations”, wooden bathtubs were custom made, ultra-comfortable mattresses by Coco-Mat of Greece, handmade soaps and body lotion, scented with lavender, orange and lemon by Biobaza in Croatia – the rooms and bathrooms leave nothing to be desired.
One stand-out feature was the fully stocked minibar, with champagne, beers, soft drinks and nut mix – which on arrival is fully complimentary – charges only being made when restocked. This was a delightful and welcoming touch.
With a cafetière and freshly ground coffee provided each day, a 94 channel TV system, and the magnificent views over the Adriatic – I found it difficult to leave the comfort of my room and balcony. I couldn’t have been happier – except maybe if I had been staying in one of the eight ground floor suites that have private plunge pools.
In keeping with the resort’s ecological mission, head chef Miro Marić sources mostly local and seasonal ingredients, with many picked from the resorts own 7000 square metre organic kitchen garden.
The menus are easy and accessible – with breakfast being a highlight (from wild mushroom omelettes, coconut almond chia seed puddings, to American pancakes with maple syrup and French toast with crème fraiche).
There were two outstanding dishes that I cannot forget. The cauliflower soup with parmesan breadcrumbs, olive oil and chives was insanely delicious, as was the langoustine risotto with parsley foam. Don’t miss that one!
The cocktails in the Bar were excellent too – devised by Chris Edwardes, the renowned Brighton mixologist, and Miloš Zlatković, who is the affable bar manager. I tried the ‘Maslinica’ the first evening. Oh my word! Gin, herbal and peach liqueur, Maslina olive oil, elderflower, lemon, olive bitters, and egg white. I’ve never tasted anything so delicious – and of course had one (or two) every evening… No self-control!
Mindful luxury is the strapline for Maslina Resort – and it is indeed a central plank of the offering. The Pharomatiq Wellness centre offers so much more than simple spa or beauty treatments – talking therapies for emotional and mental health, meditation and yoga, sound therapies, and sleep therapy amongst the list – many of which are complimentary. The resort never feels like (nor is it) a ‘health resort’ or a ‘spa hotel’ – but does what it says on the tin – it is indeed a resort of mindful luxury.
Indeed, on entering the spacious lobby, a notice greets guests uniquely offering “Friendly Conversations” where guests can join a “conversation game experience to interact with other guests in a fun and playful way “. Such a good idea, and one I’ve never seen it before. The notice also offers complimentary sleep therapy in the Pharomatiq Wellness centre. Another clever innovation.
I attended one of the daily sessions of 9am yoga, on the outdoor patio of the spa – which was uplifting, and the perfect start before breakfast of French toast and crème fraiche and a day of wandering the streets of Stari Grad.
The wellness centre has everything – a wet area with aqua thermal facilities – 37 degree hit plunge, experience showers, Maslina hammam steam room, Finnish sauna, and a cold plunge. In addition, there are 5 treatment rooms, a sound therapy room, and a couple’s therapy room.
The beauty area for hair and nails, will be joined by facial treatments by Biologique Recherché later this year.
I liked the wellness packages – whereby a fixed number of hours of any treatments, can be purchased at the beginning of a stay, without having to worry about the prices of individual treatments. The Ultimate Wellness package (amongst others) allows for 5 hours of flexible treatments for 680 euro.
WHAT TO DO
For the energetic, activities abound – kayaking, diving, rafting, sailing and hiking, and trekking – but personally, I was done for after the complimentary outdoor morning yoga class in the wellness centre – and was thus more tempted by the scenic walk through the pine forest to Stari Grad, and its’ ancient streets and buildings dating from 5th and 6th century. Sipping a coffee by the marina, watching the world go by was just magical.
And if you don’t fancy walking in to Stari Grad, the hotel provides complimentary wooden bicycles (both pedal and electric assisted) from Coco-Mat in Greece. This made the gentle cycle ride along the sea shore path a joy.
Wandering around Stari Grad was a star attraction for me – we came across some 5th and 6th century ruins of a Roman town. Whilst digging new drains in 2020, workmen came across these archaeological treasures. Further along our walk , we came to an 13th century church, with an 11th century rosette in its facia – just like that – in this tiny village, amongst the cafés pretty and shops.
Our Verdict: Maslina Resort
I loved my stay in Maslina Resort. The amazing and beautiful location on the quiet bay, yet close to ancient Stari Grad, and to the lively attractions of Hvar town itself, very much appealed to me. Maslina Resort is indeed luxurious , with every wish and whim catered for by caring staff – but it was the addition of the wellness element, done so well and so thoroughly, that will bring me back.
How to get there: Maslina Resort
From Split Airport, the hotel’s own private speedboat can reach the resort in one hour (extra charge) , or via an enjoyable two hour ferry trip from Split to Stari Grad Ferry port in two hours (and the hotel will collect you, for the five minute ride to the hotel).
Maslina Resort is open from May to October with Garden View Rooms starting from 400 euro per room on a B&B basis based on two people sharing. Direct flights to Split can be booked on British Airways, EasyJet and Jet2 from Gatwick, Heathrow, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.
For further information www.maslinaresort.com