The first thing you notice when you come to Maslina, a new resort on the Croatian island of Hvar, is the registrar. It is a huge piece of roughly hewn white stone, weighing 12 tons. Taken from the nearby island of Brac, it was brought by special boat, and then the hotel was built around it.
This pretty much sets the tone for the place, which bills itself as a haven of “conscious luxury”. None of this is opulent. Rather, it’s organic and elementary, all natural materials – terracotta, glass, wood and that local stone – and perfectly framed views of the Adriatic Sea.
The expression they like to use is “conscious luxury”, a nod both to the fact that it is in tune with a more contemporary and nuanced definition of luxury: natural beauty, as well as time and time. space to slow it down and enjoy it; that there is a subtle component of well-being. It’s not a spa resort, but there are meditation or movement classes every morning, and the spa follows Croatian traditions of using medicinal herbs, many of which are cultivated in the hotel’s organic garden. .
Of course, if your idea of ââmindfulness and well-being is just to relax by the water (or stay in a lovely little hotel by the sea, like mine often), there are many ways to do it. In addition to the dedicated pebble beach (which will have a small beach bar next season), there are secluded spots with lounge chairs and hammock nets among the rocks that border the crystal-clear sea of ââMaslinica Bay.
Most of the 50 rooms also have sea views, and a few have private pools. But the main pools are deeply inviting, whether it’s for swimming or just enjoying a light lunch next to them. Between the hotel and the sea, they offer a lovely view of the ocean. (In fact, customers see them before they see this gorgeous reception desk, and I guess they start to set the mood.)
The rooms also feature extremely comfortable organic bedding and towels, smartly designed bespoke furnishings, and private terraces. The smallest are 450 square feet (in fact, I said this travel writer’s shot, “bigger than my apartment.”) And have ample room for a couple who want to enjoy the romantic side of Maslina. . They go up to a five-bedroom suite, designed, of course, for families or groups of friends.
Being in the heart of the Mediterranean, Maslina, whose name means “olive tree”, highlights the Mediterranean diet. The olive oil from the house is, of course, superb. Beyond that, the cuisine is run by Michelin-starred chef Serge GouloumÃ¨s (Le Candille in Mougins, France) and, unsurprisingly, embraces local and seasonal ingredients. Featured dishes include tomato sea bass, clams and gnudi pasta, and 28-hour lamb confit with roasted carrots, apricot and cinnamon confit. It is no wonder that the hotel was hosted in Castles Relay less than a year after opening.
The lunch menu by the pool is less complicated – Caesar salad, beef or tuna burger, chicken wrap – but still carefully prepared. (The beach bar was closed for the season when I visited.) Breakfast was another highlight, with dishes like the Maslina omelet, with greens, tomatoes and just a touch of cheese from Hvar goat cheese, and creamy scrambled eggs with Croatian black truffles and mascarpone.
The food is good and the dinner menu is enough to get you several nights at the hotel, but nearby towns like Stari Grad and Jelsa are full of casual seaside fish restaurants and typical bistros called konobas. (Coincidentally, one of these is also called Maslina – no relation – in the hills above Jelsa, where the owners’ family cook simple grilled seafood and meat, the hospitality is warm and the views are dreamy.)
It’s also worth venturing out to visit Stari Grad, a five-minute drive or a nice coastal walk from Maslina. (In addition to the town of Hvar, a longer drive across the island, especially if you are interested in the nightlife of the yacht world.) The town, whose name translates to ‘old town’, is one of the oldest in the world, with a history stretching back 2,400 years and marked by Greek, Roman, Venetian and other influences. International archaeologists are currently working on small digs throughout the city to uncover some of this history.
On the surface, there is still a lot to see, so much so that it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Much of the architecture is medieval and beautifully preserved. The narrow, cobbled street is lined with cafes, shops selling local products and the eternal Mediterranean spectacle, the bougainvillea.
A guide told me that Stari Grad is a good city for people who fall in love. I asked why. There are only two steps in the whole city, she replied, so it’s safe for people with their heads in the clouds and not watching where they are walking.
It can be helpful. It’s hard not to fall a little in love with Maslina.