Approaching by chartered speedboat, you’d be forgiven for not spotting the rustic stone and timber structures that make up Maslina Resort from the shore. Blending seamlessly into the rock-lined coastline and dense Aleppo pines, Maslina has been camouflaged to coexist harmoniously with the natural elements of Hvar Island.
The resort welcomes you with large stone steps, anticipating what awaits you at the top. The impressive white marble stone which serves as the reception desk was there long before the land was purchased and now adds to the wow factor.
why come here
The floor-to-ceiling glass exteriors are interrupted only by large doors, allowing a fleeting breeze to ruffle the white muslin curtains acting as dividers across the wide-open ground-floor space. Bespoke wooden furniture, clean lines and minimalist color palettes effortlessly draw the line between casual and chic.
Two tranquil pools overlook the lush greenery and shimmering sea below, with daybeds strategically positioned to admire the view. The all-day bar prepares original cocktails, fresh juices and specialty teas and coffees. Piña colada tea deserves an honorable mention for the imagination, the perfect guilt-free treat after an evening swim.
Guests can choose between a hotel room or one of the villas, with the largest villa featuring five double bedrooms, sauna, gym, fully equipped kitchen, outdoor cooking area and private swimming pool. Hotel rooms have been decorated with bespoke furnishings, with an emphasis on sustainability. Natural materials such as wood and stone have been used throughout, including for the hotel’s signature bathtub, allowing guests to feel as if they are still exploring the island from the comfort of their own room.
However, the most popular feature is resident cat Garfield. Previously a wandering local, the hotel staff fell in love with him and he now officially “belongs” to Maslina. Much loved by all, the guestbook is full of glowing tributes and every time I see it, it is pampered and pampered. I am the main culprit.
What to do
In keeping with its wellness philosophy, the resort focuses on healing therapies and relaxation. The spa is a big focal point, literally and figuratively, occupying a prime position opposite the main building along the waterfront. Evening yoga sessions on the outdoor terrace are complemented by sound healing sessions organized. A combination leading to the best night’s sleep I’ve had in years.
The signature massage incorporates sound therapies, with a choice of herbal essential oils native to the island. The immortal blend is particularly fragrant, and considered the most emblematic of the destination.
Eat and drink
The food is also a highlight, prepared by chef Massimo Cvek, who has worked and trained in Michelin-starred restaurants around the world. Between local products and the diversity of Croatian cuisine, the dishes are simple but beautiful, highlighting the fresh and vibrant flavors of the island.
Highlights include buttery scallops served with yeast cauliflower, artichokes and truffle arancini; Black Slavonian pork flank steak with poplar mushrooms, egg yolk, charred onion and radish soaked in Pelinkovac; and tuna tartare topped with salsa verde, lemon jelly, caviar and squid ink stir.
Often referred to as the ‘party island’ of the Balkans, there is so much more to discover in Hvar. The sleepy nearby town of Stari Grad is dotted with old buildings, pretty painted houses and narrow cobbled streets that barely allow you to walk abreast.
The best find here is the restaurant run by a husband and wife, Jurin Podrum, tucked away in an unassuming alley. Serving divine traditional home cooking, I try a wild boar stew with gnocchi, a cuttlefish and broad bean stew, and smoked tuna with octopus salad, followed by glazed gingerbread cookies and sugared almonds of a crisp dessert wine.
The town of Hvar itself is dominated by an imposing fortress that is worth visiting for the breathtaking views alone, but also a top activity for history buffs. A short walk into town takes you through more cobbled back roads where small shops sell fine local silks and fine wines. Hvar has all the charm of an Italian town with its large square, historic architecture and harbor dotted with yachts and small sailboats. Although bustling and bustling, it feels more authentic and less touristy than other popular European destinations.
Dalmatino is considered one of the best restaurants in the capital of the island, ideal for lunch or dinner outdoors. Fresh fish, steaks and pasta dishes rub shoulders with carpaccio, tuna tartare and octopus salad, before devouring “granny’s homemade cake” or ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce. There is also the oldest theater in Europe, Hvarsko kazalište, with a 300-year-old fresco that has been carefully preserved.
Croatia is rapidly building its reputation as a major player in the world of wine. Local distillery Duboković Wines produces bottles that are shipped across Europe, with high demand in France, which owner Ivo cites as proof of its high quality.
Wine tasting sessions for small groups are available on request, accompanied by cheese, bread and olive oils from the distillery. Company favorites include Medvjedica, a dry, full-bodied red, and Laganini, a lighter red blend, best drunk before 5 p.m. according to Ivo.
when should we go
June to August is considered high season, with temperatures in the 30s. May and September are considered shoulder seasons, which generally have warm temperatures above 25°C and sunny weather.
How to book
Red Savannah offers a seven-night stay at Maslina Resort on a B&B basis, from £3,110 per couple. This price includes seven nights in a Garden Room, daily breakfast, free access to the Pharomatiq Spa, fitness room and thermal wetlands, return flights between London Gatwick and Split with easyJet, including pre-booked seats and checked baggage (23 kg per person) and private transfers with return tickets by public ferry from/to the island of Hvar. See more at redsavannah.com
Maslina Resort, Stari Grad, Hvar Island, Croatia; maslinaresort.com