Why book Villa Nai 3.3?
Croatia has been a fancy destination for some time, but exceptional hotels are rare. This is starting to change. Villa Nai 3.3 is the most pampering experience you’ll have on the rustic island of Dugi Otok – or anywhere else in the Croatian archipelago of Zadar in northern Dalmatia. Its design is also one of the most daring and innovative – not surprising when you discover that its Croatian architect, Nikola Bašić, created two avant-garde art installations in Zadar.
Address of the hotel: Villa Nai 3.3, Žman 199, Dugi Otok, Croatia
Telephone: +385 91 303 0460
Price: Doubles from around £ 612
Set the scene
Carved into the terracotta-colored hill and surrounded by centuries-old olive groves, the hotel’s eight rooms and suites are spread out in a semicircle, the privacy of curved stone walls separating each terrace. The same stone that was quarried from the hill was recycled into the interior and exterior walls of the hotel. There is more than a hint of Star wars with all that terracotta and rose-tinged stone flooring – coupled with a nod to the concept of a boat deck – and the effect is deliciously calming. Low-walled terraces of silvery-green olive trees stretch in all directions, and the saltwater infinity pool with views of the Adriatic and neighboring islands adds to the overall feeling of Zen. It is this relaxed atmosphere that seduces the guests. And because kids under 12 aren’t allowed, this is truly an adults’ paradise.
The thousand organic olive trees that surround the hotel have belonged to the family of Villa Nai owner Goran Morović since 1607. The civil engineer, who lives in Split, wanted to combine a small luxury hotel with a new mill. Oil from the site in what he calls “the best part of Croatia”. “Our concept is a little different from the others,” he said, “the only one I know of with an olive mill inside – all under one roof.” Olive oils have already won medals in Milan and Japan. He brought in Nikola Bašić in 2013 and the architect’s hand-drawn sketch is the end result. Because the design was so unusual, it took longer than expected to get clearance before excavation and construction could begin. But the result is worth the wait. In case you were wondering, the unusual name of the hotel is reminiscent of the old Dalmatian dialect word for snow – nai – and the 3.3 refers to the average number of days per year that snow falls on the island and brings out the best flavor in the olives, which are all harvested by hand.