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Simply stunning Dubrovnik

Design Manager Heidi Williams checks out the suitability of Dubrovnik, a Croatian city known as ‘The Pearl of the Adriatic', for future events. A trip hosted by the Adriatic luxury Hotels, in conjunction with their UK representation company Mason Rose.

My journey to Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, known as ‘The Pearl of the Adriatic’, has long held a top ten position as a must-see destination on my bucket list. When the opportunity to visit the city, on a trip hosted by the Adriatic luxury Hotels, I quite literally leapt at the chance. Before I knew it I found myself on the tarmac of Dubrovnik Airport after a short 2 hour and 40 minute flight from London Gatwick. As a small group, we sailed through baggage reclaim and customs to be greeted by the wonderfully welcoming driver of a comfortable Mercedes-Benz people-carrier. Our journey was short but filled with beautiful views over glistening bays and interesting stories from the driver - a man who was clearly very proud of his home. We arrived at the Hotel Dubrovnik Palace – our home for the next three days, and while checking in to the hotel I could immediately see the potential for an impressive group check-in, set against the floor to ceiling backdrop of the Adriatic.

First experiences and interesting findings

After a delicious, fresh lunch of locally caught sea bass at the hotel’s Tavern Maslina we were met by the lovely Vesna – our guide. Her story was incredible and we collectively agreed she should write a biography. As she regaled the group with tales of her war-torn youth, and pride in her city’s ability to bounce back and reclaim its stake in the international tourism market, we all listened intently. She was a passionate woman who injected conversations with the perfect balance of personal life experience interwoven with interesting historical facts from a variety of perspectives. As we walked over what was an old drawbridge entrance over the city trench and passed through the perfectly preserved medieval city walls, it was easy to see why this very special place had been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. Everywhere you look you’ll find interesting architecture, historic monuments, museums and galleries.

Potential venues for events

Not only is there a lively selection of modern cafés and bars set within the walls, but a variety of historical venues that can be transformed for an event. On our climb up to Fort Lovrijenac (Fort of St Lawrence), we were passed by several strapping young men carrying tables and chairs for an open-air function that very evening. The Fort is located on the western side of the Old Town, just outside the city walls on a 37-metre high cliff – so while the young men clearly demonstrated that setting up for an event took effort, it was done with enthusiasm and the result was spectacular. Catering is available in the majority of the city’s historic venues. For example, the Revelin – previously a 16th century fortress is now a truly unique location for an indoor or even rooftop gala dinner. Summer in Dubrovnik is tourist season, warm and dry from the start of June to the end of September with average temperatures of 26°C. As September edges into October, the fine weather continues although you would be well advised to have a backup space for an outdoor event during these months.

Experiencing the hospitality

We made our way to Hotel Excelsior, located a short stroll from the heart of the city and boasting a range of versatile indoor meeting spaces and ocean fronted outdoor spaces – perfect for hosting a cocktail reception. We dined next door at Victoria Restaurant and it was one of the most enjoyable dining experiences of my life to date. Vines and bright bougainvillea wound themselves around the wooden trellises and hung down to perfectly frame our view of the warmly lit Old Town. The restaurant had an exclusive feel to it. Fragrant, local wines were perfectly matched to delicious dishes that were elegantly presented and eloquently introduced. As the balmy evening drew to an end, we each left incredibly satisfied.

Not only is there a lively selection of modern cafés and bars set within the walls, but a variety of historical venues that can be transformed for an event.

  • Heidi Williams
  • Design Manager

Exploring the islands of Croatia

The next day was spent exploring a different side to the local area. Croatia has more than a thousand islands dotted along the coast. We climbed aboard the luxurious vessel ‘My Way’ and motored out to the small islands of Sipan and Lopud, in the Elafiti group. The islands evoked a Mediterranean feel and were surrounded by the cleanest, clearest waters I think I have ever seen here in Europe! I thought how enjoyable this would be for an incentive group to experience. Some hours later, salty and sun kissed, we made our way back to the hotel to change before heading to Hotel Bellevue to meet with the General Manager for a tour of the property and dinner. Again, the food was exquisite and accompanied by the soft notes of a piano being expertly played in the background.

Things to do that give Dubrovnik the wow factor

The Dubrovnik surroundings offer numerous options to enhance any stay. In addition to city tours and island cruises, a group can enjoy a cable car ride with breath-taking panoramic views of the city; enjoy a guided snorkel or SCUBA tour below the surface or take a trip to a local vineyard. A delicious, traditional lunch and wine tasting makes for an enjoyable half or full day activity. Croatian wine has a history dating back to the Ancient Greek settlers, and their wine production on the southern Dalmatian islands some 2,500 years ago. Like other old-world wine producers, many traditional grape varieties still survive in Croatia.

Developments and increased tourism

Thanks to the increasing numbers of leisure tourists over the years, Croatia has certainly become one of the most popular countries on the Adriatic and justifiably warrants the hundreds of millions of Euros that have been invested to further improve the nation’s hospitality sector. Dubrovnik Airport is in the midst of a major expansion project aimed at increasing its passenger handling capacity. But it is not only the airport that is expanding; the construction of a new passenger terminal for cruise ships, at the Port of Dubrovnik is set to start in autumn 2016 and should be completed by the end of 2018. This was exciting news as I knew that flight access for pan-European groups had previously been an obstacle for us. Dubrovnik is positively brimming with natural beauty, fascinating history as well as numerous high quality accommodation and dining options which collectively position the city as an appealing setting for a modern incentive or meeting. Now I can't wait for my next visit, it was simply stunning. To get a feel for this beautiful area of the world, take a look through our Pinterest board here.

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