Local leaders and travel industry officials recently gathered in Zagreb for the Croatian Tourism 365 conference, where the (paraphrased) question on everyone’s mind was “How do we get more people to visit Croatia?” For the last few years, this European nation has seen a massive boost in tourism thanks to the use of cities like Dubrovnik and Split as filming locations for Game of Thrones; however, there’s so much more than to Croatia than King’s Landing.
For starters, there’s Hvar Island, which was recently honored as one of the Top 5 European destinations for 2018 and is already the nation’s most popular spot for destination weddings. And thanks to recent investments in preserving and promoting the region’s natural beauty and historic charm, Hvar will soon no longer be a secret.
The recent opening of Palace Elisabeth, a Hvar Heritage Hotel, is another sign that this European paradise is on the rise. The first five-star resort to open in this port town, Palace Elisabeth is set in the heart of Hvar and offers incredible views of and access to the largest main square in Dalmatia. The building’s heritage traces back to the 13th century, when it was the duke’s palace, and in 1899 it was rebuilt as the Spa Hotel Empress Elisabeth, an homage to the Austrian Empress (and noted world traveler) Elisabeth.
Today, the hotel offers 45 luxury rooms and suites, from the simple-yet-elegant Park Room to the larger Elisabeth Suite, which boasts a balcony with exceptional views of the town square, harbor and Adriatic Sea.
Palace Elisabeth’s spa offers signature treatments that draw inspiration from the region, as well as luxurious French spa treatments. A VIP treatment room offers couples massages, baths and saunas, while an outdoor spa terrace allows guests to take the treatment and relaxation outdoors. An indoor swimming pool is also surrounded by an exterior deck area, where daybeds await guests who aren’t in a rush to explore the island.
For those who are ready to explore, concierge services are available to ensure that it’s done in style. Specifically, yacht services can be arranged for day tours and general cruising. Guests can also enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling excursions, hiking and biking, paddleboards, kayaks and even a Jeep safari. For history buffs, Palace Elisabeth is just a short walk to the recently reopened Theatre of Hvar. The island is also a dream destination for oenophiles, as Hvar celebrates a long history of winemaking with several vineyard tours and plenty of tastings.
The hotel’s on-site dining options include the San Marco Restaurant, overlooking the sea and offering Mediterranean cuisine created with local ingredients. Or, if you can’t get enough of that Croatian wine, the D Bar is a stylish spot for smoking cigars, sipping wine or creative cocktails, and, of course, appreciating the stunning view of the Adriatic.