Eva LaRue, or as most of you probably recognise her Det. Natalia Boa Vista from CSI Miami, has turned her career path from acting to her other passion travelling. And this summer the Croatian coastline, islands and Dubrovnik were on her radar. She has teamed up with the Croatian luxury brand “Stories” and become an ambassador for this hotel group. It all started when she visited Croatia for the first time earlier this year and the journey has been unforgettable.
But it would seem that visiting Dubrovnik was her destiny.
“My daughter bought me a book for Christmas entitled “The 500 Places You Must See Before You Die” and on the very cover of that book is a photo of Dubrovnik. So this book has been sitting on my coffee table since Christmas and I am constantly reminded of the beauty of these ancient stone walls,” commented LaRue.
Is this your first visit to Dubrovnik? I believe you visited Istria earlier in the year.
Yes, this is my first time to Dubrovnik. At the beginning of March I came to Rovinj in Istria attending a luxury hotelier’s congress where they had invited me to speak on a panel. Whilst I was at that congress I was invited to be an ambassador for the Stories brand. It was a surprise to me. Then they asked me to come back to Croatia this summer, and here I am. Croatia had always been on my bucket list, but to be honest rather far down on the list. I kept hearing from friends and colleagues how beautiful the coastline was but the country wasn’t on immediate radar. When Stories asked me to come back in the summer I thought why not.
Before you actually visited Croatia what would have been the first thing you would have thought about when you heard Croatia?
The only thing that I had heard about before was the coastline, so probably that would have been the first thing that came into my mind. No one ever mentioned the cities, or the food, or the history, the people, I didn’t know that there were such beautiful National Parks in the interior of the country. I had no idea that the sea was so stunningly clear and clean, I had no that there were so many spectacular beaches, I had no clue. All I heard was the coastline. I guess I kind of thought that the country must be practically deserted because nobody talks about the towns. Americans are really dumb when it comes to geography. We know where France is, we know where Italy is and we don’t know where anything else is. They sort of know where Greece is but if they knew it was as close to Iran and as close to Turkey as it is they wouldn’t go there. But they don’t know so they do go.
What were your first impressions when you walked into the Old City of Dubrovnik for the first time?
Wow! My daughter bought me a book for Christmas entitled “The 500 Places You Must See Before You Die” and on the very cover of that book is a photo of Dubrovnik. So this book has been sitting on my coffee table since Christmas and I am constantly reminded of the beauty of these ancient stone walls. When we pulled up to the city for the first time – wow! I didn’t even know that anything like this city even existed anymore in the world. It is so perfect, the walls look like they were built yesterday, it’s immaculate. I have been to Turkey, Morocco, Greece, all over the world and to be honest their walls can’t compare to the walls in Dubrovnik. All the cities in Croatia are so clean that I feel you could lick the streets. They are gleaming white; I have never seen such clean and pristine cities anywhere in the world. There are no big ugly Hiltons built on top of the perfect cities to ruin them. There is no horrible American 400-room hotel to destroy the skyline. I hope to God that Croatia has really strict guidelines in terms of construction because companies are going to want and build here. Croatia is going to take off like crazy. It’s safe, its spectacular, the food is amazing, its clean, the history is fantastic, the cities are the most beautiful I have ever seen I Europe – Croatia is a country I would love to return to and I will maybe this September with a special friend.
So you are an ambassador for the Stories brand in Croatia. Is this something you have done before and why do you think you are suited to the role?
Travel is a massive passion, more like an addiction for me. Working for eight years on CSI Miami and before that ten years on a soap opera I would always squeeze travel into the holes around filming. You either have the time and not the money or you have the money and not the time. This partnership with Stories was a little window where I had both, I had never had that before, so I decided to go and do what feeds my soul and that’s travel. Stories hotels is a Croatian brand and the group have invited sixteen hotels into the group and they all have to have a unique story to be invited. In Dubrovnik there are three hotels – The Pucic Palace, Kazbek and the Villa Dubrovnik. So many of these hotels are old fortresses, old palaces or are in an incredible location, they have something unique. I like the idea that the brand name is Stories because any journey you go on the story is the most important part. I will come back and visit all the Stories hotels in Istria later this year.
Eva Larue with the team of Hotel Kazbek in Dubrovnik
In this modern age how would you describe luxury travel? What are the new criteria that make travel luxury?
Luxury travel has changed enormously over the years. Croatia is starting to plug in to this luxury style. I believe that high-end luxury travellers are looking for a level of consistency. They are used to a certain level of standard and quality and expect that wherever they travel. For me personally I am looking for something slightly different. The big brand name hotels tend to look the same wherever you go and that takes away some of the charm of the destination. I want to feel like I am in the country. The modern luxury traveller is looking for experiences and I think Croatia has that in spades. There is so much here that is different and unique and these little surprises. Just cruising along the coastline on a yacht is not going to give you the true experience.
CSI Miami was a huge part of your life, you filmed the series for eight years, do you miss it?
I miss the CSI family. After eight years of being together and living through everyone’s marriages, divorces and children it of course became a huge part of my life. We believed that we would get an eleventh season so we all went on holiday for two months and then we all found out that the show had been cut. This meant that we didn’t get the chance to say a proper goodbye, that was a shame. If we had offered we would all have done an eleventh season. I think I got a little typecast as the “girl from CSI Miami” so after the show was cut I decided to go and do something that I loved. I started a travel blog and have really found my feet.
Is this trip a work/holiday journey or a holiday/work trip?
I have to be honest its more pleasure than work. I mean honestly I don’t really consider this work. The only thing that gets a little tiring is doing my hair and make-up before every photo shoot. If I could just do the shoot and look natural without make-up like Cindy Crawford then none of this trip would be work. It takes an hour and a half to get ready for every photo shoot and I really don’t enjoy it. However when I see the spectacular locations in front of me every day I can’t really complain.