Saturday, 08 August 2020

The Bellevue Hotel on the island of Lošinj has won a new international prestigious award in the category Best Destination Spa.

The Condé Nast Johansens Award for Excellence in the category Best Destination Spa was awarded to the Bellevue Hotel at the ceremony held at The May Fair Hotel in London a few days ago.

This annual award stands for an extraordinary quality and this year it went to the Bellevue Hotel thanks to online voting results, feedback from guests and reports from local experts. It only confirmed that the Croatian hotel, as part of the hotel brand Lošinj Hotels & Villas of the Jadranka Group, truly belongs to the world’s hotel elite and enjoys the trust of guests from all over the world.

hotel bellevue losing aerial

‘’We are delighted to be side by side of the world-class hotels of the highest level and luxury, which in itself represents an enormous acknowledgement and confirmation of our recognisability at the international level as well. The Condé Nast Johansens Award for Excellence, as well as all awards so far, is a result of the joint work of all our employees who, with hospitality and excellent relations with our guests, successfully spread the word all over the globe about our hotels, our premium offer and the island of Lošinj as a destination’’, commented Goran Filipović, the member of the board at the Jadranka Group.

It is interesting to note that TripAdvisor awarded the Bellevue Hotel this year thanks to the hotel guests who declared the Bellevue Hotel the best Croatian hotel and the best luxury hotel in Croatia after only two seasons since its opening.

bellevue spa

Award winning spa centre 

On the second day of the World Travel Market (WTM), which is currently taking place in the British capital from the 6th to the 8th of November 2017, the Croatian Tourist Board presented a new promotional video of Croatia as a tourist destination.

The new video includes many of Croatia’s famous athletes such as football players Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić and Mario Mandžukić, a basketball player Dario Šarić, a tennis player Marin Čilić as well as a crossover pianist Maksim Mrvica and an actress Zrinka Cvitešić.

The World Travel Market is the most important event in the tourism business held every year in London. It represents the largest business travel fair in the world.

Apart from the premiere of the new video, Croatia will present itself with new promotional exhibition stands i.e. with the concept and creative solution of presentation at travel fairs.

The popular British rock band Skunk Anansie is coming to Croatia next year.

Skunk Anansie will perform at the 13th edition of the INmusic festival, which will be held in Zagreb from the 25th to the 27th of June 2018.

After the band did not perform at the same festival in 2016, due to sudden disease of the band’s leading vocal Skin, Skunk Anansie is coming to Croatia next year, reported organizers of the festival a few days ago.

All members of the band, the bassist Richard ‘’Cass’’ Lewis, the guitar player Martin ‘’Ace’ Kent and the drummer Mark Richardson will perform side by side of the charismatic singer Deborah Anne Dyer, also known as Skin, at the INmusic festival 2018.

Skunk Anansie formed in 1994, disbanded in 2001 and reformed in 2009. The name "Skunk Anansie" is taken from Akann folk tales of Anansi the spider-man of Ghana, with "Skunk" added to "make the name nastier".

They have released six studio albums: Paranoid & Sunburnt (1995), Stoosh (1996), Post Orgasmic Chill (1999), Wonderlustre (2010), Black Traffic (2012) and Anarchytecture (2016); one compilation album, Smashes and Trashes (2009); and several hit singles, including "Charity", "Hedonism", "Selling Jesus" and "Weak".

In 2004, the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums declared the band one of the most successful British performers between 1952 and 2003.

According to data from Promocija plus, the leading research and analysis agency in the region, car sales in Croatia in October increased by 25.4 percent in comparison to the same month last year.

In the period from January to the end of October of 2017 a total of 45.128 new vehicles were sold or 19.4 percent more over the same period last year.

The bestselling brands in Croatia in the mentioned period were Volkswagen with 6,454 sold cars, followed by Skoda (4,472), Opel (4,388), Renault (4,166) and Suzuki with 2,739 sold cars.

The bestselling model in October was Ford Focus with 241 sold cars, followed by Skoda Octavia (224) and Dacia Duster with 179 sold cars.

By fuel type, in the first ten months of this year the share of diesel-powered cars in the total car sales accounted for 54,4 percent or 24,546 vehicles, whilst petrol-powered cars accounted for 44,5 percent or 20,104 sold vehicles.

At the same time, 422 hybrid cars were sold (almost negligible share of 0,9 percent) and only 19 fully electric vehicles.

The old adage “there’s no business like show business” is certainly true when the Dubrovnik tourism industry is examined. Hollywood blockbusters, Bollywood mega stars, globally popular serials – all have found their place in the sun in Dubrovnik. The pearl of the Adriatic has hosted a number of blue chip productions, from Game of Thrones to Star Wars, and the side-effects are starting to seriously change the city’s tourism industry.

Game of Thrones was certainly the game changer (pardon the pun) when the second season descended on Dubrovnik five years ago. And with the final season, season eight, about to start filming at the beginning of 2018, Dubrovnik has been riding the wave of international publicity. And where there is smoke there is fire. The most watched serial of all time has brought more Americans to Dubrovnik than ever before.

In 2016 a grand total of 95,000 Americans visited Dubrovnik, the biggest increase in any country market last year. And this year that number is on the rise. From the beginning of the year until the end of October a whopping 131,000 Americans landed in the city and increase over last year of 37 percent. This means that Americans are the second most numerous tourists in Dubrovnik in terms of nationality. All this would be maybe normal if we were a major European city.

got dubrovnik walls

Computer generated graphics help to add a new dimension to King's Landing 

However, when you take into account that there isn’t one direct flight between Dubrovnik and the US, or in fact between Croatia and the States, then this figures are even more impressive. Americans are leaving traditional European guests, the Germans and French, in their wake. And what makes the UNESCO World Heritage Site so attractive, the answer is three words – Game of Thrones.

Souvenir shops, guided tours, photo opportunities and even the chance to sit in an iron throne have put Dubrovnik firmly on the map for Game of Thrones fans. And it seems like a bottomless market. An average of 31 million viewers tuned in to every episode of the recently broadcast season seven.

According to inside sources the HBO scouts are already in Dubrovnik ahead of the final season checking out new locations and possible new sites. It is believed that filming in Dubrovnik will start at the beginning of the year, and King’s Landing should star in the final battles for the iron throne, meaning that Dubrovnik should get a leading role again. Once again we can expect an influx of American tourists to Dubrovnik in 2018. But imagine just how much more these figures would be in there were actually direct flights.

new got dubrovnik

On the lookout for new locations for final series 

Even though this summer season was a record breaking one and the Croatian coast seemed a bit crowded at times, it appears that British tourists didn’t mind that at all.

According to data, around 160,000 more British tourists visited Croatia in 2017 in comparison to last year, whilst hundreds of thousands of them are expected to arrive next year.

The magical figure of half a million British tourists, as many of them visited the former country of Yugoslavia and which was a hard-to-reach goal for a very long time, was realized several seasons ago. This year, the figure of 800,000 British tourists was exceeded and now the expectations for the coming years are that a million British tourists will arrive in Croatia.

According to the news from the first day of the World Travel Market that is currently being held in London, Croatian tourism workers have reasons for optimism, whilst the Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli believes that the historic number of a million British tourists will visit Croatia in 2019.

It is interesting to note that the only thing that British tourists complained about this summer is the bad maritime connection of the mainland with the islands.

When it rains in Dubrovnik it really rains. Yesterday saw a rough and stormy day in the city with temperatures dropping to the mid-teens for the first time in months.

The forecast for the rest of the week is for more unsettled weather with rain and clouds expected at least until the weekend…. don’t forget your umbrella.

The sea was particularly rough in front of the Hotel Dubrovnik Palace a sharp contrast to the summer picture.

waves in croatia dubrovnik

This week The Dubrovnik Times caught up with the Dubrovnik based author Vedran Mezei. “I Am Here - 7 stories on the journey to the destination” is the title and yes before you ask it is available in English. Mezei set out to write an “inspirational, entertaining and thought-provoking book,” and from the early feedback it would appear that he has succeeded. We found out who his inspirations are, what he did when he reached a crossroads in his life and the journey he went on to create the book.

To begin with, can you tell us what kind of book you have written and what it’s about?

“I Am Here!” is a work of literary fiction, seven different stories that tell the tales of unusual events in the lives of ordinary people. Each of them has, in their own way, come to a crossroads in life and triggered their own transformation. My aim was to write an inspirational, entertaining and thought-provoking book. I hope I've succeeded, but of course, that's for the readers to decide. When I first began writing the book it was some sort of personal reminder of certain themes and messages that I consider to be very important, yet all too often forget in everyday life.

i am here vedran mezei

What are those messages?

Perhaps a quote from Carl Gustav Jung best describes them: I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become. The majority of the stories underscore just that: our ability to create our own life. It's for exactly that reason that some of the stories seem to be incomplete as they leave the possibility for the readers to decide for themselves what the final outcome might be.

I was also thinking of a quote by French theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who said: You are not a human being in search for a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience! In addition to the fact that this book is somehow a journey towards discovering one's own fulfilment and purpose, it tries to perceive life beyond the limits of our 5 senses.

How did the book come about, from the original idea to publishing?

Just like the characters from the book, I felt that I had reached a crossroads in my life seven or eight years ago and I wasn't sure where to go. I don't think that is something unusual, and I know many people who have gone through, or are going through a similar experience. However in my case it wasn't the result of a bad event or disappointment in life, quite the opposite. It made me look for the wider meaning of my own existence, if I could call it that. As a result of that quest I began to write a book that represents a signpost at this imaginative intersection and which directs me to the desired destination still today. Of course, I'm not referring to a certain place but instead my own state of being.

It took me two years to write the book. At that time I had two small children and it was difficult to find the right time and place to write. I often carried my laptop with me wherever I would go. Apart from home, I wrote in the car or outside in a quiet place. I remember on one occasion having spent half a day writing in a Zagreb hotel bar while I was in the city for work. I'm sure the waiters thought something was wrong with me…

After I finished writing a few stories, I gave them to a few of my friends to read. They encouraged me to continue and since then everything has taken its course. One evening, I met a professor of Croatian language, Marija Matan Bazdan, who without thinking, offered to proofread the Croatian manuscript. Shortly thereafter, I met with Vesna Čelebić who accepted the challenging task of translating the book into English and did a great job. We needed someone to proofread the English text and came by Mary O'Hara Smith from New York, thanks to Christiane Mandukich. Christiane is a great woman who is always ready to help, as she has shown through the organization of numerous humanitarian actions in Dubrovnik. She is the main "culprit" for me deciding to go through self-publishing.

Finally, the photograph for the wrap was taken by gifted Dubrovnik photographer Božo Prlenda, while the book design was done by my graphic designer brother, Ivica Mezei. Approximately four years have passed from the idea first coming to me to the publishing of the book. Without the people I mentioned above, as well as without my family's support, publishing this book would not be possible. It's been published in English on Amazon as an e-book and in a paperback edition.

Are there any people that inspire your writing that you could say are your role models?

Of course, though I think it is much better that people's actions are our inspiration rather than them as people. That’s because people change throughout their lives, but their works remain. In the story called Last Judgment - First Hearing, exactly this theme is mentioned where one of the characters says: We're all both saints and thieves. We easily turn others into role models or idols. And ever more easily, we throw them off those imaginary thrones so we could judge them.

Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King come to mind. Gandhi's saying is famous: My life is my message! They are very few people who can reasonably claim this. Their messages of non-violence and love show us the direction in which everyone should finally be heading. I disagree with those who say that these teachings are just beautiful words that can't be applied in reality because these people proved in their lives, exactly the opposite.

Perhaps it is not by chance that I remember these two great people because I was born on the same day as Mahatma Gandhi, while my younger daughter was born on the same date as Martin Luther King. Probably because of that, I look somewhat subjectively at them and feel some kind of connection. Of course, I would never want to compare myself in any way with people who have changed the history of mankind with their lives.

Inspiration can also come from so-called ordinary people who live their lives quietly and withdrawn, and at the same time do marvellous things. I learned about Mrs. Agnes Furey. Her courage and kindness impressed me so much that I had to use her story, in part, in my book. Here's how this great woman was described by one man: She gave me my first real insight into what love was because she saw past my condition, and the fact that I was in prison, with a life sentence for murder. And not only for murder, but doing the worst kind of murder that a man can do: murdering a woman and a child. It was Agnes, the mother and grandmother of Patricia and Chris, the woman and child that I murdered who gave me the best lesson on love. By all rights, she should hate me, but she didn’t. Over the course of time and through the journey that we took, it was pretty amazing. She gave me love… she taught me what it was!

No matter how many times I hear these words, they leave such a strong impression on me that it is impossible to describe it. After I heard this man's confession in a documentary film, I searched the internet to find out more about this woman and happened across her contact details. Something forced me to send her a message just to express my respect and admiration. I didn't expect an answer, but she soon replied thanking me for my supportive words. She mentioned to me that she hopes that her example will help other people who had a similar experience, to heal their wounds.

These people are my role models and can be an eternal inspiration for writing. I sincerely hope that their values will prevail in the world we leave to our children.

Can you describe in brief for us, at least one of the 7 stories from the book?

Well, maybe I could say something about the story I've mentioned: Last Judgment - First Hearing, written in the form of a teenage diary. At first it seems that this is a story about Rome and Michelangelo through the eyes of a thirteen-year-old boy who travels with his classmates to the capital of Italy. There, he experiences his first heartbreak. But as the action comes to an end, it becomes clear that the main theme is finding one's own identity in the challenging teenage years. One of the main characters is a professor of art history who opens his heart to the group of students on the last evening of their stay in Rome, speaking frankly about his view of life. This event ignites a spark in the boy that will fully determine the direction of his life.

vedran mezei black and white

Tourists from English-speaking countries regularly visit Dubrovnik. Given that your book is translated into English, do you think that it could be interesting to people who like reading while they’re on holiday? Why would you recommend your book to them?

It's not a comfortable feeling promoting yourself or your own work. Still, I believe this book might be interesting to readers who are otherwise interested in similar topics. Perhaps it would be good to read during your vacation as it consists of 7 stories: so if your vacation lasts seven days - you read one story each day. In addition, the book will take you on a journey around the world; from Paris and Rome, via London and New York, all the way to Rio de Janeiro, while at the same time leading you to some kind of personal journey and self-questioning. The book talks about serious topics in a simple and unobtrusive way beyond the limits of the material and spiritual. But if you, after reading the introduction, are not inclined to continue reading further, then I suggest you put the book down and read something else. Maybe something related to Dubrovnik's history which I find really interesting and special, and could perhaps, among other things, be the subject of my next book...

More about the book and author can be found on the website:

The Croatian festival Fresh Island has been nominated for the prestigious European award ‘’Europe Festival Awards’’ and for the ‘’UK Festival Awards’’.

In the category ‘’Best Small Festival’’, Fresh Island was nominated along with some of the most popular European festivals such as Snowbombing, Exodus, Rolling Stone Weekender, EDP Jazz etc.

The Europe Festival Awards is one of the most important European awards and an indicator that Fresh Island Festival has been growing year after year thus promoting Croatia as a desirable destination on the territory of more than 40 world countries.

This significant recognition to the Croatian festival in the form of nomination is a sort of reward for the last six successful festival seasons that were visited by 75,000 tourists.

This year’s edition of the Fresh Island Festival gathered more than 25,000 people during a seven-day stay on the island of Pag, thus, their satisfaction with the festival launched Fresh Island to the popular European selection of the most successful festivals in Europe.

‘’When it comes to summer festivals, Fresh Festival has set high standards. The leading r’n’b and hip-hop music stars of today such as Chris Brown, Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg, Kehlani, Sean Paul, Rae Sremmurd, French Montana and Young Thug are just some of the names that performed on the festival. We expect that the 7th edition of our festival will attract new music names that will surely position Croatia high of the list of the most desirable summer music destinations’’, commented organizers of the Fresh Island Festival.

Once again the Maestral Hotels Group is up for sale. This state owned Dubrovnik hotel company owns five hotels in the bay of Lapad, including Hotel Uvala and Hotel Splendid. The government run agency, the Centre for Reconstructing and Sales, has announced that they will be accepting offers of intent from investors up till the 13th of November. A total of 68.9 percent of the shares in Maestral Hotels are up for sale, or 355,520 shares.

This isn’t the first time that the government has tried to sell this hotel group in Dubrovnik, which is situated in a prime seafront position right on the Adriatic. In fact, the group has been on sale since 2015 and during that time many offers have been received and rejected.

The deadline for the receipt of letters of intent is by Monday, November 13, at midday and interested investors will be invited to submit written bids for the purchase of shares in writing. It is to be hoped that Hotel Maestral will finally change owners and be privatized, as the hotel chain is in desperate need of fresh investment.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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