Croatian summer holiday part 1
As the weather in Scotland this summer has been rubbish perhaps it's time to look to the Med for some sun, but why not try somewhere different?
Earlier this year we jetted off to Split in Croatia on Easyjet's new route from Glasgow International airport and on our trip we spent a few days a bit further north along the Adriatic coast in the resort town of Biograd Na Moru (which literally means "white town on the sea" in Croatian) in northern Dalmatia near Zadar. Despite being small (with a population of under 6,000) Biograd Na Moru is quite important historically, being a former medieval capital; nowadays it draws in tourists thanks to a huge marina which is ideally positioned as a gateway to many of the Croatian islands in the Adriatic.
There are a trio of hotels that make up the Ilirija resort located right beside the water (as well as another two inland properties and a camp site further down the coast): Hotel Kornati Hotel Adriatic and Ilirija Hotel where we stayed (pictured above). Each hotel has a different colour-theme, blue, pink and yellow in that order, and between the three hotels there are 354 bedrooms, most with sea views.
On arrival our check-in was hassle-free and we were offered a welcome drink from a selection of 6 local alcoholic beverages. Being fans of Aperol we opted for the Istra bitter from near the Italian border with some soda water & a slice of orange, and a glass of Maraska Pelinkovac, which is a really herby wormwood-base bitter liqueur, a bit like a more palatable Jägermeister, made in nearby Zadar.
The bar is large, bright and spacious with plenty of seating both inside and out. At night we tried a few more of the local spirits above and the prices were very good for a 4-star hotel, table service was provided and importantly for us there was free WIFI in the bar.
Our room was bright & airy too and from the balcony it looked out onto a small marina and the island of Pašman in the distance.
The room was easily accessed by stairs or lift (of which there are two).
We had a flat-screen TV with a fair selection of English-language channels, an en-suite shower, mosquito-zapper, tea and coffee-making facilities and a mini-bar with very reasonable prices - £1.80 for a beer and all spirits, with exception of whisky at £3 and a bottle of red or white wine was £2.80. WIFI in the room was chargeable.
Breakfast, lunch and dinners are served buffet-style in the Ilirija hotel. The restaurant is a good size and has a varied selection of hot & cold items and some Croatian specialities.
The hotel also has spa facilities in its Salvia wellness & beauty centre at the top of Hotel Ilirija with gym, masseurs, saunas and jacuzzis.
This particular jacuzzi is partially walled off to provide a bit of privacy. With views looking out to passing boats and the nearby islands.
Being a guest at any of the resort hotels gives you access to the facilities offered by the others, as such we were able to visit Hotel Adriatic next door, where you will find a two-tiered heated infinity pool and plenty of pool-side loungers...
...with plenty more loungers for relaxing upstairs...
...and the Lavender cocktail bar next door, and we can confirm that they do a good cocktail!
There are kids play facilities just to the side of the bar too.
There is a sandy blue-flag beach a mere 2 minute walk away and there are beach-side bars, changing rooms, toilets and showers here too. If you want to keep fit then behind the beach is a pine forest where you can go walking/jogging/cycling and not too far away the resort has 14 tennis courts, again equipped with terraced bar, toilets and changing facilities. There are other sporting facilities too but despite there being so much to do we just went to chill out and had a lovely relaxing stay at the Ilirija resort. Staff were friendly, helpful and spoke excellent English and prices were very affordable for a 4-star resort. We would certainly return! The current weather report is 28°c and sun!
Still not sold? Then watch the video...
Biograd Na Moru is a 30 minute drive from Zadar airport and transfers from Zadar are free. We flew into Split airport which is just over an hour's drive away. Transfers can be arranged via the hotel at a total cost of €120, or you can hire a car or do what we did and get the Zagreb bus from Split bus station, the journey takes about 2 hours and costs around £8 one way, which includes the fee to put a large suitcase in the hold, and Biograd bus station is only a 5 minute walk away from each of the hotels.
Room rates start at €80 per double-bed room per day in low season on a half board basis (inc. VAT). Prices from 22/08/15 - 04/09/15 start at £114 for two half board and after 04/09/15 the price reduces to £104 for the same.
Find out more here.
This is part 1 of our trip to Croatia, in part 2 we will travel in style to the historic town of Zadar...
Ilirija Resort is a member of Great Hotels of the World Luxury Collection. For more
information or to book, please visit www.ghotw.com/hotel/home/ilirija-resort-croatia.htm or call 020 7380 3658.
We stayed as guests of the hotel and we consider this a fair reflection of our stay.