The big trip

Maslina Resort review: a relaxed and chic island retreat in Croatia

Mediterranean charm meets European fine dining on Hvar island

Approaching by chartered speedboat, you’d be forgiven for not spotting the rustic stone and wood structures that make up Maslina Resort from the shoreline. Blending seamlessly into the rock-fringed coastline and dense Aleppo pines, Maslina has been camouflaged to coexist harmoniously with Hvar island’s natural elements. 

The hotel complex greets you with grand stone steps, building anticipation for what awaits at the top. The impressive white marble stone that acts as a reception desk has been here long before the land was purchased, and now adds to the wow factor.

A room with a sea view at Maslina Resort

A room with a sea view at Maslina Resort

Nikola Radovani

Why come here 

Floor-to-ceiling glass exteriors are interrupted only by large doorways, allowing a fleeting breeze to ruffle the white chiffon curtains acting as dividers through the largely open plan ground floor space. Bespoke wooden furniture, clean lines and minimalist colour palettes effortlessly tread the line between relaxed and chic. 

Two tranquil swimming pools overlook the rambling lush greenery and glimmering sea below, with strategically positioned daybeds to take in the views. The all-day bar prepares quirky cocktails, fresh juices and speciality teas and coffees. The piña colada tea deserves an honourable mention for imagination, the perfect guilt-free treat after an evening swim.

Guests can choose between a hotel room or one of the villas, with the largest villa featuring five double-rooms, a sauna, gym, fully-equipped kitchen, outdoor cooking space and a private pool. Hotel rooms have been styled using custom-made furniture, with an emphasis on sustainability. Natural materials including wood and stone have been used throughout – including for the hotel’s iconic bathtub – allowing guests to feel like they are still exploring the island from the comfort of their own room. 

The most popular feature however, is resident cat Garfield. Previously a local stray, the hotel staff fell in love with him and he now officially “belongs” to Maslina. Much loved by all, the guestbook is full of gushing tributes and everytime I see him, he’s being petted and pampered. I’m the main culprit.

What to do

In-keeping with its wellness ethos, the resort’s focus is healing therapies and relaxation. The spa is a big focal point, both literally and figuratively, occupying prime position opposite the main building along the oceanfront. Evening yoga sessions on the outdoor decking are complemented by curated sound-healing sessions. A combination leading to the best night’s sleep I’ve experienced in years. 

The signature massage incorporates sound therapies, with a choice of essential oils made from the island’s native herbs. The immortelle blend is particularly fragrant, and considered most emblematic of the destination. 

The all-day bar prepares cocktails, juices and speciality teas and coffees

The all-day bar prepares cocktails, juices and speciality teas and coffees

Eating and drinking

Food is also a highlight, prepared by chef Massimo Cvek, who has worked and trained in Michelin-starred restaurants around the globe. Between the local produce and the diversity of Croatian cuisine, dishes are simple but beautiful, showcasing the fresh and vibrant flavours of the island. 

Highlights include buttered scallops served with yeasted cauliflower, artichokes, and truffle arancini; Slavonian black pig skirt steak with poplar mushrooms, egg yolk, charred onion, and Pelinkovac-soaked radish; and tuna tartare garnished with salsa verde, lemon gel, caviar, and squid ink touille.

Further afield

Often thought of as just the “party island” of the Balkans, there’s so much more to Hvar to discover. The sleepy nearby town of Stari Grad is dotted with old buildings, pretty painted houses and narrow cobbled streets which barely allow you to walk abreast. 

The best find here is husband and wife-run restaurant, Jurin Podrum, hidden away in an unassuming backstreet. Serving divine traditional home-cooked cuisine, I try boar stew with gnocchi, a cuttlefish and broadbean stew, and smoked tuna with octopus salad, followed by iced gingerbread biscuits and sugared almonds washed down with crisp dessert wine. 

Stari Grad waterfront on the island of Hvar in Croatia

Stari Grad waterfront on the island of Hvar in Croatia

Dalibor Brlek/Alamy Stock Photo

Hvar town itself is overlooked by a towering fortress which is worth a visit for the breathtaking views alone, but also a top notch activity for history buffs. A short walk into town takes you through more cobbled backroads where small boutique shops sell beautiful silks and local fine wines. Hvar has all the charm of an Italian town or city with its sweeping square, historic architecture and the port dotted with yachts and small sailing boats. Although lively and bustling, it feels more authentic and less tourist focused than other popular European destinations.

Dalmatino is considered one of the island capital’s best restaurants, ideal for either lunch or dinner al fresco. Fresh fish, steak and pasta dishes are served alongside carpaccio, tuna tartare and octopus salad, before devouring “granny’s home-made cake” or gelato drizzled with chocolate sauce. There’s also Europe's oldest theatre, Hvarsko kazalište, featuring a 300-year old fresco which has been carefully preserved.

Croatia is quickly building its reputation as a big player in the world of wine. Local distillery Duboković Wines produces bottles which are shipped all over Europe, with high demand in France, which the owner Ivo cites as proof of its high quality. 

Wine tasting sessions for small groups are available on request, paired with cheese, bread and the distillery’s own olive oils. Firm favourites include Medvjedica, a dry and full-bodied red, and Laganini, a lighter red blend, best drunk before 5pm according to Ivo. 

When to go

June to August is considered the high season, with temperatures in the 30s. May and September are considered shoulder seasons, which generally have warm temperatures of above 25C and sunny weather. 

How to book

Red Savannah offers a seven-night stay at Maslina Resort on a B&B basis, from £3,110 per couple. This price includes seven nights in a Garden Room, daily breakfast, complimentary access to the Pharomatiq Spa, fitness room and thermal wet areas, return flights between London Gatwick and Split with easyJet, to include pre-reserved seating and a bag in the hold (23kg pp), and private transfers with return public ferry tickets to/from Hvar island. See more at redsavannah.com

Maslina Resort, Stari Grad, Hvar island, Croatia; maslinaresort.com

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