Hopkins Family, USA
Private Family Tour
August 2015.

Dear Mariana-

Thank you for all your help to make it an unforgettable trip to Croatia. We enjoyed meeting you as well and are so appreciative of the efforts to make it a carefree trip for everyone. We hope that we will be able to return to see more of your beautiful country.

A few highlights:
Andreija and the Judita Palace. We absolutely loved this hotel and Andreija and the whole staff at the hotel are amazing. We were so pleased with our room with the loft and it was perfect for us. Andreija’s motto was, “Of course that’s possible. We just want you to enjoy yourselves.” The breakfasts were delicious and a great way to start the day.

Dinner at Konoba Matejuska was a wonderful way to start our Croatian eating adventure! We had a delicious dinner of fresh grilled fish & squid. The kids were so tired from the long trip from Provence, but they all loved the food. We felt very lucky to have reservations since at least 3 different people came in while we were having dinner to make reservations for dinners in the future. Lunch at Korta was delicious too and my two favorite dishes were the monkfish wrapped in prosciutto and the steamed clams & mussels.

Lana is possibly the best tour guide we’ve ever had. She was so accommodating and had this great way of repeating information so that we could retain it. I really felt as if I’d learned and retained a lot of knowledge about Split when we were done with the tour. Do you mind sharing her email with me? Paul (who has a great memory for faces) realized that Lana is one of the people featured in the New York Times “36 Hours in Split” video that we watched before our trip! She’s famous! We would like to congratulate her and also let her know how much we enjoyed our tour.

The private boat tours were all really special. The captains of our boats were all very friendly and the boats were pristine and well stocked. Jelko (spelling probably wrong) and Inno his son were wonderful and brought tomatoes and maraschino brandy from home for us. He made a beautiful Caprese salad for us and treated us all to a taste of the brandy. Lunch at Toto’s was so fun and we were able to linger over lunch while the kids swam in the cove after they were done with their lunch. Drago was a character and some of the best pictures are the ones that he took of us that he insisted we pose for. I know that Bridget’s boat on the last trip was a little smelly from the bathroom and there were no beverages on the boat, so something to keep in mind for others is to ensure that there are proper provisions on each boat. The skippers of our boat on the last day when we went to Villa Ruža were great, very kind and always trying to anticipate if we would need drinks, towels or whatever. The boat tours were the kids’ favorite activities of the trip (of course) and all of the coves where we were taken to swim were breathtakingly gorgeous.

Thank you for a seamless transfer of our luggage from Split to Dubrovnik. It was such a treat not to have to manage that and I want that on every trip I take from now on!

The Villa Dubrovnik is one of the most spectacular settings for a hotel I’ve ever stayed. The rooms are gorgeous and very comfortable. The staff is professional and friendly. My only advice to future clients is that the food isn’t anywhere near as good as the restaurants where you sent us and pricey (to be expected at a 5 star hotel, of course) so it’s worth it to go off property to eat. We were also surprised that the hotel charged us for shuttle rides to restaurants since we’ve stayed at 5 star hotels where those services are complimentary within a certain radius of the hotel. We weren’t told that there was a charge when we inquired about a shuttle to Pantarul and Bridget was surprised to see it on her bill at checkout. They graciously removed one of the charges, but in the future I would advise your clients that this is not a complimentary service in order to avoid any confusion.

We loved our meals at Dubrovnik and Pantarul. The staff at Dubrovnik was so nice about us being so late and the setting on the roof is relaxing and beautiful. They even opened up the roof for us to show us what it would be like during the evening. Pantarul was such a lovely surprise – homey and comfortable, with delicious food at very reasonable prices and great for kids. It’s totally worth the 15 minute drive. We had such a nice meal there.

I would definitely not recommend the kayaking for a group with children or for a group as large as ours. We thought it would be more of a tour, with a commentary and some educational value as well as for exercise, but there was very little commentary on history and it turned out to be a very difficult trip to the island and back since each kayak was comprised of one adult and one child with the children doing very little work in the hot sun. I was horrible at it and I think of myself as being athletic :0) After all the very seamless activities you arranged for us, this was a little bit of a shock. It took much longer for our group to finish and as a result we were all exhausted. I apologize for being so curt with you on the phone when we spoke that day, but at that point all I wanted to do was take a shower and pass out on my bed until it was time for our walking tour! If we did it again, I would do some kind of boat directly to the island with maybe a tour on the island of the botanical gardens followed by some swimming. By the time we reached the island on the kayaks, we were so hot and tired that all we wanted to do was have a cold drink at the restaurant!

I would also suggest that if possible, clients may want to build in one day of leisure in each city to explore. I felt that I could have used one more day in both Split and Dubrovnik to just take in the city at my own pace. After a long day on the boat in the sun, we were usually very tired and didn’t have a lot of energy to power through it and stay up to enjoy the city. I would have also loved more time to just enjoy our lovely hotels. The pool at the Villa Dubrovnik and the Prosciutto Bar deck were great and I would have loved to have just another day to take advantage of them. Our teen daughter and her cousin took the vaporetto shuttle to the city but my husband I didn’t get a chance to ride that gorgeous boat ourselves. Next time!

Thanks again for arranging such a lovely trip for our families. We hope to be able to return and will definitely be in touch with you. In the meantime, we will send our friends to you because we were so pleased with our first visit to Croatia.

Melissa Hopkins