Croatia's Adriatic coast is a big draw for sea and sun lovers: thanks to a coastline that stretches over 1700 km and with over 1200 islands and islets, there are endless possibilities for a seaside escape.
With an eye to the preservation of the sea and local ecosystem, some beachside hotels are doing more than just introducing recycling programmes and encouraging their guests to reuse towels.
Known for their green credentials, these eco-conscious hotels are looking to minimise their impact on the natural environment as much as possible by taking proactive approaches to sustainability.
Hotel Adriatic in Rovinj: a plastic-free hotel
Hotel Adriatic is one of the most sought after hotels in the picture postcard perfect city of Rovinj because of the chic design vibe of its interiors and its location on the seafront of the historic old town. Eco-travellers will be happy to learn that there's another good reason to choose this charming 18-room boutique hotel.
The hotel management announced in April 2019 that it was going plastic-free, an initiative which makes it the first hotel in Croatia to take this eco-friendly step. With an eye to the threat to marine biodiversity, single-use plastics are being replaced with more sustainable alternatives. A first tentative step was already taken last year when paper straws were introduced, but from June there will be a 80 per cent reduction in the use of plastics. This will include single-use plastics like bottles, bags, containers and cups, as well as those used for toiletries.
This plastic-free approach is one that stretches into the long-term with plans to completely eliminate plastics not only in the guest rooms but also in the bar and restaurant by the end of 2019. Other green ideas included in this plan of action include the use of only 'biological cleaning agents' and imposing the requirement on suppliers that their products be made only of 'natural, biological, environmentally acceptable or recycled materials'. This plastic-free initiative will eventually be rolled out across all the hotels belonging to the Maistra hotel chain.
Aminess Maestral Hotel in Novigrad: popular bike-friendly perks
Sea and sun worshippers choose the upscale Aminess Maestral Hotel in Novigrad on the west coast of peninsular Istria because of its indoor and outdoor pools, balconies with sea views, and of course easy proximity to pebble beaches just a short walk away.
The hotel is also popular with cyclists thanks to the bike-friendly perks on offer, including bicycle rental, dedicated parking and secured sheds for storage, a bicycle repair station, cycle maps and GPS devices, and a bike transfer service.
Over 500 cycling trails criss-cross the whole of Istria and offer a variety of landscapes to explore on two wheels. The Istria Bike website n is a handy resource for cycling enthusiasts covering not only detailed information on cycling trails but also interactive maps, photo and video galleries, information on where to find bicycle shops and e-bike charging stations, and important cycling events.
Falkensteiner Family Hotel Diadora near Zadar: on-site water treatment plant
The sea-facing Falkensteiner Family Hotel Diadora attracts not only families looking for a beachside break but also sports lovers thanks to its multiple sports facilities. The vast wellness area and spa are also draws for those looking for a dose of R&R.
Located 12 km north-west of the Dalmatian city of Zadar on the Punta Skala peninsula, this is a sustainable resort that has been exploring ways to minimize its long-term ecological footprint. An on-site water treatment plant pumps and treats seawater which is used for air-conditioning during the summer months and heating in the winter.
The water is also desalinated and purified for drinking water and in this way cuts down on the unnecessary waste created by packaged drinking water. Grey water from sinks and showers is collected and used along with harvested rainwater for flushing toilets and to water the gardens. The resort also has a charging station for electric vehicles. Its green ethos extends to the on-site restaurants where plant-based options are available for vegans and vegetarians (as well as gluten- and lactose-free alternatives).
Villa Dubrovnik: renewable energy sources
This small luxury boutique hotel is perched on the rocky coastline just east of the picturesque UNESCO-listed old town of Dubrovnik. All of the 56 guest rooms and suites open onto balconies with sea views and the rooftop top bar and restaurant terrace are the perfect spots to take in the views of the walled old town.
Villa Dubrovnik's sustainability management plan reveals that protecting the environment is one of the hotel's core values. The hotel management has put in place a long list of eco-friendly initiatives that cover almost every aspect of day-to-day operations: from paperless communication to drip irrigation in the garden.
The building's power supply is linked up to an electricity supplier using renewable energy sources and the rooftop is planted with local plants to keep interiors cool. In the organic garden grow orange and lemon trees, and herbs like thyme, mint, rosemary and laurel that often end up in the cocktails served up at the bar. Green practices extend to housekeeping: bed linen is only changed on request, the eco-cleaning products are biodegradable, and there's a ban on the use of plastic water bottles and straws.
Hotel Bellevue on Lošinj island: sea clean ups and waste collection
Its location on the quiet, tree-lined seaside promenade of Čikat Bay is one of the many plus points of the five-star Hotel Bellevue on the island of Lošinj. A priority for the hotel's management is to take care of the local environment, which includes the waterfront and beach areas. The hotel has received an international White Flag rating for sea quality after tests and the review of a set of strict criteria concluded that the water quality here is excellent. This is thanks to activities like sea clean ups and waste collection but also local awareness raising about sea pollution and how to preserve the sea bed.
The focus at Hotel Bellevue is on wellness: the indoor and outdoor pools are filled with filtered and chlorinated seawater – ideal to have a soak in for its healing properties, while in the swanky spa, treatments include top range products made of organically certified products. Bicycle rental and a charging station for electric vehicles are other green perks and the hotel's rooftop herb garden supplies the restaurant kitchens.
Words: Isabel Putinja