The Ultra Europe Festival came to Hvar yesterday amid lots of hype. So how was it for the island?
Let me start by congratulating Ultra Europe on three magnificent concerts. Apart from an hour in a nearby house yesterday, I was not close to any of them, but friends in the know who went to the concerts reported back that they were amazing.
There was never any doubt in my mind of the ability of Ultra to put on a great show. Having seen their trailers and read about their story, I would have been surprised if the shows had been anything more than a truimph.
The above pic – taken from the Ultra official Facebook page – gives an overview of the atmosphere.
I am also looking forward to seeing the promotional video that Ultra will put out about Hvar – I am sure it will be first class and as slick as the machine has been so far. The photographers boarded the Swiss heli around lunchtime yesterday for a flight to Split and surroundings, followed by a detailed tour of Hvar Town. Pilot Eric had a lot of fun before heading to Dubrovnik for another passenger.
There is no doubting that more tourists came to Hvar yesterday due to the festival, or that they had a great time.
There was even an extra ferry put on by Jadrolinija. While on the surface, this is a good thing – lots of extra guests to the island – it was sure to upset some locals at a time when the catamaran service has been reduced, prices increased and the supply of ferries and catamarans is a real issue. If Jadrolinija can supply a ferry for a festival, why not for the hundreds of people who want to come to Hvar daily in the season?
But let’s continue with the good news. This was Amfora beach this morning about 1000 this morning. Back to normal after a night of debauchery. Impressively back to normal after a night of revellry from a reported 5,000 people.
The most impressive part of the clean-up process was in the swimming pool area. After hearing some graphic descriptions of the condition and colour (with rumours of just two toilets for the rumoured 5000 VIP guests), it was gratifying to see the pools empty and some serious industrial cleaning going on. Again, great organisation.
My inbox was an interesting place to be this morning. Lots of people sent messages saying how great Ultra was and how wrong I was in my assessment, many others sent me pictures like the one above – one example will suffice to showcase Croatia’s premier island in peak season.
The issue is not – and never has been – Ultra’s ability to put on a good show. They have proved they can do that well, and if Hvar decides it wants to be the new Ibiza, with an emphasis on party, party, party, I could recommend nobody better than the team at Ultra and their local partners – they have done a great job. The problem is the picture below.
Taken at 11am this morning, this is the new St. Tropez, the luxury waterfront of Croatia’s premier island. It is peak season – July 15 – and the new St. Tropez is missing one thing. Apart from the yacht of Mr. Zepter, who is here for a month, there was not a single boat much bigger than my car. Luxury Hvar.
“We have changed the profile of the destination,” Ultra announced proudly at their press conference on April 18 at the Poljud Stadium in Split. And I agree with them. They have.
One of Hvar’s best local businesses and service providers, with business all over Dalmatia, told me last week that for the first time they had decided not to house guests in Hvar, but would send them to Brac because of the party. It is not the first such example.
Changing the profile of the destination. Hvar Town is full, no question, and on paper the festival is a tremendous success. As a party destination, Ultra Hvar was a triumph, and if Hvar is to be a party destination, let’s all agree and promote it that way, but Hvar is – or should be – so much more than that.
One of the most informed viewpoints on the direction of Hvar nightlife is that of Wolfgang Schulze-Boysen from Hula Hula. As first manager of Carpe Diem and the man who made Hula Hula into a Beyonce destination and in CNN’s top 40 beach bars in the world, Wolf is a Hvar legend, and his views on the direction of Hvar’s nightlife and direction are both interesting and surprising. We have agreed a video interview next week, which we will publish on the site.
I would love to see the spreadsheet at Suncani Hvar to compare room reservations and prices for their hotels for July 14, 2012 – when they were totally full – and July 14, 2013, when they are offering crazy discounts for a successful peak season – 15% off for stays in July (launched on July 2), 3 nights for 2 at Hotel Riva in July (launched two days ago).
Hvar Town is full, with lots of apartments filled, but with the quality hotels either partially full or full at discounted rates. Changing the profile of the destination – the choice is with the decision makers of Hvar. It will be interesting to see if Suncani Hvar decide to house Ultra again next year, and if not, where will the Ultra Hvar party move to?