Le Meridien Lav Hotel Owner Promotes Croatia on Two Wheels

Lauren Simmonds

Copyright Romulic and Stojcic
NP Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
NP Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

As Marta Duic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 27th of June, 2020, Friday, June the 12th marked the sixth day since Mike Saran, otherwise the owner of the popular Le Meridien Lav hotel in Split, left Prague and covered more than 700 kilometres through the Czech Republic, Austria and Slovenia on his bicycle. He eventually arrived here in Croatia.

In addition to owning the aforementioned hotel, Mike Saran is also the founder of the Sport2Life foundation.

”Before the trip, I studied various possibilities and chose the route that I thought would be the safest and most interesting. I wasn’t wrong. And in addition to knowing that we were going to drive through the Czech plains and the Austrian Alps, it was raining all the time through Austria. However, I was most looking forward to coming to the Croatian border and entering Croatia.

Crossing the border was fast, I announced my arrival via the Enter Croatia application and there were no difficulties. I visited all the destinations I’d planned – Trakošćan Castle, I stopped in Zagreb, then Slunj and the Rastoke waterfalls, Plitvice Lakes, Krk, Trogir, Šibenik… I wanted to visit destinations in Croatia that I’d not been to before, and about which I’d read and heard so much about so many times. I succeeded in that, and I was especially impressed by Plitvice Lakes.

It’s an amazing wonder of nature, I knew they were beautiful and worth visiting, I’d heard about them and I’d seen the photos, but I couldn’t even imagine in my dreams how beautiful they really were. But most of all, I was looking forward to the hospitality of the local people I met on the trip and it was exactly as I imagined – friendly,” the Le Meridien Lav owner stated in sharing his first impressions from the trip to Croatia.

The project was also supported by the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ)

Before continuing his journey down to Split, he stopped in Zagreb to once again tell the story and goal of his cycling adventure and meet some friends, the celebrated volleyball player and ambassador of the Sport2Life Foundation, Senna Ušić Jogunica, retired water polo player Dubravko Šimenc, representatives of the Czech Embassy in Croatia and partners from Croatia.

“Split is my second home and I had to find a way to get there in these challenging times. I’ve missed it immensely over the past few months. I was pleased with the information that the borders were opening, but there were still no flights, so I decided to go by bike at that moment. My wish was to present to everyone how beautiful Croatia is.

Come to Croatia, it’s safe and beautiful here – that was my message and the goal of my challenge. Croatia, and especially Dalmatia, offer everything a modern tourist could want at the moment – it’s a beautiful destination with a preserved coast, you can visit it by car, bicycle, you can enjoy the sea or the mountains, it’s full of excellent locations for adrenaline junkies, has an excellent gastronomic and hotel offer, is located in the heart of Europe and is a very safe destination that has successfully defended itself against a global pandemic.

I’m glad that the Croatian Tourist Board, especially through its representative office in the Czech Republic, recognised the interest, but also the importance of this project for Croatia because in these times we have to stick together, we all have the same goal – to make the tourist season as successful as possible,” explained the Le Meridien Lav owner.

In addition, says Saran, he wanted to inspire parents and children to be more active, to enjoy the outdoors and the nature, to play sports, which is the main goal of his foundation Sport2Life. Accompanied by a friend and fellow cyclist Tomaš Grim, he covered a distance of 720 kilometres through the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia to Zagreb, and then another 580 kilometres in which he visited Karlovac, Rastoke, Plitvice Lakes, the Gacka Valley, Krk and Skradin, Šibenik and Trogir. He shared all this and the beauty he saw along the way on social media using the hashtags #MikeChallenge and #CycleYourDreams.

”Basically, throughout the trip, there were three of us who were constant companions. My friend and professional Czech cyclist Tomaš Grim was with me the whole time. The original plan was to follow me to the Czech-Austrian border, but he liked it so much that he decided to continue with me until the end, to Split. We were accompanied on the trip by a technician.

Namely, on the trip I had three different bikes – one for riding on the road and on the flat and two mountain bikes. The bikes and all the technical equipment travelled in a vehicle, a camper that we met at pre-arranged destinations. The camper was great, especially through Austria where we were sheltered from the rain when it got really strong.

I always had enough groceries with me to get from one point to another. During the trip, some of my friends and partners of the Sport2Life Foundation joined me on certain routes. It isn’t my intention to end this journey as a normal point to point bike ride.

I want to take advantage of every moment of this journey and enjoy this challenge, the landscapes, the environment we’re moveing through, the whole experience. This is by no means just a physical challenge, although I have to admit that it is hard to cycle eight to nine hours a day because I’m not a cyclist, but this is above all an amazing journey with many beautiful discoveries. And my intention is to share all that beauty with others,” Saran pointed out.

A challenging year ahead

As the Le Meridien Lav owner says, he has been doing business in Croatia for several years and every time he finds something that makes him happy again – from adventurous challenges, to the nature to the hospitality of people. Le Meridien Lav resort opened on June the 15th, the day Saran arrived in Split, officially starting the 2020 summer season.

”This will be a very challenging season and year, but we’ve taken appropriate and responsible steps in our business. It’s important to say that in Split we have an excellent team and top employees who are with us during these challenging times. Whether small or large, challenges are an inevitable part of our daily work so we have no choice but to be ready to respond to them properly and quickly.

Our team at the hotel did an amazing job adopting all the new procedures through additional training, and in order to successfully adapt our employees and our guests to the new normal situation. It’s still too early to estimate how the season will develop as this includes many factors that we at Le Meridien Lav cannot influence such as flights, border restrictions and the like. We believe that after the first half of July, the situation for this year will be a bit clearer and that we’ll eventually see some positive changes,” believes Saran.

So far, the most numerous guests of Le Meridien Lav resort were from North America and Western Europe – British, Dutch, Germans, Scandinavians… As Saran says, this season they expect the largest number of guests from Croatia and European countries, and all other arrivals will depend opening European borders, introducing flights and so on.

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