Have you ever been to Sveti Martin na Muri? Meet one of continental Croatia’s gems.
The “Real European Destination of Excellence” (EDEN), the pioneer of SPA tourism, the place helping those suffering from various diseases with cannabis products, a golf destination, and place where you can taste the best wines in the region – Sveti Martin na Muri (St. Martin on [the] Mura) is all of that and more.
It was really interesting to find out how this area, with only around 3,000 residents on approximately 2,500 hectares of land, managed to win the prestigious EDEN award.
The road leads to the district at the northernmost point of Međimurje, close to the border with both Slovenia and Hungary. In the direction towards the Slovenian border, the narrow road turns left, just passing in some parts around a hundred meters from the River Mura which enters Croatian territory in this area.
The snow had just begun to melt from the rolling hills that are home to vineyards which produce, as I found later, very good white wines. In parallel with the road to the Saint Martin Spa, lies the “Wine road (track)”, which leads to the vineyards of some of the best wine producers in the area. That makes this area of the country even more attractive for tourists.
According to the county’s tourist office, serious developments in the tourism sector began back in 2005 when, through the utilisation of a thermal spring of medicinal water in the immediate vicinity of St. Martin on Mura, the St. Martin Spa was built. It is the largest and considered to be one of the most beautiful spas in the whole of Croatia, with the price of real estate in the surroundings rising by 150% in comparison to 2005.
Fun for all the family
First, before trying the wine, I wanted to take care of business – take a swim and use the sauna. Later in the evening, it would be perfect to try some fine wines along with domestic food. So first I took the road to the Spa, sure I’d be hungry after some swimming.
As I was driving in the line of cars, dirty from the melting snow, I could barely read the license plate of the car in front… it was ZG, which stands for Zagreb, the capital, which is around an hour and a half away from St.Martin on Mura by car. I decided to follow the car to ask the driver why he’d decided to come to Međimurje instead of going skiing as the most Croats who decided to go on their holidays did last week.
After parking, the Brolich family exited the car. Mr. Brolich wasn’t too eager to pose for a photo for but his wife and twin daughters Lea and Ela (12) easily persuaded him. It isn’t easy for a journalist to transfer the words which are full of praise for some company or another, but I was there to find out what made the area so good, so I had to ask the family that question.
“We visited the Saint Martin Spa two years ago for the first time. Why are we here again? Well, it makes for an excellent weekend for the kids, I think this is the best Spa in Croatia. The rooms are really clean and new, and the pools are arranged well”, stated Mr. Brolich. “The food is really good here, domestic”, added Mrs. Brolich.
I turned to the twin girls to ask them if they feel the same. “Sure, we persuaded our parents to come here again. We’ve already told our friends in fifth grade how great it is here. We have fun all day”, said the girls.
Later I found out that Spa has daily program of activities for children, with those days in particular involving the snow that was still around in the hills.
Modern infrastructure in traditional surroundings
After I finished the interview with the family from Zagreb, I was able to view the surroundings of the parking area. I could see a large facility, in which indoor swimming pools are surrounded by outdoor ones. Lots of sports and recreation facilities are around as well. Some restaurants, a bar, shops and services also add to the offer.
On the other side of the complex lie apartments. It was confirmed by the County of Međimurje tourists’ agency that the Spa takes the biggest merit in getting the EU’s award for having good accommodation, which was one of the main criteria in winning the competition.
Outside the complex, I could see a small forest and some rural, country houses with chickens running around outside, just like in times long gone by. A thought crossed my mind – that this site won’t be able to be seen in another decade. Dredges were already in action close to the complex, busy realising some new investments in the area.
A manager from the complex proudly showed me the interior of the Spa, the modern Wellness center and its lovely personnel. Outside, there are outdoor swimming pools and behind them newly made facilities – villas and the second hotel “Zrin”.
I got the point – why it’s so good here, so it was time to relax. Although I’ve seen the main attraction – the tourist offer, besides the Spa, there are so many places to visit in such a small area. I’ll mention just a few: a deer farm, two ferries on the River Mura; an educational ecological trail along the Mura, the church of St. Martin – a Zero Category monument, the old vineyards, cottages, the traditional family houses, restaurants, and more.
It really is a European destination of excellence.