Renovated and polished old buildings, modernized and put to specific use, surrounded by nature and relax zones, are veritable pearls in the Croatian tourism portfolio
The small Istrian town of Bale and its similar counterpart Punat on Krk Island, although familiar names, are not the first associations of first rate tourism destinations in Croatia. Just how a well-placed hotel accommodation can change an image of a place is proven by the recently renovated high-class wine hotels, the Stancija Meneghetti near Bale and the Kanajt Hotel in Punat, the latter fantastically supplementing the award-winning nearby marina.
The Stancija Meneghetti belongs in a group of only four Croatian hotels of the exclusive hotel and restaurant chain Relais et Chateaux (together with Bastion in Zadar, Bevanda in Opatija and Lešić Dimitri Palace in Korčula). There you will find utmost privacy, where the rural spirit meets urban comfort and luxury, all on an impressive 12 hectares of wonderful landscape in the middle of endless vineyards, olive groves and birds singing. Unstirred peace dominates here, but also an unique luxury and pleasure in the services of the gourmet restaurants dominantly ruled by Danijela Pifar and Bojan Vuković. They are the quiet, withdrawn good spirits of the Stancija, a duo functioning great and complementing each other for fifteen years, while their culinary creations are truly astounding.
Completely natural, food grown locally by the “0 kilometer” principle, is combined with the great Meneghetti wines, but also other Istrian, continental, Dalmatian and global wines. It is no surprise the Stancija was declared in 2016 as one of ten best European food hotels by the Geo Saison Magazine, while the restaurant was listed among 1.000 best world restaurants, chosen by La Liste. The entire magical estate dates to the 19th century and was carefully, luxuriously and lovingly restored in 2016, continuing the tradition of the Vila Meneghetti, not with 24 truly exquisite rooms of 75 square meters with some 15 square meters of garden area each. There are three pools (two outdoors and one indoor), a small gym and sauna, especially appreciated by their regular guests – mostly Austrians, Germans, Americans, Slovenians and Serbs – while Croats are still a minority.
Director Suzana Vrtičević-Tica runs the hotel with utmost care, and the pleasant atmosphere accented by the fireplace in the lobby with rustic furniture carrying the design signature of the entire hotel contribute to a true family ambience. It is not a coincidence this is a wine hotel as Meneghetti is also a winery whose wines are at the top of the Croatian wine range, especially after some ten years ago oenologist Walter Filiputti left his mark on the wine production. Along with wine, Meneghetti also produces its own extra virgin olive oil, a wonderful cherry on top of the entire concept.
Aware that their own olive oil is an important element in promotion and offer is a known fact at the Kanajt Hotel in Punat, where they grow their own olives and process them in their own oilery. Kanajt is located in a 1527 building which was once a bishop’s summer residence, changing its purpose over the years – from a school for women to a Macedonian holiday home and night club. The 22 rooms have recently been complemented with a wellness and SPA with a view of the oldest Croatian marina (built in 1964) and wonderful boats and yachts. Realizing the clients of the marina could also make use of a hotel with excellent food and lodging was the Žic family, who own the marina, shipyard and hotel since 1998.
They now have four saunas (Finnish, aromatic, Turkish and infrared), a heated bench with Kneipp baths, a huge jacuzzi and swings with a view of the Punat Bay. There are also outdoor jacuzzis and a cosmetic salon with massages. Nearby the main building, yet isolated and with a view “to die for,” are 4 wonderful bungalows/apartments, two of them with their own outdoor jacuzzis. View and peace, isolation and the ambience of a carefully cultivated Mediterranean garden guarantee complete relaxation with the scents of nature and the sea. The situation calls for turning off the mobile phones, all together in the vicinity of Punat Town.
Kanajt guests are mostly marina guests who pay attention to their boats in winter as well, from Germany, Austria and Slovenia, but also from Rijeka and Zagreb who love to spend the weekend here, rest up and escape the monotony of a metropolis. The grounds belonging to Kanajt also hold the preserved remains of the chapel of St Peter dating from the 14th century, believed to have been built on top of an antique building. With the light of candles and torches, each June 29 on St Peter’s Day, a holy mass is held here, while the spot is also popular for weddings.
Renovated and polished old buildings, modernized and put to specific use, surrounded by nature and relax zones, are veritable pearls in the Croatian tourism portfolio. If you’d prefer to avoid tourism crowds and enjoy luxury, comfort and peace – now you know where to go.