A few years ago, on my way down to Albania, I once again passed the Sun Gardens Dubrovnik resort, one of the flagship resort developments on the Croatian coast. As I was (unusually) ahead of schedule, I decided to pop in for a coffee and finally take a look at one of Dalmatia’s leading hotel resorts.
I didn’t get far, for the hotel was closed for a private event, and there were Nissan Micras EVERYWHERE.
It turns out that I had stumbled on the global presentation of the new Nissan Micra, and Sun Gardens Dubrovnik had been chosen for the venue. Apart from all the great PR and gorgeous shots for the destination, the launch brought more than 7,000 people to Dubrovnik from January to mid-March. These included Nissan hosting over 500 journalists from all over the world as part of the new Micra model presentation, as well as internal trainings for staff and car dealers.
A nice business and a great promotion.
Then five years later came the unveiling of the fastest car of them all – the Rimac Nevera. It was a spectacular event, which included cars being winched by helicopter to a castle in the historic old town, but a large part of the launch of the Pride of Croatia took place at Sun Gardens Dubrovnik, as these photos from the resort’s Facebook show.
The Rimac Dealers Sales Conference gathered distributors and buyers, hosted test drives, and officially presented the new Rimac Nevera hypercar in early June, 2021. How nice that Rimac could find a location in Croatia fitting for the unveiling of such a global phenomenon.
I had never considered the joys of car launch ‘tourism’ before, but the spin-offs and PR must be significant. And when I finally did get to tour Sun Gardens for the first time a couple of years ago, it was easy to understand why the resort is such an appealing option, quite apart form the magnificent views and 5-star service.
A little research on the official website gave some additional clues as to the resort’s appeal:
“The resort is car accessible and offers many great locations for vehicle displays and photo shoots. It features 200 outdoor parking spaces that can be reserved for the event, together with 200 indoor garage spaces.
“The event spaces and the 753 sqm main ballroom are car accessible, while 16 bars & restaurants within the resort provide ample choice of venues for group functions such as lunches, dinners, and press conferences. Most can be transformed into workshops. Car maintenance and washing areas are available at the resort.”
And not only that. With an impressive 4 km of roads within the resort and a petrol station a kilometre away, there is plenty of scope to take a car for a spin on site, and a Tesla destination charger is an additional appeal for those of electric persuasion (and the Nikola Tesla EV Rally included Sun Gardens on the quietest rally in the world in 2019).
Move outside the resort, and the options become magnificent. The coastal road is (especially out of season) not busy, with several stretches to step on the gas to test performance. And if you are looking to entertain a client, the backdrop of Dubrovnik and its environs is enticing indeed – from the magnificent old town to the wine roads of Peljesac to the famed oysters of Mali Ston.
And Dubrovnik has something of a track record in the car launch industry, it seems. A little further digging shows that Sun Gardens has rather an impressive CV in this field.
Sun Gardens Dubrovnik has hosted several other major automotive events thus far, including the three-month global Mercedes event “Mercedes Benz – Global Training Experience 2016” for 12,000 delegates, Bentley distributor convention, Hyundai CIS & Eastern European Dealers Convention, and Škoda European Sales Training in 2019.
Interestingly, these events are held out of the main season when capacity is higher. That is one of the things I enjoy about Croatian tourism. On the surface, to many Dubrovnik is just the old town, worth a visit for a couple of days only. Dig a little deeper, and the layers of diversity are fascinating indeed.
To learn more about the Pearl of the Adriatic, check out the Total Croatia Dubrovnik guide.