‘The Times’ Coolest Hotels in Croatia: Meet Tara’s Lodge on Korcula

Total Croatia News

It has made The Times list of the coolest hotels in Croatia for the last two years. TCN chats to Jan Albers, the general manager of Tara’s Lodge on the island of Korcula on February 19, 2017, to learn more about the hotel and the magic of one of Croatia’s true island gems. 

1. Another season is about to begin. Tell us a little about Tara’s Lodge and the changes for season 2017.

Tara’s Lodge is Korcula’s finest Boutique Hotel with a contemporary, casual and friendly atmosphere in a secluded bay in Zrnovska Banja, just a few kilometres away from Korcula’s famous medieval town. As you know Korcula is a beautiful island on the southern Adriatic coast of Croatia – located halfway as the crow flies between Split and Dubrovnik.

During the slower winter months we are developing and upgrading our services at the beach, maintaining our resort to guarentee the best guest experience, amending our menus according to our guest’s feedback in Mimi’s Bistro (our beachfront restaurant) and making our non-resident services more accessible to the public. We are doing so by listening to the feedback we have received ever-since our restaurant opened its doors in 2014. Now, in 2017 we are complementing our offer by adding a selection of gourmet sandwiches, healthy salads and deliciously creative fingerfood – all of this of course to be served throughout the day. Moreover, our dinner offer, which shall change daily will be based exclusively on locally sourced produce. The choice to source locally whenever possible is to ensure firstly an authentic experience and secondly to reduce our carbon footprint, thereby preserving the beauty of the island for our future generations.

2. What is your season currently? People talk about the potential of 12 month tourism. Do you think it is realistic on somewhere like Korcula?

I am actually convinced it is possible. It is more likely an accessibility issue we are facing. Let me give you a few examples: Whereas obviously the major airports in the region are having significant increases in flights and passengers in the summer months, the winter months are rarely showing any increase in passenger traffic development. It always fascinated me that in the month of July and August one single Saturday at Split airport has more passengers than the entire month of January. One day in summer is outperforming an entire month in winter, isn’t that a stunning fact? Therefore the accessibility of the region needs to be improved, and we are seeing slowly but surely more and more airlines extending the summer schedules, or adding routes in winter (i.e. Norwegian Air Shuttle, starting end of March and flying throughout end of October, London connection from Dubrovnik in winter, Turkish Airlines connecting Dubrovnik Airport, Emirates Airlines entering the Croatian market with Zagreb etc.) On the other hand, and this goes hand-in-hand, the local players need to adapt and contribute too. What I mean by this is «the potential 12-month tourism is being talked about». Well, let’s do something about it and offer tourists who are willing to come in the pre- and post-season something to do.

Now, in places like Split this is hardly an issue. Hotels, Restaurants and bars are open and the city even developed a vibrant Christmas market. However, try to find the same on the islands or outside Split and Zagreb. You will agree, it is not that easy. We have been receiving more and more bookings as of late for the pre- and post-season. This has made us increase our offer with additional services such as wine tours, hiking, biking and other excursions. Accessibility means as well diversity in services. I encourage everyone to explore the Adriatic islands in winter in particular. I believe there are not many places in the world which are as peaceful, with magical landscapes and an incredible cultural heritage such as Korcula. So yes, 12 month tourism on Korcula is not only realistic. It’s real. We only need to let the world know about it – and for this I am talking to you. Thank you for supporting us in our mission of promoting year-around tourism in the heart of the Mediterranean.

3. Connections to islands are always an issue for tourists – how are things situated with Korcula for 2017?

Jadrolinija is operating a daily catamaran connection from Split to Korcula, Krilo is doing the same and proceeding to Dubrovnik. There is also a ferry connection from Rijeka via Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik. Additionally Vela Luka (on the western side of the island of Korcula) is connected with both ferries and catamarans to Split daily. Korcula (Domince) has an hourly connection to Orebic on Peljesac, too. Meaning one can access the island from this direction by car as well. This comes in handy for those exploring southern Dalmatia on wheels. We are also organizing speedboat and car transfers to both, Split and Dubrovnik for our guests who do not fancy public transportation or who would like to optimze their travel time. Recently a helicopter service announced servicing the Croatian islands and we surely will explore the possibilities for a co-operation. Last year European Coastal Airlines was operating to Lumbarda and Vela Luka and quite a number of our guests used this time-saving and exceptional seaplane service to reach our island. All in all the connectivity to/from the island is developing rather well.

4. It is famous as the alleged birthplace of Marco Polo and its small old town is stunning, but what things do many tourists to the island miss beyond the old town – any secret tips?


We have received tremendous feedback for the bespoke tours we have organized for our guests. Our best-seller in this regards has been „Octopus hunting with El Capitan» (or as it is written in our programme «the hunt for Fred October, the elusive cephalopod»). This involves taking our guests on a private boat excursion and then snorkeling, swimming and a very entertaining monologue by the captain explaining all the juicy historical facts and fiction (and gossip) of the area. Literally no stone is left unturned and no one is spared!

Also our wine tours have gained incredible traction over the last year. Everyone knows about Dingac, Grk and Plavac Mali, amazing and rich wines by nature. Nevertheless, there is more than that. Did you know that our house wine „Kampijun“ from Bacic winery is an impressive, light blend of Plavac, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon? It´s an incredibly enjoyable red wine, perfect for a hot summer evening. We take you to the vineyard, let you taste probably one of Croatia`s finest wines and introduce you to the family behind these masterpieces. It is an outstanding, personal and authentic Korcula experience. Those two excursions and some more are designed with passion and will show you why we are actually blessed and in love with the island and the region.

5. You recently moved to Korcula from the mainland in Split. How is it going so far, and what are the main differences in lifestyle?

I am actually an island boy myself as my mother`s side of the family originates from an island further north. That being said, moving to an island did not hit me with too many surprises. Quite the opposite basically. I am appreciating that living in a smaller community comes naturally with closer relations to your neighbourhood and the town. Also, I find people in Korcula extremely helpful, friendly and open-minded. I have received a hearty welcome from each and everyone. Besides that, Korcula is the largest island community in Croatia, so therefore anything one needs can be found here. Being a father, I love the fact that the younger generation is „all over the place“, and you can see kids playing, going to school and enjoying themselves outside throughout the day.

6. This summer will be your first season at Tara’s Lodge. What do you see as the main challenges, and what are you looking forward to most?

Besides the fact that former colleagues from last year’s team at Tara`s Lodge will be coming back, we are currently growing and hiring to complete our team for the upcoming season. This involves pre-season trainings and personal development courses for our staff. It is always great to see people evolving and developing their true potential, delivering our service promise to our highly valued guests. We are here to host our guests during their most valuable time of the year – their holidays. Hence we are doing our utmost to exceed expectations and deliver a service which is unseen in the region. We must always strive to go the extra mile. Every day, every moment counts. Guests may forget what you said or what they read about you, but they´ll never forget how you made them feel.

7. And finally, what are the most pressing issues regarding the development of tourism on Korcula?

Accessibility, connectivity, diversity. Whereas the entire world has Dubrovnik on the map and Hvar as an island in mind, Korcula remains a hidden gem. This is both positive and less so. One guest told us you are like „the Mediterranean as it should be“, and naturally I couldn´t agree more. Korcula in many aspects has not made use of its full potential yet, but one can see that things are moving forward. More and more quality accommodation as well as the necessary infrastructure, excursions and activities are being made available, which is a good thing if one wants to do more than plunge, play, eat and sleep. Tailormade excursions, i.e. wine tours, octopus hunting, diving and hiking are giving our guests an amazing option to explore Korcula with its rural parts, meaning you won´t be overwhelmed with an overly commercialized tourism. Our focus has to be to preserve the environment, encourage ECO tourism and ensure that our little piece of paradise remains divine for many generations to come.


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