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Croatia for BeginnersApril 1, 2007 By: Travel Agent Central Contributor Home-Based Travel Agent
Airlift: There are no direct flights from the U.S. to Croatia, but Croatia Airlines (+385-1-487-27-27, www.croatiaairlines.hr) the national airline, connects with many major hubs in Europe. Additionally, Lufthansa (800-399-5838, www.lufthansa.com) flies into Croatia with a connection in Germany. The Zagreb airport is about 20 minutes from the city center.
Passports/Visas: A passport but no visa is required for entry into Croatia.
Tour Operators: Mountain Travel Sobek (800-282-8747, www.mtsobek.com) offers a Croatia and Montenegro tour for the active traveler that includes Dubrovnik, Croatia's most visited city. Contact is Tara Starr Keddle, [email protected], the Europe sales person, or Anne Wood, [email protected], the Europe program director. Commission is 10 percent. Globus (www.globusjourneys.com) leads a 15-day tour of Croatia exploring the Dalmatian coast, Split and Dubrovnik, and includes stops in Austria and Hungary. For more time-strapped travelers, Avanti Destinations (www.avantidestinations.com) offers a two-night stay at the four-star Hotel Jezero, located in Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Famous for its many national parks, Croatia will be a hit with outdoor-oriented travelers, as the country's terrain includes lakes, mountains and rocky coastlines. Country Walkers (802-560-0103, www.countrywalkers.com) has a tour of Croatia's Dalmatian coast. Contact is Tricia Dowhan, [email protected]. Commission is 10 percent.
Travcoa (866-591-0070, www.travcoa.com) has a Croatia and Slovenia tour that visits castles and museums. Contact Louise Shumbris, director of product operations and development (949-476-2800 x213, [email protected]). Commission is 10 percent.
Hotels: This past December, Starwood Hotels & Resorts opened Le Méridien Lav (+385-21-500-606, www.starwoodhotels.com/lemeridien), near Split, the largest city on the Adriatic coast. After about $106 million in renovations, the 381-room property boasts a five-star rating. The best accommodation is the Presidential suite, which has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a Jacuzzi. The Adriatic and Diplomatic suites have beautiful views and a comfortable lounge area.
This beachfront hotel has gardens and a private marina whose promenade has shops, restaurants, bars and cafés. The property itself has a water sports center and indoor and outdoor pool, as well as four tennis courts, rock climbing and a children's club. Rates start at around $300.
High-end travelers will enjoy the Regent Esplanade Zagreb (+385-45-66-666, www.regenthotels.com), where each room comes with fresh strawberries, chocolates and complimentary wireless connections
In the heart of Zagreb, the hotel underwent a massive renovation that was completed in 2004. The cuisine at the hotel's Zinfandel's Restaurant is Croatian fusion; its Le Bistro serves the best struckli (a local noodle and cheese dish) in town.
Appealing to meeting and incentive groups, is the gracious emerald ballroom, which accommodates up to 250 people. Contact Sanda Sokol (+385-45-66-666 or [email protected]). Rates start at $180 double and $360 suites. Commission is negotiable.
The Sheraton Zagreb (+385-45-99-102, www.sheraton.com/zagreb) targets business clientele, with amenities focused on meetings, incentives, and banquet groups. With its 312 rooms, high-end clients should choose the expansive Presidential suite or one of the spacious Executive suites. The butler floor provides personalized service. Additionally, travelers can request a "smart room" equipped with business amenities. Contact Hotel Manager Dagmar Zechmann (+385-1-45-99-102, [email protected]). Rates start at $175 double and $300 for suites. Commission is negotiable.
In 2009, Regent is expected to unveil a 120-room luxury hotel in Dubrovnik, approximately three hours from Split. The property will begin accepting reservations about three to six months in advance of the opening.
Restaurants: With views of downtown Zagreb, the restaurant Pod Grickim Topom (01-483-36-07-5, stub Zakmardijeve) is known for its fish paired with Croatian wines.
Also recommended is Dubrovnik's Atlas Club Nautika (+385-20-44-25 26, Brsalje 3, www.esculap-teo.hr), which has views of the Adriatic Sea and Bokar and Lovrijenac fortresses. Dishes range in price from $26 to $66.
Near the historic village of Kumrovec, the restaurant Gresna Gorica (+385-49-343-001, www.gresna-gorica.com) serves duck, local venison stew and traditional strudel. The outside picnic tables offer the best views of the Veliki Tabor castle.
Cruises: Cruising is gaining popularity along the Adriatic Sea, and many lines are sailing to Croatia in 2007. Depend-ing on the operator, ships may dock in Croatia for a day, as Uniworld (www.uniworld.com) does, or focus exclusively on the region, sailing from such ports as Dubrovnik and Zagreb, as International Expeditions (www.ietravel.com) and Intrav (www.intrav.com) do. Departure dates range between April and September; May through September is peak season.
Education: Beginning this spring, Sterling Vacations (www.sterlingvacations.com) is offering a fam cruise to Croatia that also includes Montenegro. The eight-day cruise features Split and Dubrovnik. Cost is $699 and includes cruise accommodations, meals, guide, tips and entertainment. For more information, call Sterling Vacations at 866-345-7755. Departure dates are April 29, May 20 and June 24.
New York-based Travel Time (www.traveltimeny.com) is offering a fam trip to Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes, Opatija, Split and Dubrovnik sometime in September or October of this year. For more details on the nine-day trip, call 800-354-8728 or e-mail [email protected]. Price is $1,390 per person and includes air, accommodations, guide, some meals and all transfers and sightseeing. —JB, with additional reporting by Jennifer Merritt
Croatia National Tourist Office
Zagreb Tourism Information