Evergreen Hvar is one of my favourite Adriatic islands. I no longer count how many times I have visited the island. Most of the experience is a summerholiday – I spent several summers on the island where I cooked  octopusbaked fish and enjoyed the beautiful nature. We never get bored of it. This is the life that recharges your batteries for the year ahead, where the delightful climate helps you to forget your everyday problems and,above all, the unbeatable Hvar home kitchen creates a stress-free, peaceful and delicious atmosphere.

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Hvar is still a quite wild and largely uninhabited island. On the beauty of the island, reminiscent of the Garden of Eden, there is no point in wasting words, since there is no shortage of various urban legends and superlatives.One relates to the singer Beyonce, who fell in love with the island so much that she gave her daughter the name of one of the island’s plants – Blue Ivy (blue ivy). When the ferry brings you closer to the island, it smells of Mediterranean plants; in the summer crickets also start with their symphony… it’s no wonder that it was given so many different names! Among other things, it used to be called Austrian MadeiraIn Hvar, the urban has been coexisting with the rural for centuries. The towns of Hvar, Stari Grad, Jelsa and Vrboska and on the other hand the less touristic places of Poljica, Zastražišće and Zavala are balanced by the charm of the inland, whichcan be felt on the old road through Brusje, full of wonderful views of the neighbouring islands and the lavender fields.

[pullquote]Hvar celebrates 145 years of organised tourism[/pullquote]

Hvar lives two tourist lives; the summer crowds and the visits of celebrities from Tom Cruise to Prince Harry is eventually replaced by the autumn-winter lull and the true Hvar ‘fjaka’. It has not always been so at the coolestAdriatic islandInterestingly, tourism here first began to develop in the winter monthsDue to the mild climate, the island has been a climatic health resort ever since 1868. It also offers a lot more outside the main touristseason – world-class wineries, olive oil, rock climbing, biking and rural tourism. The island offers so much more than beaches, the waterfront with luxury yachts and the infamous parties at the club Carpe Diem.

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”900px” height=”” background_color=”#bed68b” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Restoration of The Hvar public Theatre – works on improvement of the Arsenal building are in progress, as a prerequisite for the restoration of the Theatre itself and the revitalisation of the cultural and dramatic life of this one-of-a-kind veteran of the world’s theatrical history. The long-awaited reconstruction of this exceptional historical monument will bring it back to life.[/dropshadowbox]

Perhaps part of the problem is also messy destination management. In terms of marketing, four destination organisations operate with the island – Hvar, Stari Grad, Jelsa and Sućuraj, which is too many for such a small and incredibly special island. On the other hand, the island receives the constant attention of foreign media and numerous awards. In 2012, Lonely Planet announced Hvar as one of the top five destinations and Conde Nast one of the top 10 islands in Europe. The visits of stars and mega yachts fills the pages of the yellow press and provides free promotion of the island.

The meeting industry goes hand in hand with cuisine and oenology, which makes the island of Hvar also interesting from this point of view; it is one of the hottest Croatian wine points. Over 2,400 years of wine-making tradition is concentrated around the ‘Stari Grad’ (the Old Town), which is now on the UNESCO heritage map. The oldest vine, plavac mali, can be found on the island of Hvar, the root of a tradition continued by famous winemakers ‘Zlatan Otok’ (Golden Island), Tomić, Carić, Plančić and Duboković. It is necessary to try the native white variety, Bogdanuša.

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”900px” height=”” background_color=”#bed68b” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Hvar for the first time connected to Dubrovnik by Catamaran – the team from Krilo have come up with a twice-weekly service on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Plito to Milna, Hvar Town, Korčula and Dubrovnik, starting in May 2014. [/dropshadowbox]

Today Hvar is primarily the scene of a variety of eventsThis year the Ultra festival will be held there, which will attract over 60,000 visitors to Split, including 5,000 VIP guests in Hvar, who will be entertained at a specialvenue at the Hotel Amfora. The list of various convention events is also interesting. In June this year, Hvar will host a large start-up conference, with a number of smaller events also lined upmost of them to take place in the flexible convention centre of the Hotel Amfora.

The hotel company ‘Sunčani Hvar‘ (Sunny Hvar) has raised the quality of their hotels that now satisfy even the most demanding guests. The largest of their hotels is the Amfora, a modern hotel with a conference centre andluxurious extras; it is away from the old town, where they renovated the boutique hotels Adriana and Riva. The full offer is complemented also by hotels of lower categoryStari Grad and other smaller towns still remain, as regards the offer of accommodation, in the shadow of Hvar.

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”900px” height=”” background_color=”#bed68b” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Two Hvar restaurants make the top 40 Croatia restaurant for 2014 – Gariful and Meneghello.[/dropshadowbox]

Logistically the organisation of events on the island is certainly more complex than on the mainland. However, today, in addition to the quite tired ferries of Jadrolinija, you can use the more comfortable passenger catamaran,which can also be privatised. Each year Split Airport has more connections, even outside of the peak season. The number of flights during the season surpasses those of many of the South-East European capitals. Road connectivity within the island, however, requires a bit more patience, especially during the high season.

Culinary gems are always a bit hidden, among them being Palmižana on the nearby Paklinski islands, but otherwise you will find authentic taverns around the island where they will prepare meat or octopus baked “ispod peke” style for you

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”900px” height=”” background_color=”#bed68b” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]First Mini Seedcamp on an island: Hvar – the leading European accelerator program is hosting the first Mini Seedcamp on an island.[/dropshadowbox]

Hvar hides such gems as the village of Velo Grablje, with just seven inhabitants, which is the manufacturing centre of Hvar lavender.

In the middle of summer Hvar is really overcrowded, but in early autumn and spring it is a perfect choice for organising congresses and incentive programmes, both at sea and on land.

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5 excellent meeting destination
4 quality meeting destination
3 recommendable meeting destination
2 average meeting destination
1 passable

Individual grades:

A. Natural and Cultural Factors:   4,50
The central Dalmatian islands have been inhabited since prehistoric times. Due to the island characteristics they create a geographical and cultural-historical finished package. Hvar is now on the UNESCO list of natural heritage sites and is the main adventure pearl of the Adriatic.

BGeneral and Transport Infrastructure:  3,80
Since Split is now accessible from the highway, the way to Hvar is significantly shorter. Sunčani Hvar is aware of the difficult access to the island, which is particularly problematic for congress and other business travellers who come for 2 – 3 day’s events. Improving flight connectivity weighs up even in the worst case a two-hour drive from Split to the island.

C. Tourist Infrastructure:    4,30
Sunčani Hvar took care of the cosmopolitan transformation of Hvar into one of the world’s top destinations. The renovated Riva and Adriana hotels in the old town can meet the needs of the most demanding guests,without missing good restaurants, bars and exclusive beaches. A well maintained walkway connects the old part with the largest hotel, the Hotel Amfora.

D. Meetings Infrastructure :   3,60
Hvar has put itself on the meetings map by building a convention hotel, Amfora, with a congress centre and two large halls. The largest one can take up to 370 people theatre-style, the other 320. Both are flexible, A/V connected and can be converted into five break out rooms, complemented by three additional ones, designed for smaller, intimate meetings. For special events and receptions, the Hotel Palace offers a wonderful ambience at San Marco terrace on the main town square.

E. Subjective Grade:     4,40
Despite the notoriety of the island and its visibility Hvar is still sweet, genuine and full of sincere, authentic Mediterranean experiences. The island culture fascinates and conquers, despite the more difficult access. It is well worth it!

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Comparison with the region:
None of the more than 1,000 Croatian islands has such karma and recognition as Hvar. Definitely a “must” Croatian destination, right behind Dubrovnik. Distance from the mainland gives it a touch of boutique smallness.

Cool meetings:
Hvar wine and the island’s culinary art have thrilled the gourmet and world traveller Anthony Bourdain, who already after the first visit became one of Hvar’s chief promoters. You will also definitely be reminded of Hvar by the taste of olive oil, red wine and the fragrance of lavender.