Q: What was your biggest challenge to develop Rovinj as a premier meetings destination?
Rovinj has all the advantages that a premier congress destination should have—high quality accommodation with a wide range of conference facilities and good geographical position as a destination that is not far from Milan, Munich, Vienna, Budapest, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Belgrade and Sarajevo. It’s a small picturesque seaside town with mild winters and a Mediterranean climate, with lots of interesting things to do in Istria—like truffle hunting, wine tasting, olive oil sampling; it has an exquisite gourmet offer and all within minutes from Rovinj. Therefore, there are many positive sides of Rovinj. The biggest challenge was the flight connections with Pula, which have improved a lot in the last few years; the number of flights and destinations has increased. In addition, the flights operate from April towards the end of October, whereas previously it was only in the period from June to August.
Q: What is your plan for the development of Maistra in the coming 5–10 years?
Adris Grupa PLC, our mother company, acquired HUP Zagreb and HDR Dubrovnik in 2018, with a total of 12 properties, among which are Sheratons in Zagreb and Dubrovnik as well as the Westin Zagreb. In September this year, Adris bought Hotel Marjan in the centre of Split. Maistra is well on the way to become a strong regional company with a focus on becoming a leader in the luxury segment in Croatia.
Q: How important for you are events as a strategic marketing tool?
For a small destination like Rovinj, large image events were an important tool to draw attention to our destination and to prove that though small, we have the muscle and the strength to do big events, ones that only larger destinations would normally organise. In recent years, Maistra has been the host of the Redbull Air race, which has been visited by several thousand people, the RC 44 Sailing Cup and the Rovinj Beach Polo Cup, to name just a few.
Q: How do you capture the essence of Maistra through your actual marketing campaign?
We have conducted several types of surveys including focus groups where we asked our guests what they like about Maistra. How does Maistra make them feel? How do they perceive us? They described brand personality—calming, renewing, refined, local, natural, personal, original, Istrian. It all rolled into a slogan—Feel reborn. We promise our guests that we will make them feel renewed—with calming, renewing and refined experiences and activities that reveal the history and culture of the destination.
“Be creative, be strong, learn from others’ successes and from your own mistakes.”
Q: What can event participants expect to experience in Maistra?
Besides a wide range of multipurpose halls combined with high-end service and state-of-the-art equipment, first-class entertainment matched with exquisite gourmet experiences, refined accommodation, and a fantastic spa & wellness centre.
Q: What are Croatia’s advantages compared to the wider region?
It is the diversity of the small country: you have Istria as one region, green, hilly, that is totally different to Dalmatia, or you have the hilly areas of Gorski Kotar or flat Slavonia. Many different parts for such a small country.
Q: Your best incentive idea in Croatia?There are so many possibilities but what a great incentive should definitely have is a tailor-made programme, an attractive and unique location, and leisure planning that includes the opportunity to experience the city, culture and local customs.
Q: If you had a magic wand, what would you instantly change to increase the development of the meetings industry in Croatia?
Better flight connections in the off-season period.
Q: Can you please describe the most spectacular event that has taken place in Rovinj?
Every year we try to be better. This year’s event celebrated the finalisation of the Rovinj luxury complex Monte Mulini with the opening of the Grand Park Hotel Rovinj. Adris has invested over 300 million euros in the luxury complex with the best Maistra hotels: Hotel Monte Mulini was built 10 years ago, followed 2 years later by the Lone design hotel and this year the Grand Park. For over 10 years, Adris and Maistra have invested in the vision that has ultimately repositioned Rovinj as a luxury destination.
This gala happening lasted five days and consisted of several events:
– A prestigious 44 Cup regatta that was going on in Rovinj waters for five days, with a press conference and morning briefings every day and after sailing mingling at the Primi Terreni Restaurant on the Lungomare Promenade. The sailing boats were all docked in the marina in front of the Grand Park Hotel Rovinj where social events and parties were hosted.
– Welcome party for 500 guests: VIPs, media, business partners, local and international influencers at the Laurel & Berry Restaurant terrace on the Friday evening.
– Gala dinners on the Saturday evening; one, for 150 guests, taking place in the ballroom that has the largest one-piece glass wall made in Europe, overlooking Rovinj, and another one for 450 guests at the pool deck enjoying finger food, snacks and most beautiful view of Rovinj old town.
– At the end, a gala concert by Maestro Andrea Bocelli and guests at the Monte Mulini Beach for 2000 guests by invitation only. A spectacular stage was built on a 50-metre-long boat that was anchored in the Monte Mulini bay, while a VIP auditorium covered with a transparent roof was built on the MM beach. We rounded off this magical night with 150-metre-high fireworks over the sea and after parties at the Lone and Grand Park hotels.
– On the Sunday there was the final 44 Cup match race and the victory celebrations.
The event got only best feedback, and we proofed once again that only by working together with the local authorities are the best results are guaranteed.
Q: What would be your ideal event to host in your hotels?
In recent years we have proven that we can host any event in our hotels; there are no limits really.
Q: What is your advice to younger generations starting out in your field?
Be creative, be strong, learn from others’ successes and from your own mistakes.
Q: What makes you smile?
A successful event, very pleased guests, great media coverage.
Q: What are the 3 things you cannot live without?
Excitement. Motivation. Happiness.