Friday, October 07, 2016

Croatia’s First Resort Development

Croatia Online - Brizenica Bay5

Yesterday afternoon I became completely distracted trying to pin down the location of Croatia’s first new resort development – Brizenica Bay, on Hvar island. Extensive searches saw it mentioned a few times on tourist pages in relation to beaches accessible by boat, and in connection with the proposed development, but it was not named on any one of my maps – nautical or otherwise. Nor did the developers think to include the exact location on a map on their website. Even my detailed maps of Hvar island, which name almost every coastal indentation, were silent on Brizenica Bay.  I guessed it would not be far from Stari Grad and I also deduced it must be part of the Kabal peninsula that stretches north west from Stari Grad and so, eventually I found that some obliging member of the public had pinpointed  it on a google map. And then, lo and behold, I zoomed in, in a slightly different place, on my electronic navigational sailing charts, and there it was, spelt slightly differently.

In order to avoid readers having the same challenges, and to share the benefit of all those hours spent solving the mystery, I thought I would reproduce the results of my research and have pinpointed the location in the main picture above. I have used the tourist board map of Hvar for this, which I trust is within the terms of use – please note that copyright in it is with Kartograf. The lable and boxes, and extraction of the boxed out area on the map, are my work. Please do not reproduce the photo without permission from the copyright owners,  just in case.

Having pinpointed the location, and after checking the latitude and longitude with the notes I made on photos taken on a recent boat trip in the area, below is a photo of what I am pretty sure is the right bay.

Croatia Online - Brizenica Bay Boat trip

You can see the spine of the Kabal peninsula, rising behind it, and, as you’ll see from the map, the peninsula is a narrow y-shaped and heavily indented piece of land with a “b” road running along the top, with steep narrow tracks down to some of the bays.

Of course the locals would have known where it was instantly. Brizenica Bay, along with others on the Kabal peninsula  such as  Žukova, Zavala, Tiha and Digidaga, are favourite “secret” retreats from the summer hoardes. Barely accessible by car, easier to get to by boat, these bays and beaches, hidden amongst pine forests and olive groves, make for a pleasant peaceful contrast to the busier beaches nearer Stari Grad itself, but perhaps not for much longer?

Four Seasons Resort Hvar, covering 17 hectares around Brizenica Bay,  is expected to open in 2019. Arqaam Capital, a  specialist emerging markets investment bank, head quartered in Dubai, has entered into a partnership with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts to manage and operate the luxury mixed use resort.  

The development will feature a 120-room Four Seasons hotel and a luxury residential community including 60 Four Seasons private residences ranging in size from a one bedroom residence to a five bedroom villa.  The resort will also feature  several swimming pools,  a spa and fitness centre, top end restaurants, cafes, bars and boutiques, as well as conference and banqueting facilities. The sales blurb also suggests private docking, though I would imagine that might not be all year round, since the bay is not particularly well protected, especially from winds from the north-west. It is, however, quite a deep bay and I would imagine it will need plenty of imported gravel if the designers want to incorporate a gradually sloping area of beach. The media pack also mentions multiple daily seaplane flights from Split to nearby Jelsa  - hopefully the developers and other interested parties can bring some pressure to bear to resolve the current impasse between ECA, who run the flights, and the authorities, who have suspended flights after, allegedly, reports from a disgruntled employee criticising maintenance and other matters. There is a link to an article about the suspension below, reporting on a statement made by ECA on 3rd October 2016, but, at the time of writing, the ECA website itself has no news update since August 2016.

I suppose, as far as the march of progress goes, this new resort project is a really positive development for Hvar, and Croatia as a whole. If it’s going to get developed then better to “go” 5-star than anything else and there aren’t much better brands than Four Seasons. However there’s just a part of me that is a little sad that this will be another part of “the Mediterranean as it once was” that won’t be again. And I fear that this resort development, classy and pioneering as it is, may just be the start of the taming of the whole of the wild, rugged and dramatic Kabal peninsula. Thankfully, however, there are still plenty of wild, rugged and dramatic parts of Croatia left,  and Stari Grad deserves the best, so let’s celebrate progress and trust in the developers and the authorities to make sure this enormous project does full justice to its location!

For more information, try the following links:

Brizenica Bay.Com

Stari Grad Tourist Board

Slobodna Dalmacija - Aerial Shot Of Bay

Arquaam Capital

ECA Suspend Seaplane Flights In Croatia

European Coastal Airlines


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