“They are group of enthusiastic and passionate professionals.”
Written by the people who have explored this stunning region with us, the selection of testimonials below highlights the places, the people and the feelings you are bound to experience on your journey. Honest and unrevised, they give you a clear idea of the personal efforts and virtue which go into crafting each individual itinerary and have over time become the trademark of travelling with Secret Dalmatia.
Thank you again for your help in creating a memorable trip for us to Croatia. Here are some thoughts that may be useful to you and future travelers.
First, we are grateful for your advice and care along the way. After the initial proposal, I think you had a sense as to what we were looking for and put together a program that fit us well. Moreover, I am guessing you have many guides that you use and you chose well with the ones you had for us.
In addition, should you ever have the occasion to need a reference for future clients, please feel free to use us. We are happy to tell them of our outstanding experience with you and Secret Dalmatia.
We were happy with the overall plan and the stops along the way. We had discussions about what we would have done if we had one day more or less and what we would have changed. In looking back, we would have liked to have one additional day in Split. Perhaps we could have done with one fewer in Dubrovnik though we enjoyed our last day there with no plans.
We tried to have a balance of days with activities and days without plans. For us, having no formal plans on Korcula and Hvar worked out best.
In terms of the tours, the only change we would have made was to skip the stop in Kastela – interesting but we would have rather had more time in Trogir and especially Split at the end of the day. I suspect if we had started in Split that morning we would have skipped it along the way. It would have been nice to stop in Pazin but, given the long day, we were happy to skip it.
Overall, we were quite happy with the hotels. I know you had proposed some different options, particularly in Dubrovnik and Korcula. But, we were happy not to stay in the hotels inside the old city, the Marmont being the exception.
Bellevue – was outstanding. For us, it was the perfect location – on the water and close enough to walk to the old city. Staff was terrific.
Liburna – not ideal but not as bad as it seemed. The location was perfect for us. Again, it was on the water and close enough to walk to the old city. Staff tried to be helpful and responsive. The facility was OK – the big issue was our room. While spacious, given the location of the room and lack of view (we really didn’t face anything and certainly not the sea), it was just too hot. Not the quality of the other places we stayed but adequate for our needs.
Appolon – outstanding in every way. You knew quickly that we were not Hvar Town people and we loved Star Grad. Can’t say enough good things about them.
Marmont – also outstanding. For us, the perfect location, very comfortable and wonderful staff. Very happy here.
Remisens – I somehow feel that if you go to Opatija you need to stay at the grand hotel in the center. Remisens certainly fits that bill. Room was very comfortable with a wonderful view and the hotel was well located. We liked being in the center of town given the relatively little time we were actually there. They play live music under the window until 11:00 pm but it wasn’t an issue.
For people going on to other places, we were also quite happy with the hotels in Trieste and Ljubljana. Both were large, classic hotels but both very comfortable and well located. We were quite happy with each.
Overall, all the drivers were excellent drivers.
Drujzan (spelling ?) sets the gold standard. He was a wonderful driver, excellent company and passionate about the country. We enjoyed our time with him, and he spoiled us.
We spent less time with Philip and the young man who took us to Plitvice, whose name I don’t recall. Both also were terrific. Lyjerka was our driver for two days and did a great job navigating the roads of Istria.
The two contract drivers for Slovenia were excellent drivers but really little more than cab drivers. Both had to be persuaded to help put our luggage in the car, for example. They got the job done but that’s about it.
Again, our guides were uniformly excellent and we feel like we got to know them with our time together. As they probably told you, we asked a lot of questions often making it a challenge for them to get through their program on time.
Vesna – a wonderful tour of Dubrovnik filled with her personal history of life there during the war. Happy that we had this introduction to the old city – much better than a guide book.
Katya – very good but for us, not of the caliber of the others. She gave us a wonderful introduction to the church of the Lady of the Rocks but our visit to Kotor seemed somewhat rushed and superficial. Perhaps we spent too much time in Perast and had less time to see Kotor but we felt like we really didn’t see much of it.
Nives – as said earlier, probably the best guide we’ve ever had anywhere. Can’t say enough wonderful things about her. She made the places come alive with a mixture of culture and stories. Incredible detail on our stops in Salona and Trogir in the Cathedral and especially in Split in the Palace. We left feeling we really knew the history and the place. Somehow, she also got us in for a brief visit to the Synagogue, something very meaningful for Judy.
Blanca – no better person for the lakes. At one point, she said that you could blindfold her and she could find her way around. We believe it. She gave us a detailed view of the park seeing things (flowers, frogs, snakes) somehow that we would have never thought to look for. Her love of the park comes through.
Ljerka – the perfect guide for us for two days in Istria with an incredible knowledge of the cities, the culture, the history and the backroads. She is certainly quirky and probably not for everyone but for us, she was just right. We enjoyed our time together learning about life in Istrian towns, seeing the ghost towns and getting her personal view. It was unforgettable.
I hope this is helpful to you and future clients.
Thank you again for all your help
Michael and Judy
Thank you! What a great trip and first class service.
The hotels you selected were excellent, clean and perfectly located. The drivers and representatives were professional, informative and friendly (hats off to Toni, our guide in Korčula, whose vast knowledge of history is only rivalled by his kindness!). Needless to say, all logistics were flawless thanks to your close attention to every detail.
You'll be hearing again from us soon. We're planning on discovering the rest of the Balkans and we couldn't find better than you guys!
I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to email you sooner. Our honeymoon was absolutely amazing! From our transfers to our hotels to the excursions we were constantly amazed. We loved our cooking class and the oyster harvesting picnic. The wine tour and boat days were also so very enjoyable. The tour guides that we had for our waking tours were so knowledgeable and helpful. It was so neat to have our own private excursions throughout the trip. Every driver and every person we worked with were so welcoming and friendly. I cannot stop telling everyone about your travel agency and how great our trip was. We have memories that will last forever. Thank you so much for everything! We are already talking about planning our next visit to Croatia!
Thank you again,
Jessica And Chris
Thank you, We had a wonderful trip! The hotels were great, the food was great, the people were super nice and helpful and we truly had an outstanding vacation.
I think our least favorite thing was the trip to Plitvice Lakes. It was way too touristy for our likings and it was disappointing that you couldn’t swim. I think we would have preferred Krka Falls. I don’t think it was worth going hours out of the way for a short walk on a boardwalk although it was beautiful there. We all loved the caves and the days on the boats island hopping the most. The Dubrovnik Kayaking morning was fun but we all wished for a bit less kayaking and more time on the little island to swim, eat lunch, jump off the rocks, and explore. An hour was not enough.
I think my favorite town was Rovinj. It was a good combination of an outstanding hotel, fun old town to explore without too many people, and we enjoyed the bike ride around the park/beach area.
Hope that helps a bit. Everything was seamless and easy and I appreciate the planning you did for us.
I just wanted to thank you again for a fantastic trip. You made my husband's birthday vacation wonderful. Every driver and every guide was professional, knowledgable and fun. They made the tours delightful! The hotels were amazing and every arrangement went perfectly. I'll be recommending your agency to every friend and family member that goes to Croatia. And the next time we go back we'll contact you again.
Thank you for a beautiful and memorable trip!
Mirjana & Timothy O'Hara
Vlasta- Thank you so much. We had an amazing vacation. I am already recommending you and your company to family and friends. All the transfers worked out perfectly and really help reduce the stress of having to figure out where to go. I thought that overall the itinerary was great. We loved something about every location (will give more detail below). If I were to do it again may have a tweak or two, but really everything was so special. Here are some comments that I hope are helpful.
1) Guide from Venice to Ljubljana was great. Really knowledgeable, interesting and helpful. The cave and castle were really great to see as was the general countryside. When we got into Ljubljana he stopped and took us to the main cemetery. I always like to see off beaten track sites and this was interesting. We stayed at Hotel Vander which was good boutique hotel and great location. I know you didn’t help with day in LJub, but would really recommend people going if some of your clients are interested. We loved the city and just did the free walking tour and explored (castle, park) on our own. Much less touristy than other parts of trip, young and fun crowd (but not over the top partying like Hvar).
2) Plitvice Lakes so beautiful. Great that we had guide. So helpful getting around as it was pretty crowded that day. He took us in the back way at one point so we were not with the whole crowd and got to explore some parts on our own.
3) Split- Was least charming of the places we went (and I wasn’t expecting it to be so big). But of course the highlight was our cooking class. We had so much fun with Tatiana and her husband we didn’t want to leave. Also, the tour of the Palace was very interesting and I like Lea a lot. Interesting and personable. The first night we went to dinner at Brasserie 7. That was not my favorite part of city and restaurant was just ok. The next night we just ate in part of old city which I like much better. Boat ride to blue cave was great and the skipper found a great lunch spot and uncrowded bay for swimming which was amazing. Hotel Park Split was very nice.
4) Hvar- I found actual town charming and we LOVED the wine tour/dinner so happy we went. The hotel had paper thin walls and the A/C in our room wasn’t working. They gave us fans, but it wasn’t great. Also, you were right about partying..my kids would have loved it. We slept with ear plugs in. Day we went on wine tour we just hung out at hotel pool nearby which was really good to have a day to sleep in and hang by pool/beach.
5) I didn’t realize the travel from HVAR to Dubrovnik was really a full day (and not sure if it would have been better to take private boat with maybe stop at Mljet and then on to Dubrovnik.. or even cost-wise possible). But having said that, you know we loved our driver and he made what could have been a so-so day really fun. Also, scenery interesting and beautiful so worked out well.
6) Dubrovnik- Hotel Villa Dubrovnik was spectacular- I wish we could have stayed there longer! I thought tour with Maris was ok. She was a little less personable than some of our other guides and her tour was a little more history fact based than conversation.
7) Day of boating from Dubrovnik was good, but if I knew it was 2 hours each way to Mljet ( I probably would have rather stayed around the Islands closer to Dubrovnik). Mljet was beautiful. We rented bikes rode around the lakes. We didn’t stop at Islands on way back (although skipper offered) cause it was getting late and we felt like we didn’t spend enough time in the old city. So we went and walked the walls. We had two really good dinners in Dubrovnik. 1 at Pantarul (steve thinks this was his best meal) and Horizont. The owner at Horizont was great and brought steve and I free drinks because there was a huge thunderstorm and they had first put us outside.
8) Drive down to Aman was good and tour guide Kate was interesting and sweet. At that point though we were kind of tired of touring and couldn’t wait to get to Aman so probably rushed it a little. If I were to do again, I may have not done the tour and just gone right to Aman and looked at beautiful scenery of the Bay on the way. Also, two big tour ships were at Kotor when we were there. Kate found us a good lunch spot with healthy food!
9) Aman was amazing! We stayed in Villa (and not on Island). We couldn’t decide which to do and I still don’t know which would have been better.
10) Drive back to airport worked out well. Steve left something in car and driver was so nice and found us at airport about 20 minutes after he had dropped us to bring it back. (I am only calling him driver because I am so bad remembering names which aren’t familiar to me. )
All the people we dealt with were great. Nice, helpful and interesting. Their English was also very good which made it easy on us. Really helpful that you gave restaurant suggestions and contact info at every stop. Thanks again for helping plan this. Steve and I were saying we need you to expand into other countries so you can plan other trips for us! You really spoiled us! Let me know if you have any questions.
We definitely enjoyed a memorable trip. Working with you we were able to pack quite a bit into 8 days; day 9 we left so I am not counting that although the driver that morning provided wonderful commentary-historical and current events-on the city of Zagreb. So, even day 9 had its informative moments and created a feeling that we knew Zagreb. On the next trip, we all decided we needed a bit more time there.
Based upon a series of emails between a Croatia highlights tour was created within the time constraints outlined. As a result, we were able to see a part of the Dalmatian coast and get a sense of the place visited. That happened as a result of your efforts before we arrived and while we were there.
The hotels you selected were very good. First of all, the location allowed us to be either in the city center (Dubrovnik, Hvar & Zadar) or quickly inside the walls with a short walk (Korcula & Split). Staff in each location were very helpful providing maps, directions and recommendations for food that we used along with yours. The rooms at the Hotel Korsal were not as well appointed as the other sites, but the views from the rooms, a beach, and the cleanliness mattered more to me. A hotel is a base to get out and explore my surroundings. A traveler looking for more may find that hotel less attractive.
The restaurants you provided, like Adio Mare in Korcula, were very good (The waiter at that restaurant showed my wife and Amy how to debone a grilled fish and pull it apart with one’s fingers, which was a first for both). Hotel staff also were very good with recommendations.
Tours and guides were exceptional. First, each tour was well-timed. It allowed us enough time to get rooms, luggage and other details out of the way. Secondly, the tour took place on our first day and allowed us to explore with knowledge of the site on our next day. Vesna knows the city of Dubrovnik, and Nevis knows Split. They are good communicators, personable and can speak to the historical and the present challenges faced. Both provided suggestions for our free day, which we followed—swimming at the island of Lokrum was great fun and a relief from the heat in Dubrovnik; the Jewish cemetery and the home of Mestrevic were part of our free day in Split.Through them we gained our sense of the uniqueness of these cities. Mario provided the hiking tour at Plitivice Lakes and information on all aspects of the park. No one fell into the lake, and I think Mario has a new perspective on what retirees can do. Including that visit gave us a chance to explore another part of Croatia and break up the ride to Zagreb.
The use of drivers was a suggestion you made to me when I inquired about renting a car. You were right. They were always on time, professional, informative, and able to get us from one site to another with little delay. We would never have been able to do as much had we rented a car. True we may have had other experiences, but we were limited in time, and we wanted to experience as much of your country as we could. Again, you were right to make use of a driver.
If you were looking for some negatives, there are none I can share. More importantly, your attentiveness to the details in planning and your follow-up while we were traveling account for our ability to travel broadly, quickly and still feel the differences among the various places we visited. I came to Croatia because I always wanted to see Dubrovnik, and I loved it. Each place was unique. Including the towns of Korcula and Hvar on their respective islands provided some additional experiences. Again, I have to agree with you; Split is really special.
In addition to the planning and the attention paid while we were there, you took time from your work to greet us on the dock at Split and that was greatly appreciated. You will laugh but the moment we left Croatia, a major problem developed—all of our luggage was lost between Zagreb (there was a layover in Barcelona) and landing in Naples. Rich and I flew back home on Sunday, July 3 without luggage; luggage turned up on July 4 so Amy and Lin were there to get it. We all agreed this would not have happened if Dubravka was planning this. You’re indispensable.
Croatia was absolutely beautiful! Michael and I enjoyed our trip very much.
We loved the rich history, friendly people, delicious food & wine.
Thank you for thoughtfully planned our itinerary as all left us speechless.
All local guides- Mislav, Marija, our driver Tony and two skippers were wonderful! They were all enthusiastic in sharing their own culture with us. It was also amazing to see Mario's vineyard and dined at his home for lunch prepared with love and fresh ingredients. We have been praising how beautiful (& delicious) Croatia is to all of our families and friends.
As I am typing this email to you, I'm daydreaming about our trip and can't wait to return in the ear future.
Again, thank you for your professional guide in helping us to create beautiful memories on this trip.
Btw, I did receive the picnic refund.
All the best,
Dani & Michael
We are back home again now, although the cold here is a bit of a shock!
On behalf of the three of us, I wanted to send you a big thank you for organising a wonderful tour for us. We enjoyed every minute of it, and were so happy and thankful that we had you to organise it. Thanks for all your good advice, and for your patience with all the changes we needed to make. I really felt that you were putting the tour together to suit us, rather than what was easiest on your side. Everything went like clockwork, the guides and drivers were all excellent and went out of their way to help us with little extra things, and we really enjoyed the hotels as well (the Hotel Esplanade in Zagreb was a highlight, and a bit of a treat at the end). We also really enjoyed our afternoon with Chef Sandra, she was great.
But most of all, it was particularly good to meet you on the dock in Split, a lovely surprise, and to speak to you on the phone at the end. And, at all times we felt you were looking out for us, and that the guides and drivers were too, all that communication between you all made us feel looked after, and valued.
Good luck in the future, and please if you visit Sydney at some stage, please let us know!
Jennifer, Tom and Gordon
Dear Vlasta and Alan,
We couldn't have been more pleased with our experience with Secret Dalmatia, from our first phone call from Alan, until we were picked up promptly at the hotel and delivered to the airport in Dubrovnik to return home.
You chose terrific hotels for us. They were all clean, adequately spacious for our needs and located perfectly -- considering factors such as noise, access to city center attractions and our ability to walk to the best sites.
The guides were all prompt, friendly, professional and had a great sense of humor which we appreciated. The drivers were welcoming, helpful in orienting us to the area and added the personal touch of allowing us to learn about their home and work lives in Croatia.
We had some real surprises on this trip. As our time to fly from Milan to Zagreb approached, I had some anxiety about how we would manage on our own for most of two days in the City. How would we order food, find our way around, ask for help if we needed it? It was such a relief to learn that nearly everyone in the country speaks English -- far more common than in Italy, where we'd just left.
Croatia values cleanliness -- I'm embarrassed to say, more than in our country. We felt comfortable and safe everywhere we went. We also never felt any discomfort with being a same sex couple traveling in Croatia.
One regret -- I wish we had included Plivitce on the itinerary while traveling from Zagreb to Split. Toni took us to an overlook where I got some fantastic shots of all the waterfalls. In talking with him and with other travelers, it's not always jammed with tourists. I think if we had planned an 8 a.m. arrival to somewhere other than the main gate, we would have been very pleased. One suggestion -- as you write out the itinerary, give a more explicit idea of the time we'll spend with guides. For example, we knew that on Brac, we'd be returning sometime in the afternoon. It would help to know it's really an all day excursion and the boats return only at 3:30 and 6:00 p.m. Spending any less time than a full day on Brac would be a mistake. That island with its diversity, history, archaeology and beauty is an absolute gem.
Croatia is a relatively new destination for Americans. The numbers will undoubtedly blossom in coming years, and your business will continue to grow. You have my permission to use these comments in any publicity and you can forward requests for references for potential future travelers to me.
All our best, and thanks for a wonderful Croatian experience!
Eric and Lorn