Testimonials

“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.

Glass Family, USA
Glass Falmily, USA

September 2015

Dear Dubravka,

Croatia! Where do I start? The experience was wonderful, magical, from start to finish. Traveling with our grown children made the experience even more special, as we enjoyed each other's companionship while we marveled at the beauty of the country.

The itinerary that you arranged for us was perfect. We all remarked that every day was so different, yet equally enjoyable. We were busy, but we appreciated the fact that we had some "down time" for leisure. The hotels were lovely, the breakfasts were great, the guides were so knowledgeable, and the drivers were safe and professional, yet so kind and accommodating. And, of course, every venue along the way was beautiful.

I cannot praise you and Secret Dalmatia enough for the program you arranged. Everything --- and I mean everything --- came off without a glitch. What an efficient operation you run, yet one that still exudes comfort and caring. Everyone was so wonderful and helpful, as were the Croatian people in general.

Thank you also for arranging the side trip to Ogulin to allow us to see the hometown of my grandfather and to meet with relatives still living there. What a special experience and what a lovely day we had!

At the risk of going on too long, allow me to comment specifically on our experience in the various locales:

ZAGREB. What a beautiful and vibrant city. We were pleasantly surprised by all it had to offer. Don't let the secret out! Our guide, Neven, was the best. He was a wealth of information.

OGULIN. Visiting here was an emotional experience for everyone, and it put the whole trip in perspective. I returned to my roots! Sabina was the perfect person to facilitate the meeting between us and our relatives. She and our driver were so helpful in filling in the blanks with the translation.

PLITVICE NATIONAL PARK. Wow! Such beauty! Our guide, Tijana, was so familiar with the best trails, enhancing our experience there. We were also very pleased to find such great quality food at the "mountain area" restaurant at Hotel Degenija.

ROVINJ. What a beautiful setting. Villa Tuttorotto was unique. My son really enjoyed all the fish options at breakfast!

SPLIT. Again, such a magical place, where you're living among history. Again, as in Rovinj, it was great to stay right in the heart of the city. Of course, Andrija made our stay at the hotel so special and so personal. Our guide, Nives, gave us a good overview of both the old and the new in Split.

TROGIR. Probably the highlight of our trip was the cooking class with Tatjana. How privileged we were to experience the work of such a professional. Yet, she simply welcomed us into her home with open arms. Again, it was such a personal experience, and we had the best meal of our trip --- which is saying something, since we never had a bad meal during the entire stay!

HVAR. It was so relaxing sipping wine at the vineyards, not to mention the great meal with the "million kuna" view. Our boat captain was very accommodating and very safe. We were fortunate to have a side trip to another island to do some swimming in the beautiful Adriatic.

MOSTAR. We're glad we took the side trip to experience that part of Yugoslav history. So close, yet a world apart. The bridge jumpers were something to see, and the Old Town had a certain magic at night.

DUBROVNIK. Ah, Dubrovnik! We could definitely see why it is the Pearl of the Adriatic. Our guide, Marija, was great. It was interesting to hear her first-hand accounts of the war in that city.

I would be remiss if I did not praise Dalibor, our driver who shuttled us to multiple places and who pointed out so many interesting things to us along the way. He exhibited so much patience, even at the slow border crossing from Bosnia into Croatia. He is the ultimate professional. Kudos to him!

In summary, we all couldn't have been more pleased with Secret Dalmatia, and you in particular, for providing memories of a lifetime for us. We can recommend you without reservation. Thank you for your personal attention to every detail. Thanks for everything. Hvala!

Larry and Angela Glass

September 2015

Hi Mirna,

We are back safe and sound from one of the most memorable trips I have ever had! Of course Croatia is an easy country to visit and fall in love with - but your company, Secret Dalmatia, gave us some unique experiences that we would not have otherwise had the pleasure to experience.

I want to mention that up until 2013, I had spent 18 years living international and have traveled to 60 countries. So I do have some experience with traveling. I have genuinely enjoyed every place I have ever visited - but I can say Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Montenegro were all something special.

First thing to mention is the private transport we arranged. This isn’t something I always do - but it really added to the ease of our trip. Really, it gave us that much more time to enjoy other things rather than spending precious time doing either public transport or driving ourselves. The unexpected bonus was the time we spent between our locations enjoying the countryside. We were both so surprised with the beauty of each country and would love to come back to experience more of that (such as Plitvice National park in Croatia and the countryside in Istria). The drivers were also top notch - and was an opportunity for us to talk to someone from the region.

We started in Ljubljana, Slovenia and decided it was our favorite place. We didn’t want to leave! Sabina was a great guide and we would have been happy to spend our 2 weeks there.

Then we went to Rovinj, Croatia - and found our new favorite place!! We were glad we went and could have spent another couple days there. Casa Garzotto was full of charm - absolutely loved it! Each night a gentleman sat below our room - down a couple shops - playing the accordion! It added an atmosphere that would be hard to duplicate. The old town was fun, enjoyed walking to a park each day and watching the sunset along the waterfront. Can’t get much better than that!

Ljerka was so much fun. We had her for a guide and the drive to Split. Again, she added so much to the trip from her knowledge of Rovinj, to showing us the countryside on our drive to Split.

Split also was great! So much to see and take in. We found the old town to be completely different than Rovinj - and Ljubljana - and spent 2 wonderful days there too. Nives, our guide, was great and made it fun for us. The lunch with Cedo was one of those special arrangements made through Secret Dalmatia that we so much enjoyed. After the 2 hours we spent there, we felt it had been the highlight of the trip so far! I would really recommend the experience.

On to Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kotor, Montenegro. Again such great drivers and guides. Both places were wonderful places to visit and much to see in the surrounding areas.

Dubrovnik is such a special place. Our driver, Marko, from Kotor to Dubrovnik - was the best! We stopped at Cavtat - and would love to spend more time there when we return! Wandering the old town in Dubrovnik was fun - discovering the little cafe outside the city walls overlooking the water, finding a beautiful “hidden” church tucked away and trying to decide which restaurant to eat at. And the cherry on top of this fabulous trip was our day spent with Mario Bartulovic at his winery on the Peljesac peninsula. It really was an amazing day for us. That will definitely be what I remember most about Croatia when I think of our trip. We so much appreciated the time he spent with us, never making it feel rushed. This made us feel we saw the “real” Croatia. Our sincere thanks to him for a wonderful day that we will never forget.

Mirna, you did a really wonderful job organizing our trip. I can’t think of any problems - only a smooth, effortless two weeks for us. I have no doubt we will return - next time with our husbands!! I know there will be more things for us to see - possibly a trip to an island or two! We will be in touch with you when that day comes.

Thank you for your guidance on all this!

Sincerely,

Sandy Borling

James & Carano party, USA
Land & Sailing private program

September 2015

Dear Mirna,

All that planning and anticipation has come to an end and now we are left with our fabulous memories. Memories that are possible because of all the care, time, and attention to detail that you put into making our vacation as seamless as could be. Every aspect of our vacation was absolutely wonderful and I would not change a single thing. There were so many highlights and certainly one worth mentioning was getting to meet you. When I first started planning this vacation, I was overwhelmed. Then I found you and it became enjoyable and effortless. I can’t thank you enough for one of the most tremendous vacations we’ve ever had. It was a privilege working with you. I wish you well and hope that someday our paths cross again.

Sincerely,
Lori James

Jackie Jew party, USA
Private group program

September 2015

Dear Mariana and Alan,

Thank you both for working with us on the trip planning and for ensuring that our first trip to Slovenia and Croatia was informative, enjoyable, and relaxing. We have indeed all arrived safely home with wonderful memories of your beautiful country and its people. And we also all agreed, that we want to return to see other parts of the country and some of its neighbors.

The hotels that you selected were excellent, and again, thank you for resolving the error in Split so that Jane and Joy were able to fully enjoy that part of the trip.

Your drivers and guides were very professional and excellent, especially Peter in Slovenia, Nives, in Split, and Dalibor and Drazen. The day in Trogir with Tatjiana was exceptional, and the captain of the boat and our dirver/and guide that day was also great. Maya, the tour guide in Zagreb was good, although we wished that she had timed our walk and gone first to the chapel so that we could have visited there -- we missed it because it closed at 5 PM. Our guide, Martina, in Dubrovnik was fine, but seemed a bit rushed, and we actually had to ask her to slow down and let us enjoy some of the sites before moving on; this was quite different from Nives in Split, who was energetic, passionate, and so willing to share with us and show us special places, and made certain that we were able to visit places like the pharmacy before closing time.

Please note that these are small matters and in not meant to be complaints or criticism, but rather feedback for future reference and perhaps training. Everyone was very professional, and it is clear that your firm is committed and focused on excellence, and it showed in many many ways.

These comments are intended to be helpful, and we would appreciate if if you would extend our thanks and gratitude to your staff-- and of course, our thanks to you, Mariana for all of your help and patience!

We will surely recommend you to our friends, as we share pictures and stories of our wonderful trip to Croatia. I look forward to working with you on our next visit...we have already promised our children a trip!

We are hearing on the news about some of the challenges arising from the migrants, and we hope that everything can be resolved peacefully and with dignity and humanity. Wishing you peace and continued prosperity!

All my best,
Jackie

August 2015

Dubravka,

Thanks to you, your colleagues and your local resources, the trip was fantastic. Here are the highlights from my perspective; I will let Bill provide his own:

-My first inquiry was by phone on a Sunday and a "live" person answered! I think it was the owner or manager of Secret Dalamatia. This was totally unexpected. He immediately gave me a good feeling.
-Your colleague who went on maternity leave did an excellent job of working with me to outline what we might like, developed the first itinerary and, then, you seamlessly stepped in and provided excellent suggestions for revisions. And your presence "behind the scenes" as you said made all the logistics work perfectly.
-The itinerary of two nights in each of three places worked really well.
-The private lunch prepared by Tatyana and served by Kaja was very special. She is so talented and her food was creative, yet local and authentic. I felt like I was eating in a friend's kitchen - but a friend who understands high quality food preparation. A real treat.
-Mario and his family's vinarija was another special day. HIs passion and knowledge makes me appreciate wine from Croatia so much more. I loved going with him to check on whether the grapes were ready for harvest and stopping by the Grgic winery as they were bringing in the first harvest.
-All hotels, transportation and restaurants worked well. Dvor and Sesame were favorites. Our drivers were punctual, friendly and knowledgeable.

One suggestion and one recommendation:
Suggestion: the Lapad Hotel was nice but I would have preferred a smaller hotel, closer to the Old Town if possible and with a younger crowd. Thank you for the suite upgrade. That was luxurious.
Recommendation: as we mentioned by phone, the Rodiana restaurant was ok for lunch but we were glad we went elsewhere for dinner. No one is eating there and it might be for a reason??? I would take them off your list until you see evidence of it changing.

Sadly, our holiday is over and we must return to work. Your personal attention made the Croatia part of our trip very memorable. Thank you again.

Best regards,
Karen

August 2015

Hi Dubravka,

I have been meaning to write to you, but returning to work after such a long holiday has been quite busy...

Thank you so very much for organizing such a wonderful honeymoon for us, we absolutely loved every minute of it! The sail boat was beautiful and comfortable, and Ivona was an amazing skipper and person! We had so much fun with her and her suggestions on where to go, what to do, and where to eat on each island we visited were all fabulous! Although all the places we visited were beautiful, we especially loved the island of Vis.

We are so happy we chose Croatia for our holiday, the beaches and sea are gorgeous, and so are the mountains (after the sailing trip we spent a day at Plitvice National Park). We were very impressed on how everyone spoke such wonderful English and Italian and on how clean and organized everything was (even the public bathrooms were all spotless!). We were also pleasantly surprised by the food; my husband Luca is Italian and can be quite selective when it comes to food quality, and he kept saying that the cuisine at many of the restaurants was just as good as the food you can find in Italy, which is a huge compliment coming from him!

The only thing I would mention that was a bit of an inconvenience for us was the fact that almost all places we went (including most restaurants and even ports) did not accept payment with credit card. This never ended up being a big problem since luckily we had cash with us and were also able to withdraw money when necessary, but as an American I am used to paying for nearly everything with credit card and assumed that this would be a possibility also in Croatia. I would definitely recommend to advise tourists (especially the Americans) of this before they arrive so that they can make sure to bring plenty of cash with them. Other than that I have no complaints, it was a fantastic trip!

Thanks again for everything!!

Best wishes,

Bethany

Galvin Family, UK
Private Majestic Croatia

August 2015

Hi Mirna

Thank you for your email. We already gave you a lot of great feedback when we met, but overall we had a wonderful time which we will never forget. Our children, or should I say teenagers, especially enjoyed the holiday and all the restaurants in Dubrovnik were of course absolutely fantastic. The only negative note was the Valamar President Hotel, which is not really a 5 star international standard so we were a little disappointed in that, (eg staff were a little negative, food was not so good, the spa booked out 6 days ahead). But I think we were really just missing the wonderful smaller hotels we had enjoyed so much in the previous week! And of course you were absolutely brilliant with your support and ever-helpful attitude - you really made our holiday very special.
Many thanks again

John and Family

Mark & Kathryn Caldwell, USA
Discover Dalmatia Tour

August 2015

Mirna,

The trip was perfect - Secret Dalmatia did a wonderful job planning everything. Katie and I loved everything you planned out and wouldn't change anything. I want to especially thank you for your great customer service throughout the booking process and trip. I will definitely recommend your agency to my other friends interested in visiting Croatia. You are lucky to live in such a beautiful country. I'm also happy to serve as a reference if any of your potential clients want to talk to someone.

Thank you again,

Mark Caldwell

Hopkins Family, USA
Private Family Tour

August 2015

Dear Mariana-

Thank you for all your help to make it an unforgettable trip to Croatia. We enjoyed meeting you as well and are so appreciative of the efforts to make it a carefree trip for everyone. We hope that we will be able to return to see more of your beautiful country.

A few highlights:
Andreija and the Judita Palace. We absolutely loved this hotel and Andreija and the whole staff at the hotel are amazing. We were so pleased with our room with the loft and it was perfect for us. Andreija's motto was, "Of course that's possible. We just want you to enjoy yourselves." The breakfasts were delicious and a great way to start the day.

Dinner at Konoba Matejuska was a wonderful way to start our Croatian eating adventure! We had a delicious dinner of fresh grilled fish & squid. The kids were so tired from the long trip from Provence, but they all loved the food. We felt very lucky to have reservations since at least 3 different people came in while we were having dinner to make reservations for dinners in the future. Lunch at Korta was delicious too and my two favorite dishes were the monkfish wrapped in prosciutto and the steamed clams & mussels.

Lana is possibly the best tour guide we've ever had. She was so accommodating and had this great way of repeating information so that we could retain it. I really felt as if I'd learned and retained a lot of knowledge about Split when we were done with the tour. Do you mind sharing her email with me? Paul (who has a great memory for faces) realized that Lana is one of the people featured in the New York Times "36 Hours in Split" video that we watched before our trip! She's famous! We would like to congratulate her and also let her know how much we enjoyed our tour.

The private boat tours were all really special. The captains of our boats were all very friendly and the boats were pristine and well stocked. Jelko (spelling probably wrong) and Inno his son were wonderful and brought tomatoes and maraschino brandy from home for us. He made a beautiful Caprese salad for us and treated us all to a taste of the brandy. Lunch at Toto's was so fun and we were able to linger over lunch while the kids swam in the cove after they were done with their lunch. Drago was a character and some of the best pictures are the ones that he took of us that he insisted we pose for. I know that Bridget's boat on the last trip was a little smelly from the bathroom and there were no beverages on the boat, so something to keep in mind for others is to ensure that there are proper provisions on each boat. The skippers of our boat on the last day when we went to Villa Ruža were great, very kind and always trying to anticipate if we would need drinks, towels or whatever. The boat tours were the kids' favorite activities of the trip (of course) and all of the coves where we were taken to swim were breathtakingly gorgeous.

Thank you for a seamless transfer of our luggage from Split to Dubrovnik. It was such a treat not to have to manage that and I want that on every trip I take from now on!

The Villa Dubrovnik is one of the most spectacular settings for a hotel I've ever stayed. The rooms are gorgeous and very comfortable. The staff is professional and friendly. My only advice to future clients is that the food isn't anywhere near as good as the restaurants where you sent us and pricey (to be expected at a 5 star hotel, of course) so it's worth it to go off property to eat. We were also surprised that the hotel charged us for shuttle rides to restaurants since we've stayed at 5 star hotels where those services are complimentary within a certain radius of the hotel. We weren't told that there was a charge when we inquired about a shuttle to Pantarul and Bridget was surprised to see it on her bill at checkout. They graciously removed one of the charges, but in the future I would advise your clients that this is not a complimentary service in order to avoid any confusion.

We loved our meals at Dubrovnik and Pantarul. The staff at Dubrovnik was so nice about us being so late and the setting on the roof is relaxing and beautiful. They even opened up the roof for us to show us what it would be like during the evening. Pantarul was such a lovely surprise - homey and comfortable, with delicious food at very reasonable prices and great for kids. It's totally worth the 15 minute drive. We had such a nice meal there.

I would definitely not recommend the kayaking for a group with children or for a group as large as ours. We thought it would be more of a tour, with a commentary and some educational value as well as for exercise, but there was very little commentary on history and it turned out to be a very difficult trip to the island and back since each kayak was comprised of one adult and one child with the children doing very little work in the hot sun. I was horrible at it and I think of myself as being athletic :0) After all the very seamless activities you arranged for us, this was a little bit of a shock. It took much longer for our group to finish and as a result we were all exhausted. I apologize for being so curt with you on the phone when we spoke that day, but at that point all I wanted to do was take a shower and pass out on my bed until it was time for our walking tour! If we did it again, I would do some kind of boat directly to the island with maybe a tour on the island of the botanical gardens followed by some swimming. By the time we reached the island on the kayaks, we were so hot and tired that all we wanted to do was have a cold drink at the restaurant!

I would also suggest that if possible, clients may want to build in one day of leisure in each city to explore. I felt that I could have used one more day in both Split and Dubrovnik to just take in the city at my own pace. After a long day on the boat in the sun, we were usually very tired and didn't have a lot of energy to power through it and stay up to enjoy the city. I would have also loved more time to just enjoy our lovely hotels. The pool at the Villa Dubrovnik and the Prosciutto Bar deck were great and I would have loved to have just another day to take advantage of them. Our teen daughter and her cousin took the vaporetto shuttle to the city but my husband I didn't get a chance to ride that gorgeous boat ourselves. Next time!

Thanks again for arranging such a lovely trip for our families. We hope to be able to return and will definitely be in touch with you. In the meantime, we will send our friends to you because we were so pleased with our first visit to Croatia.

Regards-
Melissa Hopkins

The Braun Family, USA
Braun Family Private Tour

August 2015

Overall – I found Secret Dalmatia’s services, help and guidance to be excellent. Your company made my vacation much easier than it would have been.

Mirna – She is very responsive, knowledgeable and helpful. Great to work with!

Transfers – Every one was on time, in a very nice vehicle, and helpful.

Hotels -

· Esplanade – classic, great location, great service, great room, great breakfast. My kids loved this hotel.

· Konoba Skracovic – boring but functional, ok location, fair service, fair room, fair breakfast. I think that’s how Karlovacs is?

· Bastion – nice décor, great location, great service, great room, great breakfast. This was my favorite hotel.

· Judita – tired/outdated décor, great location, great service (especially Andrea), fair room, fair breakfast.

· Lapad – ok (enjoyed the pool!), ok location, poor service (worst of all the hotels), good room (very modern and big), ok breakfast.

Dinner recommendations – We only used two, Apolon and 360 and they were both great. Apolon is a fantastic place and a great value. 360 is excellent, but a lot more expensive.

It was a great trip and I’m very glad I used your services. I even found the church records for my family at the Arhiv.

Puno hvala!

Eric, Nicholas and Olivia Braun