“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.
The trip was spectacular! We had a fabulous time, and there was not one glitch (until our plane was grounded in Toronto, left 15 hours late, and they lost our luggage!) But the trip was over, and Rita and I could be late getting home.
Every place you sent us, every guide you got for us, and every B&B you booked was perfect. We can't thank you enough. I would recommend you and Secret Dalmatia to anyone who is looking to travel there.
I would love to meet you in person some time. If you come back up this way, please do call. I rarely get down to LA or Santa Monica any more.
Just to tell you that we arrived home safely yesterday. We wish to thank you for your careful planning of our trip. We were very pleased with all the hotels, guides and drivers and very much enjoyed your country, Croatia, which was a complete surprise to us. The scenery and the hills are marvellous and the ocean and the history and the people and the food.
Hello Alan and Pamela,
We are just back from our trip and wanted to send a huge "Thank You!" regarding your help in making our trip to Croatia a magical one. Every aspect of the trip ran smoothly, and Alan, all of the activities you suggested to us were wonderful. Our trip to Modric Cave and our sailing day were both highlights of the trip. Our only suggestion would be to give a little more information about those two activities to the next person. We did not realize we had "chartered" the sailboat and could bring our own food, nor did we realize the cave adventure would be a hard-hat day. Neither lack of knowledge in any way spoiled things for us, but just as an FYI for the future.
We must send our thanks, also, to all of the people, from drivers to adventure leaders, for their love of what they do and their fierce love of their country. Andrej, Sonja, Marjan, Velselka, Florio, Maria, and our final driver to the airport... you all were wonderful companions on our trip and we would love to run into you again. We appreciate your patience with our endless questions, and we appreciate all you told us of your country. We are already thinking about returning in two years time, perhaps we will see you again. And Alan, we appreciate that everyone endeavored to educate us on a wide variety of topics, from the recent conflict all the way to farming methods.
Croatia is a special place, and we appreciate all you did to share that with us.
Thank you for the smoothest, best-executed trip EVER! We've traveled internationally a good bit and your service is the best we've ever had.
It is a leap of faith to wire money to an individual you've "met" on the internet,- rather like internet dating - so we were thrilled when a man with a sign met us in Dubrovnik, and everything flowed like clockwork from there!
From the beginning, I knew I'd found a winner when you responded promptly to each and every email. You immediately grasped the type of trip I was trying to arrange and the type of activities that our group was interested in. When I first began researching the trip, I sent the same information to you and to another tour operator. The other group responded to me too, only they sent a plan for the wrong number of guests and the wrong dates! Two rather basic bits of information! You never made a mistake! When you suggested I wait until October to make our arrangements, I trusted you and amused myself in the meanwhile going over your website with a fine-toothed comb, choosing activities that I hoped would appeal to our diverse group. And October came and you hadn't forgotten me! I hadn't considered quite such an ambitious trip at the outset but once I saw all the wonderful options on your web site I got carried away. Being "on the wrong side of 60", I can't guarantee that I'll have another opportunity to visit Croatia, but I'm sure the children will be back. But you were able to take our wishes and construct a great plan with a nice pace.
I was devastated when my brother could not commit to the trip due to his health, but you were so kind as to hold his rooms, AND to let the trip go forward with 2 fewer travelers than originally promised. I cannot thank you enough for this kindness. It is his loss.
We had done a lot of preliminary reading about Croatia. The choices became overwhelming. You were able to suggest lodging arrangements in each of the areas we hoped to visit that suited us well. I cannot thank you enough for Vestibule Palace in Split. What a treat!
In the case of Pag, a site you do not normally "service", you were able to get us great lodging and a great guide. We were especially impressed that you were aware of where we were in our travels, were up-to-the-minute on the bora weather situation, and were pro-actively making arrangements for any possible scenario. That just doesn't happen for travelers! Most agents book you and forget about you. We were initially interested in Pag because of the cheese factory, but our guide also showed us the underground Roman aqueduct and the olive grove with a tree with a trunk so large that it took 6 of us standing together to get our arms around the trunk, really memorable sites. We did have some language issues at Hotel Boskinac regarding vegetarian food. In fact, everywhere in Croatia we saw gorgeous fresh vegetables, but it was difficult to communicate to restaurants that Beth wanted to eat ONLY vegetables. Ordering a "vegetarian plate" often brought 6 slices of sauteed zucchini, delightful, but hardly a meal. Luckily pasta was sometimes an option. That was our only problem, and nothing to do with your good work at all!
Our guides in each city were personable and knowledgeable and really a joy to spend time with. In Istria people were so kind as to let us postpone some touring on the very rainy day and make a long day the next. Zdenka was delightful; she sang for us ( too briefly!) in one of the tiny village churches in Roc to demonstrate the acoustics, but she had a cathedral-sized voice. I could have listened to her sing for hours! She also arranged the fresco painting workshop with her friend Hari as a special surprise which our daughters especially enjoyed. She also found an olive oil "factory" that would let us come over and tour when Suzie mentioned she would like to tour such a place. What flexibility and accommodation! Unbelieveable!
In Split, after much conversation with my daughter about pets, guide Natasa took us to her home! and introduced us to her own dogs and cat. What a special memory of a special lady.
In Dubrovnik we much enjoyed our driver Frano who really made an effort to point out sights and points of interest on the way to Montenegro (and again on the way to Split) and took us to a great restaurant up in the hills above Dubrovnik on our return from Montenegro to experience "under the bell" cooking. (The evening before we'd walked to a restaurant in Lapad Bay that advertised it, but sadly one had to give them a day's notice for this treat.) It made for a very long day for Frano, but he said he was happy to do it.
The trip to Montenegro was totally worth the travel time. Our local guide in Kotor was perfect. Sadly we did not get this man's name, but we felt like he, Frano, Natasa, and Zdenka - and of course your favorite, Igor - were family by the time we had to leave them. They were people we really enjoyed spending time with and exchanging ideas with.
Chef Dalmatino - a true original! I have to put him in a category of his own. Everybody loved that day at his villa. (We love that everybody has a still! and makes grappa from anything and everything. We brought back a bit of sour cherry grappa from Pag and I am so sad that it is gone.) My daughter is serving one of the chef's wines to her co-workers today while she shows them a power point of her photos.
And the truffle hunt! Thank goodness we booked this before Anthony Bourdain put it on TV! He is now going to have a show on CNN, so I would expect interest to skyrocket. Radmilla puts such enthusiasm and joy into her work. She's the perfect hostess, making the guests feel as if it is as much fun for her as for them.
And thank you for arranging for water in the falls at Plitvice and Krka! Spectacular. You and the guides allotted us the perfect amount of time. On our own we might have been tempted to hike all day, but this way we got to "do it all". What I'm trying to say is that, had we been traveling on our own, we would never have been able to enjoy so many and such varied activities! We were very impressed by how well-kept the Croatian National Parks are with amazing paths and solid educational displays.
I'm sure I've forgotten to mention some things, but the entire experience was a highlight film! Thank you and thank you again.
Just wanted to drop you a quick note to thank you for helping us have a great trip to Croatia. We really enjoyed ourselves, food was good, scenery was even better.
The San Rocco in Brtonigla was fantastic – staff were really helpful and friendly. The accommodation was lovely. The degustation dinner was good, perhaps some dishes weren’t quite to my taste, but overall, very nice.
Ethno House in Plitvice Lakes – I know you probably don’t book guests in here regularly. It was quite simple accommodation, but I liked it – it was rustic and the building was in an interesting traditional style.
Hotel Ivan in Sibenik – I think you tried to warn me that hotels in Sibenik aren’t that good! The Ivan was quite dated, which was ok for one night, but we found that the staff were quite disorganised too – not sure if it is their computer systems that are not up to scratch but when we checked in, we were given a room that was already occupied and when we checked out, they tried to make us pay, even though I told them we had already paid via Secret Dalmatia. This was only sorted out when they rang you. Also, this hotel didn’t offer free wi-fi – which was disappointing, considering even Ethno House (which is in a more remote location) offers that as a standard. In hindsight, we would have driven straight to Split from the lakes..... Sibenik was saved by the wonderful Pelegrini restaurant though.
Split was great. We loved the Hotel Peristil, but a little hard to find initially by driving – or our GPS just gave us bad directions! Once we worked out where it was, we loved the location within the palace walls. We really enjoyed our walking tour with Sonja. Sonja was a great guide – very friendly and knowledgeable.
We went to Klub Hedonista and Gurmanda that I had read about on your blog, and it was fantastic! We learned a lot about Croatia wine from Serge, and their gourmet delicacies. I would definitely recommend this as a place for visitors to Croatia to get a taste of local wines, if that is something they are interested in.
Transfers were easy with Ivana to help us, so that was much appreciated.
Hvar and the Villa Nora was one of my favourites. The staff at the hotel were all friendly. The wine tour with Leo was really enjoyable – with our scenic view of the island, and well as visiting two very different wineries. Dinner in the olive grove was a highlight too!
The chauffeur transfer between Split and Dubrovnik was very good. The car was very comfortable and Florio was informative about the areas we were driving through.
Dubrovnik – what’s to be said that has not been said before? Beautiful! Hotel Lapad was a lovely modern hotel, and easy to get to the old town via bus. We did not investigate the Lapad peninsula itself too much as we were more interested in the old town.
Overall, we had a fantastic trip. Croatia is definitely a spectacular location. The hotels that you have personally inspected were fantastic – just a pity that Sibenik does not have a good quality hotel, but I suppose most tourists bypass staying there.
Thank you once again,
Yen and John
Pamela and Alan, I wanted to let you know that our trip to Croatia last week was fantastic. Our itinerary was perfect. Each of the places we visited was very different, and each of the experiences you arranged (walking tours, a buggy tour, an offroad tour) was terrific. The hotels you arranged were beautiful and unique (and top notch). Finally, your service was great – when the weather threatened our plans, you were ready with last-minute alternatives, just in case. Thanks for everything, we would be glad to act as references and will be recommending you to our friends and colleagues.
If you have gotten this far searching Croatia and in particular Secret Dalmatia, obviously you are interested in the country and intrigued by the travel company. Having just returned from Secret Dalmatias May sojourn, we offer this advice: Go to Croatia and utilize the services of this particular travel group. Why Croatia? The NY Times called the country the new Rivera and Dubrovnik Europes most beautiful city. Lonely Planet named it the worlds hottest travel destination and both Sports Illustrated and GQ use the country for photo spreads and praise its many attractions. Its everything you will read and much more. The country and its people have strong aspirations and tender hearts.
Our tour guide was Roni, incredibly knowledgeable about the country, always concerned for our comfort, obliging in our requests, and a thoughtful, careful driver who surprised us with humorous antidotes and jokes. We met Alan, the founder of Secret Dalmatia, shortly after arriving and learned that he had been educated in Boston. After speaking with him, you know that hes one of Croatias biggest cheerleaders and cannot live elsewhere. And thats the point. He loves his country and he wants you to do the same. Every -- let me stress this -- every detail about your trip is checked, rechecked and if anything is awry, its instantly corrected. In Split we were housed in a boutique hotel (there are no 5* hotels in Hvar or Split) and I asked if we could be moved to a different room. Alan didnt just call the hotel, he showed up there to make sure my request was addressed.
Before we left, I was asked why we were paying money for tour guides when we could do it ourselves. Heres why: youre on vacation. Sit back, relax, go with Alan. He is honest, sincere and trustworthy.
Pat and George, Cream Ridge, NJ
We just wanted to thank you again for a marvelous vacation. It was perfect in every respect. Croatia is a beautiful country with a rich history, a vibrant folk tradition, fabulous food and amazing wine and glorious hotels.
We especially liked our personal day with you at the Mestrovic Gallery and the wine pairing at Bibich.
All the guides and drivers were great and knew so much about their country.
I hope you don't mind one little suggestion: have bottled water in the cars. A very small effort that would be greatly appreciated.
Again our deepest gratitude for a tour that was above and beyond our expectations. We'll spread the word.
Joyce and Morley Helfand
FABULOUS!!!!!! Everyone of your hired contacts were professional, very personal and engaging and extremely knowledgable. We couldn't have asked for a better vacation!!!! Thank you so much for organizing great adventures each day!!!! We will certainly be returning and using you again! Thank you so much!
I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for all your work in helping me put the surprise trip together for my husband. We fell in love with Croatia and will most certainly return to Dubrovnik and want to explore other areas of Croatia as well. The country and the people were magnificent.
We so much enjoyed our time with Frano and information he shared with us about the history of the area. He was also wonderful with our grandchildren - patient and kind. In addition, each of the guides was excellent. The day on the boat was the pinnacle. The boat was just right and the skipper (s) were outstanding. They too were patient, kind and fun.
I have already raved to many of our friends and I suspect you will be hearing from them when they make plans to visit Croatia.