By Jelena Primorac
I couldn’t have arrived at a better moment – the famous Zadar sunset was setting above Adriana’s pool, surrounded by lush greenery whichever way you look. When I stop to take it all in I’m approached by Mišela, the floor manager, who hands me a welcome glass of champagne. “Every hotel has rooms and a restaurant,” she says, “but not every hotel has a soul.”
And Mišela (her unusual name matches the ambient perfectly), who greets all guests of Adriana personally, is the nerve center of the soul she speaks of – the role the staff play in boutique hotels is enormous. It’s above all the personalized service that sets them apart from large-scale resorts. The warmth and care here feel sincere. In a world where we all want to feel like we’re the center of it, boutique hotels deliver.
A home away from home – in the villa you never had
The motto of Falkensteiner hotels is “Welcome home.” And they do everything they can at Adriana to make you feel it – in a home with gardeners, a perfectly manicured lawn, the pool you always wanted, service at your every beck and call, and a one-minute walk through the garden oasis to the beach, which is just below. It’s quite easy to make yourself at home – it’s a comfortable kind of luxury here.
Aside from the cozy feel, dreamy garden and high sense of personal service, Adriana proves boutique is better with its food. Award-winning chef Tomislav Karamarko prepares indulgent five-course meals which will make you want to stand up and applaud after dinner, or during (I say this as someone who isn’t even a foodie). The cuisine is definitely one of this hotel’s strong suits. Gourmet food is a luxury larger hotels can’t afford and one of the driving forces behind the ever increasing popularity of boutique hotels.
The boutique niche emerged in the ’80s and there seems to be no end to its growth. “[It’s] the response to a more demanding clientele interested in luxury travel and more extravagant travel packages – vacationers who have tired of standard tourist arrangements and who are looking for something new, different, more exclusive,” says General Manager of Resort Borik in Zadar Marin Kirin of the still-thriving trend of boutique hotels.
These smaller hotels, stylish and unique, are often situated in structures that previously served other purposes. Adriana, a four-star retreat, is housed in a traditional Mediterranean villa built in 1905 and initially home to an Italian family one can easily imagine strolling through the grounds with guests after dining, working off their meal. Before it became Adriana it was also at different times a casino and a police station. Today the building has 48 rooms and suites.
The room I stayed in looked like a mini apartment – one I could very much see myself living in, with or without the room service. The design is sleek and modern, with the glass wall between the bedroom and bathroom emphasizing the niche this little piece of heaven caters to – Adriana is first and foremost an intimate lovers’ retreat. You can even find, from time to time, while soaking in the serenity by the pool, a doey-eyed couple quietly making their way through the grounds for a picture-perfect photo shoot before their wedding in the incredible English garden. That’s how romantic it is.
Anybody who can’t imagine a vacation without some proper pampering in a spa will be happy to know guests of Adriana can use the spa and pool facilities of family hotel Funimation, also a four-star destination, located right next door. But there’s a very good chance you’ll find yourself “staying in” if you stay at Adriana.