by Tanja Gulija Jujnović
It’s so hard to write an article about Dubrovnik city and invite you to visit it for the first time or urge you to come back again. Many people think that all has been written, all photos taken… But we think that is not true. Why? Every person that visits Dubrovnik experiences something special that the City gives back. We also try to hear the locals say something that makes them love Dubrovnik despite the unique way of life inside and around the city walls.
We talked to a hospitality manager Ivan Beroš about Dubrovnik luxury tourism, the potential of Dubrovnik as a luxury destination, opportunities and challenges in the future.
Besides the words like destination, potential, numbers and stats we try to get Mr. Beroš to share the other, emotional side to his Dubrovnik story.
Q: Now, Mr Beroš, close your eyes and describe a unique Dubrovnik moment for you.
A: Oh, so many of them… I don’t even have to think long. I just have to answer. A unique Dubrovnik moment is when I take my SUP (stand up paddle) board and I paddle to Lokrum island. If you look ahead you see Lokrum, if you look a bit back you see the City, behind me the gorgeous villas… Another moment. Swimming in January while the sun mixes with a cold breeze and sauna in the villa after it… The city itself – I am overwhelmed with the history and the fact that you have a story on every step you take. And cats! I love the fact that it’s actually their city because you see them around the Old city streets.
Q: Ok. You had us with the first one. Tell us your story. Who are you and why Dubrovnik?
A: My life story I would say begins with sports. I grew up in Brela, a famous tourist destination near Makarska city. I was only 5 when I started to play tennis. My tennis career lasted 15 years – I played and won many tournaments, travelled over 80 countries, shared courts with famous tennis players… Unfortunately, due to an injury, in the year 2000 I was forced to end my tennis career. Like many athletes, I had to rethink my future. For a while I was a trainer but in 2008 I decided to take on a new project and it was the restoration of our family house in Dubrovnik.
It was the city of fond and familiar memories. My grandmother Marija spent her life there so I had the need to, in a way, make an homage to her by restoring our family heritage, our family villa. Dubrovnik and luxury villa Paulina are more than a project, it is pure emotions.
Q: Could you say a bit about the Luxury Villa Paulina itself?
Villa Paulina is a family house and evokes memories from the past. My grandmother spent most of her life in the villa, she came from the village Ošalj when she was only 17 years old to find work. My grandfather lived in the house after they married and soon after my mother was born.
The lady of the house, Mrs Paulina, and her husband Antun built the villa and started living there in 1938. Unfortunately, they didn’t enjoy it for too long because the war came and bad period for Paulina’s family. Only 5 years after the war Paulina was left alone because Antun got sick and passed… My grandmother came to the house in 1953 and lived there until 2012 when we started the reconstruction. We opened the house to our guests a year later.
Q: Do you think you succeeded in your plans?
A: I do have to admit that we faced many challenges during the renovation, but I think we did. We tried our best to keep the original layout of the interior and the exterior is absolutely identical. Villa Paulina is a house of extreme architectural value and it is protected heritage due to its combination of succession and mediterranean architecture. We kept the existing furniture in art deco style and combined it with modern 20th century timeless furniture for the eclectic feel inside the house.
Q: Why should we book Dubrovnik’s Villa Paulina?
A: I would say that by entering villa Paulina, in a way you enter the past. You just get a certain vibe, you get the emotion, you get the history. Besides the stunning view that the villa offers from every room to the Old city, technically, Villa Paulina is also a modern fully equipped villa with all the amenities a villa of that category requires (garage, pool, hot tub, sauna…).
Additionally we offer to our clients concierge services, villa manager, villa cleaning services, but also organized private day tours from Dubrovnik, chef services, cooking classes, yoga classes, private guides and transfers, boat rentals. In a word anything our client might need.
The location is everything they say, so while staying in Villa Paulina you are just 10 min away from the city gate (800 meters away).
Q: You mentioned cooking classes? Is there anything special regarding food and wine in Dubrovnik?
A: Gastronomy and enology are my passion. My idea was to give our clients an opportunity to taste and explore and get to know the best Croatian wines. I am a WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) level 3 certified so I am at their disposition regarding wine recommendations, not only Croatian wines but also worldwide.
We love to pair the best wines with the best local ingredients so that’s why we offer private chef services or cooking classes. Our cooks prepare traditional, slow food or international menus that will blow your mind. We do have an extra thing and it’s a special grandmother Marija’s menu with the dishes that she cooked for Mrs Paulina and her guests.
Q: We saw amazing pieces of art inside the Villa. How important is art for you?
A: Art is important in every segment. It was a very important piece of Paulina and Antun’s life, consequentially a part of the villa life too. They spend their time with famous artists. Mrs Paulina played the piano and enjoyed literature and Mr Antun was a classical music lover.
We offer piano evenings with Mrs. Naira Asatryan in the villa, you can enjoy art installations and paintings made by painter Nikolina Šimunović and the art inherited with the villa.
Q: So you have been renting the villa for 8 years now. Who are your clients? What are they looking for?
A: Villa Paulina had visitors from all over the world, but I have to say that the majority comes from United Kingdom and USA. In most cases, they are looking for privacy, peace, personalized service but also the intimacy and that ”at home” feeling. They are very much interested in the history of the house itself and Dubrovnik of course.
Almost all of them want to try something from the menus and the villa serves them as a perfect base for land and sea day trips we organize for them.
Q: And now the question of the year. Did the COVID-19 situation and how affect your business?
A: We won’t pretend that this isn’t a challenging time for all of us, but I am extremely positive and I hope that the situation will gradually get back to ”normal”.
Even before the pandemic, cleanliness was one of our key efforts. We are highly responsible in that aspect.
The great thing is that nowadays all communication can be done online and even when we are close we keep the safety distance and all the necessary precautions.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: To strive for perfection. To improve in all aspects. To follow trends. To satisfy all possible wishes from our clients. To reveal our Villa Paulina and Dubrovnik in the most unique way.
We know that we live in times where every moment is precious and every moment counts. We have the responsibility to provide the best possible services to the ultimate client satisfaction. The biggest reward for us is the positive feedback we get.
Q: Thank you for your time Mr Beroš. We wish you all the best in the future.
A: Thank you for your interest in Villa Paulina Dubrovnik. You are all welcome.