I know I know. Many places claim to be the best, having great service and infrastructure etc etc. Well there are surprises! The first surprise came during travelling from Ljubljana to Opatija by car, together with Goran Pavlović and his colleague Damir Nahmijas (of Da Riva DMC & PCO) after Conventa on Thursday, January 21. I saw the first falling star in my life – in the forest around the borders between Slovenia and Croatia. How long had I begged to see one of those! Of course I had my wish immediately placed and won’t tell you!!
Anyway, during the trip Goran and Damir gave me a 2-hour lecture on the recent history of their country Croatia, about Opatija and its colourful past and presence, about the food, the sea, the people. I wished I could get such inspiration each time when leaving tired from a tradeshow!
Next surprise came when I was having dinner at my hotel, the Grand Hotel Adriactic, a 4-star property at the end of the coast line of Opatija (what that means in distance you will realize as you continue reading). The hotel is nicely modernized and refurbished. However the dining hall is – as was the style in the 60s when the hotel was built – huge, but modern and stylish, well set (meaning not cold or uncomfortable) and with a really nice buffet. Good food, well prepared and the prices for (good!) wine are really affordable. The hotel property consists of a 3-star and a 4-star wing and it has a wonderful congress hall for about 500 people – see more details here.
Sleeping with the sea in front of the open window and with a fresh, bubbling kind of air, which I learned the next day was always part of the healing quality of the former Spa of Emperors and Nobles! Staying there for a few days will already heal a bit of every breathing problem guests of a conference might have from stress and unhealthy habits and can well be part of a holistic health concept for your congress in this destination.
Meetings with the main hotel partners followed. I did a site inspection of Opatija in time lapse format – a 1 full day programme squeezed into half a day; but: as distances are all compact, you can walk between hotels and venues altogether, which turns the walk into a nice experience and makes Opatija seem like one single congress venue in itself! All is there, all is nice, green, with great fresh air. Really, all hotels I saw, the Bristol, the 5 star Ambasador (the flowers in the picture are from the lobby) part of the Remisens group and the different hotels of Milenij group, circled around a congress centre and accompanied by stylish and trendy gastronomic concepts – they all are nicely set, with different ambience but really all have the same value in their category!!! If you put your group in 4-star category you can confidently split up as every property around in 4 star has its very own quality and it is difficult to decide for one of them. Same with 5 star. I personally love the 60ies style of the Ambasador which is truly elegant, smart and modern, but there are options for more traditional ones in this category, and – honestly – I would not mind being in any of them! They are all gorgeous.
Over lunch I met with Mr. Grguric (Guru in arranging bridge competitions) and Mr. Veljko Zupan, owner of the Milenij Hotel group and we discussed the great match that Opatija can be for bridge card players and their gatherings – a completely new concept for me, as I do not play cards and were not aware that this is a target group of people that stay long, like to eat and drink well! Don’t we love such target groups?
Accessibility to Opatija is good, it does need a transfer from Trieste, Ljubljana or Zagreb, which can be made part of the program already and is worth the effort.
So, international associations for health professions and from others as well, bridge players, companies who want to send their meeting or incentive to a truly healthy environment: go ahead and plan for Opatija! Contact Goran, your man for international events or us! An interview with him will be published next week, so stay put for more information.
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