We’ve just come back from a wonderful 4 day break at Plava Laguna resort in the heart shaped province of Istria in Croatia, close to the border with Italy. The sun shone, the sea was blue, we relaxed by the pool and even had time sample some truffles, seafood and explore the old town of Poreč and the hill-top medieval villages nearby. What more could you ask from a holiday?
I should tell you that on this trip to Croatia I was a guest of the Istrian Tourist Board and the Plava Laguna Resort who put us up at the fabulous Hotel Laguna Molindrio. But I want you to know that I wouldn’t recommend anywhere to you if I didn’t think it was a great place to visit, depending of course on what you want from your holiday.
We arrived at our hotel quite late and rather tired, but as the sun peeped through the curtains the next morning I couldn’t ask to wake up to a nicer view. The sea was blue and fringed with pinewoods and the yachts were bobbing in the marine, beyond the beautifully kept gardens that divide the hotel from the water of the rocky inlet.
The resort stretches all along the coast in this part of Istria on both sides of nearby Porec and was developed in the 1960s to cater for the growing tourism in the area. Care was taken to preserve the natural environment and situate the hotels, apartment complexes and campsites in the pine woods that have now grown up and provide shady retreats in the heat of the summer. The Plava Laguna company owns a number of different types of accomodation, and grades of hotel, so that there’s something for every taste and budget. Over the last few years they’ve been upgrading all their hotels, with one full renovation each year to modernise the decor and facilities.
We stayed in the 4 star Hotel Laguna Molindrio, which had recently been renovated with elegant modern style and understated neutrals of coffee and cream. We had second floor balcony room with that wonderful view, and overlooking the two pools, one with a baby pool attached. There were other facilities such as a gym, games room and children’s play room and a kids club with multilingual animateurs urging everyone to have lots of fun in Russian, Italian, English and probably a few other languages too. We didn’t take much advantage of any of them preferring to relax on the sunlounger (it’s a hard life being a blogger).
Our hotel offered half board – breakfast and dinner as standard which is quite common in this style of hotel in Croatia. The food at both meals was excellent with a varied buffet and we enjoyed eating al fresco on the balcony area of the dining room. Of course we managed to try a few local wines as practically all those on offer were produced in this region of Istria.
I still smile when thinking of our young wine waiter, Ante, who opened and poured our children’s Coke into their glass with all the ceremony as if it was the finest wine in the world. Apparently the company has a tradition of employing staff from the local area and often the children of employees follow their parents to work here. The staff were smiling and helpful, but with that reserved air that you often find in countries that have grown up under communism.
The Plava Laguna resort in Croatia is a perfect choice for those travellers who enjoy this kind of relaxing resort style holiday with all the amenities on your doorstep. It’s ideal for families and couples who want a beautiful natural setting and numerous sports facilities, such as water ski-ing, tennis, cycling and in fact there was a dedicated sports centre down the road. We did try out the cycling and hired bikes to cycle along the paths beside the sea, round past several different bays where you’ll find rocky swimming coves. I’d say that the rocky coastline swimming is not so ideal for toddlers, but you can still enjoy swimming in the hotel and other resort pools.
If the fully catered experience is not to your taste or budget, then I’d rent one of the simple apartments or stay in the campsites, which you can use as a base for relaxing and swimming but also to explore the nearby town of Poreč and the countryside and villages further inland. I found that there was an ideal combination in Istria of things that I enjoy (local food, wine, artizan shops, old cobbled streets) and things my children enjoyed (pool, pool, a bit of cycling, pool) – ‘Oh Mum do we have to see ANOTHER old town”.
Obviously, I wasn’t spending my own hard-earned money on this holiday to Croatia (except for the truffle pasta, seafood, wine, souvenirs and ice creams). So I was interested to see what it would have cost us if we had been paying ourselves. You can check the prices yourself on the hotel website but I reckoned that a double room like the one we were in would have cost around €80 per person per night in high season to €45 per person in low season – that’s inclusive of breakfast and dinner, so I don’t think it’s bad value at all.
We were pleasantly surprised at the reasonable prices in Croatia (it’s not yet in the Euro), so eating out and ice creams don’t cost an arm and a leg. Thomson and other tour operators run holidays to this resort including Hotel Laguna Molindrio and it’s worth shopping around to see whether it’s cheaper to book a package or book direct and organise your own flights.
All in all I’d recommend the Plava Laguna Resort in Croatia for it’s beautiful setting, it’s excellent facilities and as a great base for both swimming and relaxing and exploring the interesting towns and cultural activities. I think it’s best suited to families with school age and teenage children, couples and family groups and you can find a range of accomodation to suit your style and budget.