With nine boutique properties scattered throughout Dubrovnik, Croatia's Adriatic Luxury Hotels (ALH) has been well positioned to capitalize on the city's tourism boom.
In fact, the company enjoys something of a stranglehold on Dubrovnik's high-end hospitality segment, a fast-growing market where many of the major luxury chains are still noticeably absent.
Among ALH's crown jewels is its Hotel Bellevue, about a 10-minute walk from the city's Old Town. The 91-room resort began work on a top-to-bottom revamp late last year and officially reopened this spring. Its newly refreshed interiors are light and airy, with modern furniture and natural finishes, while floor-to-ceiling windows and extensive outdoor dining areas make the most of the hotel's cliffside location and panoramic ocean views.
Despite running at high occupancy during my stay in mid-September, the Hotel Bellevue never once felt crowded. Seating was plentiful during the daily breakfast buffet, served at the property's main dining venue, Vapor Restaurant, and tables were consistently available at its beach restaurant, Nevera, which offers seaside, alfresco dining.
The only place at the Hotel Bellevue where any semblance of a crowd could be found was the beach, which draws both hotel guests and locals. While much of the beach is open to the public, a small section is reserved for guests, offering lounge chairs, umbrellas and beverage service.
A newly renovated guestroom at the Hotel Bellevue.
Meanwhile, at the fortress-like Hotel Dubrovnik Palace, ALH showcases boutique luxury on a larger scale. Set farther from Old Town, in a quieter part of the city, the 308-room, oceanfront property appeals to those who may prefer a more secluded setting.
The Hotel Dubrovnik Palace also offers a few more extras in terms of amenities, including two outdoor pools, a swim-up bar, tennis courts, a Professional Association of Diving Instructors dive center and six restaurants and bars. The resort's Maslina Tavern is a particular standout, serving traditional Croatian fare like octopus carpaccio and a decadent cuttlefish and prawn black risotto.
For those who value close proximity to the Old Town above all, ALH's Hotel Excelsior is likely the best bet. A five-minute walk from the medieval walls, the 158-room property is partially housed in a former royal villa built in 1913 and overlooks both the Adriatic Sea and the Old Town.
The prime location and postcard-perfect views have attracted boldface names for decades, and black-and-white photos of some of the resort's most famous former guests, including Queen Elizabeth II and Elizabeth Taylor, adorn the walls of the hotel's sleek Abakus Piano Bar.
The terrace of the Hotel Excelsior’s Abakus Piano Bar overlooks the Adriatic Sea and Dubrovnik’s Old Town.
A stone's throw away from the Hotel Excelsior are ALH's cluster of five villa accommodations, including the ultraluxe Villa Orsula. Touting original architecture from the 1930s, coastal views and picturesque gardens, the Villa Orsula also houses the Victoria Restaurant & Lounge Bar, a Peruvian and Mediterranean fusion eatery.
If guests are looking to escape the crush of the crowds in Old Town, the Adriatic Luxury Services by ALH concierge service can organize daytrips to the surrounding areas and islands.
Suggested highlights include a private yacht charter with stops at several of the Elaphiti Islands, located just northwest of Dubrovnik. A stop at the archipelago's Sipan Island can include lunch at Bowa, a charming beachfront restaurant specializing in locally sourced seafood and overwater bungalow dining.
For those also seeking accommodations farther off the beaten path, ALH's portfolio includes a trio of hotels outside Dubrovnik: the Hotel Croatia and the Hotel Supetar in the village of Cavtat and the Hotel Odisej Mljet, nestled within the remote Mljet National Park.
Further expansion into other Croatian markets is unlikely, but in Dubrovnik, the group will begin renovations on its Grand Villa Argentina in 2021, and it is in the process of drawing up plans to turn its opulent Villa Sheherezade into a small boutique hotel. With Dubrovnik tourism still on the upswing, it appears that ALH won't be resting on its laurels.
Average rates during the summer peak season start at $467 at the Hotel Bellevue, $318 at the Hotel Dubrovnik Palace, $517 at the Hotel Excelsior and $795 at Villa Orsula. The Hotel Excelsior and Villa Orsula are part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World network. Visit www.adriaticluxury hotels.com.