Up until quite recently, I was never one for large scale all-inclusive tourist class package weekend getaways. I associated them with unpleasantly loud and crowded gatherings crammed into aging second rate hotels where piles of bland food awaited those inclined to submit to regimented dining hours. That is, after all, what awaits many of those who opt for these budget packaged retreats. My holiday and travel styles are different, as are my expectations and tastes.
After a few recent experiments, my mind hasn’t changed on that, but there are of course always exceptions to be found. Like the one in the waning days in September at Njivice, a small seaside town near the northwestern end of Croatia’s northern Adriatic island of Krk.
I’ll get to the all-inclusive part in a minute since that’s secondary; more important to me is that the all-inclusive experience introduced me to Njivice, and more generally to Krk, a place that managed to impress in just over 48 hours that its northern Adriatic charm deserves more of my attention — and leisure time.
There isn’t that much to Njivice beyond the imaginary gates of the Njivice resort, but what there is, is pleasant, and surprisingly, not overly-commercialized. Therein lies much of its appeal. There’s an attractive if concentrated seaside promenade which offers a handful of restaurants –a couple highly regarded– and hotels, the obligatory ice cream stands and kitschy shops, and a small port.
But the best part lies just beyond the city limits, in the (mostly) seaside walking trail that leads to the town of Malinska about six kilometers to the south. Part of it is dubbed Rajska Cesta, or Paradise Road, a project that dates back to 1934 and where goats form a central part of the scenery. Paradise is different things to different people; we found hiking it to be a fantastic way to spend the better part of a warm early autumn late morning and early afternoon. There’s no shortage of spots for a swim or a nap.
Among the key attractions between the two towns is Cape Ćuf, popular among naturists/nudists for its many private swimming and sunbathing spots. It’s accessible only on foot and slightly off the main trail.
I’ve been told the Njivice-Malinska area is fairly typical of the island as a whole, which bodes well in this notebook. We spent part of an afternoon driving a little further south to the village of Milohnici for lunch at Konoba pod Prevolt, an unassuming tavern where I enjoyed one of the freshest meals of the summer. And that bodes even better. It came highly recommended, a recommendation I’m happy to pass along.
Summers are busy and packed, which is a big turn off for me on any coast anywhere on the planet. We’re thinking next of a winter trip for a quick and pleasant escape from the gray that is that season in Ljubljana. We won’t be staying at an all-inclusive.
… and the Beli Kamik Hotel
To be clear: this isn’t meant as a formal review but rather as a simple checklist, because for an all-inclusive three-day/two-night getaway at just €104 for two, you can’t expect too much beyond a reasonable list of expectations with all its associated boxes checked. At least not in any sunny climes in this part of Europe.
So, my checklist keeping tabs on how the Beli Kamik Hotel, part of the Njivice Hotels and Camp Resort, lived up to its checklist:
The room was comfortable, albeit with fairly thin walls that didn’t keep out some of the early morning conversations going on in the hallway and the room next door.
The balconies were nice, spacious enough for two, with pleasant views of the Adriatic towards the Istrian peninsula.
I can’t remember the last time I was in a hotel –and I’ve been in hundreds, ranging from hole-in-the-wall zero-star to five-star mini-palaces– that didn’t have at least a couple ounces of shampoo in the bathroom. “We don’t have shampoo in the rooms,” was the cool matter-of-fact response from behind the reception desk when I asked. It’s troubling that I’m still baffled by this. No phones in the rooms either, so no convenient way to get in touch with reception to ask where the shampoo is.
The food included in the half board option? As expected it was somewhat bland but not uniformly so — there was enough of a variety so that you could find something that would appeal. That is, if it didn’t run out before you reached the buffet lines. Lots of items weren’t replenished through the course of the breakfast and dinner hours, which was probably why there was a long line of guests waiting for the doors to open. I hope all the leftover and wasted food doesn’t really go to waste.
Our offer included a pair of “freebies”: a complimentary welcome drink and a free pizza each at the seaside Pizzeria Bukaleta. The drinks at the hotel bar tasted watered down but the pizzas were very good.
Grade? It passes. I don’t think I’ll be back any time soon, but don’t let that stop you. For an easy, no-nonsense getaway that requires little to no planning, you could do worse.