Palmizana

Sv. Klement island, nr Hvar, Dalmatian Coast, Croatia Book from Eur100

Reviewed by Jane Foster
Bohemian retreat nestled in lush botanical gardens on a tiny island in the Adriatic Sea (10 minutes by boat from Hvar)
This is art and nature in perfect harmony, an Arcadian idyll on a Dalmatian island. Professor Eugenio Meneghello bought a 300-hectare wilderness in 1906, complete with 2 pebble beaches, and planted it with pines, palms, exotic shrubs and aromatic herbs like rosemary and lavender. One century and 3 generations later, his family are the pioneers of eco-tourism in Croatia. His granddaughter-in-law Dagmar and her 3 children still tend their forefather’s ‘Garden of Eden’, but have turned it into an exclusive hideaway with a cluster of villas and bungalows and 2 restaurants, all built of local stone.

Interiors have been painted deep, vibrant colours and are decorated with unusual driftwood sculptures and contemporary artwork. The result is a discreet yet spiritual escape from the modern world. Popular with flora loving families and hippies at heart, it’s a great place to while away the days eating fresh seafood, swimming in the bay, exploring by kayak and diving nearby shipwrecks.

Highs

  • This place is an incredible find - it’s got 2 excellent restaurants and is surrounded by fragrant plants, crystal-clear water and almost constant sunshine
  • It’s a haven of flora and fauna, and offers a splendid sense of isolation from urban life - the island is car-free, there's limited WiFi, and no in-rooms TVs or phones
  • The carefully designed buildings blend harmoniously with the environment and most have terraces overlooking the ocean
  • If you do want to get back to civilisation, you’re not far from Hvar Town's cultural monuments and hip eateries
  • The laid-back and friendly vibe: when we revisited in 2012 we were taken, by jeep, to our villa and then ordered to relax and not to worry about checking in

Lows

  • Logistics: water taxis, a 1-week minimum stay (high season) and only 1 cash machine on the island
  • Hvar Town is expensive and heaving with tourists in summer, so the island can get mobbed by day-trippers and passing yachts
  • This is a bohemian retreat: rooms are rustic and the atmosphere is relaxed, so those seeking luxury may be happier elsewhere
  • The abundant wildlife includes mosquitoes at night and wasps at breakfast
  • In July & August the main Palmizana beach gets very crowded (but you can walk to quieter bays nearby)

Best time to go

Because the island is so popular in July and August, when hordes of Italian tourists flock to the Croatian coast, the best time to visit is May-June or September-October, when you’ll have more of the island to yourself and the temperatures are milder, but the sea is still warm enough to swim in.

Our top tips

If you plan to explore the nearby coves and bays, ask to about hiring a small motor boat on the day you arrive, otherwise you may find that they are fully booked.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 16
  • 2 restaurants
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 18 Nov 2015 - 18 Mar 2016
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room:

Rooms

Palmizana offers various individually designed stone bungalows and villas, with interiors that are either whitewashed or painted in vibrant colours. Some have exposed stonework and cool tile floors; all are furnished in a Mediterranean style and accented with Croatian art. There are also 3 Double Rooms and a Suite in Villa Giorgia , an old Italian villa - each it has its own small terrace and private entrance.

The bungalows can accommodate 2-4 guests and are mostly 2-room buildings with 1 bedroom and a living room with a sofabed (making an additional bedroom). Our favourite, the Green Bungalow, is a studio space with steps leading up to a mezzanine level, which functions as the main sleeping area and has a small porthole window. Each bungalow is named after the colour that predominates in the interior décor. Some rooms have air-conditioning, but all have a fan and a small fridge. There’s also the Romina building, which comprises 2 separate suites, but bear in mind that the soundproofing is not great between them.

The villas can accommodate 4-6 guests. All have basic cooking facilities for preparing coffee and snacks; several have a fireplace in the living room. We stayed in the White Villa and it quickly established itself as one of our favourites. Lying directly on the beach with a private path leading down to the shore, it has an enormous terrace overlooking the bay, 2 bedrooms, wicker furniture, and colourful paintings throughout.

The most luxurious is probably Villa Palmizana, which has an octagonal living room, 2 bathrooms and an outdoor terrace decorated with colourful mosaics inspired by Austrian architect Hundertwasser. We also liked the Turquoise Villa: it’s slightly more modern, with sleek, light fixtures, blue furniture, and glass doors that open onto a stone terrace overlooking the ocean. Each building is set amid the pinewoods and exotic planting, and has a secluded terrace for sitting out and dining.

Click to see resort map

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fridge
  • Internet access

Eating

Dagmar Meneghello personally oversees the 2 restaurants in the resort: Palmizana and Toto's. Both have huge terraces overlooking the ocean and serve a variety of seafood, grilled meat and fresh vegetables from the island’s garden. Much of it is cooked over an outdoor open-fire oven; Dagmar also likes to be in charge of grilling fish, scampi and meats on the enormous outdoor grill.

Breakfast is served on Palmizana romantic terrace. Expect fresh fruit, croissants, bread and jams, plus eggs and pancakes cooked to order. Lunch, which tends to be peaceful as most people are on the beach, is served at both restaurants. We choseToto’s as it lies directly on the beach on the south side of the island (just outside the resort), and serves simple tasty seafood snacks - squid and scampi kebabs, small fried fish - plus pizza. We dined on the seaside terrace, which is decorated with coloured mosaic tiles inspired by the Austrian architect Hundertwasser.

In the evening, both restaurants start buzzing as visitors with yachts (who keep their boats at the nearby ACI marina, or anchor in the bay) begin arriving for dinner. This time Palmizana is the main attraction. Its deep fuscia walls are hung with playful modern art, and fresh colour is added by enormous terracotta pots of blue and pink hydrangeas. Healthy, locally produced, seasonal dishes based around fish, vegetables and olive oil are served nightly and we were treated to an enormous seabass filleted at the table by the friendly waitresss. After dinner, it is not uncommon for the Meneghellos to serve homemade herb liqueur.

Guests staying for a full week will be glad to hear that there are a couple of other restaurants and beach bars on this tiny island, and many people make use of the water taxis to try the many eateries in Hvar Town.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Cooking classes
  • Fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Walk to restaurants
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • The Palmizana beaches are lovely, but be sure to check out alternative bathing venues on the other Pakleni islets. For those who want an all-over tan, Jerolim or Stipanska are devoted to nudism

  • Dalmatia is a sailor’s paradise. Charter a sailing boat or a motorboat for a day exploring the coast and islands - skippers are available for those with no sailing experience. The islands are surrounded by numerous coves that act as safe harbours for boats

  • Watersports available here include kayaking, windsurfing, swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. The water is ideal with excellent visibility, a stunning variety of fish, coral reefs and shipwrecks. Palmizana can arrange diving trips

  • Hvar Town (10 minutes by water taxi) includes a 16th-century cathedral overlooking a magnificent piazza (the largest in Dalmatia), an arsenal, a 17th-century municipal theatre (the oldest public theatre in Europe), 2 monasteries and a hilltop castle

  • Be sure to stroll around the gardens, taking in the sheer variety of flora

  • Dagmar is a keen patron of the arts, and hosts exhibitions of up-and-coming Croatian painters and sculptors. On Sunday mornings, Palmizana restaurant hosts classical music recitals (July-August only)

  • There is a small gallery displaying locally found amphorae and stocking deliciously scented Aromatica natural cosmetics

  • Upon request, in mid-season (May and October), Palmizana can arrange 1-week learning packages such as Dalmatian cooking, jewellery workshops, and yoga and meditation

  • Attend a Hvar Summer Festival open-air performance - we recommend the classical music concerts in the cloisters of the Franciscan monastery

  • When in season, pheasant hunting can be arranged

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Art classes
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Windsurfing
  • Yoga

Kids

Children are welcome and it's a great place for them: the shallow pebbly beach on the doorstep is ideal for youngsters and they will love the tortoises and peacocks on land. As the island is car-free, they can run around and explore freely. It's great for extended family breaks too - book Villa Giorga in its entirety, or reserve separate bungalows for the grandparents or nanny.

Cots are free of charge and available on request; children aged 2-10 years pay reduced rates for breakfast and half-board.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Book Villa Giorgia if you're coming on a group family break - it sleeps up to 14 in 5 double bedrooms. Villas have basic kitchenettes and sleep 4-6, and Bungalows sleep a maximum of 4 (that's with the children on a sofabed in the lounge). White Villa is not suitable for children under 12. We recommend Orange Villa, Blue Bungalow, Yellow Bungalow, Pink Bungalow or Violet Bungalow for families with toddlers.

Babysitting:

Babysitting can be arranged if requested in advance

Baby equipment:

  • Toys
  • Cots
  • Baby baths
  • Potty

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

The 2 restaurants (on-site and nearby) serve up kid-friendly food - pancakes, steak, fish, barbecues, pizza, ice cream, kebabs - and can provide half-sized portions.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Quiet beach just steps away
  • Gardens to play in (but watch out for steps)

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Sailboats, kayaks and motorboats for hire
  • Watersports: kayaking, diving, snorkelling, windsurfing
  • 2 children's playgrounds

Families Should Know:

There are some steps in the gardens and various spiky plants and cacti. There are only 2 shops on the island, selling basics, so bring anything you think you won't be able to get hold of (e.g. high-factor suncream)

Distances:

  • Airport: 1 hour+, depending on ferry schedules
  • Emergency room: 15 minutes by boat (Hvar)
  • Hospital: 45 minutes-2 hours, depending on ferry schedules
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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