“ Address: A. Rabadana bb / 21420 Bol / Brac Island / Croatia „
Croatia seems, these days, to be the new Spain. Growing in popularity it's still relatively cheap and in terms of flight times not too far from the UK. The cultural resorts of Dubrovnik or Split are many people's first thoughts but the many islands that make up Croatia provide a wealth of opportunity for those who want to get away from it all.
We came to visit Croatia because we wanted something a bit different. We didn't want to end up in a faceless, culturally devoid place. The island of Brac seemed to provide what we were looking for and our accommodation of choice was the Hotel Bretanide situated in Bol on Brac's southern coast.
The Hotel Bretanide is only offered on an all-inclusive basis and, I must confess, it was the value that this brought that tipped the balance when we decided where to book. Marketed as a sports and wellness resort this hotel seemed to offer more than other hotels found on the island but it didn't seem to be a brash, in your face, offering that so often dominates the All-Inclusive scene.
The hotel is situated in a pine grove right on the promenade that runs from Bol to the Golden Horn beach (Zlatni Rat). This pedestrianised area means that the hotel is wonderfully quiet and undisturbed by road noise. It's fair to say that the hotel's star rating is, most probably based on facilities rather than anything else as this is a basic hotel which wouldn't really stick out in your mind as a place to stay.
The hotel was functional and clean - spotlessly so. A range of rooms were available but our simple double was more than adequate. After all, you're not on holiday to stay in the bedroom. The double bed was king-sized and comfortable. There was a basic dressing table and stool with mirror above. A TV with various satellite channels was available but the only English channel was CNN. The bathroom was spotless. There was a shower but no bath but personally I'd rather the shower than the bath if a choice has to be made. Maid service was provided each day and clean towels were available. In common with Mediterranean-style properties the floor was tiled throughout the suite and helped keep a cool feel to the room. The room was also air-conditioned and the air conditioning seemed to function efficiently and without too much noise.
[Note: since our visit the hotel has expanded to offer suites and other additional facilities. No comment can be made on these.]
A major part of all-inclusive holidays is the dining. There are three restaurants at the hotel, a main, buffet-style restaurant and two a la carte restaurants (which needed to be booked). There's also a pizzeria and a beach grill. The food was very good, nothing outstanding though, and of mixed style. There would probably have been something at every meal to suit most tastes but nothing really stood out in terms of taste. Having said that, there was so much choice one was sure to find something. Food was fresh and buffets were kept well stocked. Some items were cooked in the open, to order, and there was always a fresh pasta bar with sauces made to order. Desserts were, in my opinion, quite poor (certainly in comparison to many other hotels) but there was always a good choice and plenty of fresh fruit and ice-cream available. As a reticent Englishman (stop laughing in the corner) one should note that the majority of Bretanide's guests are not English... they're German. Aside from the usual jokes about towels one thing this did mean was that, if there was a particularly good dessert, or a bowl of cherries (I joke not) then these were swipped before starters or mains were selected meaning that, if you ate in the traditional order these items might no longer be available. We soon learned to join them rather than beat them! One of the best aspects of the restaurant was the fact that one could dine outside. The first floor terrace was cool and had wonderful views out over the pine trees and bay.
The pizzeria was great for a post beach snack or meal - the pizzas (and pastas) were fresh and tasty.
The Konoba restaurant (which needed to be booked) was an interesting place. Situated in a stone-walled cavern-like room which felt very Germanic, it produced some very good food. Fish was particularly well cooked and the open fire ovens provided wonderful scents although did make the room quite smoky at times.
The Komin was a BBQ-style restaurant up on the hillside. This was not open when we visited but the views appeared to be wonderful.
Non-alcoholic drinks and all local alcoholic drinks (including wine by the glass) were included. Imported drinks and wine by the bottle could be bought. The local offerings were absolutely fine (and the exorbitant cost of Coke enough to ensure that you didn't purchase it anywhere on the island). The bar mixed some fabulous cocktails which were also included at various times during the day, particularly early evening before dinner. We found it very relaxing to sit amongst the pines sipping the brightly coloured concoctions. We even ended up bringing some of the liqueur -type spirits home with us - they really were that good!
As a sports and wellness resort I must confess that I expected a little more by way of facilities. There were two pools (a third has now been added) and plenty of chairs and shades (just as well given the predominantly German guest list). The pools were clean and a reasonable temperature. Limited pool games were organised but they do not predominate - a good thing in my book. The gym was very basic but acceptable and there were various fitness classes on offer.
The resort is affiliated to a tennis club and an hour of tennis is included per week. This had to be pre-booked and fit in between tennis club sessions so it wasn't that convenient. Biking, Nordic walking and regular walking tours were set up from the hotel. Again it was the Germanic guests who partook - something to bear in mind.
Children's facilities were available but clubs were run in German only.
The beach was accessible a matter of steps outside of the hotel although the main Golden Horn beach was about a 5 minute walk down the pedestrian path. It should be noted that the beaches here are predominantly shingle. It's fine shingle but shingle nonetheless. The water is crystal clear and the beaches very clean. There are basic beach facilities available but given the proximity of the hotel you wouldn't want more.
The town of Bol is about a slow 10 minute walk in the opposite direction to the beach - again, following the pedestrian path along the coast. This was a very pleasant walk and, of an evening, local traders would set up closer into Bol selling all manner of trinkets and souvenirs. The area felt very safe and the path was well lit.
Bol will attract a very particular type of holiday maker and I wouldn't recommend it for lively families. Having said that, if Bol appeals then Hotel Bretanide is a good place to stay. It certainly compared very favourably to other hotels that we wandered into.
Sport & Wellness Resort