This month Husband and I celebrated our 10th Wedding Anniversary with a child-free holiday to the beautiful country of Croatia. We stayed at the Sensimar Adriatic Beach adults only resort on Croatia's stunning Dalmatian coastline. Located at the foot of mount Biokovo in the small town of Živogošće, Sensimar Adriatic Beach is a TUI hotel on the South Coast of Croatia. It lies roughly 2 hours south of Split and half an hour from the port town of Markaska. To say we were pleased with our choice of holiday destination and adult only, all inclusive hotel would be an understatement.
This stretch of rocky Croatian coastline is known as the Markaskan Rivier and it is easy to see why with stunning views out to sea and breathtaking mountains framing the inland scenes. As part of our TUI booking we had a coach transfer from Split airport directly the resort. It was very easy to find the TUI reps and coaches and whilst Croatian drivers are a little erratic, the evening transfer was easy and comfortable. We received a warm welcome from the hotel staff upon arrival and due to the late hour ushered swiftly into the main restaurant for dinner while our bags were taken up to our rooms.
With 266 rooms the Sensimar Adriatic Beach is a big hotel. Some of the rooms are in the main building but the majority are in separate buildings which are accessed via steps down from the main hotel. Be warned, the hotel is quite spread out and there are a lot of steps. If your room is in the farthest block you'll have a fair walk between your room, the main hotel and pool area. It didn't bother us at all but if you have any issues with mobility, steps or walking this is not the hotel for you.
As it was a special occasion we upgraded our room to a Junior Suite with a sea view and it didn’t disappoint. The hotel was completely refurbished in 2015 so everything still feels shiny and new. Upon entering our suite there was a spacious hallway with huge double wardrobe (with loads a hangers and a mini safe) and to the left a sliding door into a big bathroom with waterfall shower.
The main living area has a huge (and very comfortable) bed to the left facing sliding doors out onto our balcony and to the right a desk and chair, seating area with a little table, and mini kitchen with sink, tea making facilities and a mini bar (restocked daily and included in our all inclusive package). The view from our balcony was just amazing with views across to the closest town of Igrane. You can drink the water in Croatia so all the water from the sinks in our room was safe to use. The AC in the room was brilliant and easily adjusted.
If you fancy splashing out even further you can book swim-up rooms and swim-up suites which have direct access to mini pools (shared with about 8 other rooms) directly from your hotel room. Husband loves the idea of dipping in and out of your pool all day but I'm a undecided as I love being high up in hotels for the best views plus some of the swim up rooms are a little exposed situated right next to pathways etc. But if you got one at the quieter ends of the blocks then they would be very private and tranquil. The photograph below shows the swim-up suites directly below our room. You can also book swim up standard rooms but your pool area is a lot smaller.
On the subject of pools the main pool at Sensimar Adriatic Beach is beautiful. There are 2 pools, a big main one and a smaller seating style pool which you can sit in while you sip your cocktails. Naturally the best sun-loungers around the pool have towels on them by 7am but no matter what time of the day we went down we were able to find some, and by mid afternoon people were decamping back up to the hotel so loads of the top spots became free. The sea is literally a few steps away so the views from the pool area is just stunning. The hotel also has tons of loungers on the beach, so whether you are a pool or sea junkie you'll find a place to relax and soak up some rays.
The Pool Bar is open from 10am serving a fantastic selection of alcoholic and non alcoholic cocktails and from midday until 4pm snacks like pizza and toasties. Soft and Alcoholic Drinks (house wine and local spirits, you have to pay for premium spirits) including the full range of cocktails and all the snacks are all included in the All Inclusive package. Our favourite cocktail was the Shark Bite - a mixture of light and dark rum, Sweet and Sour, Blue Curacao and Grenadine. There were also some very refreshing and fun non-alcoholic fruit slushies.
Onto the food. There are 3 restaurants associated with the hotel. In the main hotel The Dalmatino and The Culinarium, and next door to the hotel the affiliated Gran Mere Grill.
The Dalmatino is the buffet style restaurant which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner on your All Inclusive package. Now when I say buffet, think buffet on speed. Loads of the food is cooked/served to you at live cooking stations. For example at breakfast they will cook you fresh omelettes and eggs or pop to the other side and grab a crepe straight off the hot plate or create your own bespoke smoothie. At lunchtime the selection is vast with salad stations, freshly cooked pizzas made in front of your eyes and cooked in the pizza oven. Salad stations combining just your favourites and a variety of dishes from Croatia and beyond. When evening comes everything turns up a notch. Create your own pasta sauces at the pasta station, enjoy freshly cooked fish and meats from the grill and at every meal the variety of puddings is obscene. I challenge you not to enjoy the food at this restaurant!
This is a big restaurant so there are a lot of tables. You can sit inside or outside on the balcony. We tended to sit inside during the day and outside for dinner in the evenings when it was a little cooler. Plus you get the most amazing sunsets on the balcony. Standard drinks (house wines and local spirits) are also included with table service. And despite the size of this restaurant the service is unreal. There are so many staff you only have to out down your empty glass and someone is by your side asking if you need a refill.
The Culinarium is an Al la Carte Italian restaurant which is only open in the evening and closed on Wednesdays. As part of your Al Inclusive package you can visit once per week. If you want to visit more often you can pay a supplement (which works out about £20 per person). Now booking for The Culinarium opens the morning before you want to visit. So for example, if you want to eat Friday night you need to book on Thursday morning. And you need to book quickly. Booking opens at Reception at 9am. Get there at 8:45 and wait in the queue. Sounds like a hassle but in the scheme of things not really. You'll wait 15min, be early in the queue and get your booking. And it really is worth it. You chose from 3 courses from an extensive menu and the food is superb. Drinks are included the same as the rest of the hotel or you can choose from the wine list (which will be charged to your room).
The other restaurant is the Gran Mere Grill which is located next to the restaurant and is not strictly part of the hotel. To visit here you pay a supplement of around £30 per head for a 4 course menu which is partly set. Drinks are NOT included in this supplement so you need to pay extra. We decided to visit on our actual anniversary for a special night. And it was lovely.
Situated a stones throw from the beach the ambiance is really romantic and the service exemplary. After a basket of home baked bread with pumpkin oil made locally our first course was a beautiful salad with cured meats, fruit and nuts. Then onto a white wine soup which we thought was very unusual but turned out to be delicious. The main course you could choose from steak cooked on an open BBQ grill, a chicken dish, a pasta dish and a veggie dish. We both went for the steak seeing as we were at a grill restaurant which tasted unbelievable. For dessert I went for the chocolate fondant and Husband the sorbet.
We noticed another table of 6 eating off a main menu.I could see some lovely things coming out and it would have been really interesting to see what other dishes were on offer but as we were dining from the supplement menu we didn't see the full menu. With 2 rounds of gin and tonic each our bill was about £80 including service which I thought was excellent for the quality of the food and the location.
Now if you haven't had enough food on your holiday the hotel also offers Afternoon Tea in the bar at 4pm and snack at midnight. We did have some beautiful strudel one afternoon watching a thunderstorm but we never made it late enough to check out the midnight feast!
The hotel has 2 main bar areas, the Lobby Bar open pretty much all day for hot and cold drinks and cocktails and the Mojito Bar which opens from 6pm until midnight and serves, well Mojitos! and other cocktails. I should point out here that all 3 bars (the Pool, Lobby and Mojitio) all have different cocktail lists. So pretty much every cocktail you can imagine under the sun is served at some point during the day! The Lobby Bar has great views of the sea out the full height/width windows and the Mojito bar has a terrace which is the perfect to relax and unwind in the evenings.
The entertainment at the hotel was quite varied and at times highly amusing. The TUI entertainment staff had different roles from the normal hotel reps offering a schedule of free activities all throughout the day. There were exercise classes in the gym and aqua aerobics in the pool with Scott everyday. I had a go at the aqua most days and it was a lot of fun. You could also play volleyball on the beach and go for jogs among other fitness based activities. Michel run the leisure activities including walks around the local area, games and quizzes. We spent more time laughing at Michel's humour than anything else. Just go for a walk with him and you'll see what we mean.
In the evenings there was entertainment on the Mojito bar terrace every evening. This ranged from a illusionist act to a jazz band. We popped down each night after dinner to see what was going on but we only stayed a little while as it was OK but not amazing. The music quiz was our favorite night but generally we retired early for a cocktail (or two) on the beach or our balcony.
At our welcome meeting the TUI reps filled us in on all the hotel features, and of course they told us about the trips they provide. Whilst some of the excursions sounded amazing, especially Dubrovnik, we were really in Croatia to relax and spend some time just the 2 of us. The thought of 3hrs in a coach with half the hotel didn't sound appealing. But we did get the TUI shuttle bus to the biggest local town - Markaska, about half an hours drive to the North, which cost just £15 each. Markaska was really lovely with a port like atmosphere with loads and loads of restaurants. We stumbled on Marijeta Lozina's art gallery which was an amazing sight - a treasure trove of colour and vibrance housed in her Grandfather's 400yr old townhouse. We couldn't resist buying one of her unique paintings as a memento of our trip.
Croatia really hasn't cottoned onto tourism yet so we were surprised there wasn't much in the way of souvenirs in Markaska but we walked down the road to the town of Igrane (about 40mins walk) and they have some lovely little shops there selling lavender and oils plus some cute souvenirs. There is also a shop inside the hotel which was good for little gifts which was priced very similar to the local area. But beware! Do not leave your gift shopping until the airport! Split airport is small and has a very small duty free shop. A little bag of Croatian lavender which cost me £1 in the hotel was £7+ at the airport. I couldn't believe it!
The hotel also has a spa. The La Vita Spa steam room and sauna are free for guests to use but as you would expect you need to pay for any treatments. Prices are similar to UK hotel spa prices, around £40 for a manicure and £80 for an hours massage. As we were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary Husband booked lots of treatments for us to enjoy. Well I say enjoy with a caveat - massages in Croatia are more like a trip to the osteopath. In fact the masseuses we spoke to are actually qualified physios and they described their style of massage as 'medical'. So whilst my back felt absolutely amazing afterwards, the experience was more like paying someone to slowly beat you up with their elbows. I probably should have asked them to tone it down but being British I just grinned and bared it in silence. So not exactly relaxing but I also had a full body scrub which was amazing and a lovely glam gel manicure.
Would we return to Croatia? Yes. Would we recommend TUI Sensimar Adriatic Beach. Absolutely. As long as you don't mind being in a large hotel you'll have a fantastic time. The staff were faultless, service amazing and the food and drink selection beyond our expectations. For a relaxing, child free break on a reasonable budget I don't think you'd find much better.
Some images above courtesy of karismaadriatic.com/Hotels-Resorts/Sensimar-Adriatic-Beach-Resort/
Artist, Baker and Blogger. Mum to my two beautiful, cheeky girls. Muddling my way through parenthood with equally cheeky Husband.