Mali Losinj doesn’t roll trippingly off the tongue (Losinj is pronounced Losheen), but this Croatia resort town should be on everyone’s short list of luxury spa destinations. I spent a week at the seaside Hotel Bellevue, a gorgeous place where the treatments were super luxe, the food and wine was spectacular, and yes, the Europeans were naked.
Luxury Vacation in Mali Losinj Croatia
You know how it’s cool to have the latest bit of tech before any else, or to see a hit play in London before it comes to Broadway? That’s how I felt about spending a week at the luxury spa Hotel Bellevue in Mali Losinj, the largest town on one of Croatia’s archipelago islands, Losinj. This hotel is part of a the Losinj-Hotels group that also includes the Hortensia, a private 10 room villa with butler, chef and access to Bellevue’s spa; Vespera, a family friendly ‘kinder’ hotel; Wellness Hotel Aurora (the name says it all) and Punta, a moderately priced hotel with its own spa.
Visiting the Game of Thrones setting in Dubrovnik is one very good reason to visit Croatia. Spending a week rejuvenating at the spa on the islands is another. If possible, do both. Rent a car and drive the 8 hours or take a bus and enjoy the sites. I traveled to Mali Losinj on a media trip via Venice, Italy, but I could see bringing my teens here. They would love the spa, appreciate great food and the sea is spectacular.
Mali Losinj is a 30 minute private plane ride from Venice (about $1000/pp round trip), but worlds away in terms of anonymity, seclusion and relaxation. Another option: fly commercially to Rijeka Airport and take an hour long catamaran ride to Mali Losinj.
Croatia History: Educational for Kids
Spas became popular in the 1920s here, when the microclimate was recognized as great for anyone with respiratory or other health issues. In World War II, the area was under Italian rule and elementary schools still teach kids Italian today. Our tour guide told us he and his grandmother speak Italian fluently, but neither has been to Italy.
Museums like the Archaeology Museum in the Roman town of Osor focus on the medieval history of the region. The Apoxymenos Museum in Losinj features a 2,000 year old bronze statue that was discovered off the coast of Losinj in 1999. The exhibit explains the painstaking care that was taken to restore the statue to its first century beauty.
Fun fact: Mali Losinj means small Losinj but it is actually the biggest town in Losinj (Veli Losinj means big but it is the smallest). Go figure.
Where Mali Losinj is gorgeous, with a town center, bike trails and resorts, Veli Losinj is quaint and colorful with a spectacular and valuable collection of Venetian baroque masters in the parish church and a Tower Museum with seafarer history.
When to Go to Losinj
If you like crowds, July and August are absolutely packed. But if you go in September or October, the weather is still fantastic, prices are lower and the crowds are gone. Although it rarely snows in Losinj, it is too windy in the winter to enjoy the beach and many of the hotels are closed January and February.
Take the Waters
The aquamarine, super clean water rivals that of any Caribbean beach. What the ‘beach’ doesn’t have, though, is sand. There is basically rock slab out to the water. The hotels offer lounge chairs that overlook the water and there is a small sandy area near Hotel Bellevue.
Sailing is a way of life in Losinj. Charter a boat, hire a captain and take a trip around the islands. We sailed on one of Jadranka’ s yachts anchored in a cove to swim, then stopped at the small island of Ilovik for lunch.
The Room at Hotel Bellevue
I had a super spacious, airy room with a huge balcony; it felt like an extension of the spa. I loved the high tech light control panel at the head of my bed. No fumbling around in the dark when you go to sleep! The large bathroom with tub had a complicated shower that required a phone call for me to figure out.
There is courtyard in the center of the hotel but of course everything leads to the view of the sea. The bar was more like a reception area that offered small plate desserts and chocolate as well as cocktails, a piano player every evening, and appetizers.
Hotel Bellevue Dining
Breakfast is included in the room rate, and the buffet was an amazing spread. In keeping with the spa aesthetic, it was very clean food, and you could get a customized juice or smoothie every morning. I got greens and ginger, which was not sweet or sugary but delicious and healthy.
Then I hit the buffet, which went on and on. Anything you could imagine was there. You won’t need lunch. After only one day, Olga had my number. She prepared a juice that she felt I would like and would be good for me and she was right every time. I looked forward to seeing her smiling face every morning. From the teas to the omelet station, every breakfast item was fresh and delicious.
The restaurants nearby offered the most delicious food that is elegant and appealing to families. The freshest seafood, tastiest lamb, indulgent desserts and a wine selection that got better every night. With great lamb comes fabulous cheese and add to that the Italian influence and you have a culinary adventure for the most discerning palates.
Hotel Bellevue Amenities
Losinj takes wellness seriously. The island opted not to allow cruise ships into its ports in order to protect the 2000 species of medical plants. The optimal humidity and essential oils from the plants and herbs make for a kind of natural healing aerosol.
Just walking around outside is good for your lungs; the unique microclimate provides the island with 2631 hours of annual sunshine, or over 7 hours a day. The warm sea current on the both sides of the island regulates temperatures, which are never too hot or too cold, but warm enough to draw citrus. Various Croatian groups have conducted heart and respiratory studies that substantiate improved health claims.
All About the Spa
The Hotel Bellevue spa is truly restorative, welcoming. Access to the spa is included in the room rate for ages 16 and older. Treatments like massage are an extra fee; my hour long massage was $110 US and there is a teen spa menu. I was impressed that my masseur, Davor, is a physical therapist as well as a masseur. I explained a lower back issue I was having and his advice not to go too deep with the massage, so as not to inflame the issue, made my treatment more therapeutic.
Spa amenities include an indoor warm salt water pool, hot tub, Turkish baths, steam rooms, cool pool and warming stone chairs. Color therapy is the new spa must have and their “beds” are water tables with heated water mattresses and changeable colored lights. A trainer is available in the gym to answer questions or give you a workout.
An in-house internist can set up a customized wellness program to help reduce stress, lose weight or reconnect with loved ones. You get a complete exam including lab work and a nutrition, exercise and spa program is created for you. Like all top notch spas, the kitchen, spa and staff are all apprised of your program to help you achieve your goals.
My facial was more perfunctory and clinical: cleaning, steaming, moisturizing. My skin glowed and I felt wonderful however the massage was special and felt more customized for me. Since I returned home, I have been applying the Myrtle-inflused face cream Hotel Alhambra gave us as a sample and THAT is a special cream.
The only snafus
- Concierge service could be improved; they could not figure out how to get in touch with Delta to confirm my flight
- $25 for bike rental is too high for limited bike paths. There are cheaper rentals across the street (I found out AFTER)
What Works for Families
- Free breakfast with wide variety of choices; even the pickiest eater will be in heaven
- Extremely friendly staff, welcoming to kids
- Zero entry water at the beach, fabulously clean water
- Kids play room near reception
- Friendly wonderful staff; babysitters easily found
What Doesn’t Work for Families
- Rock slab beach; no sand
- Spa is limited to those over age 16
- bike rental – $25/hour and bike trails are disconnected
I admit that I fall in love with something in every place that I visit. And I can return to a place several times and always find something new to love. I could return to Losinj and the neighboring islands 100 more times and find more food, people and places to enjoy. The unique microclimate is real; the hospitality is real and not forced and the prices are appealing. If you have dreamed or planned a trip to Canyon Ranch, definitely consider the luxurious Hotel Bellevue before you make your reservations. This is a high recommend for families with older kids, girlfriend getaways and romantic trips.
Disclosure: I was the guest of Losinj Hotels, which covered my travel, meals and accommodations. Opinions expressed are my own.