Psst…Europe has a new ultra-lux island retreat

An island retreat built into an ancient organic olive grove, on a wild Mediterranean island. Just eight ultra-lux suites carved into the hillside, at one with nature. Where the main thing to do is to do nothing at all.

We’ve uncovered Europe’s best new ultra-lux retreat, a property that made a very quiet debut last summer.

Where is it? Sardinia? Perhaps Sicily? Corsica? Maybe trendy Montenegro? No, Villa Nai 3.3 is located on the island of Dugi Otok, in Croatia.

Croatia’s coastal beauty is very well known, but the country has always had a scarcity of outstanding hotels. Along with Maslina Resort on Hvar island, Villa Nai 3.3 is changing opinions about travel to Croatia.

Villa Nai

A New Croatia?

Croatia is mostly a mass tourism destination and savvy explorers have been discovering neighbouring Montenegro instead. In particular, Croatia’s northern islands, like the Zadar archipelago, are known for overcrowded campsites and crazy summer crowds.

Villa Nai 3.3 is just about the opposite of this, on an island with only 2000 inhabitants and little tourist infrastructure. Dugi Otok is at the edge of the Kornati National Park, a group of 89 islands, where dramatic cliff formations meet Roman ruins.

Villa Nai

For years it’s been a popular sailing destination. Croatian architect Nikola Bašić has helped create a reason to stay on land. Villa Nai 3.3 has one of the boldest hotel designs we’ve seen recently.

Villa Nai 3.3

The property has been in the hands of Goran Morovic’s family since 1607. He says:

“Our concept is a little bit different, in the best part of Croatia.”

Eight suites are literally carved into the hillside, surrounded by the olive groves. Set in a semi-circle, fri​​nged by terracotta soil and pink-tinged stone, it looks like something from Star Wars.

Villa Nai

The dominant stone was excavated from the island, adding to the sense of a property completely in sync with its nature. Olive trees sprawl all around and the saltwater infinity pool is just one place with stunning Adriatic views.

There’s a Finnish bio sauna, extensive spa facilities, a restaurant, and an olive farm for which Villa Nai 3.3 is named after – Nai 3.3 is their multi award-winning olive oil.

Even the oil mill and tasting room are built into the island. And the grotto-like feel extends to the spa.

Not that this is some squalid cave – marble bathrooms from Agape, furnishings from Giorgetti in Milan, plus generous terraces help put Villa Nai 3.3 in the ultra-lux category. Space is paramount and it makes this feel like a private island retreat.

Villa Nai

Plan My Croatia Holiday

Your Holiday in Croatia

Villa Nai 3.3 has a very adult atmosphere and only takes children aged 12 and above. We wouldn’t recommend it for families, regardless of the children’s age. It’s also a no-smoking hotel, except for the dedicated cigar room.

This is a romantic and private place to stay, where audacious design meets the tranquility of a remote island.

Olive and wine tasting are part of the everyday experience. Nearby villages make for a sleepy walk and lazy afternoon, although the village of Sali does grow lively on summer afternoons, as a popular stopping point for yacht charters.

Villa Nai

Really, the appeal is to do nothing, but you’re not confined to the property. Telascica National Park hides six islets and 25 coves, while Kornati National Park has a wild, mesmerising beauty. Both are nearby destinations for a day trip by boat. You can also integrate Villa Nai 3.3 into a sailing itinerary that explores the Adriatic Coast.

Croatia stopped being a destination for explorers. But slowly, explorers are now discovering the interior. And Villa Nai 3.3 is changing the possibility along the coast.

From the mainland the best place to start is Zadar. Villa Nai 3.3 are currently building a helipad as well.

Let’s plan your next holidays

View more destinations

Other articles you might like