Croatia’s newest best hotel: Villa Nai 3.3 brings a new level of natural luxury to the Dalmatian islands

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Perhaps you have heard of Hvar, the most famous of Croatia’s Dalmatian islands, known for its nightlife and beaches (and a fantastic new hotel). And if you really are into the Adriatic Islands, you may know of Korcula, with its “little Dubrovnik” village, and Brac and its white pebble beaches and windsurfing spots. But you probably never thought of Dugi Otok, a dry island with less than 2,000 people.

For the owners of Villa Nai 3.3, it is a big part of the island’s appeal.

The owners had their success in the construction industry, and when they decided to build a small, ultra-luxury resort on their land outside the small village of Zman, they had access to top architects, engineers and craftsmen. This allowed them to build something extraordinary – something that matched their sub-radar island, with its close connection to olive groves and the navy blue Adriatic.

To say that it is built into the rock of the island sometimes gives people a wrong idea, admits Lana Galic, the Croatian general manager of the hotel. They get the impression that it’s a bunker.

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But that is hardly the case. The renowned Croatian architect Nikola Basic rather came up with a design that is integrated with the landscape in a way that few places are. Builders cut into the island’s natural rock and then used stones, which they quarried to build the hotel. They put green roofs on top. It lies in the hill behind, so it is invisible from behind, and from the front it appears to be part of the landscape.

Its footprint follows the contours of the landscape, which means that there are very few right angles. Galic points out that floor tiles are not a uniform shape, a design decision – and a technical challenge – intended to add the natural feel.