I was recommended to Stuart when he was looking for a family holiday to celebrate his 40th birthday. A villa seemed to suit their needs perfectly, giving them the opportunity for friends to join them too.
After several Covid-related delays, Stuart finally got to head to one of my favourite places, Croatia...
Seven people, two families, and not a clue between us on how to organise a flexible holiday that isn’t a package deal.
Our criteria sounded quite simple: good weather, a private pool, easy access to a beach, shops, and restaurants as no one fancied driving, and enough room to spread out so that we came back from the holiday still friends.
Searching ourselves soon proved this was far from simple and that we needed help. Susan came recommended so we passed all responsibility over, dusted our hands, and waited to see what came of it.
Susan totally smashed it. She found a villa holiday in the coastal town of Podstrana, Croatia, that was just a few hundred metres from a lovely beach with restaurants all along it.
Our accommodation was effectively two separate and completely self-contained floors to ensure harmony remained; the pool was heated and a perfect size, surrounded by sunbeds and shaded areas, and with a view, you could get lost in. Absolute perfection.
Oh, and flights and transfers were all sorted to the point they were seamless in both directions.
We had pool days, with the villa acting as the perfect (air-conditioned) accompaniment, extensive views out over the Adriatic Sea provided the backdrop, and come the evening, we strolled to choose from any number of nearby restaurants, most of which had tables positioned along rocky jetties, so you were surrounded by the sea as you dined.
We had beach days too (you need beach shoes, the beaches are all a little pebbly) in the crystal-clear sea and days in the nearby city of Split, easily accessible with Podstrana being on a bus route with a service running along the coast road to and from the city roughly every half hour (and the journey taking approx. 35 minutes).
Split is a buzzing, vibrant city with a stunning Old Town, and Game of Thrones fans will recognise filming locations here and several other places in Croatia. You can walk the actual steps that Cersei did for her walk of shame, with a bell and sans clothing for added authenticity if you so desire; I am sure the locals see it all the time.
Split is also where the boat trips run from. We enjoyed an all-day one at around £30 each that included a magnificent lunch and three very different stops and experiences that included diving over a shipwreck, snorkelling the turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon, and a visit to a stunning fishing village that looked like a purpose-built movie set.
With a late flight on our final day, we took the opportunity to visit a town called Trogir. Google it, the pictures won’t do it justice, but they will give you an idea of its beauty.
It’s a hidden gem, less touristy than Split, with the Old Town entirely enclosed on a small island and accessed by a quaint wooden footbridge. The architecture is a mix of civilisations through the ages and the history is utterly fascinating.
We used a business called “Stasher” where you can store your suitcases for a small amount, freeing you up to explore the area. Stasher also arranged a seven-seater airport taxi, which was a ten-minute drive and cost £20.
Croatia was perfection. I hadn’t previously considered visiting, so we went with Susan’s recommendation (she’s been nine times herself!) and on the fact that the villa seemed ideal – and it exceeded every one of our expectations.
We are already planning a long weekend back to Trogir for our wedding anniversary (two-hour flight, ten-minute transfer = no brainer!) and we would certainly go back again as a family.
I would like to add a personal thanks to Susan. I have felt the pressure of trying to ensure seven people have a holiday with no hitches and since we initially booked, we’ve had a pandemic, flight changes, location changes and complete cancellations to contend with, along with a media who seemed obsessed with convincing us that the airports are at a standstill.
Susan patiently navigated me through the whole thing, always happy to answer my (constant!) questions, and even worked on her 50th birthday to make sure a final element of our trip was sorted. I can’t thank her enough.