Good food and wine at this slow tourism hotel on the Croatian coast
Vrbnik is a small town with a mediaeval castle on the east coast of the island of Krk. Over the years the winding streets and well-spaced houses of the town have sprawled across the slopes of a 50-metre high rocky promontory.
Just outside the town centre, Vinotel Gospoja dominates a cliff that rises from the sea. The hotel takes its name from the Gospoja park. A nearby chapel is also dedicated to the «Gospoja» (the Madonna in Croat). The hotel is part of an integrated project run by the Toljanić family in conjunction with the Gospoja agricultural cooperative, of which the family are founding members. The project combines a discerning approach to tourism with good local wine and aims to offer a slower and more sustainable way to appreciate the area’s cultural and natural heritage, in contrast with the mass tourism that is ravaging the valuable heritage of much of the country’s coastline. The starting point for the project was the production of Vrbnička lahtina, a dry white wine made from the native grape variety of the same name. The variety has been cultivated on Krk since the 19th century and is grown on six hectares of land the Toljanić family owns in the middle of the island.
Completed in 2016, Vinotel Gospoja was designed by Idis Turato, an architect from the nearby town of Rijeka. Turato’s commission was to turn the nucleus of the Toljanić family’s old home and wine factory into a four-star hotel.
Turato has closely monitored the transformation of this delicate coastal environment that requires careful conservation. (In his book «In between. A book on the Croatian coast, global processes, and how to live with them», co-authored with Sasa Randic, Turato points out that still today only 15% of the country’s 6,000 km of coast has been developed, in between 7 natural parks and 8 nature reserves.) He therefore took the greatest care to design a building that would blend in with its architectural and natural surroundings. Exploiting the seaward slope of the rock on which the complex stands, Turato drew inspiration for the scale and proportions of the new complex from the town of Vrbnik. Renouncing the idea of a single volume construction, he proceeded to design five independent, coloured modules of varying height along with two above-ground floors, all integrated with a central, three-storey nucleus.
Vinotel Gospoja provides 22 rooms and suites, named after Croatia’s main grape varieties. Nine rooms in shades of green are named after white grapes (debit, gegić, kraljevina, istarska malvazija, moslavac-puipel, poip, graevina, mukat and dubrovačka malvasija); eight rooms in champagne hues are named after black grapes (babić, blatina, borgonja, plavac mali, brajdica, sansigot, crljenak and teran); six suites including the President Suite and luxury hotel apartments take their names from lahtina wines (lahtina sv.duh, lahtina sv.nedije, lahtina sv.anton, lahtina sv.frančisk, lahtina sv.mikul and gospoja).
A partly underground two-level plinth, connected to the sea by a narrow passage hewn through the rock, supports the volumes that contain the rooms and also houses the common areas: a restaurant that serves guests and non-residents and, on an underground floor beneath, Terra Viva, a wellbeing centre with sauna, swimming pool and Turkish bath that forms the perfect complement to this relaxing environment with magnificent views over the Adriatic from different size terraces.
Variety and the offer of top quality, unique spaces are ensured by the clever arrangement of the different levels, and by the careful selection of materials and finishes. Turato chose Ceramiche Keope’s porcelain tiles for their versatility and warmth. The floors and walls of the rooms and suites are decorated in large, 15×90 cm wood effect tiles while 30×60 cm stone effect tiles cover the terraces, restaurant and poolside.
The Soul line in the colour Beige and size 15×90 cm was chosen for the elegant guest rooms, in the natural finish version for the floor and textured finish for the wall behind the bed. This solution has a strong chromatic impact and makes effective use of the collection’s wood look with its harmonious grain and pleasant colour tones. The result is a warm and welcoming atmosphere with a strong personality.
The bedrooms lead to the splendid sea view terrace, where the floors are tiled with the In&Out Percorsi Extra — Pietra di Combe collection in a 30×60 cm rectified size with a textured finish that faithfully reproduces the natural appeal of stone. It is ideal for outdoor applications due to its high level of safety, reliability, ruggedness and durability, as well as outstanding resistance to physical and chemical stresses.
To ensure the maximum stylistic continuity between the various areas of the hotel, the Soul line was chosen in the Blend 25×150 cm version as the floor and wall covering in the restaurant and in the Pearl coloured 15×90 cm size with both natural and textured finish for the swimming pool in the wellness area.
Ceramiche Keope, In&Out Percorsi Extra collection, Pietra di Combe collection, Soul collection
15x90 cm, 25x150 cm
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,1 %
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): Resiste
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): ≤ 145 mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R9, R11
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant