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Istria: Experience the Croatian Toskana

Konstantin Zeuke, General Manager of the Kempinski Hotel Adriatic, shares his favourite Istrian places

Savudrija, 17 April, 2013 – Lush nature, vibrant history and delicious gastronomical and cultural adventures: the Kempinski Hotel Adriatic on the beautifully indented Adriatic coastline is definitely the best starting point from which to explore all the riches Istria has to offer. For starters, only a few kilometres away from this luxurious five-star property the magical Istrian region unfolds its canvas, complete with picturesque little hilltop towns and medieval fortresses, romantic fishing villages and acres of fertile land where the Croatian “Dolce Vita” is grown in the form of truffles, grapes, olives, wild asparagus and much more.

“And then there are the unexpected delights that are conjured up so naturally in the traditional taverns of the region. Natural, regional and very tasty”, says Konstantin Zeuke, a German national who moved to Istria two years ago when he was appointed General Manager of the Kempinski Hotel Adriatic, the first Croatian five-star seaside golf and spa resort. After a while, Konstantin fell in love with the region and started to explore it in greater depth, eventually becoming a proper expert on the place.

“The richness and boldness of the natural, green valleys and hills is the perfect backdrop to all kinds of trails, paths and routes, starting with the wine and olive oil routes”, explains Mr Zeuke. Istria’s frequently shifting borders in the past and the diverse influences that have shaped it over the centuries are visible everywhere. “For bike lovers, I would definitely recommend Parenzana – it is a well maintained trail and is located on the old railway line which once connected Poreč with the Italian port city of Trieste." The entire trail is marked with yellow signs that convey information about the historic viaducts and other interesting facts about the location. The road, meant for both hikers and mountain bikers, is a challenge with or without kids and winds up in the town of Motovun, which is situated on hill with a height of 277 metres.

“Very often during nice spring weekends, my family and I will grab our bikes and ride this route, stopping on the way in the town Groznjan, a centre of Croatian art and jazz, before riding down the Mirna River all the way to the heart of the truffle region – the breathtaking town of Motovun”, says Mr Zeuke. However, the forest around Motovun is not only famous for its truffles. In fact, the town lies at the intersection of the so called dragon’s lines, or meridians of happiness, marked by high levels of positive energy that have a relaxing and calming effect on those who are in the region. Sport lovers can also participate in jogging, yoga, water sports and tennis; the nearby town of Umag is considered the Croatian capital of tennis. “I love playing tennis and golf with my son. Luckily, our resort can boast Istria’s first professional 18-hole golf course”, says Mr Zeuke.

Those wishing to explore the area by car will find all sorts of interesting destinations nearby. With a population quoted variously at 17, 18 and 23, the tiny medieval wonder of Hum is officially listed by the Guinness Book of Records as the smallest town in the world. Such a moniker swells this village of little more than a dozen grey stone houses with hundreds of visitors in the summer months. The small village pub offers a home-brewed aromatic brandy, called Humska Biska, which is made from an ancient secret recipe which incorporates a cocktail of herbs, including white mistletoe.

In spring it is definitely recommended to enjoy a nice walk next to the coast. The air, saturated with the invigorating scents of the sea, rosemary and lavender, is one of life’s pure pleasures. Meanwhile, everywhere is green and blooming in this fertile region, from the green of the grass, to the gently flowering pink cherry trees to the Istrian wild asparagus, celebrated in the springtime with numerous asparagus festivals.

Istria is also famous for its excellent local cuisine: homemade, seasonal and fresh. Particularly excellent are the region’s asparagus, truffles and sole fish, and the many restaurants and taverns in the area are the best place to try the local delicacies. “My favourite Istrian konoba (tavern) restaurants are Buščina and Pergola, both of which are situated close to our hotel. Family run, both restaurants offer fantastic local cuisine in a cosy, traditional environment. The personalised service, relaxed atmosphere and child friendliness make every visit a pure joy for young and old alike. These are restaurants where everyone knows your name and are simply cosy and familiar”, explains Mr Zeuke. In addition to the asparagus, there are all kinds of fish, meat and truffles and a variety of dishes made with the local, robust olive oil known as Vekić. Last, but not least, the area is also home to some most famous vine producers, such as Degrassi, Kabola, Kozlović and Cuj, just to name a few.

Anyhow, the biggest passion of Mr Zeuke is waking up at dawn to go fishing with his family and friends. “In the very early hours of the morning, when everything is still asleep, it is very enjoyable to go fishing on a boat and watch the sun rise in a still, bluish sky over the calm sea. Then, you can enjoy freshly caught fish with the people you love. Really, the simplest things in life are the most amazing!"

Serafin Koutni, Executive Chef at the Kempinski Hotel Adriatic, is also a fan of the local Istrian cuisine. “There are no big culinary secrets. I take with great respect everything that nature has to offer every season and treat the ingredients the way the locals used to. I fuse their traditions with my own modern sense of style and expression. Our hotel offers guests an Istrian-style konoba restaurant called Kanova, which is situated directly on the beach, where diners can contemplate the shores of Croatia, Slovenia and Italy simultaneously while enjoying local specialties and noting the influence those three countries have had on Istria during the past”, explains Chef Serafin.

The "4=3" package (valid in April) and "5=4" package (valid in May and mid-July) include one additional night free of charge to discover Istria and the luxurious Kempinski Hotel Adriatic. Included in the package is also a rich gourmet breakfast, free entrance to the 3,000 sqm Carolea Spa and free Wi-Fi. This package is bookable depending on availability. For spa lovers, the hotel has prepared the appealing Beauty Spa Package. In addition to two nights' accommodation, a buffet breakfast, access to the spa and free Wi-Fi, the offer also includes one 120-minute beauty treatment per adult (includes one eye contour treatment, one facial and head massage and one hair care treatment) and a 10 percent discount on chosen body treatments (massages excluded). This package is bookable until 1 July, 2013 and starts at EUR 225 per person for a double room.

About Kempinski Hotel Adriatic

Easily reachable by car from many European capitals, the Kempinski Hotel Adriatic opened in August 2009 as the first Croatian five-star luxury seaside golf and spa resort. Located on the largest peninsula of the Adriatic Sea, it offers a stunning view over Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and the Alps. The hotel boasts 186 exclusively furnished rooms and suites, two gourmet restaurants, three bars, a 3,000 sqm spa with a gym, Kempi Kids Club, a private chapel surrounded by a Mediterranean garden, a serviced beach, various conference facilities and a separate conference centre directly overlooking the Adriatic. Part of the resort’s appeal is also the Golf Club Adriatic, the first 18-hole golf course in the region.

About Kempinski Hotels

Created in 1897, Kempinski Hotels is Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group. Kempinski’s rich heritage of impeccable personal service and superb hospitality is complemented by the exclusivity and individuality of its properties. Kempinski now comprises a portfolio of 76 five-star hotels in 30 countries and continues to add new properties in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Each one reflects the strength and success of the Kempinski brand without losing sight of its heritage. The portfolio comprises historic landmark properties, award-winning urban lifestyle hotels, outstanding resorts, and prestigious residences. Each one imbues the quality guests have come to expect from Kempinski while embracing the cultural traditions of its location. Kempinski is a founding member of the Global Hotel Alliance (GHA): the world’s largest alliance of independent hotels.

To book or for further information visit:

www.kempinski.com/presswww.globalhotelalliance.com

Issued by:

Lena Svilicic • PR Manager • Kempinski Hotel Adriatic Istria Croatia

Alberi 300 A • 52475 Savudrija • Istria • Croatia

Tel +385 52 707 022 • Fax +385 52 737 093

lena.svilicic@kempinski.comwww.kempinski.com/istria