Written by Anita Palada, Edward Kiersh
Photos by Martinis Marchi Hotel
The tastes of heaven begin with a tangy soup spiced with locally-grown herbs, a “time honored speciality” featuring a rich mix of ravioli and delicacies from the sea.
Always hoping to stir emotions, thoughts of culinary wizardry, and to be faithful to intensely-flavorful homemade” recipes, the young chef looks at me expectantly. Only after I praise the soup, and smile, does he seem relieved, even buoyant.
The consummate host, waiting for my every reaction, Toni Miloš, 35, one my engaging hosts at the Martinis Marchi seaside restaurant on the idyllic Croatian island of Šolta, says “our menu is quite simple…dating back 300 years. We have adapted dishes to modern times but we still use ingredients that are specific to this island. They are very special.”
So is chef Miloš, and his “simple” yet still creative, Mediterranean dishes— from the brujet cooked in tomato sauce with onions, garlic and parsley; popara with potatoes, carrots and pieces of white fish; to the pheasant prepared in a locally-sourced red wine.
Insisting “all my dishes have their roots in local traditions, the culture close to the magical blue Adriatic (Sea),” Miloš certainly wants to prepare memorable “gastronomic experiences” in his Martinis Marchi castle hotel kitchen.
But such specialties as homemade ravioli, beef tartare with fermented garlic and chocolate soufflés are also meant to appeal to travelers “seeking a glorious escape removed from time.” He hopes each dish will inspire lasting emotions, a sense that Croatia is a unique time capsule devoted to intoxicating surprises and pleasures
He succeeds triumphantly. So does this luminous 7-suite boutique hotel that boasts 1500-square meter lodgings, a heated pool, hammam, sauna, and a marina where private excursions can be arranged to whisk you to numerous secluded coves and sandy beaches.
Here indulgences thrive along with a tranquility that first attracted the three Marchi brothers to Šolta in 1703. Hoping to build a calm, soothing oasis—a bounty of “simplicity combined with pristine nature”—they won permission from Venetian authorities to build a sumptuous summer retreat above the bay of Maslinica one hour from Split.
Intent on creating a shelter against marauding pirates, the brothers wanted a refuge of “light and stillness”—and in that Wellness spirit the hotel is a veritable cocoon surrounded by the sea and a lush Mediterranean garden resplendent with herbs and flowers.
“Our place has a unique historic past and soul, a very positive energy,” says Tihana Mravak Sivić, the hotel manager. “We want guests to really feel at home. We try to honor every request, to turn the impossible into everything is possible—with a smile.”
Such pampering makes it remarkably easy to forget the outside world, to be content simply from listening to the wind at the pool, or to stroll in the adjoining village. Yet if feeling “adventurous,” guests can take the “Martinis Marchi I” Sunseeker Superhawk 50 to the island of Pag to sample its’ internationally-renowned salty sheep cheese. Or they can visit one of the glorious beaches on Hvar, Brač, and perhaps a winery or two.
Eyeing the ships docked close to the restaurant, Marina Captain Frane Cecić Acosta insists, “Always looking to give guests exciting experiences, we welcome sunsets with champagne, listen to songs when appropriate, and anchor in bays to allow guests to swim.”
Ever nervously looking out towards the Adriatic, Acosta knows the sea is often capricious, yet he adds, “Guests come back. That is a confirmation we are doing our job very well.”
His taking tourists island hopping is a delight. Yet so is Šolta with its’ beekeeping apiaries, olive oil factory, and vineyards with prized Dobričić grapes.
Such exploring allows guests to meet local people, to really immerse themselves in Šolta’s island culture.
“We hope guests can connect with our local surroundings, experience the pristine wilderness,” says Sivić. “We want guests to find total joy there.”
But the greatest joy, if not sitting by the pool, or luxuriating in the hammam, is basking in the comfort of one’s suite. Each of these 7 air-conditioned suites has been tastefully-decorated with armoires, paintings and other furnishings that are meant to rekindle the spirit of the 18th Century. They speak to a refinement the Marchis’ brothers relished—an elegance sorely lacking in most hotels today.
So discover the unforgettable.
Escape to the Martinis Marchi.