Looking to rub shoulders with the rich and famous? Head to Hvar!
It is the island where Tom Cruise will pop in for a pizza, Giorgio Armani lists as home to one of his favourite restaurants, Prince Harry take an impromptu nightclub swim, and Roman Abramovich rocks up in the world's largest private yacht, but Hvar's celebrity status has much more depth and tradition than modern tabloid headlines.
While Hvar Town these days is the central celebrity destination, it was not always the case. After abdicating from the British throne in 1936, Edward and new wife Wallace Simpson had lunch in Stari Grad in the restaurant which is today known as Jurin Podrum, while Mrs. JF Kennedy went water-skiing in Stari Grad bay in 1964, having arrived accompanied by a Yugoslav naval vessel personally ordered by Tito.
Hvar Town's celebrity tradition is not a recent phenomenon, however, and visitors of note in years gone by include Orson Welles, who filmed The Deep on location on the island, basing himself in a waterfront location which is the modern-day Kod Kapetana.
While celebrity arrivals often make the news, it is the anonymity and freedom which many are afforded that makes Hvar such an attractive destination for the rich and famous. Hvar is famously egalitarian, and backpackers and mega-yacht owners rub shoulders on the Hvar waterfront, which has become one of the most fashionable in Europe.
So anonymous are celebrity arrivals that many come and go with no mention in the press that they were every there. While some restaurants and bars revel in their celebrity arrivals, others are fiercely protective of their famous guests, and the paparazzi are banned from the premises. Of these, Meneghello on Palmižana has perhaps the most distinguished list of famous people over time, and guests regularly find themselves at the breakfast table with A-listers, such as Michael Schumacher in 2012.
The Hvar Tourist Board has an admirable policy of neither confirming nor denying the presence of famous people. As a tourist destination, the wishes and privacy of celebrity guests are taken seriously.
Looking to rub shoulders with the rich and famous while on holiday in Croatia? Then head to Hvar, and you never know might be relaxing in blissful anonymity over an espresso at the next table.
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*Author - Paul Bradbury
*Photo Credit - Romulić & Stojčić multimedia studio