we booked our stay via travel zoo for dates 11-18 Sep 2007.
Upon arrival we were told that they had exprienced their own 9/11 and a booking for 200 people as part of a conference had been lost in the system.
This meant we did not have a room for the night, however they paid for the transfers to another 5 star hotel in the centre of split (the
atrium - not a patch on le meridien though!!!), and that the first night would be free. This was explained in a courteous manner and as we were only paying £80 a night anyway this seemed very reasonable.
On our return the following day, the director of rooms -Guiseppe, personally ensured the room was ready and that we had been upgraded for the duration of our stay to a deluxe sea view room (room rate should have been £380 per night!!!!)
We were more than happy with this solution, regardless of the minor inconvenience - who wouldn't be!?!
In terms of the hotel, it is 8km south of split so the taxi fare from
the airport is approx £30 each way, which is quite expensive. Taxis into split, from the hotel, are again £12 although the free shuttle bus runs for most of the day, but be warned the service is scaled down from 15 Sep to 2 or 3 in the morning and 2 in the early evening so it could be cheaper overall to hire a car for the week, especially
if you want to explore the local area/islands.
As per all meridiens the food/drink costs are quite expensive and add up quite quickly (especially if you have lunch as well as dinner at the hotel). As per previous traveller reviews Fabios cafe is very reasonable and the food is just as good as the hotel, but considerably cheaper i.e. £1.20 for a 0.5l of beer, £7 for a quality bottle of wine and the most expensive dish is £7 for a steak or £4 for a pizza.
Overall the hotel is very impressive and there was never a long wait for service in any of the restaurants - spalatum, pivnicis, pool bar, etc. The facilities were excellent and there were plenty of sunbeds to go round, although the hotel was not full at the time. I would avoid the casino/nightclubs, apart from the cheap drinks (compared to the hotel), as i never saw anyone win and if you play single person blackjack against the dealer you have to play two hands
minimum - i've never heard of this before!!!
visit soon !!
Great hotel, the facilities are fantastic and due to some earlier reviews I was worried the hotel would be too big with little atmosphere - I found the staff to be professional and courteous, the pools are lovely and gym excellent.
The rooms are big and as the hotel is recently refurbished so are of a very high standard. We had a lovely view but did notice some rooms would have a view of the car park but I presume these would be at a lower rate. Breakfast is as you would expect from a hotel of this standard... having stayed in a few 4/5 star hotels in Croatia the food/beverage prices are reasonable and lower than I anticipated.
The complimentary hotel minibus is a nice touch but if full just hop on the local bus , 11kuna into split and just pay as you board. Thanks to the tip about Fabios restaurant - very reasonable prices and good food!!!
We spent the first few days of our honeymoon in Split at the Le Meridian Lav - it was a perfect way to relax and unwind. Just a beautiful, wonderful, amazing hotel. Fantastic spa. We were delighted with how affodable it was too! Looks like it is an amazing place for a conference - it has full faciliites. We stayed in a room overlooking the marina - fantastic. The best part was the waterfall shower!! Amazing!
Very pleasant but some disappointing touches
I can't fault the service in LeMeridien Lav. Everyone was professional and friendly and most spoke english well, including the chamber maids. Views from seaview rooms are excellent. Decor is modern and fresh. If you're looking for cosy or intimate, this isn't the hotel for you. Large open spaces, with marble and glass everywhere. Rooms are comfortable, but I was disappointed that the famous Meridien beds, which you can actually buy off the Meridien website weren't here. The bed was very new as hotel only opened 3 months ago, and as such was very hard, with no cover between sheet and matress. I was also disappointed and surprised, that there was no shower in the bathroom, other than a hand held showerhead in the bath, which couldn't be attached to the wall. Similarly while our room was comfortable there was no drawer space whatsoever. The hairdryer, and laundry bags had to be left on the floor of the wardrobe. As our stay was a week duration, it was annoying having no where to store non hanging items.
As others have mentioned the hotel is approx 20 mins outside Split by taxi and when we were there there was only a morning and evening shuttle, so not much help unless you wanted to go into split at 9.30am and come back at 6pm. Taxi's can get expensive if you wish to eat outside hotel, which for a week long stay is necessary. The food is good but not eveynight the same menu in an impersonal open plan restaurant. Plus as to be expected in a 5 star hotel, food and beverages are expensive. Plus there isn't a comfortable seat in any of the bars! All modern design and no comfort.
Having said all this I'm sure you will enjoy your stay. I fear I'm homing in on the negatives, as you expect 5 star to be top notch and the small disappointments stand out. In its favour there aren't many other hotels in Split which can offer this standard, so don't be put off, as its worth a visit.
"Croatian Trip Report 1"
Croatian Trip Report - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Some general observations first.........
First of all we want to echo what everyone else has posted about Croatia - the country is absolutely gorgeous. From the coastal scenery with its turquoise water (looking almost Caribbean!) to the mountains and waterfalls, the setting cannot be beat! The country has an almost Italian feel to it (at least from physical appearances) and does not look Eastern European at all. The cities and country are extremely clean and there does not seem to be much in the way of pollution at all. There seems to be very little industry so the coastal waters of the country are pristine.
From a tourist’s perspective, traveling in Croatia could not be easier. It seemed that almost everyone in the entire country spoke English - from the parking lot attendants, waiters, ticket takers to just about anyone you came in contact with. All menus in every restaurant are in at least 4 to 5 languages. Frankly even though I learned about 20 words of Croatian before I left, they were not even needed. Even when I tried the responses were always in English whether I liked it or not! This took a little sense of adventure out of the trip but did make traveling quite easy! Most signs (road signs and attraction signs) seemed to be bi-lingual - Croatian and English. English has become the indispensable language of international travel.
We rented a car and found the travel to be fairly easy. The roads were well marked, signs were well placed and plentiful and the roads were in good condition. There seems to be sporadic minor road repairs all over the country. We did have about a dozen brief stops for construction on the coastal road from Dubrovnik to Split. The two motorways are great, although the east-west leg is still under construction. The north-south motorway is complete as far south as Split and will be going to Dubrovnik next year. But going south of Split via the motorway will rob you of the wonderful scenery on the coastal road. One thing we found odd on the motorways is that every single tunnel and viaduct has a name and a sign telling you how long the tunnel or viaduct is. And believe me, there are a lot of tunnels and viaducts! Gas stations were plentiful and never presented a problem. There are several downsides to car travel: firstly it often appears that the engineers who designed the Croatian non-motorway roads did not realize that straightaways exist. If you had a model road racing set as a kid, imagine a set that only came with the curved pieces and you’ll have a good idea of the Croatian road layout. Be that as it may, the roads are scenic, either taking you through pretty coastal settings or through nice little villages. Every now and then you do see a bombed out house, a vivid reminder of recent past history. The other problem on the roads is one that requires good passing skills. If you can’t pass, you will not make good time. You will often get stuck behind slow moving trucks, an ancient Renault or a tour bus. Channel your inner Italian and let it fly!
"Croatia Trip Report 2"
Croatia is a different type of tourist destination - there are no major sights and must see attractions. There is no equivalent of the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum, but rather the country itself is the attraction. If you are sight oriented you may find Croatia a little disappointing. If you like to wander through picturesque towns and soak in the atmosphere, if you like cobblestone streets and stones houses, if you are a sucker for a walled city, well this is the place for you.
However, all that is good about Croatia does lead to some negatives. As the country is so attractive, it has become a major tourist mecca for most of Europe. We saw mostly Germans, French, British and Hungarians (in that order). I cannot possibly imagine what this country is like in peak tourist season. It was quite crowded in the middle of May - we cannot imagine what it must be like in the height of the summer season. We did see some Americans there as well, but they are still in the tourist minority. Once again (as I have in other posts) I must state that the Ugly American is long dead. I believe that Americans have become very good travelers and act in a very well mannered fashion when traveling abroad. This trip’s award goes to the Germans who believe their language was not meant to be spoken, but rather shouted. And please...those Speedos do not look good!!! Anyway, I think Lonely Planet said it best....... when observing Dubrovnik they stated that the city ran the risk of becoming a Mediterranean theme park. There is a certain element in all of the Croatian towns and cities that is almost like being in Epcot. The architecture and settings are gorgeous, but there is a certain unreality to it all. Dubrovnik, for example, is a wonderful city, but it seemed that every shop catered to tourists and sold typical tourist kitsch. If you wanted a “Proud Member of the Croatian Drinking Team” t-shirt, you were in the right place! This becomes ever more evident when a cruise ship pulls into port. Large groups following the omnipresent flag/umbrella toting tour guides clog the streets and alleys. Yet walk a few blocks off the main drag and it all seems so quite and deserted. Of course the bad side of this is that there did not (at times) seem to be any Croatians around!
The Croatians you did meet were friendly and appreciative of the tourists visiting their country. I felt a genuine appreciation for the fact that I chose their country over the more well known European tourist destinations. Wait and hotel staff were generally friendly as well. The big problem is that in the most popular places you travel, it seemed very difficult to meet Croatians! The restaurants and stores were filled with tourists. Many of the towns and villages we walked through seemed deserted until you turned the corner and ran into other camera toting tourists. Our least favorite place in Croatia was Zagreb, yet here we saw many “natives” as this does not seem to be a prime part on the tourist path.
"Croatia Trip Report 3"
Weather wise, I think many of the promotional pieces and others’ comments are a little deceiving. The weather definitely reminded us of our home base of Florida. It could be gorgeous and sunny one minute and cloudy and rainy five minutes later. We actually were in a town which was sunny on one side and rainy on the other. The supposed state of perpetual sunshine was just not there!
One of America’s worst “gifts” to the world (no, not McDonalds) has to be tobacco, and boy do the Croats sure appreciate it. I think smoking in Croatia is actually worse than in Italy (our previous runner-up for the smoke filled restaurant heaven). I think one of the reasons that things seem so smoky is the shortage of American tourists. My unscientific observation placed Americans fifth in the tourist visitors scheme of things.
On to the specifics...........
As Americans, we love the lure of the open road, so we opted to make this a road trip. We first flew into Dubrovnik (we flew from Florida to New York, New York to Vienna and then Vienna to Dubrovnik). From the air you get a great overview of the country with its turquoise water and many islands dotting the coast. The airport appears from out of nowhere in the middle of the hills. We used Nikola Serkovic (a recommendation of “tcreath”) for the taxi ride from the airport to our hotel. We were to later use him for a day trip to Montenegro. We decided we would rent a car after our Dubrovnik stay. We stayed at the Hotel Excelsior which was the nicest hotel of the trip. We had a room that overlooked the old city and Lokrum which was only a short 10 minute walk away. We stayed for 3 days which we felt was sufficient. We spent 2 full days in Dubrovnik exploring the major sights, circumnavigating the wall, prowling the side streets and taking a quick jaunt to Lokrum Island. We also took a long day trip using the services of Nikola Serkovic to Montenegro. Nikola was an excellent choice......he was friendly, informative and spoke great English (although he did not think so!). He acted as both a guide and driver. He would take us to the destinations, give us some background information and let us wander around at our own pace. The route was as follows: start at Dubrovnik Fort on Mount Srd (breathtaking view, too bad the cable car is gone.....it would be a very long walk to the top), drive into Bosnia to Trebinje (mediocre town..but who can resist listing Bosnia as a tourist destination ) and then Montenegro, specifically the towns of Perast, Kotor, Budva and then Sveti Stephan. Kotor was our favorite.......very charming and mostly empty. Budva was jammed pack full of people in the middle of May. I shudder to think what it would be like in the height of the season in summer.
Like most travelers, we had to pick and choose what to see and what not to see. Based on this being a driving trip, we unfortunately opted to not visit the islands as much as we wanted to see Hvar and Korcula. The logistics and timing of the ferries just did not work out. So after staying in Dubrovnik we got our rental car and hit the road. We used Sixt Auto Rental which we have used before. The cars are great, the rates are phenomenally cheap and the service is always abysmal. We rented an Audi A-6 with unlimited mileage for 1½ weeks for around $1,000.00. We were told that Sixt had a rental office at the Hilton. Actually their office was at the airport and they brought their cars to the Hilton. That meant that you could not arrive early or late...your car would be delivered at the appointed time. Or so they said....... we sat with our bags in front of the Hilton for an hour before the car arrived. Too many problems with inoperative cars due to tourists using regular gas instead of diesel in the rented cars. After the snafu was resolved we were quite satisfied with the car.
"Croatia Trip Report 4"
Off we went via the coastal road on our way to Split. The road reminded us of the Pacific Coast Highway in California, only much more scenic. The sight of the turquoise waters, tiny islands and surrounding mountains was amazing. We stopped for lunch in Mali Ston and also visited Ston. After lunch we headed for Split. Out of nowhere torrential downpours appeared making the driving very difficult. The road was 2 lanes all the way and often stopped briefly for road construction. The aforementioned slow trucks and old Renaults had to be passed frequently. A note on the Bosnian corridor. I forget which, but one of my recent guidebooks actually said that you needed a visa to pass through the corridor. Not true!!! When passing through customs merely drive through the transit lane without stopping. Neum in Bosnia seemed to exist for one purpose only: Super Diskount stores! Not worth the stop. Continuing up the coast in the intermittent downpours (remember we’re from Florida so we know sub-tropical downpours) we finally arrived in Podstrana. We opted not to stay in Split due to the lack of hotels and instead stayed at the newly re-opened Le Meridien Lav Podstrana. The hotel is right off the main road on the water and is an easy ten to fifteen minute drive to downtown Split. The hotel has been refurbished and extremely nice. Even though the hotel is part of the Starwood chain, it had its local quirks. Like no chairs on the balconies and about ten chaises and chairs by the pool. They are still awaiting delivery for chairs and chaises. Many days you had to go through a convoluted procedure just to get to the pool area.
Anyway, we were here to visit Split. We spent three days here. Many seem torn as to whether this is a legitimate tourist destination. We happened to love Split. The city had a lot more local character than Dubrovnik and had a more “real” feel to it. Dubrovnik is absolutely gorgeous yet somehow seems to have an almost contrived atmosphere to it. Split did not. We saw many more locals here and the city had less of a touristy feel. We saw many class trips and locals going about their daily business. Of course we visited Diocletian’s Palace and also walked through many squares and along the Riva. The Riva is THE place to be at night where an Italian-like passegiatta occurs.
Our last day in the Split area we spent on a long day trip. We started in the ruins of Salona, the ancient Roman predecessor city to Split. A quick trip from there led to Klis Castle. From there we visited Trogir and Sibenik. Like many others, we found Trogir to be an extremely charming and picturesque town, perfect for just wandering about with no worries of seeing all of the “major” sites. Trogir as a small island is quite manageable.
At this point in time our daughter felt that all of the walled cities were starting to look the same. This was good timing as we had decided to temporarily leave the coast and head for Plitvice National Park. The drive from Split was very easy. One half of the route was via the motorway. A brand new road with a speed limit of 130 kph. Not much traffic and great road conditions. The roads off the motorway are two laners that wind through mostly farm country. Light traffic and pretty scenery. At Plitvice we stayed at the Jazero Hotel in the park. Adequate housing similar to such places in the US National Parks. The park is extremely popular and seemed to have a lot of school trips in attendance. Most people seem to make the first lake loop and then leave. If you hike the full distance the crowds will thin out dramatically. The terraced lakes and their cascading waterfalls are very pretty. The lakes have an almost unworldly color to them. Well marked paths and suggested routes on your admission ticket make a trip to the Upper and Lower Lakes quite easy. There are walking paths, boats and trams that make travel easy. However, beware of large groups of elderly British tourists barreling their way onto the trams! We found that a full day at Plitvice was sufficient for us.
"Croatia Trip Report 5"
We had decided that we wanted to visit the Istrian peninsula, so we hit the road again using a combination of local two lane roads and the motorway. The east-west motorway is still being constructed so often there would be only one lane in each direction. There were many tunnels and viaducts, with some tunnels measuring more that 5 kilometers! We stopped for lunch in Opatija, a very crowded beach resort town in the southeast corner of the peninsula. We arrived on a Saturday where parking was extremely limited. Afterwards we headed for our base of operations in Istria, Rovinj. Istria has an almost Italian feel to it and Italian seems to be the second language in these parts. Many signs were in Croatian and Italian. We stayed at a resort hotel, the Hotel Eden on the southern part of town. Many of the roads in Rovinj (outside the old city) are one-way streets, so it is often difficult to get to where you are going! Anyway, we spent three days in this area as well. On our first day we saw the old town of Rovinj. Very picturesque but very steep. All roads lead to the top of the summit where the town cathedral is located. An interesting town to wander through, but one does run the risk of “all of these walled towns look the same” syndrome after a while. Still, quite atmospheric and enjoyable. We spent the other two days on days trips in the area. On the second day we headed south and went to Pula, Bale and Vodnjan. Pula was very enjoyable as it was a little departure from what we had seen before as it was quite heavy in the Roman ruins department. On the third day we headed north visiting Porec, Piran (in Slovenia) and Motovun. The drive through the hill country was amazing.
We spent our last two days as follows: we drove from Rovinj to Zagreb. We went to Zagreb purely based on transportation needs. The drive to Zagreb was mostly via the motorway so it was an easy drive. Navigating in Zagreb was a little tricky but we lucked out seeing signs pointing to our hotel. We arrived around lunch time and spent the afternoon touring Zagreb. Frankly, Zagreb is a city that only merits an afternoon. It was probably a lot more magnificent in days gone by and seems to have acquired the Italian characteristic of graffiti on almost every building in the lower town.
We left before dawn the next morning to make sure we had enough time before our flight. Zagreb has a very small airport and the early arrival was unnecessary. The airport was almost like a municipal airport in a small USA town. No jetways and a common waiting area with shuttle busses to the planes. We retraced our flights to get home (Zagreb to Vienna, Vienna to New York and New York to Florida). We flew Austrian Airlines for most of the way.
So that’s the trip report in not so much a nutshell. A wonderful experience but not quite as much an adventure as other trips. Going in off-season or in shoulder season I would think would be a must! I cannot imagine what it must be like in the heart of the summer season. The towns and cities plus the roads must be so crowded that it would suck the enjoyment out of a place which thrives on its atmosphere.
If anyone would like any further details (assuming I haven’t put everyone to sleep by this point) feel free to ask!