These full and frank independent reviews are from travellers who have booked directly through Responsible Travel. They are not edited by us or any of the companies we work with. Find the real story, from real travellers below.
Rosie Tanner review 18 Aug 2009
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Kayaking around Kolocep Island and visiting the luminous Blue Cave half way around the island, which we could only swim into and out of.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Check the details carefully! Our "stay in family homes" and local food advertised on the website was changed without notice into a stay in a quite large hotel (300+ people) with buffet meals. I only found this out by chance when we were mailed just before we left that we would be staying on a different island. The other families on the holiday were also not informed beforehand about the changes; they had also expected to stay in local homes. The children enjoyed the pool at the hotel, but I would have preferred to stay in accommodation rented out by locals, as had been suggested on the companies. The tour operator and Responsible Travel both dealt with my complaint before the holiday with very professional mails explaining why the change was made. We stayed locally by ourselves after our kayaking holiday and I felt that that benefited the locals more than staying in the hotel; the service was personal and the room better.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?
Unsure. In the hotel, towels were changed daily, the airco was put on when we were out of the room... not sure if the hotel employed real locals or who the owner was. The manager was French and, although excellent, definitely not local. Kayaking was a great way to travel of course and visiting local restaurants for lunch benefited the locals running them.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
Great activities - kayaking, biking, walking - but the stay in the hotel wasn't what I had expected.
Read the operator's response here:
Dear Ms. Tanner,
I am the manager of the tour company and I would like to give you more insight information which resulted with the change from Lopud to Kolocep. We operate kayaking and multi-sport packages from both islands and Zaton Bay since 1988. We have established good collaboration with all - restaurants, hotels, families who rent rooms or apartments and others. We prefer Zaton Bay in spring and autumn as in those periods there is hardly anything happening on the islands - even the restaurants are closed. Lopud has the most hotels, restaurants and family owned pansions and villas. Kolocep has one hotel and few houses suitable for accommodating groups on such an active holiday. The hotel was too expensive for us.
Hotel Ville Kolocep - the only source of jobs for the Kolocep island inhabitants - went bankrupt during the recent conflict in former Yugoslavia. The new owner is a non-profit organization called The Isle of Knowledge. It has invested bank loans in refurbishing the hotel with the purpose of attracting younger population and visitors to the island not only for beach holidays in summer. It also serves the islanders - no more than a couple of hundred permanent inhabitants - to get better and affordable education. Therefore the rooms are equipped with Internet and large screens and there are spaces for lectures, workshops and seminars to be held year round.
The recession is taking toll on both islands. The big hotel on Lopud, owned by Italian corporation, will remain closed this summer as the corporation doesn't expect profit in this season, which also means no jobs for 50 local workers - hotel seasonal employees. This is not so bad for the other two hotels and families who rent rooms or apartments. Their bookings are good, also thanks to Easyjet airline which introduced inexpensive flights from UK to Dubrovnik. Nowadays it's inexpensive holidays that sell the best. Still, we are a bit concerned as construction is taking place in other three hotels on Lopud.
On the other hand Kolocep Island and its hotel found themselves in a very difficult situation. The bank could foreclose the hotel and sell it to another foreign corporation as the hotel could not pay the mortgage. We succeeded in finding investors (our partner and friend, a Scottsman-Croatian married to a Croatian - as well as their son, the father of two Croatian girls) to pay for the debts and we are trying to bring visitors and business to the island. In return, the hotel gave us the prices which allow our clients - like your family - to stay in much better quality rooms and enjoy the hotel beach, swimming pool etc. This is not a typical resort hotel in which one has to dress up to walk from the beach to the rooms. Kolocep is more attractive for kayaking, hiking and snorkelling and it is closer to Dubrovnik.