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TRAVEL

ADRIATIC ALLURE There are few better spots to moor your yacht come summertime than Hvar’s star-studded shores

achts bob idly on baby blue waters, sunlight drenches the harbour and the early risers sip espressos behind their morning papers, pausing only to glimpse the bronzed bodies beginning to saunter along the palm-lined promenade. In Croatia’s port of Hvar, summer mornings are a late and lazy affair. Cruise in by nightfall and you’ll see why: from June, the harbour is rich with the well-known and well-heeled as swan-like yachts — fresh from island hopping across the Dalmatian Coast — slope in to soak up the party atmosphere and the Adriatic’s other ample delights. Its newfound popularity is surprising when you consider just over a decade ago few had even heard of Hvar. War wreaked havoc across the six republics comprising the former Yugoslavia, leaving much of Croatia in a pitiful state of wreck and ruin. In its time, Croatia has had an influx of European invaders — the Romans, Slavs, French, Greeks and Ottomans among them — but, to its credit, has gleaned the best from each and every one and now presents jet setters with a rich tapestry of history, culture and cuisine — not to mention an insatiable appetite for celebration. Today you’ll find Hvar populated by bikini-clad beauties and

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tanned men in pressed pastel shorts. During peak season, wellgroomed Italians dominate — having declared it the ‘new Amalfi’ — while on the water the most enviable vessel to spot is Beluga, a seriously glamorous, ebony-sailed Turkish gullet owned by actress-turned-hotelier and interior designer, Anouska Hempel. Indeed, these shores are now very much on the mega-yacht itinerary. Roman Abromavich and Bill Gates have both cottoned on to the port’s charms, as have countless celebrities. Beyonce has holidayed here (a local tour guide says it is where she first saw a flower called blue ivy, the name later given to her daughter), Valentino sailed in — before sailing out again at the sight of the paparazzi — and Britain’s party-loving Prince Harry was photographed diving into a Hvar hotel pool, fully clothed. Happily, there is more to Hvar than the size of your yacht: its paved chalk-white piazza, picture-perfect harbour and catwalk-like promenade open onto hip hotels, rooftop bars and chic waterside restaurants where the likes of Princess Caroline of Monaco, Eva Longoria and Kevin Spacey have been spotted dining. The local cuisine is superb and, unsurprisingly with shores like these, the most delectable dish is fish. Having only entered the European

Images courtesy of Getty Images

BY LAURA BINDER

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