Solaris Resort, Croatia
As part of our time in Croatia we opted to spend a few days at the Solaris Resort in Croatia. The resort has a ton to offer and seemed like a nice break for the family between busy city visits.
The drive from Dubrovnik to the resort in Sibernik takes about 3.5 hours, drive time. You’ll also need to factor in the border crossings as Croatia is split by Bosnia and Herzegovina. If you have a rental car from Croatia there is a special document (green form) required to drive your car out of the country. Make sure you ask for this document when you rent your car or you will be in serious trouble at the border. In our experience, the rental car company knew our plans to drive the length of Croatia, but did not offer the document until we asked. Expect to pay up to $100 for the paperwork.
Once we reached the Solaris Resort we were excited for some beach and pool time. The resort is lovely, but lacks some of the polish we’ve come to expect at resorts.
When we arrived the parking lot was packed, cars were parked everywhere, on sidewalks and blocking driveways. There were so many cars, that after checking in, we were directed to park in a dirt lot outside the gates of the property. Later when we went to inquire about paying for parking they informed us that they do not own the dirt lot we were parked in.
The Solaris webpage is a bit difficult to use. When we put in our family type we were pushed into the Hotel Jakov. The Hotel Jakov appears to be the budget hotel on the property. It is located next to the waterpark, but the furthest from the other amenities. Hotel Jakov is in major need of a facelift. We had problems with the air conditioning in our room and the bunk bends were dangerously broken. The staff mostly blew us off, in the end they discounted our stay in exchange for us signing a form saying we wouldn’t raise any more issues to corporate.
I honestly don’t write this to tell you not to stay at Solaris. We were able to tour the other hotels all which seemed more up to date and better managed than ours. They all also have better pools than the Hotel Jakov. (Luckily one of the perks of writing this blog is that the resort let us use and photograph all the hotels. . .if only we had been able to change rooms too!)
If you plan to go to the Solaris Resort with kids the Hotel Andrija is a great pick. (As I’m writing this it says the link to this particular hotel is broken. . .so yeah.) Their pool is geared toward kids as is most of their programming. We were able to use the drop-off kids club at Andrija as well as several evening activities and were so happy with them.
There are also some European camping options that honestly looked nicer than our hotel room.
Once we were outside of our hotel and on the resort property we had a lovely time. There is plenty to see and do walking around the expansive property. My mom and our Big Little enjoyed an afternoon game of miniature golf. The Little Little loved being walked around in the stroller to look at boats and birds.
We even grabbed some ice cream at one of the many stops on the main walking path. When it’s 100 degrees out ice cream is a must!
The boys also turned the popular beach bars into fun places to play.
We explored the different pools at each of the properties. We were disappointed to learn that there was not a way to pay and be able to use all the pools. We found many of the pools completely empty.
Each pool has its own look. None were particularly warm, but given the hot temperatures that was fine with us. It may be harder though if you go later in the season.
Jeff and the Big Little swam out to the water obstacle course. They have life jackets you can wear, and we would recommend them for everyone. The obstacles are fun but there was quite a bit of falling! The obstacle course is fee-based and you buy a block of time.
We also went out on the kids cruise on the pirate ship. My mom stayed behind with our Little Little. Much like the resort this cruise was overall fun but the organization was just off. It could have been so much better.
We spent the first hour cruising up the coastline in near silence. The scenery is pristine. It’s a lovely ride. However, there was nothing for the kids to do and they grew antsy fast. An hour into the cruise all the activities happened at once.
There was a dance party that due to the lull in activity took a while to warm up the kids. Once people got into dancing it was quite fun. There were games, complete with certificates for the winners. Jeff won the parents competition so the boys got to go home with a certificate.
The kids all got balloon swords and were taught the art of sword fighting.
We, of course, popped both of our swords moments after the cruise ended, perhaps why they don’t do the swords till the end.
There was also pirate face painting. The lady was excellent at painting on an eye patch and facial hair. My kids however are not into face painting at all. The Middle Little did end up opting for a few designs on his arms.
Overall we had a great time on the boat and pulled into dock feeling like the kids really enjoyed the activity. We just wish it was a bit more polished. Activities could be better spread out or kids could be given a treasure hunting map for the scenic ride.
Our rate at the resort included half board at our hotel dining room. This means we ate dinner and breakfast at the hotel. Drinks were not included with dinner and we typically ordered the reasonably priced beer or wine to go with our meal. The food was better than we expected honestly. There was plenty of variety night to night. The fresh fruit options at both meals were also excellent.
Dinner started at 7pm. There was a line out the door and then a mad rush to dinner. If you came to dinner at 7:30 you would find things much quieter and low key. I suspect they need to start dinner a bit earlier, say 6:30 to accommodate families and reduce this rush. It turns out that the Hotel Andrija, as a policy, starts their dinner service an hour earlier (at 6pm) on busy nights. When Jeff asked the Hotel Jakov staff if they could do the same, the staff said they had no idea the hotel next door (at the same resort) was doing that.
As with everything else, the polish was just off. The restaurant has high chairs but no two high chairs are the same and they are all semi broken. We appreciated having them, but honestly found them mostly useless. When we found the one that seemed to work the best we put it near the table we liked so it was there at future meals.
There are plenty of good looking lunch options on the property. We decided to venture off for lunch though.
We went to Torcida, as did all the locals. Meat is roasted on open fire spits, you can walk around and see live goats out back and cooking goats up front. The food was delicious but service is slow, so don’t go expecting a quick meal. It was nice to get off property and try something local.
One of my favorite things about the resort was the opportunity for some easy nights out. With three adults I was able to get a date night with my mom and with Jeff while staying here.
Jeff and I headed out on a walk and parked ourselves in some of these seats on the beach facing the marina. On Saturday nights the resort hosts a full blown fireworks show. We found some great seats and grabbed a drink at the nearby bar and enjoyed some quiet time before the show.
The fireworks show was amazing, lasting more than 5 min and filling the sky. It was the perfect way to celebrate our weekend.
The next night my mom and I went out and grabbed a drink at one of the other hotel bars. There are so many options and they all looked great. We chose some covered outdoor seating that was perfect for a quick drink and a chat.
Tips & Tricks
Overall our experience here was positive. Sure we were annoyed every time we were back at our hotel room, but the resort property itself offered plenty of amusements. If you stay during the week the schedule is chock full of activities. Our kids loved the kids club and begged to go back!
We popped into the local convenience store on our way to the resort and got both the kids giant inflatables for a couple dollars each. Everyone had them and they were so fun. We ended up with a giant dolphin and a submarine that we ended up bringing home! They were mostly worthless as devices to keep the kids afloat, but they were quite fun to play with. The hallways of our hotel were full of them, so I’m sure they are sold everywhere.
The resort is not far from the famed Krka National Park. We were there at peak tourist season though and abandoned any hope of visiting due to crowds. There was no parking and the bus schedule was “it comes when it comes,” which is a phrase we found to be a perfect description of the tourist services in Croatia.
Overall I think if you come with low expectations and take the time to read a bunch of blogs and really pick the right hotel this is a great find.