Incredible Hospitality At The Sheraton Dubrovnik!

I’ve spent the past five nights in Croatia, at the newly-opened Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera. So new, in fact, that the Grand Opening celebration took place on Friday night.

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The property is physically stunning, and is nestled into a small harbor on the outskirts of Dubrovnik. I’ll have a full review later (hopefully — I sorta hate writing trip reports), but the service and hospitality have been so delightful as to merit a post on their own.

The little touches that transform a hotel stay from acceptable to exceptional are a common theme here at OMAAT, as is the idea that the actual hospitality of the hospitality industry isn’t necessarily a given.

I came into this stay at the Sheraton Dubrovnik with very low expectations:

  • The Sheraton Dubrovnik is brand-new, which generally means the staff hasn’t quite found their groove, and service can be iffy
  • As a new property, there are almost no reviews, and more renderings than actual photos
  • While Starwood Preferred Guest determines their category rankings by revenue, not “niceness”, the Sheraton Dubrovnik is only a Category 4

Now, I’ve stayed at some surprisingly delightful Category 4 properties (like the Tambo del Inka in Peru before it moved up), but generally these are decidedly mid-range hotels. Places like the Sheraton JFK, or the Hotel Bristol in Warsaw.

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But I needn’t have worried.

The staff is so flipping proud of their new hotel. And it shows in everything they do:

Housekeepers that aren’t slamming doors.

Security guards stopping to remove pine needles from the pool.

Maintenance staff cleaning and polishing both sides of the glass railings every day.

Waiters bringing fresh spoons with every new cup of coffee.

Bartenders asking about preferences, and learning to make new drinks.

The enthusiasm is charming, and infectious. There’s hardly anyone here, which is a darn shame, because I’ve never seen a group of people so welcoming.

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The focus on hospitality rather than just accommodation clearly is being driven by the hotel management, and they are obviously passionate about the guest experience.

As an example, there were fewer than a dozen guests booked at the property before the VIPs arrived for the Grand Opening (which was a big deal. Like, the Prime Minister was here kind of big deal). It’s unfortunately common for hotels to sell out their event spaces for private events, and with so few guests it would probably have been acceptable for the restaurant to close with nothing more than an apologetic note.

Instead, the GM treated his guests like guests, but in a way that went completely above and beyond. Dinner arrangements were made at an assortment of restaurants in the neighboring village. Car transfers were provided for each group.

And the hotel picked up the tab. All of it, down to wine and dessert, for each guest.

Just amazing.

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The combination of little touches and grandiose gestures has taken a property I was initially a little hesitant about and ensconced it as a hotel I will happily return to, and even plan trips around visiting.

And the views don’t hurt either.

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Comments

  1. Dubrovnik is one of the most positively wonderful places I’ve ever visited, and the people are a big part of that. There aren’t a lot of western hotels in Dubrovnik yet (at least, as of two years ago when I was last there) so it’s great to have another option, even if it is a bit outside of town.

  2. I had a similar experience at the Sheraton Bratislava, also having stayed there right around when it was newly opened. Not to the extent of getting a free dinner in town, but the staff were all eager to go above and beyond and clearly proud of the new hotel. Clearly whoever does the brand-building with staff at new Eastern European Sheratons is good at their job. 🙂

  3. I am so glad that finally some of you guys visited Croatia. In general the service in Croatia is great. And if you treat staff friendly they will treat you the same. If you try to show them you arw above them in any way you will not be treated so well. I have been traveling mostly around europe and must say that service in Croatia is among the best out there. Glad you had good time there

  4. I’d be more impressed if it wasn’t opening weekend with VIPs only. Let’s see in 6 months.

    It’s a welcome addition however, how were the rooms?

  5. I was in Dubrovnik a couple of weeks ago when they finally started taking reservations. I had a two night reservation at the Radisson Blu Dubrovnik Sun Gardens from the club Carlson last night free. I ended up opting to spend my other two nights in an apartment in the old town. Wish I had done the Sheraton instead of old town (I wasn’t a fan – I liked split much better and found Dubrovnik old town downright unpleasant….way too many rude cruise passengers – which, in turn, made for locals with very negative attitudes. Nothing at all like my experiences in split and Zagreb). All that said, the Radisson Blu was phenomenal as well – fantastic service, wonderful facilities (what a complex!) and nearly empty as well. I’d certainly stay there again. Maybe I’ll check out the Sheraton as well. Thanks for the review.

  6. This sounds nice but no different from a well-run hotel almost anywhere in the world. This level of service might be what the demographic for OMAAT seeks. If you want to experience something more authentically Croatian, however, I recommend renting an apartment inside the city walls. It is like stepping back in time.

    I stayed in a private family home in a separate one-bedroom apartment on the first floor. I needed to do laundry; the owner did it for me for 5 euros. Like most places around the world, clothes are hung on a line to dry. I heard it raining during the night and expected everything would be soaked come morning.

    My unexpectedly impressive service was to find a basket of dry clothes outside my door before 8:00 a.m. The owner’s husband had taken my wet clothes off the line and ironed them dry for me. I asked if I could stay another night; fortunately, they could accommodate me. I was even invited to dinner the next night. Hearing personal stories about the Balkan wars was truly moving.

    This won’t happen in every apartment or every country, but occasional hospitality like this–and making a personal connection–means more to me than any 5-star hotel experience.

  7. @ beachfan — Fair point. I’m interesting in seeing how they handle peak summer season as well. Rooms were good — decent sized for Europe, with very nice furnishings.

  8. @ M — They do not, but you can find the full list of Sheraton properties that do have club lounges here: sheratonclubroom.com/

  9. I also went to Tambo del Inka when it was a category 4. An Amazing hotel in an amazing setting.
    In Portugal I went to the Convento de Espinhero a luxury collection that at the time was a category 3 hotel. It was amazing. An old monastery converted into a hotel. As a platinum I was assigned a suite in the old part of the hotel but I really did not care for it. I asked to be moved to the new wing, and the room was amazing. Service exceptional (even with wine tasting at their own cellar, a guided visit to the church inside the hotel and a fantastic restaurant…Highly recomended..like 1 hour outside of Lisbon in an Unesco town called Evora.
    Also the sheraton in Porto (cat 4) was very nice.

  10. We were also in Dubrovnik just a few weeks ago, but stayed at the incredible Villa Dubrovnik. They have their own vaporetto to take guests to old town only 10 minutes across the bay, or you can walk in 20. Agree with the other comments on service and attitude – we really enjoyed Croatia.

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