While Hvar's celebrity story of the summer was the Tom Cruise walkabout, a very different Hollywood story is hitting the national press.
It is an island which this year hosted Tom Cruise, Eric Clapton, Michael Schumacher and the world's largest private yacht belonging to Roman Abramovich, but the main Hvar celebrity story currently surrounds construction problems for actor Goran Visnjic and his wife, after they were ordered to demolish an illegal water tank on their remote Hvar home, the Croatian Times reported on October 17, 2012.
The ER star, who bought a small fisherman's cottage in a remote bay on the stunning Kabal Peninsula on the northern coast of Croatia's premier island expanded the property having obtained permits, but the authorities have taken exception to the water tank which serves the house and ordered its removal. Visnjic has arranged for a company to carry out the task, according to national tabloid, 24 Sata.
The Kabal Peninsula is a natural paradise (see opening scenes in the video above) with only two permanent settlements, and consists of many hidden bays such as the one where Visnic bought his property. And while the demolition order shows that the authorities are not afraid to pursue illegal buildings, no matter who the owner is, it also once again highlights the success Croatia has had in preserving its coastline compared to other neighbouring countries, such as Montenegro.
Planning laws on the island of Hvar have been particularly frustrating for a wave of developers who bought up large tracts of land in the 2004 Croatian property boom, with plans to build complexes of villas and holiday resorts. Despite the high level of interest, the largest project which was built - ironically also on the Kabal Peninsula - was eleven luxury villas, which are still incomplete due to planning issues.
Romulic & Stojcic
Hvar's natural beauty has been preserved by strict planning laws
While the lack of construction has been frustrating for developers, it has ensured the preservation of Hvar's astonishing natural beauty, an island famous for its healthy climate and rich flora and fauna. Known also as the lavender island, Hvar draws plenty of tourists throughout the year, who are more interested in appreciating its natural heritage than its main attractions of beaches and night life.
The lack of development may be about to change, however, as international developers are keen to enter the tourism arena on the island which was named by Lonely Planet as its number 5 destination for 2012. There are two developments in particular, currently in the planning process, which could change the tourism geography of the island.
The first is the proposed Nikki Beach Resort, a proposed 80,000 m2 complex on the lesser developed eastern half of the island, close to the port town of Sucuraj. Another in prospect, as Digital Journal reported previously, concerns Arqaam Capital from Dubai's purchase of 16 hectares of land on the Kabal Peninsula. Arqaam's acquisition is in the planning phase to open a hotel complex with 100 villas in association with South African Kerzner International Resorts.