Often asked to present our story and to share how AndAdventure became what it is today, I wanted to share our story in a way that goes beyond the usual Google-friendly “About us” descriptions on most websites. I will take you on a deeper journey, about how we became what we are today, from my personal perspective – a perspective of the founder, sharing the intimate insights only a founder can have.
Although the official Active & Adventure travel journey started in 2005, I was involved in tourism even years before. I like to say that tourism is in my DNA and there is no other job I would rather do. And I often “blame” my parents for this. Growing up in our humble family home in Jelsa on Hvar island, my parents had a small B&B where we rented five rooms and prepared breakfasts and dinners for our guests. And since my first day on this planet, I was part of it. Mum was the boss (and still is 🙂 ) running the guesthouse and cooking for guests, cleaning rooms, and making sure all felt welcomed and happy; Dad had his regular job at a local water supply company. At home, he was in charge of repairing stuff, and I was a kid living my childhood dreams and playing with other international kids that were staying at our place until I got old enough to help mum with daily tasks (cleaning, washing dishes, greeting guests giving them info on where to go, the best beaches and fun things to do). Besides the house, we also had a farm on which we grew veggies we used in our cooking, grapes for wine, and olives for olive oil. We had the full circle that was thriving and was powered with many hours of work to make sure all is well and running (house, farm, olive grow, vineyard, repeat… )
My parents worked hard, but life was good till the 1990’s – when the Homeland war started. In so many ways it is comparable to the trauma of what we all have experienced in tourism in 2020 – so I am sure many can relate to this part of this scenario. Tensions grew, the political situation was boiling – everyone was just waiting for the moment when it all got out of control – and we keep getting booking cancelations every single day. And for 5 years, we had no clients at all. After 1995, we would still only work for maybe a 1-1.5month in a year (super-short season).
To make a long story short and skip some sad and challenging parts – I never gave up working in tourism. In 2001, I started my first business: I created a website for online booking of self-catering apartments on Hvar island – a micro-hybrid between Booking.com and Airbnb… It was fun, but something was missing. And although it was a good business that kept me going through University years – I felt like it had no soul – so enthusiasm started to flatten. Selling empty beds didn’t make me happy.
Adventure was born
It was late 2004 when I decided to leave this project for various reasons – and to take a gap year – when things turned in the other direction very soon.
Being a workaholic, my gap year was just 4 months long when the new opportunity appeared. I was super excited to start the new project, which defined the next 15 years of my career. First, it started as a day trip operation, offering daily sea kayaking, hiking, sailing, rock climbing, and cycling to walk-in clients who were staying on the island. I was super enthusiastic to finally be able to show the world how beautiful Hvar island is, and in cooperation with partners, we created different fun day trips – and some are still running. In those days, there were no day trips that would take small groups of people and show them secrets of the island while being active and experiencing more places than just Hvar town. Hvar as an island has a lot to offer and show, and once you experience it the right way, it gets under your skin. So, my apologies if my team and I are often biased when creating our itineraries nowadays and always try to fit Hvar island in the trip plan – but we do it for a good reason.
From 2005 till today – many things changed, the business evolved, and we were always trying new programs, new offers, new ideas, and experiences. The journey took us from day trips to starting short sailing adventures (unique and different from what was usual yachting/charter business in those years) – moving on to offering exciting multi-day adventures as a white-labeled operator for our international partners, as well as creating tailored trips to Croatia for FITs. We were constantly looking for new experiences we could implement to our trips: local food, winemakers, artists, archeologists, farmers, hidden taverns, fun workshops, boutique hotels, and places to stay – all that would nicely round out the active & adventure element. So suddenly, the story we were telling got more layers, more flavor, more fun!
Today, AndAdventure stands for so many things – but above all, we like to say that Adventure and Active travel are our core – an essence that makes us a bit different from other DMC’s in the destination. Today we are experts at building high end, soft adventure itineraries, for sophisticated travelers looking for something a little different and exploring our beautiful country from a different perspective.
As we grew, made mistakes, learned, and evolved since 2005, we decided to rebrand in 2015 and find an exciting name to give more meaning to what we do and represent today. And our team and branding agency we worked with on the project spend hours of talking, brainstorming exchanging ideas on how to present us in the best possible way – looking at the complexity of our business and wide range of experiences and products we have and how to summarize all these layers in a simple logo and our brand. They came up with a logo that our team had immediately fallen in love with, but Google, on the other hand, wasn’t as inclined: &adventure
AndAdventure logo – the new phase
So, let me share the story behind our logo, and I am sure I will shed new light on why Google didn’t matter to me, and I decided to move forward with the new brand name.
Have you ever noticed the blank line above our &adventure name? It is there for a reason, not just a decorative element. It is there to give all our clients a blank canvas to tell us their passion and their interests that they would like to blend with their Croatian adventure.
For some, it is “more adventure”, for some “food & wine”, or “art”, or “immersive experiences”, “time with locals”, “relax & unwind” … Because we believe that creating a perfect trip plan to Croatia for our clients is teamwork between our client and our team. We need to know what they wish to do and experience, how active they wish to be (from an easy walk to climbing a local mountain peak), what type of accommodation they like to stay at – and many other details they share with us to help us create their memorable trip. In all these years, we have never created two trips exactly the same.
I’m proud of the work we do at AndAdventure. So much of what we do is tailor made, requiring an extreme attention to detail. Yes, we do group departures and scheduled trips, however, most of the itineraries we create are private, tailor made experiences with a focus on the small touches and details that elevate the experience to that next level. We know we are leading experts in Croatia adventure travel, and we think highly of the product we deliver, but it’s always rewarding to have that work acknowledged by someone else. That’s why being awarded Conde Nast Travel Advisor of the Year was one of the proudest moments of my life as a founder.
And through all we do – we always find ways to integrate our core values into our product:
– Sustainability through supporting our local suppliers
– Finding ways to reconnect our clients with nature and outdoors
– Taking care of our clients the same as we would take care of our dear friends and family
Future of AndAdventure
And all said above led to a new phase in our business evolution, a phase that in a certain way closes the full circle – a development of a new project as a part of our AndAdventure story. Remember the farm I mentioned at the beginning of this story?
After 20years, the time has come to give the Farm a new life, a new purpose, and a tribute to my ancestors and hardworking parents. To create an organic oasis that would showcase our tradition, tell the story of the hardworking islanders. We plan to grow our own organic veggies, continue cultivating our organic olives, and produce olive oil. We will create a small oasis that will become a place of relaxation and enjoyment for all visitors through the variety of experiences we plan to cater there in the future. We will keep you informed on the progress in the future and all we managed to create there. It will take several years to bring this project shine – but we took the first step.
You can never be certain of what the future brings, but we will do our best to keep striving and delivering exceptional stories from our little factory of dreams.