If you’re looking to melt away the stress and strain of life in Ireland, then let me introduce you to the best-kept health and wellness secret in the world: a tiny island called Lošinj in Croatia. Spend just a few days in Lošinj – often referred to as the “island of vitality” – and you will reap the rewards, both mentally and physically, due to its fresh, unpolluted air which is championed by doctors around the globe.

The small island is also a retreat for some of the world’s most famous celebrities and those seeking to seriously recharge their batteries. I couldn’t recommend the town of Mali Lošinj enough. It’s a very prestigious area and prices in the centre are similar to Dublin. You can fly direct from Dublin to Zadar then take a two hour catamaran to Mali Lošinj. There is a 10-minute transfer from the port to the hotel and when you arrive, you will realise why the trek was worth it.

My husband Richard and I spent a week in Lošinj doing sunrise swims among the crystal waters and bike riding around the island. I can truthfully say I’ve never felt healthier and happier mentally returning from a holiday. I would go back in a heartbeat and bring all my stressed girlfriends who are in need of a recharge. Now that I’m in my 40s I’m more and more intrigued by all aspects of health, happiness and wellness and spend a lot of time researching and finding spots around the world that cater to just that. Since this island ticks all the boxes of a Mediterranean climate, biodiversity, natural remedies and outdoor activities, you will relish in all the natural fun and detox it has to offer your mind and body.

We holidayed in August with temperatures reaching 32C, and if you’re reading this today and debating whether to book for winter, you can take comfort in the fact that it is warm all year round due to its micro climate so temperatures up to 20C are not unheard of in winter!

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Soak up the luxury

There are plenty of hotels to choose from on the island but if you’re looking for a stunning coastal setting offering picturesque views of the Adriatic Sea, then check out the five-star Hotel Bellevue. You walk into the glossy marbled floored lobby and are surrounded by eclectic local art and sculpture complemented by an open plan view of trees and turquoise crystal waters. It has, of course, luxury accommodation with seriously cool Grown Alchemist body products and marshmallow pillows to sink your sunkissed head into.

However, the jewel in the crown is its world-class spa, which is about 5,000 sq. ft complete with aquariums. Make sure you get even one treatment while you’re there – I opted for a classic sea-tox massage and I picked up a moisturiser for €25. During my massage, I could feel that the sea is a gift full of nourishment and rebirth, and I know now why I couldn’t stay out of the water while I was there!

Hotel Bellevue, Lošinj, Croatia
Hotel Bellevue, Lošinj, Croatia

The Bellevue is right on the sea, so you practically have your own private beach. And you get your own beach bag complete with fresh juices and complimentary watermelon slices while you soak up the Croatian rays. This spa specialises in chromotherapy, hydrotherapy, and cryotherapy, and anyone with respiratory health issues, chronic health problems or undergoing treatments like chemotherapy are known to come to the island to bask in the oasis of vitality found here.

You can indulge in an ultrasound for the face, plasma facial rejuvenation, and nod off in sub-zero temperatures if you wish like Catherine Zeta-Jones, but for me, I’ll take what’s free: the air! Yes, the air here is the purest you can imagine and the food, especially at the Bellevue and in the surrounding area, is off the charts.

Food, glorious food

If you fancy something exciting you can go Japanese with Matsunoki Restaurant, a Michelin delight just across from the hotel lobby complete with an elegant open-view kitchen and sushi bar. Here you will find excellent sashimi, ramen dishes, Kobe beef and sea bass carpaccio. The wine list includes delicious Croatian wines which I would thoroughly recommend and incredible mocktails as well as divine desserts and Japanese whisky. It has to be seen to be believed.

If you’re more of a steak lover, walk to the Diana Restaurant situated just five minutes away. It offers all you can think of in terms of flame-grilled mouthwatering steaks including flat breads and delicious, healthy salads. Go for a Steak Diane for two where they cook it at the table for you! During the day we ate overlooking the ocean and took a thousand photos of the views.

Check out Borik Restaurant for lavender lemonade complete with a Willy Wonka edible straw and the best chocolate waffles you’ll find this side of Europe.

Food in Lošinj
Food in Lošinj

I did indulge in plenty of fish and adored the offerings at Lanterna Grill where I had a delicious tuna and salad complete with a prosciutto and cheese platter. You can also dip your warm bread into the salty olive oils of the local region. My supermarket olive oil wasn’t a patch on this, however.

Usually after lunch we would either swim back to the hotel or take a stroll in the shade through the trees, picking up a King ice cream – which is like a Magnum – for €2 in a local stall. Although we were drinking plenty of water, we loved grabbing a local coffee or a beer for €5 during the day.

For Caprese salads and club sandwiches, there is nowhere nicer than the hotel’s Bava Restaurant. But if you’re in the mood for a treat, the Michelin Star Alfred Keller Restaurant, situated in the Alhambra Boutique Hotel, is an experience you won’t forget.

Austrian architect Alfred Keller designed the building during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and it has been renovated and extended many times since. This elegant restaurant boasts a delightful terrace with views of Cikat Bay and boasts everything from oxtail ravioli with Istrian truffle foam and foie gras.

If you need to keep an eye on your euro, then simply enjoy the enormous buffet breakfast at the hotel complete with smoothies and pancakes and a full fry if you fancy it. The range of delicious foods is outrageous.

Food in Lošinj
Food in Lošinj

I usually took it easy at lunch either by the infinity pool with something light and then indulging more at La Cigale Restaurant where I went for a Lobster Pot for two. Hilarious and fun, Richard and I had to wear bibs to keep it from ending up all over our clothes. The food portions here could have fed six of us!

Spot the stars

There are plenty of splendid islands to discover in the region but Mamma Mia fans will be pleased to know that not far from the Bellevue is Vis, the island where the second movie was filmed. To visit, you can arrange a boat with a skipper for around €200 for the whole day, or you can opt for something less extravagant.

Island hopping and viewing is imperative, there are stunning yachts moored in the local village and beside the Bellevue. Rumour has it that Jeff Bezos was anchored there in his slick, black shiny yacht on an afternoon while I was paddle-boarding but forget Jeff, Prince Harry and Meghan stayed at the luxurious Villa Hortensia and were relatively low-key during their visit only two years ago.

The Hollywood elite are fans too with award-winning actor Michael Douglas and his gorgeous wife Catherine Zeta-Jones reportedly choosing the tranquillity and natural beauty of the island on a regular basis. Tennis God Roger Federer also stayed at Captain’s Villa Rouge recently, just a two-minute walk from the Bellevue.

Hotel Bellevue, Lošinj, Croatia
Hotel Bellevue, Lošinj, Croatia

Relaxed and refreshed

For the first time in a long time, I felt healthy and restored when boarding my three-hour Ryanair flight home from Zadar. I didn’t have the same dread I usually have when returning to normality. Instead I felt relaxed and rejuvenated. The numerous botanical and aromatic plants around me had a therapeutic and calming effect. Or perhaps it was the hours snorkelling in the sapphire waters or the delectable Mediterranean foods. Either way, the tranquillity of the island and the Hotel Bellevues’ Spa and seawater pool made me feel alive! I‘m already counting the days until I can go back.

Lisa Cannon in Lošinj, Croatia
Lisa Cannon in Lošinj, Croatia

Did you know?

A stay at the five-star Hotel Bellevue, part of the Lošinj Hotels and Villas portfolio starts from €275 per night on a B&B basis in a Superior Atrium Room. For more information, check out losinj-hotels.com.

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