Words by Charlotte Cox
Take a luxe wellness retreat with daily yoga, meditation, hot tubs and a spa. Add a sun-soaked music festival with a line-up including DJ Shadow, Four Tet, Kate Tempest and Gilles Petersen. Times it by an idyllic private Croatian island with unspoilt beaches, warm, clear seas and glowing sunsets – and it all equals Obonjan, a new destination aiming to change the way we holiday.
Launching at the end of July, Obonjan's organisers promise 'all the things we love in one place'. And when the 'we' in question is the team who started Croatia's Unknown and Hideout festivals, you can be sure those things are going to be pretty darned special. Over the eight weeks the island is open, they've curated a cultural programme including music, talks, art, health and workshops – oh, and there's a rum bar too. Because you've got to have a rum bar.
'Festivals do a good job of keeping people happy for a few days, but this is much more,' says co-founder Dan Blackledge.'People can stay as long as they want.' And an endless festival seems like a good idea to us – especially one where you don't have to rough it (accommodation comes in the form of luxe safari-style bell tents or eco lodges in the forest) or go home feeling, well, rough. Daily yoga classes will cover everyone from beginners to the super-bendy, the 'zen den' will host meditation sessions and there'll be talks from renowned speakers on astronomy, architecture, photography, philosophy and marine biology.
Not, of course, that the island won't host its fair share of partying too. Its stone amphitheatre is due to host sets from Mr Scruff, Erol Alkan, Craig Charles, Giles Peterson among many (many) others; there'll be beach bashes and poolside 'reggae roasts'; and then there's the small matter of that rum bar…
Food-wise, we're promised world-class cuisine based on locally sourced, sustainable produce. Menus will change daily and feature fresh seafood and organic vegetables, herbs and spices. Sure beats your average festival burger van.
'It's an evolution of the festival idea,' says Blackledge. 'We want to create an open environment that gives guests the opportunity to do as little or as much as they want, and ultimately leave feeling enriched.' With just 800 people on the island at any given time, world-class wellness, luxe lounging and THAT music line-up, we could well be swapping festivals for restivals for good.
- -Obonjan is open from 28 Jul-6 Sept 2016; prices are £56 per night for an air-conditioned bell tent and £77 per night for an air-conditioned forest lodge.
- -From Split or Zadar airports, it is a 40-50 minute road transfer to Šibenik followed by either a ferry (40 minute) or speedboat (20 minute) transfer over to Obonjan.