We came to Croatia with backpacks on our back and absolutely no idea that we would still be here more than two decades later. Not that we are complaining but it does show a certain lack of foresight, more sight, and perhaps even insight. But after leaving Vancouver, Canada in 2019 on a six month working holiday visa to Tokyo, Japan... not to be totally unexpected (at least by our parents). We now have a wonderful son who is about to go teenage on us, a ton of crap in our garage, a second rescue dog named Pasha, and a couple of small businesses that we care about deeply.
It’s been an interesting ride. From opening the first wraps and smoothies joint in Croatia on the island of Korcula in 2004 (a combo of Marco Polo's birthplace, MIX in HK, and a Lonely Planet guide... we called it fresh* because there was no space for storage, we had a disdain for proper capitalization, and had to run to the local market to get ingredients whenever we ran out), to a bar in Dubrovnik dubbed by the New York Times as Dubrovnik’s ‘favoured drinking and hook-up spot’.
Along the way, we've had the pleasure and luck to be naive enough to open the first legal hostel in Dubrovnik’s Old Town (awarded an Hoscar in 2012 as one of the best seasonal hostels in the world), Sanja & Rosie's Laundrette - a lovely retro laundromat in Dubrovnik - one of our favourite memories of any business was when we went to close for the night and saw two people dancing to the soundtrack of old Billboard top hits from the 50's. We didn't want to bother them so waited 30 minutes AKA the normal drying cycle for them to finish their laundry but when we came back, they were still dancing. When we informed them that we had to close, they were fine with it. They weren't washing or drying laundry, they were just enjoying the moment. We loved that. Who goes to a laundrette to dance?
In 2013, we converted nun's living quarters located next to Dubrovnik's famous Cathedral and rented from Vatican (the Church always have the best real estate!) into a small bed and breakfast called fresh* Sheets B&B. In 2015, we converted the B&B into Fresh* Sheets Katheral - offering boutique accommodation for people who love to travel in comfort and simple luxury but still seek adventure (i.e. a hostel for people who may be slightly older, have proper jobs, more disposable income not dedicated to beer, and still love the thrill of travel).
In 2016, we opened 'Life According to Kawa' - a boutique filled with wonderful things made in Croatia. It was a rather silly idea for a business but after being asked so many times where to buy local products that weren't made in China, we had a mission. KAWA is located in the breezy neighbourhood just outside Ploce Gate, and we welcome you to drop by for a relaxed low-key atmosphere, jaw-dropping views, and helpful and friendly staff.
From 2020-2022, we survived.
In 2023, after losing Fresh* Sheets, we partnered with great people who would become dear friends to run and develop The Byron Dubrovnik. It's an incredibly well thought out property in an amazing location. It has the bones to become the top boutique destination in Dubrovnik. We hope you agree!
Thanks to everybody who has lent us their support over the many years, enjoyed our endeavours, put a message in a bottle, and helped spread the word. We are grateful beyond words.
Cheers! Jon and Sanja