Croatia’s Maslina Resort Celebrates Natural Materials and Japanese Design

Designed by Paris-based L.A.M. Studio, the resort in Hvar evokes the shifting shapes and shades of its unique island habitat.

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Courtesy Claire Israel

On the sunny, pine-lined island of Hvar in Croatia, Paris-based L.A.M. Studio’s elegant Maslina Resort seamlessly blends indoor and outdoor spaces to create a modern, balanced oasis. The new eco-conscious, five-star resort channels the serenity of its unique natural environment through the use of local textures, natural materials, and Japanese design concepts.

Designed by Léonie Alma Mason, CEO of L.A.M., all 50 suites, three private villas, and ample gathering spaces evoke a sense of communion with the immediate outdoors —from the muted, nature-inspired color palette to the organic linens and custom wood bathtubs. The common areas, adhering to the theme of “mindful luxury” are open, uncomplicated spaces featuring curated objects that play with the island’s sunlight and mimic the shifting shadows of the surrounding pine forest.

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Courtesy Claire Israel

From the beginning, Mason’s goal was to demonstrate a deep connection between the meticulously designed hotel and the wild, effortless beauty of its locale. Inspired by her own childhood memories of Hvar’s “magnificent contrasts”—her family summered on the island in the late ‘90s, just after the war—Mason’s design pays homage to the salt breeze of the Adriatic sea, the local geological features, and the towering pines that make the area unique.

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Located off the Dalmatian coast, Hvar lies next to the island of Brač, known worldwide for its sand-white stone, which has been mined since ancient times and used in the construction of many of the world’s great structures, including the vestibule of the United Nations Secretariat Building in New York. Embracing local pride for this stunning natural resource, the Maslina’s lobby features a twelve-ton sculptural Brač stone reception desk. “I went and chose the exact piece from the stone quarry on Brač,” says Mason. “Because of its enormous size and weight, we had to bring the piece into the empty concrete space first, before any other architectural element was finished. It was an important challenge.” Though cracked, the enormous stone was repaired using Japanese Kintsugi techniques.

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Courtesy Claire Israel

A similar fusion of natural elements, Croatian materials, and Japanese forms can be found throughout the hotel. In the restaurant, long, custom-made benches lined with black, vertical wood planks evoke a bamboo forest at night. Pine-green glass light fixtures (from Italian lighting brand Karman) suspended over polished olive black lava stone tables match the forest floor’s shadowy hues, and black terracotta tiles with delicate fishbone patterns conjure the movement of pine branches. The hotel’s bathroom sinks, custom-made with local Masliniza stone, harmonize with the exotic Iroko wood bathtubs, which were specially designed by LA.M Studio and custom-made for the hotel. “Pine wood’s softness makes it unsuitable for public places, so we sourced woods that could be used inside and outside, with the sea air and the sun. The Iroko wood adds warmth and continuity which carries into the commons, library, and bar.”

Ethereal white curtains tame the light in common areas, their breath-like rising and falling drawing attention to the sea breeze, and classic Cuba chairs offer simple comfort in the lobby, wine club lounge, and spa. In the independent, 7,500-square-foot spa, an ornate lattice of bamboo woodwork (made on-site by French company Déambulons) hangs beneath the spa’s enormous glass ceiling, casting intricate shadows across the building’s monumental staircase. Vintage brass touches provide the hotel with traces of old-world European glamour: “By chance, I found some amazing vintage Italian brass lighting from the sixties in the Stari Grad City Hall, in the village just next to the hotel. That find inspired the addition of bronze mirrors, coteled velvet, and clear glass pendants.”

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Courtesy Claire Israel

A frequent traveler and multi-national herself, Mason says she seeks authenticity in the places she visits—a truly intimate, local experience—in addition to elements of luxury. “I imagined someone like me, attentive to details but looking for free and easy movement from inside to outside. I imagine guests going barefoot from the beach to their hotel rooms on a sunny day, enjoying the terracotta floors with their own two feet.”

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