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Independent Minds: Leopold Botteri, San Canzian Village & Hotel

The unmistakably Mediterranean scent of olive trees hangs in the air at San Canzian Village & Hotel, where hints of co-owner Leopold Botteri’s history as an olive oil producer ooze from the surrounding groves, vineyards, and bouquet of local herbs presented to guests on arrival at this 14th-century Istrian estate. Originally purchased as a dream holiday home for Botteri and his friends, San Canzian immerses visitors in the neighbourly feel of its Medieval village past and the charm of Croatian country life.

What does being ‘Independently Minded’ as an hotel owner mean to you?

Owning a small boutique hotel means being connected, connected with your property, with your staff, with every art piece on the wall. And when you are connected the guests are also connected to your creation. Connection is the key ingredient to being independently minded.

What was the inspiration behind the hotel, and where do you continue to find sources of inspiration?

The idea for the hotel came when my partners and I searched for a plot of land for a holiday home in Istria. We fell in love with this property and decided to buy it and create a place where we wanted to come visit as guests. So, it is a hotel but it is also our dream vacation house. It reflects our personalities, love for beauty and detail.

How do you think your hotel stands apart from other boutique hotels?

We believe that our guests truly feel that we honestly want them to be happy here. Being small allows us to target a customer that understands what we wanted to achieve with this project. It is not easy to achieve an ultimate luxury experience in a small remote village – to be woken up by a rooster, sleep in wonderful scented sheets and experience 24 hour service.

If you only had 24 hours to get a taste for your hotel experience, what would you recommend a guest must do?

Even one day should be enough to experience the calming effect of our property. After being treated to a welcome drink and small bouquet of local herbs you are settled into one of our rooms overlooking our olive trees, pool, hills, small village of Buje in the distance, and finally the sea at the horizon. Refresh yourself with a swim in our beautiful pool, before sitting down for lunch served at the pool bar – the perfect choice for summer days. Rest for a while then go for a walk to a most charming Istrian village of Grožnjan, known as the city of artists. If it is too hot for a walk our staff will drive you there and pick you up afterwards. Enjoy the streets and galleries of Grožnjan and come back to watch the sunset on our bar terrace. Our head bartender will mix you a cocktail which will help you remember the smells of our property.

Of course you must come to dinner at our restaurant Luciano, named after our delightful neighbour and supplier of our vegetables and eggs. He is one of the inhabitants of our village, and the sound of his rooster will wake you up in the morning. Then you will choose to stay one more day because you did not have time to visit one of our excellent local winemakers, for an afternoon of wine tasting in the Istrian sunshine, or joining a truffle hunting expedition in the nearby forests.

How would you describe your own perfect luxury experience?

The hotel we created is one of the places where I want to relax most frequently. But I also have different state of minds in which I want to experience different levels of luxury experience – this could be a characterful city hotel or a tranquil Maldives resort. I could not say there is one kind of luxury experience I would appreciate. One thing I try to avoid is an unauthentic or dishonest experience, which unfortunately you sometimes see in a hotel without a real owner, without a real personality behind it.

Do you have a vision for the future of the hotel?

We have created a vacation home and a sanctuary for us, and our guests understand this. Times are very difficult but we have seen great demand from our guests to relax in the peace and quiet of our place. We are confident we will continue to be provide a safe haven for guests, as we always have done.