Opened in stages over the last few years, and completed in May 2012, this self-contained complex just outside Petrčane, 12km west of Zadar, has quickly established itself as northern Dalmatia's leading resort for family holidays and pamper-yourself wellness breaks. Centrepiece is the five-star Highlights Hotel and Spa Iadera, a sleek, organizing, wishbone-shaped building that houses the largest spa centre in Croatia. There's a choice of indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, Turkish hammams, herb gardens and a full menu of massage and beauty treatments. The spacious rooms go for bold use of colours, and the social areas are really quite groovy - thanks in large part to the modernist instincts of Italian architect Matteo Thun. The four-star Diadora (late Mar-early Nov) is designed to be the last word in family holidays. Its 250 family-suite apartments, most with sea views, accommodate two adults and two kids, entertainment at Falky Land (featuring supervised swimming pools, pirate ship and petting zoo), a full programme of sports and games activities, as well as crèche facilities for toddlers and mini-discos for young teenagers. The resort area is surrounded by grassy lawns and only a few minutes' walk from the beach, where you have a choice between natural rock-slab beaches and shallow coves carpeted with sand. Petrčane village is a short walk along the waterside path.
The Zadar hotel and accommodation situation in is improving in leaps and bounds, with the recent arrival of a brace of four-star hotels in the centre – the Art Hotel Kalelarga – plus the advent of designer backpacker digs in the shape of Boutique Hostel Forum.
Elsewhere, the Villa Hrešć is a commendable apartment hotel. It stands almost halfway out to Borik, the tourist centre five kilometres north-west of town at Puntamika, a simple ride from Zadar on the No.5 bus.