The story behind Escapian

December 20 2021 Interview with Kristijan Gagulić, the founder of Escapian
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What’s the idea behind Escapian?

We wanted to create a unique platform where all tourism services meet. Accommodation, gastronomy, tours, boat renting, culture, adventure — all kinds of experiences in one place. We aim to offer creative, curated getaways and we have the know-how! 


What does a perfect stay make?

Location, location, location, of course, but also clean, beautifully designed space, breathtaking views, comfortable bed, hauntingly tasty food. We want people renting our villas to feel like they’re home or they found a new one. We want them to meet the local people, take a deep dive into the culture of the place, if they wish to do so. 

Escapian has launched as a vacation rental agency, for all those seeking to take a break, escape from the ordinary. With us, you can book a premium vacation home anywhere in Croatia, and get additional concierge and stock-up services. But that’s just phase one. We want to make anything you can imagine as a part of the perfect stay come true, but also inspire you to be creative and try new experiences.



What’s unique about Croatia?

The area of the entire country is just about 56,500 square kilometers. Inner Croatia has a continental climate, whereas we enjoy a typically Mediterranean climate along the coastline. Magnificent mountains, pristine lakes, rivers, waterfalls, golden plains, turquoise sea, dramatic limestone coastline; snow in the winter, idyllic hot summers — Croatia has it all.

Historically, because of its unique geographical position, Croatia’s always been a special blend of different cultures. Inhabited since the prehistoric times, transformed by both Greeks and Romans, influenced by the Ottoman Empire from the east, Germanic cultures from the west — we have always been a crossroad of ideas. You can see and experience all of this in our architecture, food, customs. And hear it too — the density of our language varieties on such a small area is astounding. We often say that every village has a language of its own. But any language you speak, you will receive the warmest welcome. I could be listing why Croatia is unique forever — its beauty and potentials are endless.


How do you see the future of Croatian tourism?

I wouldn’t like to see Croatia as a mass tourism destination, covered in concrete. It can only maintain its natural diversity and utterly unique cities and villages if we behave responsibly. In all areas, but especially tourism! 

I’ve worked in the hospitality industry for over 20 years and seen if not all, then a lot. Most of that time in senior management positions. And I’ve learned that smaller scale often equals higher quality and that growth needs to be healthy and steady, aligned with the interests of the local community, respectful towards the natural resources, responding to the ecological principles of the future. Destinations need to be able to breathe, in more ways than one, to live on as beautiful as they are. That’s what we want Escapian to be, but also the future of Croatian tourism in general.


Portrait view through the plants


You want Escapian to be a green brand. How do you achieve this?

Sustainability is our number one priority. We pledge to give 1% of our revenue to environmental groups and organizations of Croatia. We encourage our hosts to do so as well, and make the green vacation homes stand out. We are engaged participants in the climate action, not bystanders, and we want to motivate others who don’t yet perceive how important this is, how important responsible tourism is.


How do you escape?

Hiking. Wherever I can. Nothing is as relaxing as long walks in nature. The higher the merrier! I’ve done quite a lot of glacier trekking in Italy, but I always return to our mountains — Biokovo, Velebit — surreally beautiful. And at least twice a year, I travel with my family. Usually in wintertime, when we visit warmer climates.



What’s your favourite place in Croatia?

It’s impossible to choose! I was born and live in Zagreb, have worked throughout the country — in Dalmatia, Slavonia, Zagorje — I’d also lived in Istria for a while. All of Croatia is beautiful. But the place that calls to me the most would be Brela. Its clear sea, wonderful beaches, tranquility… For me, Brela is the synonym for rest.


Beach at Brela, Croatia


How about food?

Unfortunately for my waistline, I enjoy everything. From local hearty food to haute cuisine, everything. Gastronomy has always been central in my life, both business and pleasure. But my ultimate favourite, the dish I can’t say no to, is my mom’s deep-fried chicken drumsticks with a side of mashed potatoes. The best, most comforting of food.


What’s your business philosophy in three words?

User-friendly, green, innovative.


Portrait laughing side view


What makes the team behind Escapian special?

I know this sounds incredibly corny, but we really are like a family. Very friendly and comfortable. Wherever I’ve worked, I’ve always strived to set such an environment. People are much happier and way more productive that way. And in the creation of Escapian, about 30 people were involved so far. The CEO, Igor Markota, whom I’ve been working alongside for years, is excellent at crunching numbers, but also a great all-around guy, and an invaluable asset to Escapian. So are all the other people in our team, all hand-picked, super-engaged, creative, and dedicated to what they do. 


What’s next on your business bucket list?

I want to apply all of my experience and creative energy to Escapian. We want to bring something truly good, conscious, and new, a fusion of traditional and contemporary. We want to offer people a home away from home, to give honest recommendations, to point out all the things we love most in our country and why. And we want to learn from them! The feedback means the world to us. 

In a broader sense, it’s also our mission to get the word out about everything Croatia has to offer. And that’s really a lot. You can find out all about it on our site right now. Escapian is where your vacation starts.


Reading Peaks of Europe close up

Written by Anja