Kasey Vannett

Sarajevo is a hidden treasure!

Kasey Vannett, from America, has been living in Sarajevo for 20 years now. She came to our city in 1996 while working for USAID and is now the owner of the BiH franchise for L’Occitane, a French cosmetics company.


She remembers coming to Sarajevo for the official signing of the Dayton Peace Accords. It was January and it was a hard and cold winter with lots of snow.

- At that time, living conditions weren't easy at all. Initially, I was only meant to stay for six months but, eventually, I started a family and here I am. Early on, my work took me all over BiH, and they'd be waiting for us with roast lamb in all of the villages. As a vegetarian, for my first three years here I mostly ate cabbage, Kasey recalls with a laugh.

As her job with USAID was drawing to an end, she began to think about how she could continue to work here in BiH. While she hadn't had any previous experience in sales, she got the idea to open a franchise for L'Occitane, which she started in 2009.

- We now have three shops in Sarajevo – on Ferhadija, in BBI Center and in SCC. Because of the shops, I often visit nearby cafes, like Torte i to, Giannini, Zlatna Ribica and Vatra. On my days off, I go to Metropolis with the kids for some American pancakes and different salads.

Lovely and charming city

When friends come to visit, she usually takes them for a hike up on the mountains, to see the sights in Baščaršija and to some eateries around town.

- At USAID we’d always say that Sarajevo is a hidden treasure. People don't realize how nice it is to live here. You can ski on mountains that are just a stone's throw away and the sea is only a three-hour drive. The city is lovely and charming and I see huge potential in the development of spas.

Every two years she “forgets” that she’s a vegetarian and gives in to some ćevapi at Željo or Zmaj, both of which she warmly recommends. She visits aščinicas more often and ASDŽ is her favorite.

- They've known me for 20 years and, as soon as I come in, they bring me a bit of everything that doesn’t have meat. I also like the restaurants, 4 Sobe Gospođe Safije, Mala Kuhinja, Začin....

She goes for a walk along Wilson's Promenade almost every weekend and enjoys a break in Bristol Hotel’s garden, while her children ride bikes and rollerblade. She says that, besides Baščaršija, it's her favorite part of town.

- Baščaršija is the most vibrant part of town, with so many different colors. It looks like a totally different world.

Kasey always attends the Sarajevo Film Festival and she goes to the theater when there are plays for children. She recommends Svrzo House, a must-see, which exudes the spirit of bygone times.

Nice and generous people

- Sarajevans are very nice and generous people. I've traveled a lot in my life, but only in Sarajevo has it happened that if I don't have enough change to pay my cab fare, the driver will say, “You can pay next time.”

Kasey enjoys traditional sweets, like baklava, and she says that a Bosnian coffee set from Kazandžiluk is the perfect souvenir.

She says that Sarajevo visitors are sure to be taken with how lovely the city is.

- Sarajevo is a beautiful, peaceful place where you can live a healthy life. People here are healthy, they like sports and there are many places to visit as a family to enjoy some fresh air.