The Dark Side of Croatia’s Tourism Boom

Hotel Belvedere

With winding stone staircases leading down to the sea and a glass lift built into the side of a cliff, the Hotel Belvedere was probably one of the best hotels in Yugoslavia. Former guests and employees remember it as a modern, luxury hotel with 18 levels, its own boat launch, and wide balconies with gorgeous views.

The five-star resort was located on the rocks overlooking Dubrovnik, and began receiving guests in 1986. It was forced to close just six years later, after becoming a JNA target. During the first few months of the war, the hotel had served as a refugee shelter.

Nowadays, it’s an off-the-beaten track destination for backpackers into “urban exploration”. Occasionally, it’s also a venue for illegal raves. There have already been two unsuccessful attempts to auction the hotel off this year. The Vienna-based Croatian businessman who bought a 54% stake of the hotel back in 2001 was unable to come to any agreement with minority stakeholders about what to do with it. Last July, the hotel filed for bankruptcy. It makes a little money each month renting its rooftop for cell phone towers.

Next Page: Hotel Bellevue

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Lily Lynch

Lily is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Balkanist Magazine. She lives in Belgrade, Serbia.