The Dark Side of Croatia’s Tourism Boom

Motel Vratnik

In the days before the A1 motorway connecting Split and Zagreb opened, motorists had to drive the coastal route, which took much more time and necessitated the occasional stopover at a hotel or restaurant along the way. But no longer. Since construction on the Split-Zagreb corridor began (and especially after it was finished in 2005), many businesses south of the upper Adriatic city of Senj have been boarded up and deserted.

Motel Vratnik, located in the hills above Senj, probably has one of the most beautiful views of any hotel in Croatia. According to people who hike in the area, you can get a perfect view of Kvarner Bay and its islands from Motel Vratnik’s terrace. It’s also probably one of the most preserved of all the abandoned hotels, although that’s also changing quickly. The few photos of the interior available make it look like a preserved scene from the Yugoslavian good life: “Retro” ball lamps, stainless steel espresso machines, and futuristic Yugoslav folk art in that distinct, SFRJ-approved palette of gold, brown, black, and red.

Unfortunately, the exact dates of Motel Vratnik’s opening and closing are unknown. What is known, however, is that the owner tried to sell the motel at least twice, once in 2009, and again in 2011. Curiously, in the intervening years, the owner also raised the asking price. Both offers describe the property as “a motel with ten comfortable double bedrooms and a restaurant with a terrace of 911 m2, a barbeque, and a parking lot with a total surface area of 5214 m2, natural gas lines, and a private water supply and well”. The seller’s price in 2009 was 410,000 euros, plus a deposit of about 7,978 euros. Apparently it didn’t sell, because the exact same offer was published in 2011, but at a much higher price: 585,098 euros for the property, and about 13,297 euros for the deposit. Whether it sold in 2011 or not is unknown, but recent photos seem to indicate that it’s only deteriorated since.

Next Page: Hotel Ambasador 

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Lily Lynch

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