The Dark Side of Croatia’s Tourism Boom

Hotel Park

There are many Hotel Parks in Croatia, and more than one of them is abandoned, but the story of Hotel Park in Slavonski Brod is worth telling. Built by the Bencevic family in 1932, the structure served many purposes before becoming a hotel and then a ruin. Before it was a hotel, it was an enclosed watermelon market. In 1961, it became Hotel Park, and residents of Slavonski Brod loved the place. As one columnist put it recently, Hotel Park was “a living symbol of the town”.

Then the war came and took its own toll on the place. Shell fragments ripped through the walls. Mortars and ground-to-ground rockets fired outside. Now that the hotel is abandoned, locals say it’s a reminder of those days. As one resident commented recently, “Looking at Hotel Park today you’d think the war had just ended yesterday”.

Several years after the war ended, Hotel Park’s owner, Brodvina, was forced to fire 40 employees. Then the entire company collapsed under the weight of its own debt. So when businessman Dragan Maric offered to step in and invest, everybody in Slavonski Brod was relieved. Maric promised a lot of things: A four-star hotel, 125 beds, luxury suites. None of it ever came.

Last winter, a middle-aged homeless man was found dead inside the deserted hotel.That same week, rumors surfaced that local football player Ivica Olic would buy the hotel. But it’s been more than 18 months since those news reports. Recent photos still show a devastated building in the middle of town, with most of its windows broken.

Next Page: Motel Marsonia 

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Lily Lynch

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