The Dark Side of Croatia’s Tourism Boom

Hotel Jadran

Hotel Jadran was socialist Yugoslavia’s first hotel. Branko Bon, a Croatian anti-fascist and one of Tito’s favorite architects, contributed the design concept, while several hundred German POWs provided the manual labor. The prisoners installed the hotel’s marble floors, its french doors and its “signature” spiral staircase. When construction on the new hotel finished in 1950, most observers agreed that it was the most beautiful on the coast, situated along a three kilometer stretch of pebble beach on the Makarska Riviera in the tiny town of Tucepi, and surrounded in pines. During the hotel’s “golden years”, which spanned the next three decades, famous Yugoslav pop bands played on the terrace overlooking the Adriatic.

After the war began in 1991, the hotel served as a refugee shelter. When the property was vacated four years later, some refugees took hotel furnishings with them, including works of art. This made it impossible to reopen as a tourist facility without major renovations. By the late 1990s, the hotel was completely abandoned.

Owner Jako Andabaka sold it to Lithuanian investor Nikolaj Cumak in 2001, who drafted a new luxury design for the hotel in Russia. According to some Croatian critics, Cumak’s design, “made the hotel five times bigger”, was “megalomaniacal”, and “looked like a Russian-style castle”. Suffice to say, the opcina roundly rejected the design proposal and refused to give Cumak a building permit. Then some officials suggested Hotel Jadran was worthy of being listed as a “protected cultural monument”. A representative for Cumak fired back: “The hotel is a mockery.”

In 2001, Croatian media reported that Andabaka had renewed interest in the property and planned to invest 30 million euros to build a five-star hotel and sports center on the site. But in May of this year, Andabaka announced he was pulling out of the deal because the government was stalling the privatization process. “I don’t know when the state thinks it will implement privatization,” he explained.

Next Page:  Hotel Pelegrin


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Lily Lynch

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