The Dark Side of Croatia’s Tourism Boom

Hotel Miramare

When the Hotel Miramare opened in 1905, it had few peers in Europe. The Art Nouveau building had 70 luxurious rooms with sea water baths. International celebrities flocked to the hotel for the alleged therapeutic benefits of its treatments. After Hotel Miramare opened, the coastal town of Crikvenica officially became a health resort, and it didn’t take long before Crikvenica was one of the most popular destinations on Croatia’s coast.

The Hotel Miramare has been closed almost three decades now, much to the dismay of the people of Crikvenica. But just a few years ago, the community thought everything would be completely different. Back in 2005, an Austrian company announced that they would invest in the renovation of the century-old building, and construction began shortly thereafter. But about a year later, the construction site was suddenly abandoned, and restoration of the historic building was halted mid-completion. Hotel Miramare, which sits at the entrance to Crikvenica’s beach, has remained fenced off ever since.

Later it was discovered that the Austrian company had simply run out of money, and that the Hotel Miramare company had filed for bankruptcy.

The deserted site and the its nearby parking lot have become a magnet for the kinds of criminal activity found in small towns (i.e. drug use and underage drinking). But one enterprising criminal started charging drivers to use the parking lot. In May, Crikvenica mayoral candidate Dino Manestar pledged that he planned to hire a caretaker to protect the site from trespassers, “drug addicts”, and charlatans.

Meanwhile, locals complain that after so many years of neglect, the aging hotel is now structurally unsound. They worry that it might collapse and threaten the safety of the properties adjacent to it. But there’s nothing they can do, as the mysterious Austrian investors have completely abandoned the project and the town.

Next Page: Hotel Belvedere

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Lily Lynch

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