The story behind Haludovo, the luxury Yugoslav-era hotel built for the international elite | Concrete Ideas

The story behind Haludovo, the luxury Yugoslav-era hotel built for the international elite | Concrete Ideas

22 November 2021
Images: Image: Boris Magaš via Wikimedia

Built in 1972, the Haludovo Hotel on the Croatian island of Krk is a prime example of Yugoslavian resort architecture. Opened in the 60s and 70s, these hotels were not just built with local tourists in mind, but also to attract a growing generation of international travellers.

Designed by architect Boris Magaš, the white modernist complex has a marked International Style influence. Altogether, the resort spanned more than 100,000 square metres, consisting of two hotels, villas, two-storey apartment blocks, a fishermen’s village and a port — as well as a beach bar, a swimming pool, and a bowling alley. The sprawling complex was largely realised thanks to state funds, as well as an investment of $45 million from none other than Italian-American businessman Bob Guccione — otherwise known as the owner of men’s magazine Penthouse.

Guccione would go on to open a casino on the resort premises. Called the Penthouse Adriatic Club casino, the venue hosted the likes of the Italian media mogul Silvio Berlusconi, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, and then-Iraqi politician Saddam Hussein. But because gambling was banned in Yugoslavia, the venture was forced to rely upon the wealthy international elite, a plan that ultimately proved unsustainable. The casino went bust in 1973. Moreover, given that the hotel was officially owned by a Croatian worker-members’ assembly, Guccione never saw returns on his investment.

The hotel continued to welcome guests until 1991, when the outbreak of the Yugoslav Wars saw the venue house refugees instead. Haludovo was privatised in 1995, but closed just six years later. New investors tried again to reopen the complex in 2018, but demanded that the resort’s beach be closed to the general public. Both locals and officials opposed the plan, and the deal fell through once more.

Hidden behind trees on the Adriatic coast, today, the hotel is abandoned: its windows smashed and furniture stolen. Legend has it that Haludovo’s immense swimming pool was once filled with champagne. Now, both it and the building’s vast interiors lie dormant, covered in graffiti.

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