Jelsa As It Once Was: Work to Start on Belgrade Resort?

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The island of Hvar never ceases to amaze…

One of the most intriguing buildings on the island – and possibly the one with the most childhood memory for many tourists to Hvar – is the now derelict Beogradsko Odmaraliste, or Belgrade Resort, just east of Jelsa. 

Located in the idyllic bay of Zencisce, the resort was once a 400-bed slice of Adriatic heaven, open and full all year round, with many children coming from all over former Yugoslavia to spend time on Hvar. I have lost count of the number of people I have met in the region whose memories of childhood in Jelsa – even in January – are fond and strong. And the connection is this resort, which was in the ownership of the city of Belgrade, and which was used to send groups of schoolkids year on year. 

Sadly, the tragic events in the region in the 1990s meant that the resort fell into disuse, and it was abandoned. The huge indoor pool, such as asset to year-round tourism, became one more symbol of faded tourism after the glory years of the 1980s.  

There was plenty of interest in the property and its surrounding 10,000m2 plot during the 2004 property boom, of course, and our real estate company even had a concrete offer of 4.7 million euro from a consortium who planned to build a Hilton hotel.

But there was the thorny issue of clean paperwork… And the decay continued. 

I almost forgot about the place until last year when some architect friends of friends from Oxford spent their holiday in Jelsa, obsessing about the incredible architecture of the resort. Really?!? I was genuinely surprised, but it was an enthusiasm echoed by another British architect who left the island yesterday.  

My new architect friend asked if it was possible to find some older pictures of the building in its heyday, and I am grateful to Boris Buncuga (lead photo) and Prosper Maricic (all the rest) for answering the call. A glimpse of what tourism must have been like in the 1980s. 

But is the latest chapter of the Belgrade Resort about to open?

According to various reports I have heard, the complex was either bought or taken under concession by one of Croatia’s biggest companies, the paperwork is being straightened out, and work is due to commence on the restoration of this once fine establishment.

If true, it would be truly a great addition to tourism on the island, and one more step to restoring Jelsa to the resort which was voted number one in all former Yugoslavia just 32 years ago.

Stay tuned.  



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