Professor of Croatian Language Quits Job to Open Hotel in Vukovar

Lauren Simmonds

Would you switch life as a professor to open a hotel in Vukovar?

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Zvonimir Varga writes on the 1st of December, 2019, there are positive business stories in Croatia, and sometimes attempting to create your own such business story is worth the risk, an excellent example of this is professor Aleksandra Zrinušić, who decided to embark on an ”entrepreneurial adventure” of her own after pursuing various jobs in her profession.

For a year now, she has been running a wonderful hotel in Vukovar, ”Vila Rosa”, which is located along the Danube river. The owner herself tells the story of just how her long-time dream came true.

Aleksandra is a professor of Croatian language and literature by profession, and she has worked in that profession for several years, she was also the director of an adult education institution as well as an expert pedagogical leader. However, her last job included several diverse positions – for a small business in Osijek she was a proofreader for a business magazine, she’s been a journalist, the head of an educational centre, she has maintained a company website, and even worked in marketing and sales.

”Because I love diversity, my job was interesting, but over the years the volume of jobs increased, I commuted daily to work from Vukovar to Osijek, the conditions at that time were no longer suitable for me and I decided to quit. At that moment, I didn’t have a back-up plan, but the feeling that it was time for me to leave was overwhelming, and after almost eight years. For the next two years, I was unemployed, with part-time writing and proofreading contract work.

However, I knew I was going to have to try my hand at entrepreneurship, and I was waiting for the opportunity that came last December when I opened a business for accommodation services. It was a great fortune to have been able to use the Croatian Employment Service’s self-employment incentives, which are really the right help for the first year of business and a safe start,” says Aleksandra, who was initially greatly assisted by the State Administration Office, and who provided a great experience for her.

When asked about the current entrepreneurial climate in Vukovar, Aleksandra points out that there has been a shift for the better in recent years.

”The city seems to have come to life, which makes me happy. I moved to Osijek about ten years ago, and a lot of progress can be seen, even by comparison only visually, with a view of the city and the infrastructure,” says the owner of the hotel in Vukovar, explaining why and how she decided on going into hospitality, and why ”Vila Rosa” in Vukovar of all places.

”All my life, I’ve wanted to have a hotel with several rooms, and that came true,” Aleksandra reveals for Poslovni Dnevnik.

Until December last year, the hotel in Vukovar, Vila Rosa, was run by the Andrejev family, who were in the category of private renters because the property is owned by them. Since they decided to retire, they were looking for someone who would rent the property out and continue to do the same business.

I’m grateful to them for choosing me, because they had many other offers, and so they gave me the opportunity to finally start something of my own, open a business and embark on this wonderful business adventure. Before I officially started working, I was in training with Mrs. Nediljka Andrejev, who spent her entire life in hospitality over in Germany, and so I went through the best possible ”school” in relation to preparing guest rooms, serving, etc. This is also reflected in the fact that she won an award for the best employee in the Private Renter category from the Croatian National Tourist Board back in 2014.

The hotel in Vukovar’s manager was asked about the property itself, but also about the reactions of the guests, which certainly don’t seem to be lacking.

”The guests are the most interesting part of this business. I love working with people, so it’s a lot of fun to follow their reactions and impressions. Vila Rosa mostly impresses them with its interior, because they don’t expect it from the outside, it’s such a transformation. The reaction of the guests to the city is almost the same. Mostly, they get the impression that nothing is happening, that people are depressed, and I like to watch that picture they have change in their eyes. During the year, various events take place in the city, and it isn’t true that nothing happens in Vukovar except the commemoration of Memorial Day and the Vukovar Film Festival, as most visitors think,” Aleksandra explains.

According to Aleksandra, Vukovar should have more people in the city in general – both residents and visitors. She says that Vukovar has a bright future, but that such a thing isn’t going to happen tomorrow, but with time and persistence, it certainly will. It will take a long time to reach the pre-war situation, if it’s at all possible. But there is no need to stop trying. Everything is possible, says the hotel in Vukovar’s manager, who is not lacking in optimism, but is aware that she still has a lot of work to do.

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