Interview with L. Bottieri, Owner of Uje and Hotel San Canzian near Buje

Total Croatia News

In a very long interview given to tportal, Leopold Botteri, aged 47, a former journalist from Split turned entrepreneur tells the tale of his several companies, businesses and finally how he became a partial owner of a high-end hotel in Istria, Hotel San Canzian.

He tells Luka Filipović how he started from nothing and now his businesses make over 10 million kunas per year. Up until 2006, he worked in Slobodna Dalmacija, a local daily newspaper. His first foray into the business world was getting the olive growers from the island of Brač to join the Brachia cooperative, which turned into a brand of the olive oil under the same name – and then he started the company called Uje to distribute those products. Today there are 19 Uje stores in Croatia, distributing various olive oils and other delicatessen brands from Croatia. There are several restaurants operating under the brand, they’re working closely with Croatia Airlines. His recent investments are in the Aqua Maritime clothes company, and building of the luxury boutique five-star hotel near Buje, Hotel San Canzian.

He explains to the journalist that the hotel is his first business extravagance, as up until now he’s invested in what he knows and is competent at. But he and his partner Siniša Šare were looking for a vacation house and got the opportunity to purchase an estate with a renovated house near Buje. The house was too big, so they decided to build a hotel, similar in concept to Meneghetti estate. There will be one base house with the restaurant, bar and the reception, and all of the 25 rooms will have individual entrances. They’re aiming at the guests who know what Istra is, who do not need explanations of the best hotels and restaurants around – so the prices will be according to that, upwards of 280€. There is a special villa within Hotel San Canzian with its own separate swimming pool and that will be priced at around a thousand euro per night at high season.

He also commented on the purchase of the Aqua company and brand, saying that this is a deal that made much more sense than the hotel. Uje and Aqua are in the same business, specialising in premium tourist souvenir market, and that their stores are often located in the same destinations: the towns with four-star hotels and guests who arrive by airplane. They have big plans for the company, as they plan to expand and grow the market further.

He says that he would be open to selling his share in Uje, as his idea is to make it as independent as possible, and then his position is negotiable. He explains his entrepreneurial start, when he was an editor of the “Olive” section of the paper and started the whole brand on his own, a bit more ambitious then he planned. He says that he’s not the complaining type, that it’s very easy to complain about everything in Croatia, but that complaining doesn’t solve any problems and that it’s a waste of time. He just wants to adjust to problems. He refuses to justify and failure with the market in Croatia because a high-quality product will always find a buyer in Europe. To close the interview, he says that he has three sons, aged 20 and 16, but that he does not feel the pressure of ego for one of them to take over the family business.


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