The Opatija Riviera, Villas, Hotels, and Luxury German Yachts

Lauren Simmonds

Opatija is a beautiful Croatian coastal town in the Kvarner region, and it also has an interesting history. The owners of nineteen of Opatija’s stunning hotels and villas also have their story to tell, and it begins in Germany.

As Novac/Frenki Lausic writes on the 22nd of July, 2019, it was June the 27th, 1875, when Friedrich Lürssen, then 24 years old, first opened a workshop in Aumund near Bremen, where he built rowing boats.

He specialised in racing boats, and his clientele was made up of Bremen rowers, but as his product was extremely aerodynamic, made of very lightweight materials, orders from the entire German empire began to arrive shortly, and the need for expansion began. Only eleven years after Friedrich, at the request of Gottlieb Daimler, an innovator who was a pioneer of internal combustion engines, a six-metre model called Lürssen REMS, the first motor boat in the world, was built.

Somewhere a little further south in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in the coastal town of Opatija, a hotel had existed for two years up until that point. It was called Kvarner and boasted the best coffee on the whle of the Adriatic. Eight years later, the emperors of Austro-Hungary and the German Empire, Francis Josip I. and Viliam II, met right there in Opatija.

Today, 125 years later, the Germans have taken to Kvarner once again because Liburnia Riviera Hotels, the largest hotel chain in Opatija, consisting of nineteen hotels and villas in Opatija, Lovran, Mošćenička Draga and Medveja, are in the process of getting a new owner, Germany’s Gitone Adriatic.

Behind the aforementioned company stands Lürssen Yachts, the world’s most prestigious mega yacht manufacturer with eye-watering revenues of 8.3 billion eurps in 2018, owned by the Lürssen family whose history is permeated by the production of impressive boats, cooperation with the military, and recently with the cooperation with some of the richest people in the world who want boats with the Lürssen name on them.

This family’s path began at the beginning of the twentieth century when Lürssen began expanding onto the market of high-speed boats, and Friedrich’s son Otto, who became a partner, designed the Donnerwetter, a craft that reaches a speed of 35 knots.

Their Lürssen-Daimler, with a 102 horsepower engine, became the unofficial world champion in speed in 1911, and just one year later, the Saurer-Lürssen model won the same title. After the outbreak of the First World War, the Lürssen family’s factories, which were constantly expanding, caught the eye of the German military. Collaboration with the German Army culminated in World War II, where their fast patrol boats were equipped with torpedoes.

After the war came to an end, in 1948, the company marked the beginning of a new era with two brothers, the grandsons of the company’s founder Friedrich, who took over the company with their mother.

Friedrich had passed away in 1916. Through a new generation of his family, the company continued to build patrol boats through military contracts, presenting a new class called Jaguar in 1957. One of the key years for the company was 1979, when the Burmester Werft shipyard took over, expanding its product range to yachts, sailing boats and other special purpose vessels.

Today, Lürssen is one of the leading small German shipyards led by four generations of the same family for more than 140 years, currently Peter and Friedrich Lürssen are at the helm. They continue to dominate the market of military ships, desert, patrol and rocket corps, have a separate company in Australia, and have equally successfully developed their production for the “civilian” market that started to conquer that world back in the eighties.

Namely, their brand Lürssen Yachts, is now the world’s leading manufacturer of super-tailored custom mega-yachts such as the Octopus, built for Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft, the Rising Star built for David Geffen, the Pelarus once sailed by Roman Abramovich, and Azzam, the world’s largest private yacht which is 180 metres long, and was built in 2013, ordered by Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates, worth about 150 billion US dollars.

Lürssen Yachts are famous for their brilliant design and superb quality, and represent a status symbol among the world’s billionaires.

The family recently moved its portfolio to the hotel business, in Vienna, Austria, and Opatija’s LRH is their first acquisition here in Croatia.

Darko Ostoja, co-owner of the current LRH shareholder package, has revealed to the media that new owners have recently started investing in tourism in Austria and Germany, intending to diversify their owner portfolio.

Ostoja points out that the future owners have much stronger potential for investing in LRH than the owners so far have had, and believes it will have a certain impact on the entire destination as well. However, in conversation with Jutarnji list, he said that his side would be reluctant to talk about what moves are to be made, as the ownership transaction is yet to be realised.

A blessing also needs to be given by the Agency for the Protection of Market Competition, which is highly unlikely to be an issue. The Gitone Adriatic company was founded at the beginning of this month, and according to data from the court register, its basic activities are related to the provision of services, primarily those in tourism.

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