Split Ambasador Hotel Opening Delayed by Corona: “We’ll Open Before Christmas”

Daniela Rogulj

May 4, 2020 – The opening of several hotels in Split was announced for the upcoming tourist season, including the Ambasador on the West Coast Riva.

Slobodna Dalmacija writes that Tonci Medic, CEO of Retoi, whose portfolio also includes Ambasador, and a close friend of German businessman Klaus Alex Birkenstock, owner of this hotel, assures us that, given the coronavirus crisis, they won’t be able to open their doors to guests until Christmas. 

“The corona crisis has definitely surprised us all. In March, we started collecting CVs and organizing interviews with potential employees, but of course, we had to stop. The plan, in fact, was to ‘permanently’ hire 55 staff and hire another thirty seasonal workers. Since we were planning to open the hotel doors this summer, we hired six people key to its operation earlier this year; among them the director and the chef.

This has completely hindered us – outside construction work has been suspended at the request of the contractor, that is, workers’ fear of contracting the virus. As for the works inside the building, we thought it was pointless to rush to finish them when we had to keep the hotel closed.

We simply estimated that we did not want to risk anything and that it is better to skip this season, if there is one at all, than to begin during a pandemic and fear whether any of the staff or guests will transmit the virus to our hotel,” says Medic, a well-known caterer from Brela.

Recall, Klaus Alex Birkenstock bought the hotel on the West Coast in 2016 from Regina Ivic, the widow of Tomislav Ivic, the legendary Hajduk coach. It was announced that the Ambasador would be open in the spring of 2018, but the investor could not meet the deadline due to the inability to obtain a building permit.

For this reason, the demolition was delayed of the building built in 1937, which was later the JNA House, as was the execution of the works. The investor was forced to ask the County to extend the construction period from two to four years.

In the meantime, there was a change in investment from the previously announced EUR 14 million to EUR 23 million. This should give the Ambassador at least four and a half stars, and they hope, Medic says, to get a fifth.

According to the project of architects Nena Kezic, Emil Sverk and Nora Roje, the hotel will have 101 rooms and suites, a restaurant capacity of 240, spa, gym, nightclub and underground garage with 59 spaces. Otherwise, the hotel’s catering facilities will be able to accommodate 640 guests, in addition to the 240 in the restaurant.

The fitness and wellness center will be sunlit thanks to a large atrium on the terrace facing the sea. It is also interesting that in the superstructure of the movie theater, which was erected next to the “Ambasador” in 1953, there will be a 120 square meter large swimming pool, which will be partially enclosed by glass, so that passers-by will be able to look in. Swimmers, on the other hand, have a view of the coast.

In any case, Birkenstock has announced that it plans to turn this Split hotel into a new favorite resort for tourists from the UK, Germany, Austria and France. Unfortunately, the plan is currently on hold, but hopefully not for long.

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