Having discovered that Lošinj’s climate has healing properties and that Lošinj is a valuable and potentially popular destination, the 19th century respected entrepreneurs, prominent citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and state institutions launched Lošinj’s tourism. They invested money andprecious knowledge, and invited famous architects of their times to start building hotels and boardinghouses. On an island that was hours away from the closest land (before cars, airports and fast roads) they created an atmosphere and a lifestyle that was as sophisticated as in top spas and tourist destinations of the time.
The decision to be involved in tourism basically means deciding to deal in innovation, taking a step farther and then a step more. Therefore, the old Lošinj guesthouses evidence efforts aimed at ensuring the guests comfort. Even before we had water supply on the island, each guesthousehad found a way to bring drinking water and seawater to each room, so that guests could enjoy hot sea baths and the convenience of fresh water. Beautifully designed bathing gardens made sure that guestswere exposed to the Mediterranean Sea, but without the wind.
Great-grandmothers of our grandmothers had lovely, spacious and elegant houses, built by courageous Lošinj captains. At the time when modern ships began to replace old sailing ships, tourism became the main occupation of Lošinj people. They welcomed the opportunity of opening their houses to tourists and designing lovely guesthouses surrounded by beautiful Mediterranean gardens that would enable the European aristocracy, entrepreneurs and elite to recover their bodies and souls in a healing climate withrecognized health benefits. Among other prominent guests, Lošinj was visited by the famous Sissy, the Empress Elisabeth of Austria, and her husband, Franz Joseph, who inspired others to come to Lošinj and enjoy the healing climate as well as its lovely and rich social life. The von Trapp family, who had inspired the famous film, The Sound of Music, also visited Lošinj.
Lošinj’s hoteliers had a strong desire to ensure their guestswith a pleasant and unforgettable stay, so they did their best to hire staff who spoke foreign languages as well as cooks who were proficient in Viennese, Hungarian, Italian and French cuisine. Tourism always follows the trends in technology (so, very soon after cars were invented, they were driving tourists from steamboats to their hotels), cultivates music, art and entertainment and takes care of the beauty of nature, parks and gardens.
On such strong foundations, the people of Lošinj were able to dedicate themselves to the development of our destination, constantly searching for a way to please the guests in order to be and stay at the top. In the early 20th century, Lošinj had more than one hundred hotels and guesthouses, and in 1913, we had as much as 250,000 overnight stays!
It is interesting that, due to the dynamic development of Lošinj’s tourism, Hotel Alhambra was the only one originally built as a hotel, and it has kept its function and name until today. This elegant hotel was designed by the famous Viennese architect, Alfred Keller. It is important to notice that all the details of the hotel, its surroundings and the beach with arcades are harmoniously synchronized with each other and the nature. The rest of the hotels and guesthouses were opened in the existing houses, or were built as hotels, but later became dwelling houses. Some of the lovely hotels and villas were destroyed in bombings during World War II.
Villa Hortensia, as we know it today, was originally built as a beach hotel, andeventually renamed toHotel Bellevue. Its amazing location in the Čikat bay attracted numerous guests, so it soon became too small. Therefore, in 1967, Hotel Bellevue was built which, after reconstruction in 2014, became the most beautiful and luxurious hotel on the island of Lošinj. The beautiful Čikat bay, with its turquoise sea, dense pinewood and an open view ofthe sea was as attractive to the aristocracy as it is to the contemporary guests who lookfor quality, beauty and the harmony of nature and architecture.
Take a walk onthe streets of Lošinj, notice all the lovely houses, many of which used to be prestigious guesthouses, imagine the joy of La Belle Époque, the engaging concerts and the happiness of the recovered and healed Lošinj’s guest. The achievements of the present times are always rooted in a prosperous history.