Meet hotel Haludovo on Krk island in Croatia. It is also called the hotel of sin.
The story started in the end of the 1960s when the founder of the penthouse magazine Bob Guccione visited Krk island and had instantly fallen in love with the nature and surroundings. The idea was to connect the west to the east and make a decadent place for wealthy jet set community. The problem at the time was that Croatia was at that time part of communistic Yugoslavia ruled by Josip Broz Tito. They had a few meetings in Tito’s villa on the nearby island of Brioni and came to understanding. Guccione would invest 150 million of dollars and Tito would give him the rights to the land. And It would be closed for Yugoslavians as casinos and lavish lifestyles don’t exactly coop with the communistic ideology. The golden age started in 1972 when the resort had opened it’s doors.
Guests were flocking to Haludovo like flies to honey. At the time, the tourism industry didn’t yet know the concept of resorts, so Haludovo used to be called a hotel town. The complex was designed by architect Boris Magaš also known as the father of Poljud stadium in Split – and it could proudly stand alongside the most distinguished pieces of modernist architecture in Europe. Apart from the casino, there was a golf course, a bowling alley, a fishing village, a sports bar. On the other side of the palette of activities, you could find a beauty center with a masseuse ready, pools, beaches, saunas, and a medical center for the odd occasion when the sumptuous living took its toll. The place was drenched in opulence and taught its guests the art of living: people were feasting on lobsters and caviar in unholy quantities and guzzled champagne like it was water. That’s not even meant as a bad joke: one of the hotel pools allegedly used to be filled with champagne, and while there are no photos to confirm the story, it matches the all-around ambiance of the place. We’ll stick with the legend. Living each day like it was your last couldn’t have been paired with waiters in formal attire. Who’d want to lounge next to a pool of champagne, listening to whatever was en vogue, and have caviar served to them by a waiter clad in long trousers and a starched white shirt? No, Guccione went the proper provocative way and employed an army of so-called penthouse pets, attractive young women whose work uniforms comprised just a bit more fabric that you would nowadays wear to the beach. They were dressed in strapless corsets and short ruffled skirts; their hair was long and glossy, their faces always smiling. In the following video by the BBC filmed in 1972, their manager explains that most local girls who applied for the job worried the position would entail… er, getting into other certain positions. No, none of that was to take place, they were just expected to be professional, helpful and friendly. There are no ‘confessions of a former penthouse pet’ available online so it’s hard to say from this perspective, but it probably wouldn’t be that presumptuous to guess the relaxed, debauched atmosphere overshadowed the code of conduct.
Such a decadent lifestyle proved hard to maintain, and it didn’t take more than a year before the hotel couldn’t stay afloat anymore. After investing $43 million (the 1970 equivalent of today’s $250 million), Guccione soon went bankrupt. Haludovo kept operating for another twenty years, finally dying down with the start of the Homeland war in 1991. In the early 90s, the hotel was vacant as no foreign guests in their right minds would come to vacation to a war zone, so the place was turned into accommodation facilities for refugees