Something big is happening on the Croatian island of Losinj. A hotel group called Jadranka is spending several oligarchs’ fortunes trying to turn the place into one of Europe’s most exciting holidays spots.
They have built and re-developed a number of hotels and luxury villas, all to the highest possible spec, and have plans for an 18-hole golf course and even an international airport.
The locals (many of them Jadranka employees) seem excited. ‘I tell my son this is a time of great opportunity,’ says Nicolas, our guide. Indeed, Losinj could be the Adriatic’s answer to Majorca.
Not that tourism is new on the island. In the 19th century, European aristocrats came to Lotzing or Lussino (the name changed depending on who thought it theirs) to breathe in the clean sea air and heal their respiratory problems.
The wheezy old Habsburgs were regulars: Archduke Charles Stephen of Austria had a winter palace here.
The island has lots more to offer than good oxygen. The sea is turquoise and brilliant: Italians flock here, Nicolas tells us, because they are ‘jealous of the water’.
The whole place feels quite Italian, having been a part of Italy in the inter-war period. The locals still say ‘Ciao’ to each other.
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