Hotel Plaža – Zelenika – the first hotel in The Bay of Kotor

—By O.N.—

Antal Magyar, a Hungarian cavalry officer, converted his family villa in Zelenika into a guesthouse in late 1902. Inspired by the name of the place, he named the guesthouse “Pansion na zelenoj plaži” (Pansion am grünen Strande).

With Magyar’s efforts and lobbying with Emperor Franz Joseph, the last station of the railway became Zelenika instead of Meljine, which was more natural. To achieve this, a tunnel had to be built and a part of the hill had to be removed into the sea.

Magyar instructed Jovo Vuković to buy a steamship for him in Italy. However, the ship did not work well, so Magyar gave it to Vuković and Blagoje Mićunović, and he himself obtained the ship “Marija,” which could accommodate around a hundred passengers. It regularly sailed between Herceg Novi and Kotor. These two purchases led to financial difficulties, and Magyar had to give his property in Zelenika as collateral in early 1909.

In the middle of the same year, Antal suddenly died, and the hotel was rented by Dutchman De Braun. Due to alcoholism, De Braun lost the right to rent it in 1915. The hotel was rented the same year by physician Nándor Irmai.

The guests were mostly from higher classes. There were many academically educated people and high-ranking officials, as well as officers and nobles.

Among the most distinguished guests were Peter I, later the Serbian king; Boris, the king of Bulgaria, and Nikola, the king of Montenegro.

As a family tutor, Mirko Komnenović helped the Magyar family to settle the affairs and remaining debts after Antal’s death.

During the Great War, the hotel’s business stopped, and it became a military object. It housed the headquarters of Feldmarschall-Leutnant Rolinger, who led operations against Lovćen.

The hotel was in very bad condition after the war. Antal’s son, Adorján, tried to revive the hotel under a new name “Hotel Plaža Zelenika”. The hotel was upgraded during this period, and it now had 25 rooms with 36 beds. The frequent guests during this period were Russian emigrants and Albanian merchants who loaded their goods onto ships and train.

In 1920, the property was seized by the state under the law against enemy subjects, and the hotel was converted into a hospital. The Magyar family had already considered moving to Hungary when a group of prominent citizens of Herceg Novi came to their defense. Among them were Mirko Komnenović, Jovo Šimrak, Marko Rašević, Priest Jovo Avramović, Priest Savo Nakićenović, and Prince Ignjo Marić. The action was successful, and Adorjan was allowed to manage the confiscated property, and the sequestration was officially lifted in 1927.

The hotel was reopened on May 26, 1921. During Adorjan’s management, another king, the first Albanian king and later president, Ahmed Zogu, visited the hotel. The identity of the guest was only discovered after he had left.

Whenever possible, the hotel was expanded. In the mid-1930s, five new rooms were added. Water and electricity were introduced, and the area around the hotel was landscaped and enriched with new Mediterranean plants.

Over the years, the hotel opened its own agencies abroad, including those in Prague and Budapest.

The hotel had 30 furnished guest rooms with 49-53 beds in the 1930s. During World War II, the hotel was again used for military purposes, this time by the Italians. However, Adorjan refused to cooperate with the occupier and was arrested in November 1942 and interned in Italy in April 1943, from where he returned in 1945.

After the war, the hotel was almost unusable and its inventory was used to equip a devastated hospital in Meljine as much as possible. The first guests of the hotel were actually Germans – captive drivers who distributed aid packages from Zelenika warehouses.

After the war, only 10 rooms were left for rent, and their number was increased to 15 in 1948. In April 1948, the hotel was nationalized and renovated. More rooms were built, and two were added by evicting a family. The hotel’s capacity was now 37 rooms.

The guests were mostly local workers and officials. The abolition of the union subsidy and the transition to commercial tourism led to the collapse of the old hotel. The building was freed because the People’s Committee of the Municipality considered modernization unprofitable since foreign tourism was still insignificant. The hotel was sold to the Municipal People’s Committee Center – Sarajevo for a children’s vacation home.

Thus, the hotel ceased to exist after 58 years.

– Refereneces: Zoltan Magyar – Hotel „Plaža“ – Zelenika od 1902. do 1960. – Boka, zbornik radova iz nauke, kulture i umjetnosti, 6-7, p. 197-207, 1975.