Partying with Tito and the Penthouse Magazine Pets at the Adriatic coast.
At the beginning of the 1970‘s Penthouse Magazine owner Bob Guccione commissioned architect Boris Magaš to build a decadent’s playground on the Island of Krk. Josip Broz Tito’s Yugoslavia wanted to show how detached it was from the Soviet Union, opening borders to foreign visitors by taking away Visa restrictions. Europe needed somewhere new to party and the unspoiled Adriatic coast seemed a perfect location to become the new party hot spot.
*Photo by Jana Jocif
With a lascivious celebration the Haludovo Palace hotel complex opened on June 15,1972. It had hanging gardens, lavish pools, expensive mid-century furniture, men wore thick mustaches, Mexican-inspired salsa music was blasting out from the speakers and Penthouse Magazine “pets” delivered piña coladas and casually spun roulette wheels. Guccione himself referred to his Penthouse Pets as the ‘new soldiers of the Cold War’.
The rumor said the hotel was serving more than 100 kilos of lobster, 5 kilos of caviar, and hundreds of bottles of champagne daily by resort guests including heads of state like Olof Palme, Saddam Hussein and a young and unexperienced Silvio Berlusconi. While the wealthier guests enjoyed the opulence of the hotel, down to a swimming pool filled with champagne.
*Photo by Gunter Blokken
But only one year after opening, the opulent casino complex was declared bankrupt. The reason? The hotel’s backbone of middle-class foreign tourists did not spend half the money the hotel was expecting to make from the casino and Yugoslav citizens were forbidden entry by the government.
*Photo by Nikola Sarnavka
Today the Haludovo Palace Hotel complex sits as a beautiful ruin of a modern dream of pleasure and progress in socialist times, a frustrated effort to join the capitalistic western culture with the sexy, beautiful and exotic Eastern Europe. Meanwhile next time in Krk you should really include this as part of your trip itinerary.