For Jozo Parcina and his wife Ivona, the burned out hulk of a former steam factory on the main street into Split’s harbor, was a civic eyesore. An entrepreneur, Mr. Parcina decided to do something. He began asking around about who owned the property and after several years tracking down all the various owners, he was able to successfully purchase a prime piece of Split real estate just steps from the Green Market.
But his vision of building Split’s first boutique hotel took another three years to realize. As part of the city’s UNESCO-protected historic core, any construction project not only had to pass the city’s building codes, but an exhaustive gauntlet of preservationist regulations.
The hotel is literally built around an old stone house that is now tucked away with its own entrance. The graceful arched façade of the property that matches the buildings that start at the corner gives the streetscape wonderful continuity. It was just one of many architectural details the Parcina’s and their architect had to follow.
Not all of the changes were agreed to. The preservation agency for the city insisted that the original sign of the 1920’s steam factory that had occupied the site until a catastrophic fire burned everything down, be installed over the main hotel entrance.
Josip Culic, the hotel’s ebullient manager, laughed when he remembered the incident. “Imagine welcoming people to “The Steam Factory”! We finally convinced them to let us have our own.”
And what happened to the original sign?
“We donated it to a local museum,” Culic? said with a smile.
The Hotel Luxe is a five year labor of love, as well as a 5.5 million Euro investment.
Working closely with local architect Vjekoslav Ivaniševic and the Split interior design firm of Studio Raster, the Parcina’s have created a unique vision of urban chic.
Awash in a palette of lavender and cream, the design motifs were carefully supervised by Ivona Parcina, whose individual touches are evident wherever you look.
All of the tiles (including the façade of the spectacular lobby desk, which changes colors!) are imported from Italy and Spain and the sleek, high tech Arctic white furniture is from an Israeli designer Ron Arad, made by Moroso Italy.
Just off the lobby is a glass-entranced breakfast/bar where guests enjoy an unusually fine “Luxe breakfast” served with designer flair (the yogurt smoothie is beautiful to look at, as well as to eat!) and in the evening offers an outstanding wine/liqueur collection. And on the other end of the lobby is the city’s only hotel cigar bar, also glass enclosed, which offers outstanding Cuban and other cigars, carefully kept in a humidor and served with an array of international and local cognacs and other spirits.
The surprises don’t stop at the lobby.
Downstairs is jewel-box spas, with a Whirlpool, Finnish sauna, massage and treatments room and even a small fitness room.
Although the hotel faces one of the busiest streets in the city, the architect has done a masterful job by putting a suspended access corridor along the front of the hotel, allowing all of the rooms to face the rear, away from the noise. Many of the rooms have small balconies with wonderful views of the harbor and neighboring islands.
As Split’s only four stars boutique hotel, tourists have been quick to discover its many charms. Open since August 2010, the Luxe has already been visited by guests from 100+ countries and its occupancy rate is almost double projections. Rave reviews on TripAdvisor and travel blogs have also helped make the Luxe a success. After decades of neglect, like the proverbial Phoenix, rising from the site of a former steam factory is now one of Split’s most delightful new hotels!