About the owners

Although the families of the builders of the Villa Istra had several notable personalities – for example, members of the Jurković family were among the most active in the people’s movement and founders of the Zora cultural society; a scion of the Kompanjet family, Zoran, was a writer and rector of Rijeka University; and descendants of the Kopani family include the legendary local photo-chronicler Frank and his son, philatelist and Lions district governor, Borut-Borja – the Hotel Mozart is today associated with two even more famous figures, Veljko Barbieri and Ivan Ljubičić.

Veljko Barbieri
Born in 1929 in Makarska, to a bourgeois family of apothecaries of noble Italian origins that also gave a mayor to the town. From 1941 he took an active part in the National Liberation War, first as a member of the League of Young Communists (SKOJ), then as a partisan. By the age of sixteen he had already achieved high military rank and was in command of a battalion. He received the Medal of Bravery, and in 1948 was chosen as the final runner for the so-called Relay Race of Youth, who had to give the Baton of Youth to Tito. After the war he graduated from military academy and was given command of a minesweeper. Later he graduated in economics as a part-time student and got a job in the Rade Končar Company in Zagreb. As a representative for that company, he lived and worked in Milan for several years.
In 1964 he moved to Opatija. At the beginning of the 1980s, he founded the Adriatic Club Yugoslavia (ACY), later renamed the Adriatic Club International (ACI), and built some twenty marinas all over the Adriatic. In the early 1990s he founded his own consultancy company Barbieri nautika. He is the author of the project One Hundred Small Ports on the Croatian Adriatic.
From early childhood he was involved in the sea and sailing. He won many trophies at national and international regattas and wrote a book of memoirs Protiv vjetra (Against the Wind) that was published in Rijeka in 2003 by the Adamić Publishing Company.

Ivan Ljubičić (born in Banja Luka in 1979), one of the best Croatian tennis players of all time and son-in-law of the current owner of the Hotel Mozart, Abi Shalabi, first came to Opatija as one of the many refugees during the war in Croatia. In 2004 he won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Athens (together with Mario Ančić), and one year later won the Davis Cup. During his career he won eight important tournaments, was the number 3 ranked player in the world, and two years in a row (2005 and 2006) was chosen as the best Croatian sportsman.

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