The way of attributing determinant “villa” to buildings in Vrnjačka Banja is also specific. The name, which has been associated with more luxurious buildings since the Roman period, is associated in Banja with all buildings for rental, even with one bed, regardless of their size.
Looking at photos and old postcards with buildings, one cannot but see the arranged yard, except at those buildings erected on the alignment line within the public area. Thus, it can be assumed that for the people of Vrnjačka Banja and those in love with it, the ambiance was what contributed to adding the determinant “villa” in front of the name of the building.
Hotel “Sotirović” was built in 1904 and was the first real hotel in the heart of Banja. The construction was made possible by the funds obtained from the work of one of the oldest Vrnjačka timber plants built at the end of the 19th century on Goč. The hotel owner was merchant Zarija Sotirović.
The hotel had 36 rooms and a restaurant with Serbian and French cuisine. The hotel guests were mainly celebrities from the capital. In the 1930s, this hotel had a roulette room. After World War II, the building was nationalized and the owners were left with only a smaller apartment. The name of the building was changed to hotel “Sloboda.”
The most significant building of Vrnjačka Banja hospitality, “Zvezda hotel.” Formerly “Orlovac”, then “Soldatović”, then “KOOP”. “Zvezda” changed its character, from a ground floor building to a magnificent building tailored to Vrnjačka Banja. Everyone in Serbia and beyond knew about the hotel. It was a symbol and pride of Vrnjačka Banja. It has one of the most beautiful halls in the country; rich in plastic, expensive chandeliers, and carpet trails, it had given locals and guests a wonderful tavern atmosphere for decades.
Big orchestras, domestic and foreign (remember the Chileans from the sixties), the giants of our folk and popular music, entertainers, magicians, artists of all kinds, gathered old and young around their speakers and microphones. The biggest parties of craftsmen, merchants, hospitality workers, pigeon breeders, and almost all other associations could not be imagined elsewhere.
On the site of today’s villa “Avala” in the eighties of the 19th century, innkeeper Kosta Petrović Rakica built a ground floor building called “Stanovi Rakičića”. The building had 16 rooms for rent, a balcony and a kitchen, and in the yard was the first bakery in Vrnjačka Banja.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the building and the plot were bought by merchant Boško Janković from Trstenik and baker Gavrilo Belić from Vrnjačka Banja. Soon, Boško Janković became the sole owner and added a floor to the building without changing its basic stylistic shape, calling it “Avala.” During World War I, Avala accommodated a block for recovery and rehabilitation of wounded soldiers and part for the accommodation of British Red Cross staff. During the 1930s, the villa was managed by Dr. Vanđel Tasić, Dr. Borivoje Brašić and Dr. F. Ginsberger. The villa is now owned by several individuals.
Villa “Kosovo” was built in 1913 by famous professor Mina Miljković, a descendant of those Miljkovićs from Vrnjačka Banja about whom a book was written. Professor Mina has been gone for a long time, and in 2005 died Dr. Milica, his daughter, who lived for 98 years. Both father and daughter retreated from Ohrid across Albania, back in 1915, he as the Ohrid Grammar School principal, she as an elementary school student.
Milica’s mother died in Nice in 1915, and Milica returned with her brother to Yugoslavia, again to Ohrid, where Mina was again appointed grammar school principal. Mina died in the mid-fifties, and Milica lived in Banja for a while and then moved to Vršac to work as a doctor. In recent years, she has been coming to Banja every summer with her sister Jelica, born out of Mina’s second marriage. Now only Jelica comes to “Kosovo.”
It used to be the pride of the famous Vuković family of Vrnjačka Banja, owned by the pioneer of Vrnjačka Banja hospitality Milan Vuković. In the early thirties of the last century, he reconstructed and finished the villa “Simić”, more built than reconstructed, and gave the building the name “Švajcarija”.
It used to be the highest category hotel, with beautiful rooms, salons with pianos and gramophones, radios, a kitchen that the most famous hotels would envy even today, and with cars that brought distinguished guests to and from the train station. “Švajcarija” was the meeting place of the local Serbian elite, especially in winter, when everything would calm down and the summer murmur would be forgotten. In 1941, the greatest Serbian publisher and bookseller between the two world wars, Geca Kon, was taken from here only to disappear in the Third Reich concentration camp. “White Russians” from all over Yugoslavia held their gatherings in “Švajcarija,” where they slept, ate, sang, and mourned for their mother Serbia.