Antonija Milković from Gospić has been in tourism for 12 years. She was born to a family experienced in hospitality – her grandfather opened a restaurant in the late 1960s which later also included accommodation, and the tradition carried over to her parents. Antonija is now the third generation in tourism and renting in the city of Gospić.
At the same time, she also creates personalized programmes for her guests, tours Lika with them and enjoys her life.
Tell us more about your accommodation
Apartments Milković*** are located near the town centre, include a total of twenty beds, but are secluded from the main road so our guests often tell me that they can’t even hear a fly while there and that they greatly enjoy the silence on the terraces in the courtyard. All of that while being essentially 10 minutes on foot from the city centre. The incredible view of the old man Velebit also takes everyone’s breath away.
When decorating I am guided by the principle that if something in the apartment is pleasant to me, it will definitely be pleasant for my guests, and so far this has worked like a charm… I did my best to include as many warm colours, materials and details as possible… each apartment also hosts a small book collection by domestic authors whose works are based on Lika. Almost all of the books are there as gifts from the authors themselves, and some I bought myself to complete the collections. A dear friend of mine told me that he stayed in many places, but only here did he read picture books before bed. He said he was delighted, it awoke his inner child. These moments make me happy.
I’ve been in hospitality for the last 10-12 years and I simply enjoy the work, I love meeting new people, creating new friendships, experiencing new things, sharing my own, sipping coffee and rakia with my guests, waiting for bands until 3-4 in the morning, having beer and going to bed… people appreciate these things… all my guests get coffee, sugar and tea in their apartments when they wake up so they can keep relaxing in their pyjamas… I do in the morning, so I assume many other people like it too.
I load the bands’ fridges with beer and domestic cheese, people talk about these things with their colleagues, friends and relatives, and I see all of this as marketing investments, it makes for my best publicity!
What do you recommend to anyone who wants to join this business?
I am very sensitive to keeping everything clean, this is my main piece of advice. Everything has to be clean, you can’t view that as difficult. Do everything the way you would like to be treated too, and smile! Smiling solves many problems and opens all doors.
What is your favourite experience in your „career“ so far?
There’s this story I tell everyone, it goes like this… Some five years ago, maybe a bit more, I had some guests from Denmark staying here. At 04,30 in the morning my phone rings, it’s the lady staying there, and my first thought was that something happened. When I picked up, she apologized for bothering me so late, I asked her if something happened, she said everyone was fine, but that the light bulb in the night lamp went out, and she was reading. First I thanked God everyone was fine, and then I told her I didn’t mind coming over to change the bulb.
As I don’t live where the apartments are, I got dressed, defrosted the windshield on my car and came to the accommodation. The lady opened the door, I laughed and asked her if she could brew us some coffee while I changed the bulb. She was a bit surprised, laughed and agreed. I changed the bulb, she made coffee, we sat down, talked and laughed quietly because the others were asleep. At 06,30 I told her I had a nice time having coffee with her and talking, but that I had to go get ready for work. She thanked me again for coming over, changing the light bulb and having coffee. Now, there’s one question that comes to mind – is that woman normal? (everyone at home and my friends asked me that questions)… It’s like this… I would never do something like that, she did. I’d be embarrassed to call for something so silly, she wasn’t. Is that normal or not? The truth is, it doesn’t matter. It’s my job. When I picked up the phone, my only concern was that everyone was ok… I have an on and off switch in my head and that’s it.
But you know what me coming there are 04,30 did? The following year 12 of them reserved accommodation for two days because their friendd told them about me doing what I did, including being cheerful and us having coffee.
All these years people have been coming here based on the light bulb story… her friends, colleagues, relatives… we laugh, have coffee (in the afternoon). The lady who woke me up is even coming back next year. She is going to explore Lika, she says she regularly follows what I do and that I managed to pique her interest enough to come back. I made her a custom programme and that’s it. The conclusion is – smile, get out of bed in the middle of the night even when you don’t feel like it, it pays off in the end… it definitely did for me.
Your accommodation is also pet friendly, right?
Indeed, my place is pet friendly and I think we’re currently the only one in town. Many of our guests come with pets. So far we didn’t have snakes or lizards because nobody brought them with them. I don’t see the big deal about it. We still don’t charge extra for pets, but pet owners always leave some sort of tip. I love animals, we’ve lived with dogs our whole lives, they’re our family members, and you can find bowls with food and water on all terraces and at the reception office. It’s perfectly normal to me. As for the apartments… to be honest, sometimes I have to clean a lot more after some people than I would after any single dog. And as a hotel manager once said – no dog has ever stolen anything from the hotel.
What do the guests like the most when they come to Lika?
I always give my guests local manufacturers’ products, it’s my goal to include them in the community so that ultimately we all benefit from the guests, that we slowly start living from tourism. The manufacturers occasionally call me that they were contacted by the people to whom I gave honey, jam or cheese, and that now they want to buy even more. That is exactly the goal I wish to achieve with the gifts!
What would you like to say to anyone who plans to come to Lika or maybe doesn’t even plan it yet?
In the end… our dear future guests, start exploring the most beautiful part of Croatia, the untouched, wild nature. Lika is a destination which people come back to. Slowly, but they’re coming back, once they discover it they are in love for the rest of their lives.
The time of Lika has come!