It’s empty much of the year; a problem that was noted at the time of construction.
The first wave of Communist-era resorts were built in the late 1950s and 1960s without concern for expense, but in 1967 Ceaușescu demanded building costs be halved: ‘We must take into account that these hotels are not being built in Bucharest, Brașov, or other parts, but at the seaside, where they remain unused for eight months of the year.’ Out of season – from October to May – stray dogs run in the streets and chase passing cars, and not a single hotel is open in the interconnected resorts of Olimp, Neptun, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn, which line the coast between Costinești and Mangalia.
The resorts could undermine official ideology, but they also served Party interests.
Juliana Maxim notes that 85 per cent of the buildings in Bucharest were single-storey when the first resorts opened, and ‘a summer stay in the airy, efficient, sun-drenched and collective rest houses was a powerful way to convince the residents of the advantages, even the delights, of life in a multi-unit high-rise’.
Romania abandoned its internationalist stance after Ceaușescu’s 1971 visit to North Korea and the publication of his July Theses.
But in the early 1960s they held out a promise of health and relaxation as modern as anything in the West.
The architecture was ambitious, and the experience affordable: two-week summer holidays were enshrined in law, and holiday packages were subsidised by unions and the Party.