TRIBUTES have been paid to a well-known former hotelier who died suddenly whilst on holiday.

Zeljko Stephen Raguz, former owner of Droitwich's Chateau Impney, Raven Hotel and Worcestershire Brine Baths Hotel, died last month whilst on a visit to Croatia.

A death notice said that whilst on his visit, Mr Raguz "became very ill and after a short stay in hospital passed away in the early hours of Sunday,July 25".

The Worcestershire hotelier, originally from former Yugoslavia, was 82 when he died.

He worked as the manager of Chateau Impney near the M5 junction 5, on the outskirts of Droitwich Spa, near Wychbold and Bromsgrove, before buying it along with the nearby Raven Hotel and Worcestershire Brine Baths Hotel in 1981.

Former employees and acquaintances shared fond memories of Mr Raguz.

Jane Barlow, from Droitwich, said she worked for him at Chateau Impney for three years.

She said: "He was one of the most thoughtful bosses you could ever wish for - he would buy all mums a plant on Mother’s Day and we would always have a rose on Valentine’s Day as well as gifts at Christmas.

"He thought highly of his staff and treated everyone as equals. A genuinely lovely man, may he rest in peace."

Another former employee said: "If it was your birthday and you were on shift we would have a cake and he would insist everyone sang happy birthday to you. Rest in peace."

Droitwich councillor Richard Morris said he worked alongside Mr Raguz before he sold the hotel in 2009 due to health issues.

He said: "As an individual I enjoyed working with Stephen.

"He was a good hotelier and he supported me when I wanted to do voluntary work and help the community.

"He was locally minded in terms of trying to support the community and his death is a massive loss to those that knew him personally."

Mr Raguz was born in February 1939 and emigrated to the UK from the then-Yugoslavia, studying at Birmingham’s Hotel School from 1957 to 1958.