Rarely a week seems to pass without news breaking of another well-known Slovenian enterprise displaying signs of financial distress. In many instances it does not come as a complete surprise, especially if the concern’s business model is centred around the snow-sports sector, a fickle mistress if there ever was one. Whilst the Sport Hotel Pokljuka’s existence is inextricably linked to the niche biathlon market, its prominence in such circles lead many outside of the immediate loop to express surprise at its demise. A case of always the one you least expect? Maybe not.
It has since come to light that the SHP has traded at a loss for many years. With a deficit seemingly in excess of €3 million a standalone entity such as this would always find its long-term prospects to be bleak without the backing of a Gazprom of this world, currently making waves in the hotel sector in the Maribor Pohorje region. In any event, it would appear to be a classic case of putting the victim out of its misery with no obvious light at the end of the tunnel, if the year on year incremental losses are an accurate barometer of its ability to remain a viable, going concern. Coupled with the trading losses were long and short-term liabilities that the Slovenian banks would no longer be able to indulge, not only because of the parlous state of the national economy but also, the patient showed no sign of tangible improvement.
Whether the eponymous Sport Hotel Pokljuka will continue to operate now its trading company has folded remains to be seen. It would make obvious sense for it to do so until at least the end of the winter season, with much of its trade being made up of biathletes and those wishing to explore the Pokljuka Plateau now its glorious winter coat has belatedly arrived. Whether financial mismanagement is at the root of the problem, I couldn’t say. It is perhaps though telling that the hotel consists of 106 bedrooms, a large building to be serviced and kept updated if the clientele isn’t in abundance to fill it. Being near to Bohinj but especially close to Lake Bled, its idyllic location may have brought about its downfall, situated too near established tourist centres and lacking in any other infrastructure one comes to take for granted. Its position is undoubtedly a bonus but walkers and biathletes arriving on the plateau as day-trippers are not going to sustain accommodation capable of housing 200-300 guests. I for one have always wondered why British Lakes and Mountains tour operators have never included this hotel and location as part of their Slovenian programme. Perhaps an all too common ignorance of alpine areas other than the Bohinj, Bled and Kranjska Gora disadvantaged Pokljuka or, an understanding of SHP’s ongoing financial problems were perhaps more widely known by those in the travel industry than I realised.
It is sadly ironic that the Sport Hotel Pokljuka company was 74% owned by the Triglav National Park(TNP) authority, the quango charged with overseeing the protection of the TNP, areas in which include Bohinj and the country’s titular highest mountain. Tasked with promoting the area as a destination for sustainable tourism, having a controlling interest in what amounts to a failed hotel is not exactly a case of there being no such thing as bad publicity. As is arguably the case with other landmark hotels in and immediately around the Triglav National Park area, namely the Zlatorog, Bellevue and Ski Hotel Vogel, it is entirely possible that the Sport Hotel in Pokljuka was sweated as an asset. The difference though between the aforementioned triumvirate(who are NOT owned or controlled by the TNP) and the SHP is that inward investment seems to have been plentiful and astutely spent, including on the refurbishment of the hotel and a multi-purpose hall. The SHP has therefore hardly been left to stagnate and as in the Zlatorog’s case, decay to a point of dereliction. From an outsiders point of view we can for this reason alone only speculate as to what ultimately caused the financial collapse of a hotel that ticks many of the right boxes but sadly, has proven to be unable to withstand the harsh financial winds currently and seemingly ceaselessly blowing through modern-day Slovenia.
Additional reporting on this matter can be found at: