The futures of both the Bovec ski resort and the town’s flagship but now decaying hotel, the Kanin, appear to be inextricably linked with accusations, counter-arguments and a cat and mouse game of ‘wait and see'(before interested parties in either blink first) that do nothing but hinder the region’s long-term future as a viable winter-sports arena.
It could be argued but perhaps not successfully that the financial health and ongoing viability of both enterprises are reliant upon the rejuvenation of the other. The hotel is more reliant upon the reintroduction of the lift-system, whilst the cableway’s customers can use the many other hotels in the area. Unlike in other Slovenian ski resorts the winter-sports infrastructure and the hotel in question, eponymously named after the highest mountain in the area which the cableway would normally service, are crucially not in the same hands, which potentially creates a bigger problem for Bovec’s municipality who would hope to oversee the offloading of both the ski lifts and hotel to one owner, rather than having to go through time-consuming Dutch auctions which on previous evidence, are not guaranteed to generate a satisfactory outcome.
Despite a €3 million face-lift as recent as 2009 the Hotel Kanin has lain idle since 2013, a date ‘coincidentally’ the Bovec cable-car dramatically ceased operating after several of its carriages crashed to the ground in high winds. Despite the casino operator HIT retaining ownership of the Kanin – their subsidiary arm HIT Bovec was placed in receivership – there have been no signs of anything other than terminal decay taking place at the hotel, potentially driving the sale price downwards but conversely, leaving it less attractive than ever to potential purchasers when costs to renovate the building are factored in. As reported by The Slovenia Times it would seem interested bidders, if there are any, are keeping a close eye on developments regarding the sale or otherwise of the cableway infrastructure before showing their hands. For the Bovec municipality and the long-term future of it as a ski resort, it would therefore seem imperative for the cableway to be sold as soon as possible without an unwieldy reserve price placed upon it, thus avoiding cutting off the resort’s nose to spite its face. In a buyers market it is surely in Bovec’s best interests to make it as easy as possible for its lifeblood to be financially attractive, especially when the cableway with the attendant issues that come with a history of fallen cable-car carriages, might and probably will need serious investment to make it safe to a standard that restores customer confidence.
Being a centre for summer pursuits such as mountain-biking. rafting and canyoning Bovec certainly has more than the skiing string to its bow but, if there are no winter-sports on the Slovenian side of the mountain, I doubt a hotel such as the Kanin would be able to survive on levels of custom conservatively estimated to stay during the warmer months. It surely though would attract sufficient patronage amongst snow-sports aficionados who are content to be bussed 40 minutes every morning to the Italian side of Mount Kanin, to the slopes of Sella Nevea and beyond to Tarvisio. Whether the locals like it or not, winter-sports are essential for Bovec’s long-term future as a town reliant on the tourist trade.
To an outsider I can only surmise that there are other issues at play regarding the demise of the Hotel Kanin although, it does seem that the health of such operations are only as good as the external facilities their guests come to use. Quite simply, unless anyone can tell me otherwise, no skiing in Bovec means no Hotel Kanin. Lauded as hitherto being one of Slovenia’s most beautiful hotels, I personally cannot think of a better example of beauty being in the eye of the beholder, especially if such reverence is being reserved for the exterior of the property. Nevertheless, Slovenia has an unhealthy knack of placing hotels that could rightfully be classed as monstrosities in its most picturesque of areas; those of you familiar with hotels Ski Hotel Vogel and Zlatorog in Bohinj and some of Bled’s brutalist edifices will back up my assertion. Nevertheless, there can equally be no greater example of how fragile the tourist economy in Slovenia actually is, leaving many of its hotels or lift-systems unable to weather the financial storm plaguing associated enterprises, should they be owned by the same institution or otherwise. The course of economic action being followed by Slovenia’s incumbent administration, of privatisation and in effect the shrinking of the state, is the direct opposite of what such landmark resorts as Bovec currently need. On the contrary, state intervention, therefore demonstrating that someone in the higher echelons of government recognises the importance of the likes of Bovec as a tourism centre, generator of finance and a benchmark for Slovenian winter-sports needs to be forthcoming, rather than just the latest round of hand-wringing and finger pointing.
Further reporting on this issue can be viewed at: The Slovenia Times: Hotel Kanin and Bovec left in limbo