Kalic, a ski ‘resort’ close to Slovenia’s world-famous Postojna caves is one that until very recently I was unfamiliar with. It is a shame that increasingly in Slovenia the uninitiated or those viewing from afar only become aware of hitherto unknown areas of the country during the current wave of financial problems sweeping over the country, the exponentially negative publicity keeping many pundits and bloggers busier than the more settled, less troubled times of yesteryear ever did.
Whilst researching Kalic I have found precious little to go on, a lone article on the Slovenske Novice website somewhat wearily detailing another auction pertaining to a Slovenian ski area the only contemporary news item of note. The broken, overgrown lifts and skeletal remains of an accompanying restaurant seemingly make up the portfolio on offer, €256,000 being the auctioneer’s jumping of point.
Situated in the southwest of the country and ideally placed to attract Croatian and Italian day-trippers, it isn’t altogether easy to see where it all went wrong for Kalic. Forming part of the Dinaric Alps the limestone-dominated landscape offers dramatic views and an alternative to the more traditional alpine settings of the Julian Alps and Karvanken range. I am not privy to the reasons why an area once popular with thousands of skiers has lain in ruins for several years but a clue might be in its location. Areas in Slovenia of relatively modest elevation have frequently suffered from a lack of snow, often being geographically penalised for residing on the “sunny side of the Alps”. Kalic’s comparatively close proximity to the Adriatic will also have compromised its ability to replenish pistes with natural snowfall, a micro-resort such as this is unlikely to have the means to produce artificial snowfields. Nothing in the world of winter-sports and indeed Slovenia though is straightforward, where low-lying regions can on occasion be weighed down with an excess of snow, Bolfenk in Pohorje’s locale one such example I can bring to mind. It would though seem such resorts are never more than one poor winter season away from financial calamity, their business-models firmly shaped around the presumption of a successful three months of winter sports rather than the reality which is often diametrically opposed.
Acquiring Kalic’s infrastructure would be a bold, perhaps foolhardy move on the part of any investor willing to do so. Purchasing lifts and a restaurant that are in such a derelict condition suggests meeting the auctioneer’s asking price is only the beginning of the investment; in reality a new owner is obtaining the rights to operate Kalic’s framework, albeit not with the fabric that comes with the purchase price. Reclaiming the pistes from the undergrowth and replacing the lift system are the bare minimum prerequisites for the area’s winter-sports potential to be rebooted. It will perhaps be more possible to work with what remains of the restaurant although, this may also be a case of demolition and starting again. There is a little known law in Slovenia where a municipality can acquire distressed assets situated within it jurisdictional area(subject to creditor approval), in the event of a succession of auctions failing to find a buyer. The desire of Postojna’s local authority to assume ownership of Kalic’s ski infrastructure is unlikely, unless they weigh up the cost of a small surety needed in such circumstances – as well as the necessary maintenance/refurbishment costs – against the damage caused to the local area by allowing the rotting lifts and restaurant to continue to aesthetically blight the region.
I would though be surprised if the asking price at the auction was met. Slovenia has far too many ski resorts for the amount of patrons they can attract, the Alps’ perpetual meteorological uncertainties and the very real onset of climate change being felt in the country. Whilst a new operator of Kalic’s lift-system could provide summer hikers with a short-cut to some pleasant walking, it seems unlikely this area can generate sufficient revenue from tourists to justify a year-round service, unless of course a tie-up could be engineered with the owners of the nearby Postojna cave attraction, who may themselves be tempted to enter the bidding.
Further reading on this subject can be viewed at: Slovenske Novice: derelict Kalic ski-area goes to auction