The reality of the parlous situation the area’s tourism infrastructure now finds itself in can be perfectly exemplified by a recent story emanating from Bohinj. A party of Korean visitors found that there was no room at the inn, the memories those travelling from South-East Asia will take back to the Korean peninsula will be of an impossibly beautiful area that cannot accommodate the vast majority of tourists who wish to take time out to commune with nature in a way that is just not possible at nearby Lake Bled. Sadly such tales are no longer considered apocryphal, the metaphoric and literal collapse of several of Bohinj’s erstwhile accommodation linchpins has seen an estimated 60,000 annual overnight stays wiped from the Bohinj tourist office’s statistical analysis of the most recent data to hand. Before I knew the minutiae of the details behind the demise of the Zlatorog and its Ribcev Laz-based stablemate the Bellevue, I had come to the somewhat obvious conclusion that the owner(s) of the two aforementioned hotels were shamelessly sweating their assets with the bare minimum – or zero as it turned out – of inward investment and routine maintenance. Trading on past glories which saw the likes of Agatha Christie and heads of state patronize the Bellevue and Zlatorog, it seemed a tacit crime that two properties(and the Hotel Bohinj, formerly Kompas) so synonymous with Bohinj’s rich tourism heritage should fall into the incompetent hands of Zmago Pacnik, who acquired them on the cheap but only succeeded in cheapening them yet further by presiding over their now terminal declines. Hotel Bohinj still remains a going concern but after years of featuring in UK Lakes and Mountains tour operator brochures under its current moniker and former appellation the Kompas, it is now overlooked by the likes of Crystal after one tale too many of the evening meals being bussed in that proved too much for even the most polite of British guests.
Competently operated tourism accommodation in the Bohinj inner core can be sourced but is often oversubscribed, not necessarily due to its exacting standards – although the Jezero, Gasperin and Kristal are extremely comfortable lodgings – but mainly due to the lack of options close to Lake Bohinj itself. A large range of private rooms and small pension-style accommodation is available but does in no way pick up the slack left behind by the Bellevue and Zlatorog, both of which relied upon annexes at peak times of the year. The Bellevue and Zlatorog have had all items of worth and attendant chattels ripped from their fittings, one presumes at the Zlat by Pacnik’s acolytes, a similar situation presumably perpetrated by Japec Jacopin, who purchased the Bellevue from Pacnik but somehow only succeeded in driving it yet further into the ground. When any organised looting of the two hotels had ceased the local petty thieves took up the cudgels and anything else that wasn’t nailed down, the local police managing to intervene before everything and the kitchen sink disappeared from the Bellevue.
Heavily laced with irony, the same Bellevue where from Agatha Christie deemed the whole Bohinj region too beautiful to base one of her murder mystery stories in now finds itself the scene of innumerable felonies committed by negligent owners and local plunderers. Even in these troubled modern times it is still almost impossible for me to believe that petty theft would occur in an area dominated by jaw-dropping vistas and friendly locals whose dedication to uphold the virtues and beauty of the region contrast sharply with the inconvenient truths of the wider situation. It seems incredible that the almighty Triglav National Park authorities are powerless to step in to rectify or erase this problem, instead being content to control the controllables by making the daily lives of many residents living within the TNP’s borders a miserable existence, one such example of locals being unable to mend their storm damaged properties until interminable layers of red-tape had been negotiated highlights the most obvious example of getting priorities wrong that you will ever come across. With Mr, Pacnik showing no desire to engage in dialogue with the TNP, the Bohinj tourism office or the Bohinj Municipality led by Mayor Franc Kramar, an apposite time has now surely been reached for Pacnik’s hand to be forced, either by the Zlatorog being placed on the market or slated for auction; alternatively, there should be legislation allowing for distressed assets to pass into the hands of the local authority, much in the same way the cableway and associated lift infrastructure reverted to public ownership in Bovec after a succession of auctions failed to raise sufficient interest in the ailing devices.
With no end to the current impasse the downward trend in day-tripper numbers and overnight stays at Lake Bohinj shows no sign of being staunched. As the aggregated ‘power’ of the local tourist authority, municipality and the TNP seem as toothless together as they are individually, only a swift and decisive intervention from central government can bring this unseemly mess to a satisfactory and expeditious conclusion.
Further reading on this matter can be viewed at:
Dnevnik: Zlatorog and Bellevue hotels all but destroyed (a subscription may be required to access this content).