Bohinj’s most wanted man this week finally fronted up to the area’s municipal council to explain his plans, if any, to bring the portfolio of holiday accommodation under his ownership back into serviceable use and arrest the shameful decay that has sadly seen, in particular, hotels Zlatorog and Bellevue degenerate to a point where demolition has become the most likely course of action rather than the unthinkable last resort it once was.

The man in question is Zmago Pacnik, who, through his Alpinum and Dunis ‘investment’ vehicles acquired in 2003 the vast majority of Bohinj’s most prominent hotel stock, the aforementioned Bellevue and Zlatorog at the time viewed alongside the Ribcev Laz-based lakeside Hotel Jezero as the area’s most prestigious and notable tourist accommodation. The Bellevue for a long time dined out on the notoriety attached to housing a by then elderly Agatha Christie, who stated the area was far too beautiful to be the location of one of her murder mysteries. Replete with irony, the hotel is now in such a shocking state of neglect that it wouldn’t look out of place in a horror film synonymous with a prolonged, painful death. Located in the tranquil hamlet of Ukanc, the Zlatorog’s fall from grace is if anything more spectacular still. Once famous for entertaining heads of state and the well-heeled seeking a lakeside retreat far from the madding crowds, the hotel now resembles a post-earthquake scene, the roof above its swimming pool having long since descended into the water it was tasked with protecting. Also forming part of Pacnik’s hegemonic grip on the Bohinj region are the Hostel Pod Voglom, Hotel Bohinj(formerly Kompas) and Ski Hotel Vogel, situated adjacent to the eponymous cable-car at its Rjava Skala top station. Very few hotels throughout the Alps polarizes opinions as the Ski Hotel, at first glances a depressing nod to 70’s Brutalist architecture only matched(or surpassed) down the road at Lake Bled. It is perhaps though the infamy surrounding the Ski Hotel that has gained it such a cult following, many visitors from throughout the former Yugoslavia making winter pilgrimages to reminisce over days they regard as halcyon, a Tito-dominated era that not only also polarized opinion but where hagiographic revisionism remains to this day all the rage.

Where the Zlatorog and Bellevue have been incredibly unfortunate that their previous prominence has been exaggerated by the sheer scale of deterioration effecting both properties, other establishments have been less unfortunate(rather than more fortunate) that they have at least found tenants to operate them, albeit with varying degrees of success. The Ski Hotel Vogel, that at one point looked as if it was the forerunner to the festering state now afflicting both the Bellevue and Zlatorog, has turned around its fortunes under the knowledgeable and sympathetic guidance of Aco Trampuz and Milan Taslidza, who proclaim satisfaction with occupancy rates that the comparatively oppulent Bohinjska Bistrica-based Bohinj Eco Park Hotel would happily settle for. Hostel Pod Voglom is equally well-regarded under tenanted management and is generally trusted as ideal budget accommodation, advantageously situated set-back on the lakeside road connecting Ribcev Laz with Ukanc. Falling somewhere in between the apocalyptic conditions of the Bellevue and Zlatorog and the competently operated Pod Voglom and Ski sits Hotel Bohinj, remembered by many as the former Hotel Kompas which provided cheap but cheerful accommodation and whose slightly elevated position gave it a sense of seclusion, despite being but a stones throw from Ribcev Laz’s commercial epicenter. In spite of a cosmetic makeover that initially seemed to bring the dated Kompas into the 21st century under its contemporary Bohinj guise, reports of mismanagement and meals bussed in on a daily basis have created negative headlines more in keeping with Pacnik’s faltering empire. Having long since been dropped by British Lakes and Mountains tour operators, the future of Hotel Bohinj increasingly seems to be in doubt but whilst its doors appear to be still open, the viability of the hotel as a going concern is anything but assured.

I prefaced this blog post by suggesting Pacnik was a “wanted man”. Clarification is obviously required to affirm that he has not committed any proven or suggested crimes and voluntarily appeared before Bohinj’s ruling municipal council. Pacnik has though stonewalled many previous requests to enter into dialogue on the issues now at hand, his remoteness only fanning the flames of anger felt throughout the region as previously revered hotels disintegrated before the eyes of Bohinj’s local residents. Protestations claiming his initial 2003 investment was intended only as a precursor to further speculators joining the party will fail to hold much water with local councillors who’ve long since tired of Pacnik’s excuses; a more than adequate length of time has since elapsed when the hotels could’ve have been placed on the market once it was glaringly obvious that additional investment wasn’t going to be forthcoming. It is therefore with the past in mind that Pacnik’s claim of having sourced investment from German and American pension funds, in collaboration with Swiss and German banks, will be greeted with large doses of scepticism. A reluctance to divulge further details and provenance of would-be venture capitalists will only serve to put pressure on Pacnik to put up or shut up, the time for procrastination having long since passed. When declaring that it could take a further ten year period for positive, tangible change to be evinced, Pacnik wasn’t prepared for the council’s response. After denying that it is municipal responsibility to attract investment for privately held assets, the council initially offered a conciliatory olive branch confirming their desire to work in cooperation with financial backers but only once binding statements of intent have been lodged. Until such a scenario becomes reality, Pacnik’s bold statements pointing to a brighter future will remain purely hypothetical.

The real boot to Pacnik’s backside came though in the form of Bohinj’s Council quite correctly stating that a further ten year wait is entirely unacceptable, surely something the negligent owner could have presaged. Without letters of intent that firm up a commitment that for now only amount to unsubstantiated hearsay, the Municipality will seek to turn up the heat by incorporating into their much anticipated Spatial Plan slated for autumn publication plans to reduce the size of the Ukanc-based and Pacnik-owned Camp Zlatorog and, reclassify land in nearby Stara Fuzina earmarked by Pacnik for the construction of a hotel back to an agricultural designation, in effect forcing the landowner to sell the proposed development site located in a township dominated by its agrarian economy. In a clear move designed to force Pacnik’s hand, a fascinating period will now unfold which could see the realization of the rumoured overseas investment or, that ultimately groundless claims were nothing more than stalling tactics designed to imply an intention to act that in the final analysis were nothing other than spurious. Whilst there is a risk of the ultimatum given to Pacnik by Bohinj’s municipality effectively denying the area much needed financial stimulus, the time that has elapsed since his original investment has been more than long enough for an owner-led solution to be found. It hasn’t been and a vague precis pertaining to theoretical investors isn’t enough to buy Pacnik any further time. Patience has now run out, and rightly so.

Further reading on this matter can be viewed at:

Delo: negligent Bohinj hotel-owner taken to task by local council

Vecer: Pacnik backed into a corner by Bohinj Council