It was a case of fourth time lucky for Bovec’s Kanin Hotel which, after a succession of failed Dutch auctions has finally found a new home amongst the Koper-based Alpe Adria Hotels chain, who number Ljubljana’s renowned Hotel Cubo as part of its portfolio.

With a unrealistic starting price of nearly €2.5 million the hammer eventually fell at an offer of €1.3 million, a figure that satisfied the Bankruptcy administrator tasked with liquidating the assets of HIT Bovec, the hotel’s former owner. The Russian owner of Alpe Adria hasn’t as of yet stated his intentions for the Kanin but interest in Bovec has inevitably been piqued by the prospect of winter-sports once again returning to the Slovenian side of Mount Kanin, potentially bringing to a close a dark period in the area’s history precipitated by several carriages of the cableway – that formerly served the country’s highest skiing area – crashing to earth, mercifully whilst empty. Dovetailing with news of Kanin’s sale is the rubber-stamping of the transfer of assets from the now defunct cableway operator ATC Kanin to the local municipality, effectively placing the destiny of the area’s future in the hands of local power-brokers. Once Heta Asset Resolution and HIT, the remaining creditors of ATC, had confirmed their legally-binding consent to the transfer of assets into public hands the €170,000 surety promised by the local authority to ‘acquire’ the assets for ‘free’ was automatically activated, ensuring the whole cableway device and mountain-top Prestreljenik restaurant are, for the time being, to be operated by Bovec’s local authority. It is anticipated a private-sector partner will eventually be sourced to assist in the running of the cableway and associated infrastructure but in the meantime, the prospect of skiing once more returning to Bovec remains purely theoretical due to the manifold issues relating to the cableway’s safety and the damage wreaked on the support structures after several harsh winters took their toll on the neglected, untended mountain lift. In the short-term Bovec may seek to create a state-run operating company to oversee at arms-length the administration of the cableway, inter alia.

Conjecture continues to circulate regarding the rumoured €3 million of state aid supposedly promised to Bovec’s Municipality should it actually get the deal over the line to formally assume control of the cableway and associated assets. It would certainly take all of this amount, and perhaps more besides, to bring Kanin’s eponymous ropeway back into fully operational use. With the chequered history now attached to the former cableway it is hard to imagine the requisite confidence being placed in the incumbent lift being renovated, therefore potentially creating a far more expensive problem for Bovec with a brand new mountain lift being the only viable option left available to it. All of a sudden €3 million seems like small change for such a project. The potential for other ailing Slovenian resorts to cry foul over what could be construed as illegal state aid biased towards one resort over other deserving cases could raise its head although, a fully functioning winter-sports scene in Bovec would surely be beneficial for the whole country and not just the local area, such was the prestige formerly attached to a resort almost unique in Slovenia for its snow-sure reputation and high-altitude skiing.

The story throughout the summer is set to run and run but in the meantime the relief in Bovec will be palpable, now that one of its most prominent hotels has found a new owner so experienced in the hospitality trade and who has shown great faith in this frontier town of northwestern Slovenia. The race though is on for the town to ready itself for the ski season if, the municipality can complete the necessary, albeit somewhat daunting, raft of work needed to bring Kanin’s mountain lift back to a fully functioning status that will need to win over those whose confidence in the cableway was understandably shaken after such a near-catastrophic accident three winters ago.

Further reading on this matter can be found at:

24ur: Hotel Kanin finally sells & Bovec Municipality assumes cableway control

Zurnal24: Hotel Kanin acquired by Russian owners of Ljubljana’s Cubo