News of the assets belonging to the Slovenian tourist group Sava Hotels and Resorts being appropriated by the state has given Bohinj Mayor Franc Kramar a glimmer of hope that such an unprecedented move regarding a large portfolio of guest accommodation could be replicated, potentially bringing to an end the deepening problems affecting the Zlatorog and Bellevue, now joined by Bohinj’s eponymous Ribcev Laz-based hotel which recently placed itself into bankruptcy proceedings in the Kranj District Court.
Whilst the case of Sava and the Zmago Pacnik-owned portfolio of Bohinj tourist properties differ somewhat, what would amount to as state confiscation of the ailing Zlatorog, Bellevue and Hotel Bohinj is now seen as one of the very few viable options open to a region so heavily reliant on overnight guests. Indeed, to have two such conspicuously decaying hotels in the Triglav National Park should be labelled a national scandal, not just a local tragedy. It is hard to imagine such an scenario occurring in England’s Lake District AONB or the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland but of course, comparisons are odious and hotels in prime, picturesque areas have been known to be left to rot, Seefeld’s Schneeweiss being one such example. After Zmago Pacnik acquired many of the jewels in Bohinj’s hotel crown the fortunes of the equally famous Bellevue and Ukanc-based Zlatorog have sharply declined, both properties materially deteriorating whilst standards and levels of patronage inevitably followed suit. An obvious lack of inward and group investment saw money siphoned away from the hotels, never for it to to be diverted back to where it was first generated. The eventual closure of both the Bellevue and Zlatorog has hit the area hard, not only aesthetically but in the sharp reduction in bed space in the immediate area around Lake Bohinj itself. The commensurate dent to the local area’s identity also cannot be underestimated.
Having taken on the debts of Slovenia’s ‘bad banks’, the state-owned restructuring vehicle Bank Asset Management Company(DUTB) appropriated over 99% of Sava’s shares, enabling it to, in its own words, more effectively manage a large portfolio of properties thus in theory increasing their resale value, for the betterment of the Slovenian state and taxpayers. Whilst a significant chunk of Sava’s business involves many of Lake Bled’s high-profile hotels, a total of 41 properties including several spa facilities are now operated under DUTB’s stewardship. Bohinj’s problems are though different and whilst the issues involving Sava and Pacnik are not directly comparable, Kramar rightly hopes that a long overdue state intervention can be explored and undertaken, even if a change of legislation regarding derelict, abandoned properties, especially those within a national park, has to be written into the statutes.