Bohinj’s Ribcev Laz-based Hotel Jezero has been devastated by a fire that tore through its roof, dealing the local tourist industry a further blow it can ill afford.

Regarded by many as the premium hotel still in operation in the Triglav National Park’s inner core, the Jezero did not just simply trade on its incomparable location next to Lake Bohinj but complemented its situation with high standards and a thoroughly professional operation. Translated as the Hotel Lake, the Jezero came to represent more than just a longstanding and respected accommodation provider; its synonymous status almost saw it regarded as much part and parcel with Ribcev Laz as the lake itself. In times of great uncertainty and much acrimony within the local tourist trade, the Jezero had come to represent one of the final bastions of yesteryear whilst remaining relevant and despite a style of architecture not necessarily to everyone’s taste, its exterior aesthetics nevertheless seem to seamlessly dovetail with such dramatic surroundings.

Having lost former accommodation mainstays to varying states of dereliction, what is hoped will only be a temporary closure of the Jezero will be keenly felt by most stakeholders in the local tourism sector. With hotels Zlatorog and Bellevue out of commission, up for sale, but resembling little but decaying shells of their former selves, the Jezero played an important role in filling part of the void left by two of the area’s ‘big three’.  Whilst there are other hotels within a few minutes’ walk from the Jezero – Rozic, Gasperin, Kristal, Center – the future of the eponymous Bohinj, formerly known to many during better days as the Kompas and diagonally across from the Jezero is mired in uncertainty due to it being part of Zmago Pacnik’s portfolio of ‘for sale’ tourist properties. Unlike the Zlatorog, and Japec Jakopin’s Bellevue, the Bohinj is still functioning as a going concern but severe online criticism of its standards of service and pictorial proof of its slowly decaying state ensures the Bohinj appears to be the next Zlatorog and Bellevue in the making. Although the construction of additional hotels in Lake Bohinj’s immediate vicinity is all but outlawed by the Triglav National Park authority’s strict control of the area, it is hoped the process of renewing the Jezero will be dealt with expeditiously to reflect its local importance and almost emblematic status. It can otherwise take years for the simplest of dwelling in the national park to receive permission for even minor repairs – a timescale that neither the Jezero or Bohinj region as a whole can afford.

Elsewhere in the region but outside of the Triglav National Park boundary, the ultra-modern Bohinj Eco Park Hotel just six kilometres from Lake Bohinj will perhaps step into the breach during the Jezero’s hour of need. The Bohinjska Bistrica-based hotel is though also hamstrung by significant problems, including three million euros of negative equity. Although its ownership is complicated and labyrinthine, its de facto figurehead, Bostjan Cokl, has seemingly thrown everything he had at his Bohinj 2864 ski resort project, a concept designed to provide the area with a modern winter-sports facility and year-round cableway. A succession of complications arising from land ownership disputes (including one with the Ljubljana Archdiocese) and environmental concerns saw costs escalate with no end product. Cokl still hopes to realize his dream but the cleft stick he finds himself in could mean he cannot afford the Bohinj 2864 scheme to become reality, nor for it to not.

It would be too much of a blow for the Eco Park Hotel to cease trading and whilst liabilities exceed its book value, a scenario of it being closed down by creditors would be damaging to the area and wholly unnecessary, at least while it remains popular with guests. The Jezero’s loss will be the gain of the modest pool of hotel providers in the Bohinj area, although they have already been understandably unable to bridge the considerable gap left by the Zlatorog and Bellevue. Sadly for the area the main beneficiary could be neighbouring Lake Bled and its panoply of lakeside accommodation and whilst Bohinj will still field large amounts of day trippers, the cerulean gem in Slovenia’s alpine crown will inevitably be mortally affected by the indeterminate loss of its three foremost hotels. For two negligent, absentee owners to seemingly hold the area to ransom is one thing but a conflagration that not only cut a swathe through the Jezero but also the heart of the local tourist industry seems like a defining insult to an already malicious injury. It is the duty of all those who care for and have a vested interest in the area to help ensure not only the Hotel Jezero but also the Zlatorog and Bellevue rise from the ashes; whilst the area’s unique ecological sensibilities must continue to be treated as the overriding factor in all future decision-making, their current status are more akin to a slon in the room and only serve to hinder the sympathetic but much needed overhaul of Bohinj’s tourist industry, in what is seen by some to represent a microcosm of the countrywide picture.

Source material courtesy of:

Radio Television Slovenia News in English – https://www.rtvslo.si/news-in-english/hotel-jezero-fire-put-out-damage-estimated-at-millions/411779

Gorenjski Glas – http://www.gorenjskiglas.si/article/20170106/C/170109885/1036/zagorel-hotel-jezero-

siol.net – various articles from 5th & 6th January 2016

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