The nightmare scenario of Lake Bohinj being book-ended by two of its foremost hotels permanently closed to the public has thankfully receded, with news that the fire-damaged Jezero is slated to expeditiously reopen for the important May Day holiday period.
Whilst the derelict Ukanc-based Zlatorog continues to materially deteriorate without any sign of remediation or compromise from its absentee owner, Zmago Pacnik, the Jezero is making great strides to consign the early-January conflagration that destroyed many upper-floor bedrooms to history. A package of measures designed to restore the hotel to its previous condition have already been given a timescale, culminating in what is hoped to be a total reopening prior to the hotel’s busiest three month period of the year. Although fire damage was restricted to the building’s higher reaches, appalling weather conditions hampered the efforts of over 100 salaried and volunteer firefighters, all of whom battled high-winds and freezing temperatures. The lower part of the Jezero escaped from the blaze, although collateral damage caused by water used to douse the flames was an inevitable consequence of a fault that appears to have been traced to a ventilation and air-conditioning system.
The Zlatorog, and indeed the Hotel Bellevue, once a favourite with Agatha Christie, will sadly still reflect the unacceptable face of capitalism and inertia amongst the authorities tasked with overseeing the Triglav National Park – in which most of the immediate area in and around Lake Bohinj resides – long after the builders have left the Jezero. There are few comparisons to be made between the Ribcev Laz-based lakeside hotel and its ailing counterparts, although their symbolic positions in the lexicon of Bohinj tourism have been somewhat repositioned by the varying contributing factors that have poleaxed the former ‘big three’. The Jezero will soon rise from the ashes but the futures of both the Bellevue and Zlatorog continue to be unclear. Rumoured to be on the market at unrealistic values, it is difficult to see how their respective fortunes will positively change without state or regional intervention. For the moment, this seems as far away as ever.
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