A neglected Slovene landmark - The Palace Hotel - to open its doors again

Palace Hotel

An famous landmark in Slovenia, the Palace Hotel, is being restored after years of neglect. It was the largest hotel in the entire Austro-Hungarian Empire but eventually fell into ruin and has been closed since the days of Yugoslavia.

It's one of the most famous buildings in Slovenia that isn't there - at least not in working condition. The ruins of the old Palace Hotel have been sitting on the Adriatic Sea in Portoroz for more than a decade now, a mere shell of its former glory. Looking at the massive hulk, one would never suspect that in its heyday, the hotel was the largest in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and one of its most luxurious.

Now Istrabenz, a large food, energy and tourism company, has stepped in to renovate the hotel. Janez Jager, the marketing manager for LifeClass Hotels and Resorts, says the work is moving according to schedule:

"Rennovation is going on according to plan. We can proudly say that at the beginning of next year, the hotel will pamper the first guests that will come into Portoroz -its name in English is "Bay of Roses" - and it will be the first five-star deluxe hotel in Slovenia and also in this region of the northern Adriatic coast."

The hotel will boast 185 rooms, including suites, as well as an auditorium, library, gallery and a wellness center that draws on local products.

"The hotel will offer extraordinary gastronomy and special wellness service, with therapies built on local natural factors: like salts and muds from local salt pans and aqua madre - the special saltwater also from those saltpans from Secovlje."

The renovation costs were estimated at 37.5 million euros. The Slovenian government, eager to boost local tourism and also high-end tourism, also chipped in 4.17 million euros. And the European Union also got involved.

"We must be grateful also the European Union because they gave us part of the money for the new investment. And of course, it will bring benefits to the whole local community."

The Palace Hotel is set to open in spring 2008, around the time when Slovenia will be wrapping up its historic first run as president of the EU and, for many, it serves as a symbol of the country's return to glory. It will no longer be the largest hotel in the region, or even in Slovenia, but it will be the highest-ranked. And a national landmark will once again return to active duty in Slovenia.