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Hotel Bernardin
The local business community wants the Bernardin Hotels to remain in Slovenian hands to prevent the resort from being sold in parts. Foto: BoBo

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Bernardin Hotels have survived four decades. But what now?

In need of a good strategic owner
10. January 2017 ob 21:05
Portorož - MMC RTV SLO

A ceremony in Portorož marked the 40th anniversary of the Bernardin Hotels company. Next to a church just outside Piran, a full-scale tourist resort was built in 1976. It was the biggest in what was then Yugoslavia.

Bernardin Hotels remain an important tourism player and one of the biggest conference centers in this part of Europe.

Bernardin Hotels are important to Slovenian tourism – not least because of their venerable tradition. They also have considerable potential, accumulated knowledge, and despite everything, they are a reputable brand. The resort consists of 1600 rooms in six hotels in three locations -- Portorož, Strunjan and Izola.

That’s why the fate of the resort is so important. The Chairman of the Board Andrej Prebil talked to a large number of attendees about his vision of the resort’s future. Prime Minister Miro Cerar excused himself from the event at the last moment, but Economic Minister Zdravko Počivalšek did attend.

What is the future of the hotel?
The public was naturally interested in the future of the hotel. The majority shareholder, NFD, which belongs to Stane Valant, has gone bankrupt, and the fate of his entire business empire remains uncertain – including that of Bernardin Hotels. With a better, strategically minded owner, who wouldn’t impose barriers to its success, the resort could remain a source of pride for everyone involved.

Forty years ago, the construction of the resort represented one of the largest tourism investments in what was then Yugoslavia. Bernardin Hotels were a huge story that had a touch of secrecy from the very beginning. The Emona corporation received a 10 million-dollar loan for the construction of the resort. People speculated whether the resort was being built by Americans and why. But the state needed foreign currency and hoped that the resort would be visited by troops from the nearby NATO base at Aviano, Italy.

But nothing – or at least very little – came of that, and the resort’s financial problems began almost immediately. The loan had to be paid back – in foreign currency. These financial difficulties continue to this day. The local business community wants the resort to remain in Slovenian hands so that it’s not sold off in parts, and that the ambitious project from the 1970s could live on.

A 1.7 million-euro profit last year
Bernardin Hotels have a successful year behind them; they have surpassed all business indicators. In 2016, the company realized revenues of 27.54 million euros, which is three percent more than planned and seven percent more than in the previous year. The company also saw an increase in the number of overnight stays and a profit of 1.7 million euros. At the same time, it is predicting an imminent agreement with creditor banks about reprogramming its debts, which will unblock investments.

In 2017 and 2018, Bernardin Hotels expect increased investment in the infrastructure of the resort. They plan a renovation of rooms at the Grand Hotel Bernardin and the Histrion Hotel, and a renovation of the Laguna Bernardin complex of swimming pools. Most of the renovations will be carried out when the hotels are at low capacity, which will reduce the negative impact on revenues. Despite this, they plan to surpass last year’s number of overnight stays as well as revenues.

T. H., Elen Batista Štader/TV Slovenija; Translated by J. B.

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