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EXPERT REVIEW A luxury green spa hotel amid the Alps in Slovenia. Come here for hiking, skiing, eco spa-ing and use of the family-friendly water park

Eco


Overall eco rating


Located in Slovenia within the Bohinj Valley near the Julian Alps and Triglav National Park, the Bohinj Park was designed and built to be green and the clever energy systems are particularly worthy of praise – it’s maybe not a surprise that the hotel won the 2010 Slovenian Energy Manager of the year award but amazingly the energy manager in question is also the hotel owner!

It is probably fair to say the hotel building is the main reason why Bohinj Park Hotel Eco Resort and Spa achieved the highest rating from Green Globe in Europe and is rated as one of their greenest resorts worldwide.  The hotel's efforts in other areas such as social and ecological improvements, while commendable, could go further.

  • One of the best Green Globe ratings worldwide and has won numerous environmental and tourism awards
  • Difficult to dispute the hotels claim that ‘they used every current technology feasible for energy efficiency’
  • Green heating and cooling and electricity production
  • Majority of lighting is LED, well insulated and clever energy saving controls
  • Food waste given to animal feed or is turned into briquettes (man made logs burned as fuel) – it is a requirement in Slovenia for businesses serving >20 meals per day to have a food recycling policy!
  • Not in the Triglav Natural Park but donates to TNP research/conservation projects Regular exhibitions of wildlife photography/paintings by local artists
  • Tap water as standard and no bottled mineral water (mineral water is served by the glass only)
  • 84% of employees drawn from local area, family business and have good training/staff development to retain and improve employees

  • The hotel could do more with flora on their site - foreign species are removed and local plants are used but planting is lacking in imagination
  • Ventilation systems are slightly noisier than one might expect

People

The hotel is independent and has a family feel.  Being in the EU, employment and anti-discrimination law is pretty good – indeed, Slovenia has some of the more forward thinking anti-discrimination laws in Europe.

  • Has won numerous environmental and tourism awards including for innovation in tourism (e.g. ‘slow tourism’ and for their sustainable events),
  • Strong outreach programme to promote green behaviour working with schools and others
  • 84% of employees drawn from local area, family business and have good training/staff development to retain and improve employees
  • Excellent range of outdoor activities from skiing to ornithology and free access to pool and gym mean you will probably have an active stay
  • Local and fair-trade food with veggie and diet options in restaurants

Animals & nature

The Bohinj Park Hotel does a reasonable amount to support ecology and conservation in the nearby National Park.  On the hotel’s grounds, the hotel takes steps to manage plant species and the hotel is good with sourcing food and minimising use of products harmful to the environment or tested on animals.

PETA assessment of cruelty free credentials of cleaning products and toiletries to come.

  • Not quite in the Triglav Natural Park but donates to TNP research/conservation projects
  • Regular exhibitions of wildlife photography/paintings by local artists
  • Provide free accommodation as part of the annual Green Weekend in Bohinj where park clean up and educational workshops are organised
  • Green Globe certification keeps them on their toes re: choice of cleaning and beauty products
  • Reduced chemical use - no dry cleaning (unless requested by guests), use biological/biodegradable detergents and strive to ensure 100% of products are not animal tested
  • Local and fair-trade food

  • While the hotel removes foreign harmful plant species and promotes local varieties on their own site, the planting is not yet very well established and could be more imaginitive

Environment & buildings

The owner of the Bohinj Park Eco Hotel won an award as Slovenia’s energy efficiency manager of the year in 2010 and he and his son, the hotel’s director, were closely involved in the design and construction of the hotel in 2009.

  • Difficult to dispute the hotels claim that ‘they used every current technology feasible for energy efficiency’
  • Use of cogeneration (aka CHP) provides 240kW of electricity and reduces fuel consumption by ~30% compared to conventional energy systems
  • Open loop ground source heat pump provides heating from 430m deep borehole – once the useful heat has been extracted from the groundwater, it is used to flush toilets
  • In summer, the open loop groundwater is used to provide cooling to the building
  • Separate heat pumps also extract heat from waste hot water (e.g. 100kW from showers and laundry) and from the IT server room
  • Majority of lighting is LED
  • Use of natural insulation products – glazing has U-value of 0.9W/m2/K
  • Sensors in windows shut down AC if windows left open
  • Has a food recycling policy - food waste given to animal feed or is turned into briquettes (man made logs burned as fuel)
  • All other waste is sorted by staff from general waste
  • Natural, prevalent local materials used in construction and good use of recycled products (lobby sofas are made from old bottle tops)
  • Electric vehicle charging point

  • The hotel is in a very peaceful location which makes the slightly noisy ventilation system more evident

Reviewed by

Tim Starley-Grainger


Luxury


Overall luxury rating*


Sleek and chic, this is one of Slovenia's most stylish hotels - and one of Europe's greenest. Its five-star business style is somewhat incongruous amid the back-to-nature mountain scenery, yet it works, keeping everyone from young families to business conferences happy. Skiing, hiking, spa-ing and pretty Lake Bohinj draw the crowds in all seasons.

The scene

A beautiful country cushioned between Croatia, Italy and Austria, mountainous Slovenia is a little-explored stunner. The Alps that surround the Bohinj Park Hotel Eco Resort & Spa are gorgeous, but less vertiginous than those over the border in Austria - which makes them imminently more do-able for those of us who just want a few hours of easy, scenic hiking or skiing, rather than hard-core trekking.

Bohinj Park Hotel is in an idyllic position on the edge of the Triglav National Park and Julian Alps, tucked up in northwest Slovenia, an hour from Ljubljana, and about 90 minutes from Italy and Austria. On the edge of the small village of Bohinj, which is surrounded by The Alps’ southernmost range, all that mountain scenery is just outside the hotel.

In summer, you can walk, kayak in Slovenia's largest lake, cycle (go around the lake to avoid killer hills) and golf in the mountains.

In winter, the ski slopes of Vogel are on your doorstep, 20 minutes by the frequent hotel transfer service. Vogel is great for intermediates and good for beginners, but black runs are minimal, so experts shouldn't expect to push themselves here. There are enough well-groomed slopes - with decent lift systems (minimal drags) - to keep most skiers, especially learning beginners, happy for a few days, but if you're staying for a week, you'll want to explore the region's other delights, such as the lakes, the waterfalls and the pretty neaby village of Bled.

Guests are a mix of business people here for conferences, and families and couples from Slovenia, Croatia, Italy and Austria. If a conference is happening, dinner can feel a bit business-like, but there is a sneaky side bit to the restaurant that has an air of intimacy away from the crowd.

  • Decent skiing December to April at Vogel, just 20 minutes, door to door (by hotel minibus).
  • Surrounded by forests and the mountains of the Julian Alps.
  • Five minutes to picture-postcard Lake Bohinj, the largest natural lake in Slovenia, and half an hour from Lake Bled with its famous castle.
  • A short drive (90 minutes) from Italy and Austria.
  • Bears roam these hills! Scout out pretty, gentle brown bears in summer.
  • Businesses love this hotel for its ability to blend conference essentials with back-to-nature fun - and its easy access from airports in Slovenia, Italy and Austria.
  • Families love this hotel for its facilities as well as its setting. The kids will adore it.

  • The ski resort, Vogel, isn't ideal for experts. Great for intermediates and good for beginners - but only for a few days.
  • When a conference is on, dinner can feel more business than pleasure, with dozens of suits crowding around the buffet. Sneak off to the hidden part of the restaurant around the corner to reclaim that holiday vibe.

The style

Angular, sleek and streamlined, the 102-room hotel style feels more suited to a city centre than a mountain setting. What's here is quality stuff, from the comfortable beds to the big flat-screen TVs - and the bathrooms are a cut above, with their black-stone counters and wood floors adding real flair. It has everything you need, and plenty of room to spread out, but overall, the design lacks personality. The end result brings to mind some of the famous high-end chain hotels rather than an independent (which it is) mountain hotel. Those looking for luxury and space should book the suites, which are pretty reasonably priced, especially for the amount of space you get.

  • Lobby with stacked-stone walls and columns
  • Wood floors and ceilings in much of the hotel
  • Top-floor wellness centre has views of the surrounding mountains (but you'll get access to this only by booking a spa treatment)
  • Italian-style wet room bathrooms with beautiful black-stone tiles
  • For southeastern Europe, this is one of the more stylish hotel choices

  • Furniture looks like it’s straight out of the Habitat catalogue
  • Feels a bit business bland

The facilities

A family friendly Aquapark, adult's-only spa and five-lane bowling alley mean you can easily lounge around here all day without getting bored. The huge amorphous pool in the Aquapark has an over-water climbing wall, whirlpool, caves, waterfalls and a lazy river - but don't expect intimacy. Kids love it - and the two winding-tunnel water slides a few steps away. Babies and toddlers get their own pool - and all share the open-air outdoor pool, which is overlooked by the mountains.

Couples and singles can reclaim serenity in the top-floor adult's-only spa, which has several saunas, steam room, jacuzzi and loungers. Book a treatment, and there's yet another spa at your disposal, which has a little plunge pool - with fantastic views over the mountains - and a swish steam room and sauna.

The five-lane bowling alley is professional standard, but has to be booked in advance, so don't just plan on rocking up.

The restaurant is a mixed bag. Choose the buffet for its dirt-cheap prices and mediocre food, or opt for the a la carte menu for genuinely excellent, creative cuisine - a mix of Italian, Austrian and Slovenian - at reasonable prices. The difference in quality between the buffet and a la carte is very wide, so our advice is to skip the half-board option, which includes the buffet only, and go B&B so you can dine from the menu. You'll find plenty of options from the buffet, unless you're vegetarian, in which case there's usually one, at most, usually cheesy, so vegans should let the hotel know in advance, and they'll arrange something special. But from the a la carte, our spinach soup was rich, creamy and delectable, while the main course of griddled vegetables, halloumi and polenta main was divine.

  • Guests have free access to the adjacent Aquapark (accessed by a short underground walkway), with huge amorphous swimming pool, a pool for children, whirlpool, two water-toboggan slides, two little caves, a climbing wall over the water, a terrace for sunbathing in summer, three saunas – Finnish, Turkish, infrared, and a small gym. Be aware, however, that this is occasionally booked out by groups, so check before booking if this is key for your visit. And it's hugely popular, so usually very busy.
  • In summer, the outdoor pool is a great spot for sunbathing with views up to the mountains - and for laps in the pool.
  • Sneak off to the Aquapark's top floor adult's-only spa for its whirlpool, saunas, steam room and tranquil relaxation area.
  • Book a massage or facial to gain access to the exclusive wellness area on the top floor of the hotel, with its mountain-view plunge pool, sauna and steam room.
  • Five-lane bowling alley - more fun if you can get in there with a group rather than just the two of you.
  • The restaurant's a la carte dinner menu is excellent.

  • Conferences and groups can book out the bowling alley and Aquapark, so while they’re free to hotel guests, they aren’t always available.
  • The restaurant's dinner buffet is bland.

We love

  • Being surrounded by the Julian Alps
  • Decent, affordable skiing nearby
  • Walks in the mountains - and you might spot gentle brown bears!
  • Watersports on Lake Bohinj
  • Spacious rooms with quality facilities
  • Free access to the adjacent and extensive Aquapark

You might not love

  • It’s popular for business conferences - so it's not ideal for honeymooners or romantic escapes
  • The Aquapark is adored by kids, so expect squeals (sneak off to the top-floor adult's-only spa for tranquillity)
  • The somewhat bland, albeit comfortable and modern, design

Reviewed by

Jill Starley-Grainger


Bohinj Park Hotel Eco Resort & Spa

Bohinj Park ECO Hotel, Triglavska cesta 17, SI-4264 Bohinjska Bistrica

Slovenia
+386 8 200 41 40

Standard room rates from €189

Eco

Luxury*

"The scenic setting, the helpful staff and the combination of stylish modernity, comfort and a strong commitment to eco principles. This five-star hotel, open since 2009, has its own deep-water well, an energy-efficient power generator and an impressively low level of CO2 emissions" Daily Telegraph

WINNER: Best-value Non-UK Spa: "In Slovenia’s Julian Alps, the Bohinj Park Hotel Aquapark has ‘water-tunnel slides, swim-into caves and a whirlpool’, topped off with a ‘secret adults-only sanctuary with steam rooms’." The Sunday Times Travel Magazine