STA, 8 March - Young Slovenian businessman Damian Merlak, who has made more than 100 million euro with last year's sale of Bitstamp, one of the world's largest crypto currency exchanges, has bought four run-down hotels in the Alpine valley of Bohinj, north-western Slovenia, for 8.4 million euro.
Merlak bought Zlatorog Hotel, Bohinj Hotel, Bohinj Apartment Hotel and Ski Hotel Vogel, at excellent locations near Lake Bohinj, from businessman Zmago Pačnik and his family, news portal Siol reported on Friday.
While it did not report how much Merlak paid for them, business newspaper Finance said the deal, involving the purchase of three firms managing the hotels, was worth 8.4 million euro.
Back in 2016, the Pačniks wanted to sell them for 15 million euro, putting the highest price tag of seven million euro on Zlatorog Hotel, which needs the most repairs.
Merlak told the STA he had bought the hotels to renovate and re-launch them. The ones being leased will continue to operate in the same way, while the rest will be managed by his team after renovation.
He also noted the 43-room Zlatorog Hotel, located above the lake and closed since 2011, would be the most demanding project.
It is not only in an extremely poor condition, having been stripped bare over the past few years, "but also unsuitable for 2019 in terms of design", he added.
The value of its renovation will depend on which of the variants architects are working on is chosen, but "I'd be very happy if Zlatorog is ready for use in two years' time".
Bohinj Hotel, situated by the lake, has 20 rooms and 34 suites. Bohinj Apartment Hotel with 27 self-catering units is said to be in a state similar to Zlatorog's.
The 28-room Ski Hotel Vogel is located some 50 metres from the ski slopes on Mount Vogel above the lake.
According to Siol, the hotels used to be managed by the Alpinum company, which the state sold cheap to the Pačnik family in 2002.
The Pačniks had been leasing them and invested practically nothing into them, so the Bohinj municipality had urged the state to take measures to save them from ruin.
For Merlak, the hotels are not his first investment in Bohinj. In 2016 he bought the Tuba self-catering units near the well-known Savica waterfall.
Even before that, he and his former Bitstamp partner Nejc Kodrič bought several farms with 1,300 cattle. He also bought a veterinary clinic.
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