MEETINGS WITH CHARACTER

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Meet the team Meet busters

10 myths that you didn’ t dare to ask

TOP

QUALITY

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ORGANISATION

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HOSPITALITY

Bled for meetings and events

Iconic meetings with character

Green for tomorrow

Green Ideas by Sava Hotels & Resorts


MEETINGS WITH CHARACTER Lifestyle Magazine Issue 1 / 2015 Sava Turizem d.d. Dunajska 152, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenija Publisher Toleranca marketing d.o.o. Štihova 4, SI-1000 T: +386 (0)1 430 51 03 F: +386 (0)1 430 51 04 E: gorazd.cad@toleranca.eu Director / Gorazd Čad Meetings with character Editors Board Saša Zor, Elvira Krupič, Mateja Legat, Špela Horvat, Špela Pipan, Janette Poglajen, Gorazd Čad, Polona Simšič Project and marketing manager Gorazd Čad T: +386 (0)1 430 51 03 E: gorazd.cad@toleranca.eu Design MediaIn

44 halls in 4 Slovenian cities

Contributors Polona Simšič, Natalija Bah Čad

Over 5,586 sq.m of meeting space

Photographs Max Sušnik Archive Sava Hotels & Resorts, Archive Spirit Slovenia

More than 1,300 hotel rooms

Copyediting Robert Cotter The magazine is not for sale Cover Peter Irman

3 attractive Slovenian MICE regions 14 hotels of 3, 4 and 5***** categories 6 apartment villages


LET’S MEET WITH CHARACTER Saša ZOR, Director of Sales - MICE Bled – healthy, fit, active and environmentally friendly;

Ptuj – lively, energetic, fun and hedonistic;

It is Monday morning and I’m driving from Ljubljana to Bled, our main MICE destination, with a huge smile on my face. Before I head to the office, I stop at the Hotel Golf and take a moment to admire the view over Bled Castle and Lake Bled. The early morning mists are rising from the lake, giving it an enchanting, mystical appearance.

Full of impressions, new business ties and pride in our refreshingly original services and the professionalism of my MICE sales team, I return home to Ljubljana later in the afternoon. Having driven for just 30 minutes, I leave the green paradise behind and reach the small yet cosmopolitan capital. Tomorrow, an entirely different experience awaits – I will be going to Ptuj, where we are hosting a small corporate event that will wrap up its formal part with an indulgent dinner in the spirit of Ancient Rome. The event organiser’s aims are that as well as acquiring new knowledge, the participants will also develop closer bonds as a team and get to know each other better. In the evening, they will be greeted in the lobby by Marcus Antonius Primus himself; an Oriental dancer will welcome them with a performance, while a Roman slave will offer libum, the bread of the gods. The guests will all wear togas and enjoy the traditional Roman dishes at the Pool of Vespasianus... As tomorrow will be a new working day, breakfast will be served outside, at the Pinwheel of Health, where the guests will be guided through a set of breathing exercises by an experienced Qigong master. Ptuj is truly a town of superlatives with a unique, relaxed energy, enhanced by the temperament of the locals.

I take a few deep breaths and think once again of how privileged we are to be working in this Alpine gem. To make sure it remains in this pristine condition, Sava Hoteli Bled has launched “Green for Tomorrow”, a brand that stands for environmentally friendly initiatives and represents our way of doing business – in connection with the local environment and the local community. As I was absorbing the magic of Bled, my colleagues from the F&B department were preparing the morning coffee break, where 100 attendees of an international association event would be served green smoothies, homemade granola, spelt biscuits and cereal coffee to give them a maximum concentration boost. The hotel director was signing the last few welcome letters that the housekeeper would place in each room along with chocolate bells and the legend of the sunken bell of Bled. Meanwhile, the responsible MICE manager was getting ready to greet a client. Together they will sow seeds in a small clay pot; these seeds will grow into herbs, symbolising our relationship that will at the same time grow and develop. And with all of this Bled will host another event – and another success story. There are over 300 of them every year, each representing a set of promises and expectations that have been far exceeded. There is a range of venues to choose from – the referee tower by the lake, the lido at Grand Hotel Toplice, the terrace outside the hall or the lake’s beach. Dinner can take the form of a banquet with the same menu that was served to the royal family, or it can be served on market stands under the “Taste Bled” brand, which brings together local culinary providers.

Prekmurje – in the spirit of tradition, hospitality and genuine warmth. Not far away, less than two hours from Ljubljana, the Sava Group has another two MICE destinations with a strong Prekmurje character. In Moravske Toplice and Radenci, time seems to stand still and storks still build their nests by the roadside. “Where are you rushing to? Why don’t you sit down first for a cup of coffee and a slice of Prekmurje layer cake?” our receptionist asks me in the charming local dialect when I come to the Hotel Livada Prestige. In Radenci, the rumours are flying high: at the

end of the year, the entire management team will hold a musical again for the hotel guests. Is there anything more precious they could give than their own time? Prekmurje is the home of truly special people; it is a place where every guest is welcomed like an old friend. Here, we endeavour to use our varied range of hotel services with a local twist to preserve and enhance the charm of the destination.

“I share something in common with each of these characteristics and these three destinations, so different and so unique, have found their way into my heart. Together with my colleagues – the best team there is – we warmly recommend them to our clients.”

LET’S MEET WITH CHARACTER | EDITORIAL

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RICH TRADITION AND REFERENCES

44 halls in 4 Slovenian cities

2015 Over 900 meetings organized every year in Sava Hotels & Resorts

PERFECT FOR WORK AND RELAXATION

A complete package of hotel, conference, wellness and other services

72 indoor and outdoor swimming pools 28-38 C

Thermal water temperature from 22 to 38 °C

Over 50 team-building and incentive ideas

Fresh

Fresh thinking with perfect combination of highly experienced personnel and young colleagues

A TEAM TO REMEMBER 8 MICE experts covering all Slovenia 8 languages spoken

Sava Hotels & Resorts holds several annual events, like the Bled Strategic Forum

ABOUT SAVA HOTELS & RESORTS

Events have been held in Bled since 1894

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

1894

ALL YOU NEED UNDER ONE ROOF

More than 1,800 hotel rooms

Over 5,586 sq.m of meeting space 3 attractive Slovenian MICE regions

GREEN EVENTS 30%

decrease of organic trash in Sava Hotels Bled in 2014 in comparison to 2013

2 tons

of local ingredients used in catering within Sava Hotels Bled per year

4.000 l

of tap water served at meetings within within Sava Hotels Bled per year

30%

of meeting organizers implemented some of the suggested “green” practices into their events

300

herbal plants that were planted by Sava guests and partners

1st

carbon footprint analysis was made in Slovenia

1 golf course

6 thermal and spa resorts

14 hotels of 3, 4 and 5***** categories

EVEN GREATER CHOICE

4 wellness centres

5 camps

6 apartment villages


MEETINGS WITH CHARACTERS

Foto Bled LTO

Modernity & Diversity in harmony with nature

A combination of business and social life with a Roman twist

BLED

PTUJ

Where genuine Prekmurje hospitality meets profesionalism to perfection

Moravske Toplice Ptuj Bled

MORAVSKE TOPLICE

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WHAT’S NEW in Sava Hotels & Resorts 2015

Air Traffic Controllers Hockey Tournament

No two visits to Slovenia are the same, as it is a destination that is constantly evolving. To help keep you up to speed, here are some of the latest things happening.

The Election Congress of European Athletics

From 8th – 14th April, 2015, Bled hosted the International Air Traffic Controllers Hockey Tournament, attracting approximately 300 players and supporters hailing from all over Canada, the U.S., Russia and Europe and making it quite an event.

International Working Group on the Diabetic Foot

Bled hosted one of the main international sports gatherings on Slovenian soil in 2015. From 9th – 12th April, 2015, the Election Congress of European Athletics (EA) brought together more than 50 countries’ delegations and in total more than 250 of the most prominent representatives of European and World Athletics.

The 12th Slovenian Conference on Plant Protection

The ‘Train the Foot Trainer’ programme was initiated and is organised by IWDG (International Working Group on the Diabetic Foot) and IDF (International Diabetes Federation) and their event was attended by European delegates and experts from 17th – 21st February 2015 at Hotel Golf, Bled, Slovenia.

In order to preserve and develop its gastronomic heritage, the “Taste Bled” destination project was launched. Individual local partners joined forces to create an unforgettable culinary experience based on both tradition and modern trends. Fresh and seasonal dishes are presented in street-food style from wooden booths using only ecofriendly materials. The concept has already been presented at the biggest destination events and as an alternative form of lunch/dinner break for the delegates of some hosted corporate conferences. “Taste Bled” is not just about food preparation and presentation; it also conveys the positive message of synergy and partnership between local suppliers.

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The 12th Slovenian Conference on Plant Protection took place in the Grand Hotel Primus**** Superior in Ptuj from March 3rd - 4th, 2015. Grand Hotel Primus has helped Slovenia’s oldest town develop into a hub of business events and become a town with a comprehensive range of hotel, conference, gastronomy, golfing and relaxation facilities.

Taste Bled

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW | WHAT’S NEW


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BLED MEET BUSTERS

10 congress myths that you didn’t dare to ask, or know whom to ask

MYTH 1: Bled is a tourist and congress icon of Slovenia Bled is a global tourist icon characterized by the image of its island in the lake and the castle perched above it, sealing its rank amongst the hottest and most photogenic destinations of Europe.

MYTH 3: Bled has healing powers on its congress participants Bled has a mild, healthy, sub-Alpine climate, with the longest swimming season of any Alpine resort. Moreover, it has genuine healing spring waters, which are used in the three swimming pools of the Grand Hotel Toplice (23 °C), Hotel Park and Hotel Golf, which offer not only a pleasant swimming experience, but also the successful treatment of stress related illnesses, exhaustion, neurovegetative disorders and age-related fatigue. Bled has been known as a natural healing resort since 1895, when the Swiss doctor Arnold Rikli put Bled on the medical tourism map.

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BLED MEET BUSTERS | BLED MYTHS

MYTH 2: Bled Island is the only island in Slovenia It is not the only one, but it is probably the most beautiful. The most recognizable symbol of the island is the Church of Virgin Mary with a long and rich history, but the lush greenery hides even more interesting island buildings, such as the Wishing Bell Tower, the vicarage and Provost’s House, and a small hermitage with some mysterious legends.

MYTH 4: The famous Bled cream cake was created in Bled The crispy golden brown crust, sprinkled with ground sugar, yellow custard and white whipped cream is officially protected as an original Bled cream cake – “kremšnita”. However, the original recipe was brought to Slovenia from Vojvodina by the confectioner Ištvan Lukaševič, who moved from Sente in Vojdovina to Bled, where the legend of “kremšnita” was finally settled.


MYTH 5: It is possible to organise an event in the national park The best national parks in Europe offer outstanding landscapes and the joyful experience of wilderness. The only Slovenian national park, the Triglav National Park, is an alpine landscape considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. The park administration is situated in Bled and from there it’s easy to explore the wonders of the park, in which you can participate in a variety of incentive programs.

MYTH 7: It is forbidden to swim in the lake Lake Bled has some very nice beaches, the most attractive being “grajska plaza” just below the picturesque castle and the beach in Zaka. In the lake not only can you swim, but also compete in rowing, fish, take a ride on a traditional Pletna Boat to the island or simply stroll leisurely around the lake. In the summer months, the water temperature even gets up to 25°C.

MYTH 6: Bled is a place where congress participants can sleep in camps The eco-village “Gozdne Vile” offers a special type of accommodation, with its wooden huts following the latest trends in camping, but transforming the simple activity of engaging with nature into an altogether more glamorous experience: “glamping”. Gozdne vile consists of small wooden huts offering accommodation right in the heart of nature. They are similar to the wooden houses, called “kožarice, that the charcoal burners once built at Pokljuka for their summer accommodation. Eight huts have been manufactured from organically grown, untreated larch wood and covered with larch shingles. These have proved to be very popular among congress guests.

MYTH 8: Bled is only suitable for small-size meetings With 512 seats, the Bled Congress Centre (Festival Hall) is the town’s largest convention hall. It boasts a superb lakeside location in the very heart of the town, enabling easy access from several hotels of various categories, which are all within easy walking distance.

BLED MYTHS | BLED MEET BUSTERS

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MYTH 9: Green meetings can be organised in Bled Under the slogan “Green for Tomorrow�, Sava Hotels Bled took its first steps towards sustainability, such as consistent recycling, the reduction of energy and water consumption, the use of local suppliers and the development of ecofriendly goods.

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MYTH 10: The accordion is a typical instrument of Bled and the Gorenjska region The Accordion is an indispensable part of Slovenian folk music and it was in the vicinity of Bled that the most successful Slovenian ensemble, The Avsenik Brothers Ensemble, gave their performances. During their heyday from 1953 to 1990 they released around 120 records and cassettes to a total circulation of more than 30 million listeners. In total they have about 670 songs and to learn more about them you can visit their museum and restaurant in Begunje, not far from Bled.


PRESENTING BLED MICE TEAM

Be fair and moral

Challenging moments? There are many! For example, when I would like to make a proposal for a non-standard event; when I need more breakout rooms than there are meeting rooms available under one roof; when I need more sq.m of exhibition space than there are in all the foyers of the hotel; when I need 3 different and appealing large venues for 3 evening social events outside the hotel; when I need more hotel rooms than are available at the time; when I need to find more parking spaces than the maximum capacity of the hotels and public parking areas; when I need to put myself in the shoes of a local CVB or a DMC; to create a great meeting scenario = an experience of a destination but with the main goal of selling as many hotel rooms, meeting area and F&B as possible. And then there is also when I need to solve an overbooking problem… I will never forget how we once needed to tell a groom and his bride a few days before their wedding that they would not be able to have their wedding reception in their dream banquet hall, as we had a double booking with a large banquet of medical doctors that we were not able to move anywhere else due to the number of guests. Lastly there is when I need to play so many roles: to be very practical when selling to a professor of physics, and very patient and creative when I am selling to a PR manager in one of the corporations.

Dream event? I have actually experienced a few of those and I would wish for more of that kind: • IPCC Working Group II: 340 delegates from all around the world, staying for approximately 6 nights, using all three main hotels, one large plenary room, 30 breakout rooms, a welcome reception, a grand banquet dinner… so much publicity, receiving so much great feedback! • The Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia of the EU in 2008: having high profile international events and hosting all kinds of delegations every week throughout the half-year period. I would be happy to experience that at least once more. J

What’s your management style? To be honest and fair, and teamwork is important. I am not a dictator; conflicts need to be resolved immediately. I prefer to be a coach to my colleagues and share my knowledge, rather than do everything myself because I cannot trust anyone. Facts, details and accuracy are important with everything I am responsible for.

What would your key management advice be? Be fair and moral with the things you do and the decisions you make. Be confident about your opinions and explain them with good arguments. And if you have knowledge and professional attitude, authority and respect will be easy to gain from your colleagues and clients.

Elvira Krupič

Head of MICE Sales at Sava Hoteli Bled

PRESENTING BLED MICE TEAM | MICE CHARACTERS 11


PRESENTING BLED MICE TEAM Challenging moments? The main challenge in every event I work on is undoubtedly how to organise it to ensure maximum success for the client and the company alike. Sometimes there is no end to the challenges – that is when it is important to keep your organisational skills at the highest level, but sometimes all you have to do is stay calm :)

Best event? On a personal level, it is definitely when, after the conclusion of a client’s first major event held in our hotel, they tell you that they have decided to organise all their other events here as well. It is also the greatest possible motivation that a client can give you.

Dream event? Umm, I don’t know... probably any event that goes smoothly, without any major problems. Each event poses its own challenges.

Alternative career? Since I have quite a few hobbies, I see my alternative career path somewhere in the cross section of my hobbies and formal education – perhaps ecotourism, major sport event organisation or something to do with photography and design. If I had to go through formal education again, I might choose something completely different – graphic design, or website design.

What’s your management style? Considering the fact that I work very well within a team, this is how I make my decisions when it comes to major, important matters – I consult my colleagues in our department and in other areas, always striving to find the best solution for the company and the client.

What would your key management advice be? Self-confidence, flexibility, friendliness.

Ana Tolar

MICE Sales Manager at Sava Hoteli Bled 12 MICE CHARACTERS | PRESENTING BLED MICE TEAM


PRESENTING BLED MICE TEAM Challenging moments? I joined Sava Hoteli Bled after working for a company that produces wooden doors and furniture, so there was no connection with the MICE business at all. ‘Well’, I thought, ‘a sale is a sale, no matter what you’re selling’. Along with completely changing my field of work, however, my timing of starting my career at the Sava Group was of special challenge, as at the same time two of my colleagues were on their maternity leave, so there was practically no one who could lead me through the basics about this business! Even today we are still laughing about it (although at that time I did not!) when I remember picking up one of my first phone calls with a famous Slovenian DMC. It was a request for a conference and besides the plenary room they also wanted a few breakout rooms. Not having heard this terminology before, I asked – “and what exactly is a breakout room?” So you can imagine the reaction on the other end of the phone!

Best event? In the last 5 years I have witnessed and coordinated various events. Many association, corporate and political events have taken place at our properties in Bled, but the Bled Strategic forum still has a special place in my heart. Over the past decade, the Bled Strategic Forum has grown into a successful platform for high-level strategic dialogue between leaders from the private and public sectors on key issues facing Europe and the world in the 21st century. It is also one of the leading international conferences to take place in the region and I look forward to being a part of it every single year- this year we will already host its 10th outing.

Dream event? I would say that practically every meeting connected to the army is a dream event, and not only because of the good looking soldiers. Normally they stay at the hotel for the whole week, having a very well organised programme with no last minute or even any on the spot changes, and consequently the participants are also usually more than satisfied with everything.

Alternative career? It is quite stressful working in the MICE industry, especially if the process involves everything from selling and creating contracts to being on the spot when the meeting is taking place, so sometimes I think how nice it would be if I could be at home in my big garden, planting vegetables, making some healthy produce, with no stress at all. But I think that after a few days I would only be stressed again because there is no stress.

What’s your management style? In one word: practical.

What would your key management advice be?

Špela Pipan

MICE Sales Manager at Sava Hoteli Bled

Communicating and working with your team and the client.

PRESENTING BLED MICE TEAM | MICE CHARACTERS 13


PRESENTING BLED MICE TEAM

Challenging moments? The first event of my career was a meeting of 13 Central European presidents, so I suddenly had this opportunity to learn about the real scope of event organisation. And I stuck with it. Then there was a meeting for the wedding of a couple from England – me on one side of the table, the couple and about 10 of their relatives on the other.

Best event? A 2-week event for 180 scientists, mainly because we managed to keep up the WOW effect from the first day to the very last. They will be coming back to us in Bled next year.

Dream event? Earning EUR 200,000 at an event that only takes 3 days of work.

Alternative career? I don’t know why, but I have always wanted to have my own surfing school and considering how many windy days we have had in Bled recently…

What’s your management style? Constant and genuine relationships with my colleagues (with as few mood swings typical for women as possible).

What would your key management advice be? Keep it short & simple & smiling.

Mateja Legat

MICE Sales Manager at Sava Hoteli Bled 14 MICE CHARACTERS | PRESENTING BLED MICE TEAM


PRESENTING PTUJ MICE TEAM Challenging moments? In tourism, challenges are essential. They inspire me in my work, giving me the motivation to try to improve and enhance our implementation of the programme for each new event. Every event is special in its way – that is the magic of working in MICE.

Best event? I couldn’t say that there was an event that was my favourite or the closest to my heart – I find that there is something interesting about every event. As a person, I am absolutely a fan of new things and experiences, which is reflected in my everyday work.

Dream event? My wish for events is to give the participants the opportunity to experience our Roman story and identify with the way of life back then. Each Sava Hotels & Resorts destination has its own story and I think the best events are the ones where participants can discover our chain as a whole. It could be an event that lasts a few days and which can be organised at all destinations, or an event that inspires the participants to want to visit all destinations to experience the other stories that Sava Hotels & Resorts has to offer. Whatever the case, when the participants leave us, I always want them to feel like they have seen and experienced something new and are ready to face the challenges of their work.

Alternative career? I am very passionate about my profession, since it is something that I have wanted to do since I was little. As a young girl, I always dreamt about becoming a wedding planner. Now I organise all kinds of events, including weddings, which is just an added bonus. When you get up in the morning and think how lucky you are to have the job that you do, that is it!

What’s your management style? I am ambitious and always ready for new challenges. I would describe my management and MICE organisation style as innovative, varied, and flexible, ready to adapt to the wishes of the client.

What would your key management advice be? I think the most important thing is to listen to the guests, to their wishes and needs, and to try to fulfil them as best as you can. The easiest way to gain the client’s trust is by using your initiative in being ambitious when planning the event.

Janette Poglajen

MICE Sales Manager at Terme Ptuj

PRESENTING PTUJ MICE TEAM | MICE CHARACTERS 15


PRESENTING MORAVSKE TOPLICE MICE TEAM

Challenging moments? Just like the moment before jumping out of a plane 4,000 metres above the ground, it was the moment I decided to join the MICE team in Sava Hotels and Resorts. In both cases it was a wonderful experience that you can never regret, giving you more satisfaction and pleasure than you could have expected.

Best event? I would say: “the best is yet to come”.

Dream event? Every event that forms a solid basis for long-term collaboration with the client. It is a pleasure and an encouragement at the same time when, at the end of the event, the client is looking forward to encountering your destination again.

Alternative career? Scuba diving Instructor at El Nido - Palawan.

What’s your management style? Don’t live to work or work to live - just live enjoying your work. Only when you feel passionate about what you do and only when you find friends among your colleagues will you find the strength for great achievements.

What would your key management advice be? Don’t present problems without solutions and at the same time try to see the good in every situation. Starting to see problems as a challenge is already half way to victory.

Špela Horvat

MICE Sales Manager at Zdravilišče Radenci & Moravske Toplice 16 MICE CHARACTERS | PRESENTING MORAVSKE TOPLICE MICE TEAM


BLED17


BLED FOR MEETINGS AND EVENTS Bled is unquestionably among Slovenia’s leading meeting destinations. The lake, island and castle are a truly unforgettable sight, with countless other natural and cultural attractions to stun visitors just a short drive away. A meeting in Bled will stay in the memory of attendees forever. As a recognisable iconic brand Bled stands out among other meeting destinations in the region.

TOP 5 PLACES WHERE PEOPLE MEET The best places to meet, stay and incentivize in Bled are

HOTEL GOLF

The Golf Hotel is a modern conference and spa hotel standing on a small hill in the centre of Bled. With as many as eight function rooms and over 1,000 sq. m of meeting space, the hotel is the largest hotel convention centre in Bled, priding itself on its long- established tradition of hosting the most diverse meetings. A special feature of the Golf Hotel is the exceptional Živa Wellness Centre, which aims to further the heritage of Arnold Rikli’s 19th century healing methods and enhance them with a modern approach.

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GRAND HOTEL TOPLICE

The Grand Hotel Toplice boasts a prime location right on the shore of Lake Bled. The five-star hotel has retained the elegant style of the 1930s and is one of Slovenia’s most distinguished hotels, offering traditional comfort and the highest level of services. The hotel’s conference centre features two larger, divisible conference halls, as well as two smaller meeting rooms, several indoor exhibition spaces and magnificent lakeside terraces ideal for coffee breaks.

HOTEL PARK

The Park Hotel enjoys a central location on the shore of Lake Bled, close to the Bled Congress Centre and amidst Bled’s lively goings-on, which makes it a popular choice for business and leisure travellers alike. The hotel boasts a conference centre with three halls, the largest of which seats up to 120 participants theatre-style and is divisible. There are two business offices, spacious exhibition areas and four additional function rooms located on different hotel floors. Beautiful views of the lake unfold from all of the meeting spaces.

BLED FOR MEETING AND EVENTS | MICE GUIDE 19


BLED CONGRESS CENTER

With 512 seats, the Bled Congress Centre is Bled’s largest convention hall. It boasts a superb, lakeside location in the very heart of the town, enabling easy access from several hotels of various categories that are all within walking distance. The centre was built in 1961 for a major chess event and underwent a thorough renovation prior to Bled hosting the 1989 World Rowing Championships. The facility is the prime setting for larger corporate, association, scientific and governmental meetings, as well as cultural events.

BLED CASTLE

For centuries the imposing Bled Castle has been watching over the lake and the town from its steep, 130m-high rocky mount. Written about as early as 1011, it is Slovenia’s oldest castle. Most of the castle today dates back to the Renaissance period, while the daunting stone walls stem from the Romanesque. The castle is a unique viewpoint, with beautiful vistas across the lake, the island and the surrounding villages, even extending as far as the Karavanke and Julian Alps.

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ESSENTIAL MEETING EXPERIENCES STAY LOCAL

Take a Pletna boat The pletna boat, the origins of which go back to the 12th century, are rowed by a boatman standing upright and are covered by a linen canopy, which is probably where their name originates from. Boat traffic on the lake was regulated by Empress Maria Theresa in the 18th century, who gave 22 families the rights to operate boats. Their descendants retain these rights to this day.

HIT THE STREETS Bled Island

The island on Lake Bled is a charming sight that together with the mighty castle adds to the enduring allure of Bled. The ride in a traditional wooden ‘pletna’ boat to reach it is an adventure in its own right, but alternatively visitors may opt to row to the island themselves, while in particularly cold winters, when the lake freezes, it can even be possible to walk there.

PLAY THE GAME Bled Golf Course

Set in idyllic countryside and with majestic views of the surrounding mountain ranges, the Bled Golf Course ranks among central Europe’s most beautiful and oldest golf courses. Laid out in 1937, its 18-hole King’s Course was redesigned by Donald Harradine in 1972 and was joined by the 9-hole Lake Course in 1993. The two courses are suitable for beginners and professional golfers alike, and pride themselves on great open spaces and fairytale countryside. This treat for golfing enthusiasts also has three practice greens and a driving range. If treading the fairways doesn’t appeal, the Alpine-style Lake House will surely beckon for an informal get-together in its pleasant, comfortable interior or on its shady terrace overlooking the Lake Course.

BLED FOR MEETING AND EVENTS | MICE GUIDE 21


ESSENTIAL INCENTIVE EXPERIENCES ROWING WITH OLYMPIANS ON LAKE BLED Accompanied by Slovenian rowing Olympians, participants will learn basic rowing skills in professional racing boats. An eight person crew demonstrates the balance between individual strength and team performance. The experience will allow your team to feel the physical, mental and emotional aspects of working together – as well as learn how to move a boat efficiently and with speed…

VITAL PLUS AT CAMPING BLED This multi-day ‘glamping’ programme focuses on your vitality and includes workout sessions such as morning yoga, cycling on Pokljuka and jogging, during which participants get to encounter the sights of Bled. Invigorating breakfasts will be served on the pier, but lunch will first have to be caught and one of the dinners will feature live cooking by chef Simon.

CHEF’S TABLE A 3-hour event, the Chef’s Table is an ultimate culinary experience encouraging the team to pop into the kitchen with their colleagues to partake in an interactive cooking demonstration filled with fun cooking tips and tricks, then afterwards to bond over a seated meal.

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ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE

Legend of the widow Poliksena and the sunken bell Around the year 1500, the castle administrator was a man called Hartman Kreigh, who reputedly ruled with an iron fist. One day, however, he disappeared without trace, never to be seen again. His wife Poliksena, also a merciless lady, was inconsolable. In his memory, she gathered all her gold and silver to have a bell cast for the island chapel, but while the bell was being ferried to the island, a severe storm sprang up, capsizing the boat and taking the boatmen and the bell to the bottom of the lake with it. Devastated, Poliksena left Bled to enter a convent. When the Pope heard her story, he had a new bell cast and sent it to Bled, but to this day it is said that on windy nights the original bell can still be heard tolling at the bottom of the lake.

Special venue: Vila Bled The unique Vila Bled is in a majestic park right on the shore of Lake Bled, its setting outside the centre of Bled ensuring privacy for the most selective events. The villa was constructed in 1947 on the site of a former royal summer home and subsequently served for decades as one of President Tito’s residences, before being turned into a boutique 1950s-style hotel. The reception hall has direct access to a lake-side terrace and is a wonderful venue for meetings of various kinds, as well as gala dinners prepared and served by the highly skilled staff of the Slovenian State Protocol Service, which manages the hotel.

Special Venue: The Belvedere Pavilion An exceptional building set on 30-metre pillars in the hotel park, it was designed by Jože Plečnik, one of the greatest Slovenian architects, as the reception area of a new royal residence, the plans for which never came to fruition. It was later used by Tito for relaxed tea parties and today it makes for an outstanding setting for a standing reception with the most beautiful view across Lake Bled and the island.

BLED FOR MEETING AND EVENTS | MICE GUIDE 23


STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

WHEN IN BLED – MUST HAVE GASTRONOMY THE ORIGINAL BLED CREAM CAKE It would be a sin to leave Bled without tasting the original Bled cream cake! Not every cream slice is the original Bled cream cake. Seven, the fairytale number, is the secret behind this legendary dessert. To make the original Bled cream cake, puff pastry is folded seven times and left to rest overnight, so it is even lighter when baked in the morning. A light egg custard is boiled for precisely seven minutes before stiffly beaten egg whites are added to it and the mixture poured over the first layer of delicate puff pastry. The delicious custard cream is then topped with a layer of whipped cream and covered with a second layer of puff pastry, which is then dusted with vanilla sugar. The original Bled cream cakes are still made strictly to the recipe perfected by the pastry chef in the 1940s.

PRO BLED Bled is safe. Slovenia ranks among the safest destinations in the world.

Bled is easily accessible. The country lies in the heart of Europe and is easily accessible by air, road and rail. Ljubljana International Airport is just a 30-minute drive from Bled, while Klagenfurt Airport in Austria is another nearby option.

Bled is compact, with all its facilities and sights being within walking distance.

Bled offers superb cuisine. Bled gives you the chance to taste its regional fare in a traditional inn, or you can opt for the best gourmet cuisine created by the town’s new generation of contemporary chefs.

Accommodation options range from the simple to the sophisticated and are all good value for money.

Number of beds in 3* hotels in Bled: 773

Number of beds in 5* and 4* hotels in Bled: 1.508

Competitive prices of hotels (Hotels.com)

Bled has a rich tradition in hosting meetings. It has been actively present on the world conference map for over 25 years, playing host to mediumsized corporate, association and governmental meetings of between 100 and 400 delegates, as well as frequent top-end sports events.

2002 Bled sunshine hours

10 real places that look like they belong in fairy tales, Trip Advisor

Many meetings have found their home in Bled, returning year after year.

Bled is attractive. Beautiful nature provides a fantastic backdrop that enthuses and inspires participants. The lake, island and castle are a truly unforgettable sight, with countless other natural and cultural attractions to stun visitors merely a short drive away. A meeting in Bled will stay in the memory of attendees forever.

Bled has excellent infrastructure. Its conference infrastructure is constantly being upgraded and modernised.

4 °C

Bled blends business with pleasure. Be it an adventurous sporting activity, a cultural exploration or an oeno-gastronomic teambuilding programme, Bled is the right solution.

24 MICE GUIDE | BLED FOR MEETING AND EVENTS


24 HOURS IN PREKMURJE PREKMURSKA GIBANICA

1.

Moments of Zen

The Pannonian aura

1 NIGHT INCENTIVE / 24 INCENTIVE HOURS IN PREKMURJE

2.

Quality time

Listen to the waters flow by the mill on the Mura river and see how the finest flour is produced

Overview:

3.

Must see

A stork in its nest

4.

Must do

Indulge yourself with the delicious layer cake known as the Prekmurska gibanica

5.

Our pick

Kodila ham production

Prekmurje, the most exciting part of Slovenia, is set in the Pannonian plain and is an area where you can experience the feelings and joyfulness, as well as the travails, of the “people from the plains”. As the Prekmurje inhabitants live a good distance from central Slovenia, they tend to be even more welcoming when they do get a visit. Our “Gibanica” (Prekmurian layer cake) programme is a combination of Prekmurian melody, outstanding cuisine, a modern business environment and a wide range of various incentive programmes.

ITINERARY

DAY 1: FLOW OF THE MURA RIVER 10:00 Arrival at Graz or Zagreb airport 11:30 Arrival at Hotel Livada Prestige 12:00 Rafting on the Mura River – Round trip Go rafting on the romantic Mura River under the guidance of experienced wild water kayak and canoe competitors. At the last functioning mill (the Babič mill in Veržej) you will be served a “büjraška malica” lunch, which includes delicious regional specialties such as pajani krüj, zasika, česnek and žganica. 15:00 Visit to the beekeeper The Bee’s Castle is an ecological beekeeping farm set in the beautiful surroundings of the Goričko nature park, far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. You will get the chance to see the beekeeper at work, understand the life of a bee family and also learn how honey “gets” from the flower to the table. 17:00 Arrival at Hotel Livada Prestige, Sava Hotels & Resorts 17.30 Quality time! Take the chance to relax in the black thermal mineral water known for its therapeutic effects, particularly on rheumatism and musculoskeletal system problems, as well as for engendering a general sense of wellbeing.

The motorway to Prekmurje was recently built, making getting from Ljubljana to Murska Sobota no longer an odyssey, but simply a hop, skip and a jump! Hotel Livada Prestige, Sava Hotels & Resorts.

19:00 Gibanica – The Prekmurian layer cake is unique among desserts and is recognised as a Slovene national culinary specialty. It prides itself on its European ‘Traditional Speciality Guaranteed’ label, and you get to learn how to make the best one. 20:00 Dinner, Prekmurje style.

DAY 2: TIME TRAVEL: WHAT WAS LIFE LIKE 100 YEARS AGO? 08:00 Breakfast, Prekmurje style.

Tourist farms with authentic local food. The Mura river connects the Slovenian region of Prekmurje to the Croatian Međimurje.

09:30 Visit of one of best-preserved houses in Prekmurje and meet with the craftsmen of the region: a potter, a roofer, a pumpkin seed oil producer and a genuine Prekmurje ham producer. 12:00 Lunch at a tourist farm. 14:00 Transfer to the airport. Other options: Photo Safari or Golf and Goulash

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PREKMURJE

On the Pannonian sea The approach to Prekmurje is in itself something special; a whole new world, one full of both history and the present day, opens up before you in one of the most picturesque and pristine Slovenian landscapes. This is a region full of small congress stories waiting to be shared. And the story doesn‘t end here... ...the people of Prekmurje are people who are full of kindness and always willing to help, explained Špela Horvat, the energetic MICE specialist from Terme 3000. Her word can be taken as gospel, as she herself is a complete truly epitomisation of the Prekmurje character.

26 PREKMURJE | TIMELINE

So, where to start? The most important congress story is based in the Sava Hotels of Moravske Toplice and Radenci. The hotel complex in Moravske Toplice houses a total of 6 conference halls covering 597 m2, while the 290 rooms available in three hotels allow on-site accommodation for conference guests. Zdravilišče Radenci boasts an easily accessible hotel conference centre comprising 8 multipurpose conference halls and rooms with top of the range technical equipment. Under one roof, you will find conference facilities, 419 comfortable hotel rooms and a range of health and wellness services that will enhance your business meeting with leisure activities. What makes Prekmurje so special? For a long time Prekmurje has had its ‘gastro charm’ built on the core ingredients of pumpkin seed oil, Prekmurje ham, authentic vegetables with the Slovenian Lušt tomato, alongside many other local and seasonal treats. Gastronomy is an core element of their tourist attraction that in the past decade has really got itself into full swing. Ask the question: “What would you bring

your congress guest to the table?”, and you will get to hear of the Over Mura moving cake, the Prekmurje ham, ‘tunka’, ‘dodoli’ and a litany of other savoury goodies. And there are very many special venues for those who want to taste these treats and explore the gastronomical part of Prekmurje: with its most famous cellar open for tastings, the Marof Wine Cellar in Mačkovci, having a tasting room on the ground floor with an excellent view of its sprawling vineyards and natural beauty. The perfectly designed wine cellar is one of the most exciting special venues, but for the classic ambience the Marof mansion is another fine option. In nearby Prlekija there is Dom Penine, another special venue that is home of the renowned Radgonska sparkling wine. The traditional tasting hall offers you a basic champagne tasting or a more complex guided or blind tasting experience. A true gastronomical institution is the Rajh restaurant in Bakovci. Passionately crafted culinary masterpieces set the restaurant apart as one of the most innovative in all of Slovenia. A culinary journey through


this region isn’t complete without a visit to Šunkarna Kodila, where you can taste the legendary Prekmurje ham in it’s authentic environment.

Another spot not to be missed is the Mencinger restaurant, offering traditional Panonian gastronomy with local and seasonal ingredients in a nice, cultural ambience from the Austro-Hungarian monarchy epoch. In the many venues there is no lack of traditional produce with which you can spoil and delight guests before they have to leave, with the fragrant Kocbek pumpkinseed

oil the passion and inspiration for much of the local gastronomy, but it is just one small piece of a huge culinary story that would need much more space to list the whole gamut of providers. Simply sit back, relax and let time stand still for congress participants or a tourist fam as they enjoy one of the many restaurants serving excellent food accompanied by excellent wine. By the river and on the waves of Mura The Prekmurje ensemble is rounded off with its many incentive providers who offer various adventures in a broad but top quality offer. The Mura river might at first sight seem like a calm waterway, but taking a raft on it can offer a very different perspective of the river and its surrounding landscape. Muramar and Murski Čolnar are the most active companies for this activity. An especially lively location is lake Bukovnica; besides the healing Vidov spring it has an adventure park for proper adrenaline seekers! Then just a stone’s throw away your participants can learn about the different principles of orchid growing, where you can be amazed at more than 300 different kinds of orchids in the Ocean Orchids tropical

garden. A totally different incentive adventure is in visiting the Lušt greenhouse in the small village of Renkovci, where you can get to know how the Slovenian tomato makes it’s way from the fields to the table. Or you can enjoy an educational story in Čebelji Gradič, which offers an unforgettable sustainable experience for all kinds of nature lovers. There is also a small house of organic shapes hiding in the heart of Slovenske Gorice; it is called the Pachamama centre and it creates amazing products through its own specific the alchemy it carried out with nature.

There is one thing that is certain: Prekmurje is an extraordinary congress destination waiting to be discovered. And once it is, the generous nature of the kind and hospitable people await you. TIMELINE | PREKMURJE 27


PREKMURJE

28


BEHIND THE SCENES

Grand Hotel Toplice – History of an icon

Grand Hotel Toplice – What’s it like?

The renovated Grand Hotel Toplice has an illustrious history; unlike the many new designer hotels coming on stream today, it has throughout its years collected and absorbed numerous fascinating tales of the guests who have been passing through its doors. There is one stand-out story dating right back to 1939, when Grand Hotel Toplice welcomed Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey. The newlyweds from England had chosen Bled as their honeymoon destination, but unfortunately during their stay England had declared war on Germany and with the closed borders of Europe the Humphreys encountered a number of problems making their return journey. On their safe arrival home they decided to hang the photo of the beautiful Lake Bled, taken during their honeymoon, on their living room wall as a daily reminder of the romantic time they spent together in Slovenia. Over the following years the couple had three children, all of whom grew up listening to stories about the ‘fairytale’ place of Bled and looking at the photo that was still hanging on the wall after so many years. In 2015 their daughter, Diana, decided that she would visit this beautiful place that her parents remembered so fondly.

What makes the Grand Hotel Toplice so special is its old world charm and quaintness. The creaking of well-preserved parquet floors and the smell of old wood are reminiscent of the many stories we hear in childhood; this is a place where the imagination can really come alive! The Presidential lounge radiates the history of the many important political leaders and diplomats who shook hands there and the many important agreements that were signed in that very same room. Every piece of the hotel tells its own story: the China with its gold logo, the silver plated accessories, the heavy furniture... Grand Hotel Toplice truly has an old soul that hasn’t lost any of its old charm.

The traditional elegance of the hotel was just the way she had pictured it and she was so happy to experience it herself that she shared the story with the hotel staff and donated the original hotel receipt and caricatures of her parents made in Bled back in 1939.

Grand Hotel Toplice – Elevate your meetings The Grand Hotel Toplice is renowned for hosting the most demanding protocol, social, business and education events. The conference rooms are infused with the character, history and tradition of the hotel. The atmosphere is particularly pleasant thanks to the natural light and magnificent views of Lake Bled, but in order to enjoy the event in full, one also has to of course be well rested. Fortunately, the Grand Hotel Toplice is the King of comfort and relaxation, being one of the first hotels in Europe to have an air system that regulates the mattress firmness. For an even higher quality sleep guests can also choose the type of pillow they prefer and, before settling down for the night, enjoy the good energy generated by the thermal spring located next to the hotel. To top it all off, they can also visit the in-house wellness centre, where they can get fully re-energized and revitalized.

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INCENTIVE WITH A VIEW THE LAKE IS YOUR OYSTER ‘SUPING’ ON LAKE BLED Incentive: ‘Suping’ is a modern form of recreation that also offers the social sides of nature exploration. The wide boards specially designed to glide along rivers, lakes and calm seas are very stable and at the same time give your entire body a good workout. After being guided through the demonstration class by instructors who help put you on your feet on the board, you can ‘sup’ across lake Bled, all the way to the island in the middle of it, in the pleasant company of your friends on your first suping adventure. Starting at Mala Zaka bay, you’ll find the camp with all the necessary equipment there. Bon voyage!

Wow factor: Catch your balance Company: Sava Hotels & Resorts Category: Active experiences Best time of the year: Spring to Autumn Duration: 3 hours Minimum/maximum number of participants: 1 - 20 Location: Mala Zaka bay at lake Bled, where your adventure begins.

ROMAN DINNER Hedonistic experience Wow factor: A hedonistic experience: a Roman feast with Oriental dancers and a wrestling match Company: Sava Hotels & Resorts Category: Culinary experience Best time of the year: All year round Duration: 4 hours Minimum/maximum number of participants: 20 - 180 Location: Terme Ptuj, Grand Hotel Primus****S, Slovenia

DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE EATING? Incentive: Participants get acquainted through the centuries-old tradition of hanging and curing smoked ham from Prekmurje, as well as whilst they not only learn how to cook the “prekmurski bograč” stew, but compete in rustling up the best tasting one. The programme is spiced up with a visit to a greenhouse in Renkovci, where the Lušt tomatoes - probably the best tomatoes in the country - are grown. On top of all this the group get to know more about smoked ham, the meat specialty of “tünka”, the traditional desert “posolanka”, the potato dish “dödli”, and “gibanica”, the famous pastry dish of Prekmurje. It’s foodie heaven!

Incentive: The ‘Roman dinner’ is a thematic culinary event, organised at the hotel swimming pools. It is a 4-hour programme starting off with the ancient Roman general Marcus Antonius Primus and one of his Vestal virgins greeting the guests and telling them a short story about the history of Ancient Rome, followed by Oriental dancers performing, a wrestling bout, Lukullus sharing anecdotes about wine and much more. Guests are dressed in togas and can enjoy the swimming, feasting, regaling and all the other Roman treats…

Wow factor: Culinary art by the Mura river Company: Sava Hotels & Resorts Category: Active experiences Best time of the year: All year Duration: 10 hours Minimum/maximum number of participants: 1 - 50 Location: Moravske Toplice, Markišavci, Renkovci

30 INVENTIVE INCENTIVE | INCENTIVE WITH A VIEW, BLED, PTUJ, PREKMURJE


A SHINING CASE BLED EVENT: 10th BLED STRATEGIC FORUM DATE: 31th August – 1st September 2015 CLIENT: Bled PARTNERS: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia TYPE: Congress with integrated events

ABOUT THE EVENT

SOLUTION

The landmark 10th meeting of political leaders, politicians, economists and various other experts all confronting the strategic challenges of the future is the main regional event and is comparable to the meeting held in Davos. The Bled Strategic Forum has in recent years established itself as one of the most important international conferences at which participants from every continent discuss the main global political and economic challenges. Its primary purpose is to consolidate the image of Slovenia as an area where topical issues can be properly discussed and where the goal of tackling major problems is in finding their best solutions. The forum ordinarily attracts more than 500 participants from more than 40 countries. The year 2015 also marked several major milestones, including the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, the 70th anniversary of the United Nations and the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act.

Having chosen a location that can facilitate a superb technical execution of the event already ensures that we are half way to success. For many years we have also been developing the various measures to introduce ‘green meetings’ that have been sought by the organisers. Detailed analysis of past events is a good basis for adjustments to the programme and content development that help return participants continue to remember the conference and their hosts. For this, cuisine, authenticity and the hospitality of the locals all play an important role.

CHALLENGES

AFTER THE EVENT

The key challenge in implementing this event is in how to upgrade it annually and thereby continue to make it attractive for return participants. A further major challenge is the connection between the various stakeholders in Bled, which has to operate as a single entity during the event, especially so with it being held across different locations, from Festival Hall to the elite congress centre in Hotel Golf. Other challenges include security and protocol, as numerous protocol type guests are in attendance.

Acknowledgements of the many satisfied customers are certainly the best measure of our success! As a result of some influential people visiting the Bled Strategic Forum for the first time, Bled acquired some other international events (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group II: 340 delegates from all round the World staying and working for 5-6 days; and IWC – v 2016 coming for the second time).

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A SHINING CASE PTUJ EVENT: CONGRESS HUSQVARNA DATE: 15th – 19th September 2014 LOCATION: Terme Ptuj CLIENT: Husqvarna Austria GmbH, Industriezeile 36, A-4010 Linz EXECUTION: Grand Hotel Primus, Tacit Hall, Club Gemina, and other outside areas (parking lot, lawn behind the hotel) TYPE: Product launch

ABOUT THE EVENT

SOLUTION

Over 100 participants gathered in Ptuj to discover the latest products of the company Husqvarna. The brand has been at the pinnacle of global manufacturers of power tools for several decades and is today synonymous with quality and longevity. This key event took place across several locations that were presenting different products (lawn mowers, power tools etc.) which participants were able to test out on the grassy areas. At each location food and drink catering was provided and in the evening the Primus market took place in Club Gemina, at which no less than Emperor Antonius Primus himself took the time to show participants around the camp.

A comprehensive solution was sought for the client in which the entire hotel and its surroundings would “breath” the event and be fully equipped in accordance with the client’s corporate image. Business partners from abroad (mainly Austria) were also in attendance and they were impressed by how the Roman stories were also mixed into their event.

CHALLENGES A major challenge was in arranging the catering outside the hotel, because of the bad weather, but the event was nevertheless carried out successfully. The event was also very demanding to implement, as the client requested strict branding with the aim of consolidating the brand and a preferred presentation combining the modern and the traditional.

32 A SHINING CASE | PTUJ

AFTER THE EVENT The quality of service and the ambience of the Grand Hotel Primus****Superior delighted the client. He was keen to stress the almost endless possibilities offered by the historic town and the green surroundings of the hotel.


A SHINING CASE MORAVSKE TOPLICE EVENT: 16th REGULAR MEETING OF THE PERMANENT SLOVENIAN – HUNGARIAN COMISSION FOR PROTECTION AGAINST NATURAL AND OTHER DISASTERS DATE: 8th December, 2014 LOCATION: Hotel Livada Prestige, Terme 3000 CLIENT: Administration of the Republic of Slovenia for Protection and Rescue EXECUTION: Terme 3000 TYPE: International conference

ABOUT THE EVENT

SOLUTION

This was a meeting of a mixed international commission that rotates between different countries. In addition to the focussed work of the event, it also included a press conference and had a series of bilateral conversations. One of the important factors for the selection of Moravske Toplice was its the location on the edge of the Pannonian Plain. As a number of extremely acute natural disasters have escalated the significance of this topic, the event received a lot of media coverage.

The event was very tightly organised, with the flow of information smooth and on time, which is extremely important for public administration events. There was an emphasis on providing a suitable working environment for participants that also allowed for socialising and sharing experiences.

CHALLENGES The event is an international one with an emphasis on cooperation between different countries, which places several technical requirements upon hosting it, including being able to deal with demanding translation. Due to the profile of the public sector client, it was also necessary that the event was carried out very carefully and with precision.

AFTER THE EVENT Given the proverbial hospitality of Prekmurje, the objectives were all reached and exceeded. The event opens up new possibilities for business cooperation.

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STOPOVER WITH CHARACTER BLED CASTLE Perched atop a cliff rising 130 metres above the glacial waters of Lake Bled, Bled Castle, with its history reaching back to 1004, has for over a millennium offered the finest view of Bled island, the town of Bled and the wider landscape of the Gorenjska region. When organising a conference in Bled, the castle is a central element of a superb experience. The Knight Gašper Lambergar Theatre Group, dressed in medieval costumes, transports audiences to the Middle Ages when they give their performances of medieval culture and entertainment that really brings authentic historic life to the castle atmosphere. Other parts of the castle double up as a museum, a traditional manual printing shop and the castle wine cellar. Alongisde all this, the recently renovated castle restaurant offers local and regional dishes made in contemporary and sophisticated ways, all with the aim of preserving the gastronomical heritage of Slovenia and the Upper Carniola region. During the balmy months, the castle courtyard hosts many cultural events, of which ‘Medieval Days’, when knights portray medieval life to visitors, is the most popular.

On the banks of the river Mura and located near Verzej, Babic Mill is the only floating mill on the river. The floating mill is a unique invention that uses the natural energy of water efficiently and allows farmers to make ground, whole-wheat products. At one time over 90 mills operated along the Mura river, but today only the Babič mill remains in operation and it is where you can buy a wide range of freshly milled flour. Babič Mill has an interesting history: in 1912, the Babič family bought an old mill that was floating on the river, but it was completely destroyed in a fire fifteen years after. They then constructed a new mill at the same spot a year later, and in a bid to protect it from another disaster they set up the mill house by the river bank and put the mill wheel on special boats. However, this mill was washed away by the river and the family was forced in 1947 to again build a new mill.

PTUJ CASTLE On the uppermost slope of the Slovenske Gorice hills, which extend almost as far as the river Drava, there rises a mighty, fortified construction - the castle of Ptuj. Today’s edifice has been reconstructed and rebuilt several times over the centuries, with the oldest written record of it dating from the 12th century, and it now functions as a museum where visitors can inspect musical instruments used in the past by wealthy Ptuj noblemen and citizens, as well as their furniture, paintings and the small, everyday objects of household furnishings from the second half of the 16th to second half of the 19th centuries. From its wide collection of exhibits the traditional Carnival costumes and masquerade figures are the most colourful. In the summer months the castle courtyard, surrounded by the mighty castle walls, is a perfect venue for social events, being also accessible by foot from the Hotel Primus.

34 STOPOVER WITH CHARACTER | BLED, VERŽEJ, PTUJ


MEET THE TEAM BLED - BEHIND THE SCENES An interesting team of colleagues sharing strong personalities, rich knowledge and broad experience are behind every successful event in Bled and ensure that everything runs smoothly. We took a look behind the scenes at some of the Bled team...

EXECUTION OF EVENTS IS BASED ON TRUST Dejan Krupič, Multimedia technician

The charming and ever-positive media technician says that, no matter what, he would always work with multimedia and video production. It is a skill that has been with him since high school, but he has been wooed by the endless possibilities of video production that the internet has opened up. He has experienced everything from euphoric events with network marketing to a live surgical operation, where along with the other participants he trembled for the life of the patient (fortunately the surgeon didn’t tremble…). He mixes his stressful work with building personal relationships with congress organisers and guests, and he has made many close friendships over the years. He thinks the future will bring more live transmissions and a different, more relaxed arrangement of meeting space with the maximum utilization of networking. Dejan recommends that the congress organiser meets him at least an hour before the event to double check that everything is working properly; the human factor is mostly blamed for technical problems, as the equipment rarely fails, so it’s good to eliminate this as fully as possible. You also have the chance to meet him in a parallel world where he creates interesting stories with his colleagues in the working collective “Drhal”. He has certainly been inspired whilst listening to conferences and events! “Content is becoming more important and with a superior technical performance we make sure that events are expressed properly.”

A BARMAN AS A WAY OF LIFE Miran Berlogar, Barman

A good barman can always recognise the mood of a guest and, when needed, empathise with it. He can read minds and knows how to prepare the “real thing” – the right drink for the right moment. He will take time for his guests, even if the event is delayed until late into the night. Barmen who can do this, such as Miran, are today on the verge of extinction. For Miran, being a barman is a profession, a hobby and a mission. He is constantly learning, teaching at Hospitality school and testing new recipes at home that will delight his guests at Hotel Golf. He travels around the world to extend his knowledge and as a member of the Executive Committee is active in the Association of Barmen of Slovenia. Being a barman is a pleasant, responsible and difficult profession, but is always repaid through the gratitude of satisfied guests; guests appreciate his energy and say that his good will picks up their day. The biggest award a barman can receive is when a congress guest returns to Bled as a tourist and becomes our congress ambassador. A huge number of congress organisers have returned to Bled, and it is in no little part thanks to the positive energy of top barman, Miran Berlogar. “Women love cocktails that combine the flavours of pineapple and coconut.”

BLED - BEHIND THE SCENES | MEET THE TEAM 35


BLED’S CULINARY NEW WAVE

Simon Bertoncelj, Top Chef Grand Hotel Toplice When he was only 10 years old he was already under the spell of top cuisine, as this is when he first started seriously experimenting with food in his home kitchen. From this point on, cooking as a mission and a profession was the logical choice. His path took him all the way to the famous restaurant of Gordon Ramsey in London. There, he realized how difficult the profession is, which strengthened in him the belief that he will shift the culinary boundaries of Slovenia. He is most proud of dishes that he creates with the team, and during our visit we were unable to resist the heavenly made ravioli. There are no boundaries for Simon’s culinary team when organising events; top quality organisation and a professional team is taken as read. The location is also not an obstacle, since they have already carried out events at almost all of the most picturesque spots of Bled. Simon is also happy to share his culinary knowledge, exchanging and modifying his recipes depending on the style of cooking of those curious to learn from him. When developing your own style traveling helps a lot, and Simon is on a culinary journey at least once a year, a period where he gets to savour new flavours and polish and refine his cooking techniques. A typical trademark of Simon and the team is seasonal cuisine with local ingredients executed with top culinary techniques, the result “married” to one of the excellent Slovenian wines. The exceptional talent ranks him amongst the top three chefs currently coming from the hottest culinary destination of Slovenia. “Slovenia has superb cuisine that lacks on international visibility.”

PTUJ - BEHIND THE SCENES Ever wondered what might be going on at the hotel reception before your event, or what might be the challenges for the chef’s team? Maybe what the thoughts are, or what the ‘team talk’ might be, to inspire the team of waiters before going out in front of the guests? Going behind the scenes we get a glimpse of that world…

THE BIJOU CITY OF PTUJ

Branka Serba, Front Office Manager The work of a head receptionist is always dynamic and changing, with a stream of diverse guests passing through and the essential mission being to satisfy almost every need in a discreet and courteous way. It’s hard work, and work that Branka Serba fell in love with at a time when the foundation of the tourist offer was apartment complexes and long before the emergence of the modern Primus Hotels. Today, she knows that congress guests can be distinguished from regular guests by their focus on the event and the task of the reception is that they provide the agreed services and room in the quickest time possible; there is less time to chat and socialize. Over the last decade the work at the reception has changed technologically, but discretion, friendliness and professionalism remain the guiding principles. An effort has to be made for each and every guest and her motto remains: “treat guests how you would like to be treated”. She recognises that many guests are returning to the destination because of the diverse offer of Ptuj and Hotel Primus, and it is with great satisfaction that she promotes her native city. Congress guests want to explore Ptuj too, as the city centre is just a stone’s throw from the hotel. The guests are always stunned by the extraordinary cultural heritage and the rich choice of events and activities in Slovenia’s oldest city. “Hotel Primus connects the past with the present, and I believe guests feel it at every step.”

36 MEET THE TEAM | PTUJ - BEHIND THE SCENES


BE FIT

Bernarda Kepe, Chef At home in the kitchen and in the company of her culinary team, Bernarda’s enthusiasm for cooking has been with her from a very early age, so she quickly picked up every essential skill. Today, she is responsible for a big team in Hotel Primus that prepares everything from small lunches to the most demanding services at main events. In the business of cooking she is most attracted to the arrangement of food on the plates and their decoration. The work on the preparation of food begins early in the morning and the whole process is a great challenge that draws on a lot of organisational knowledge. Time planning and flavour combinations are extremely important, and it is also really important to know how to stay calm. Following local tradition, on the hotel’s menu there are many dishes based on poultry and she always swears on seasonal, locally grown food. Bernarda’s kitchen is primarily focussed on ‘healthy’, and “Be fit” is a special programme where meals are made up solely on the recommendations of recognized nutritionist Mojca Cepuš. The desserts are especially popular with guests, from the Primus cake to the other, various unleavened cakes. Her biggest challenge is the revival of old Roman recipes that are especially famous and that she wants to prepare for congress guests. “I really enjoy cooking, although catering is very strenuous for women.”

COFFEE AND A SMILE CAN MAKE A BEAUTIFUL DAY Damjana Trstenjak, Bar Attendant

Damjana Trstenjak isn’t short of optimism and goodwill. And not only that, but she is able to brew up what is probably the best coffee in Ptuj! Damjana was inspired by working with people in the bar back in Economics school and since then she has always understood and knew how to listen to guests’ needs. She has been working in Hotel Primus for seven years and is today one of the hotel’s most recognizable faces who is always looking forward to the friendly smiles of guests and cheering them up with a good morning coffee and some positive energy. Positive energy is indeed her mantra, something that she always gets back when she shares it, a characteristic that is typical for this part of Slovenia and is something that foreigners particularly appreciate. The small things, like a friendly, glowing smile, cost nothing, but can really brighten up the day for a congress guest. Understanding that congress guests stay at hotel for a shorter time, she knows that they must be very well looked after and that even a few short minutes of socializing can determine whether the guests will decide to return. The food service, which is particularly important for large congresses, is therefore a real team effort. Without this team and the mutual trust that has been engendered, the success would be difficult to achieve. “We locals are really friendly and hospitable, and love to show our city to our foreign guests.”

PTUJ - BEHIND THE SCENES | MEET THE TEAM 37


MORAVSKE TOPLICE - BEHIND THE SCENES HOTEL LIVADA PRESTIGE We’ve gone behind the scenes of the Hotel Livada Prestige in Prekmurje to open up some of the more private views to our readers. We believe that here you will truly be able to get a feeling for the melancholic and hospitable Prekmurje soul. There is no doubt you’ll be excited about the Prekmurje congress experience, especially with the exceptional people there to care for your well-being.

FIRST IMPRESSION IS IMPORTANT Rado Rac, Concierge

Prekmurje is a region that believes it emits a special energy, and Rado Rac’s energetic career in tourism in Prekmurje is almost as long as Slovenian independence. As a concierge, he often has the first and the last contact with hotel guests and he knows that when you say a friendly ‘hello’ to a guest after an exhausting journey it can immediately transform their day. Rado likes to really make an effort and remembers the habits and needs of his regular guests. Over the course of a long career you can experience everything and a good concierge also becomes something of a psychologist, who with broad experience can anticipate the demands and expectations of guests. Conference guests are in this respect no different to the regular guests, perhaps only in being more familiar with the appreciation of professionalism and hospitality. It is important to cooperate with a guest from arrival right through to departure, and the best feature of a concierge is that he knows how to observe and recognize a guest’s needs; sometimes just one word will make a guest feel properly cared for. Rado likes to advise the younger colleagues and offer them sound guidance, and as a true sportsman advises them that the concierge profession requires dedication with both body and soul, as the work can sometimes be hard and stressful. “I am pleased with dynamic work that includes meeting new people and meeting their expectations”

YOU HAVE TO LOVE TOURISM Tanja Husar, Front Office Manager

With her parents associated with tourism it was natural that Tanja always wanted to work in a hotel and know what was going on behind its walls, so pursuing a hotel career was a logical outcome and in no better a place than Prekmurje, the land of hospitality and friendly, charming and openminded people. It helps that Tanja is the personification of all of these traits and for her every guest is a story in itself, and she has endless interesting stories, such as one from the past when she and her colleagues even organised a funeral for a pet! The tourism offer in Prekmurje has fundamentally changed since its inception; the main reason for coming was once the thermal water, but now active leisure and adventure is equally important. The sense of adventure is certainly not lacking in Prekmurje, and nor is a superb cuisine. The Hotel Livada Prestige reception team is working hard to have as much information available as possible in order to offer the full range of the genuine Prekmurje experiences to guests. Tanja’s motto is that it is always necessary to find the right solution for guest satisfaction. “Tourism is people, and from a very early age I was fascinated with life in a hotel”

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PEOPLE AND CUISINE ARE THE HEART OF PREKMURJE

Andrej Regoršek, Director of Food and Beverage Working as a waiter in the army, where he immediately loved to engage with guests, made a lasting impression of the hospitality profession on Andrej Regoršek. His private catering career now continues as part of a large restaurant orchestra with more than 170 employees and his congress guests extend to pension-age guests with an awareness of healthy diets and latest food trends. The Hotel Livada Prestige cater to this with their native recipes that are prepared in a modern way with a creativity that can leave you speechless, such as with their excellent Locata Panonia dessert. This is a modern interpretation of the traditional Gibanica (layered cake) and epitomises the culinary philosophy of the hotel. The close contact with local suppliers and the strong cooperation with them is a part of their new, culinary trademark and Andrej is proud of the expertise of its team, which is the bedrock of their success and quality. This once shy culinary orchestra is today making the best culinary music in Slovenia and has been crowned with many awards. With Andrej you are in very safe hands also for both wine and food for weddings – he is a sommelier and wine lover, and a great connoisseur of Slovenian wines. He is especially impressed by the exceptional quality that the winemakers of Prekmurje have recently been achieving in their harmonic wines with moderate alcohol and sugar levels going perfectly with the local cuisine. “The people, hospitality, helpfulness and cuisine in Prekmurje are incomparably better than in other regions I have known.”

MORAVSKE TOPLICE - BEHIND THE SCENES | MEET THE TEAM 39


PTUJ

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GREEN FOR TOMORROW SAVA HOTELI BLED: ACTING GREEN At Sava Hotels Bled we are committed to environmentally friendly initiatives. On an annual basis we recycle more than half of the waste generated and our consumption of energy generating products and water decreases year on year. We make investments in the improvement of the local environment and always choose local providers when possible. When it comes to product development, we follow the same philosophy.

watching. We are also dedicated to improving the nesting conditions for the local birds.

Green Events

Green for a better tomorrow

We are proud to have acquired the ECO-DAISY – the EU certificate for environmentally friendly tourist accommodation. BECAUSE WE CARE, we strive for: • less air pollution; • more efficient consumption of energy and other natural resources; • less pollution of the environment and the local area; • the use of organically produced food.

Glamping (an ecovillage of forest huts)

Situated within Bled Camping, the village has a strong environmental flavour. Built from untreated, non-impregnated larch wood and combined with the environmentally friendly nature of the services and activities available, the passive eco-houses contribute to reducing the Bled Camping carbon footprint. The ecohuts (wooden huts) comprise a village away from the ordinary camping area. There is an outdoor wood-fired hot tub next to each hut. The outdoor hot tub adds a special charm and gives guests a unique camping experience.

Ornithology trail Since the 100 ha area of the Bled Golf Course is home to at least 41 species of birds, we have designed a fascinating loop trail for bird

• “Fill your water bottle”: Water is poured fresh into a reusable bottle where its natural qualities are preserved. We try to avoid selling bottled water, particularly packaged in plastic bottles. • “Buy local and fair”: purchase from providers that have a commitment to local products and fair trade. • Working towards “Zero waste”: encouraging event organisers to implement practices that reduce the total waste going to landfill (less paper work, smart IT solutions…) • Usage of sustainable transport: Sava Hoteli Bled combines 6 hotels within walking distance and we encourage participants to use bicycles, boats or even carriages to move around the destination. • Plant a herb: With the knowledge that business clients want to do something good for the environment and leave their positive mark on the destination by planting the seeds of good cooperation and also re-visiting Bled, the idea of a “Herbal Garden” was launched. The typical Slovenian herbs are planted in clay pots with a positive message written on them and afterwards a herbal garden is made from them near to our Sava Hotels Bled.

Choosing Bled for your meeting means choosing a green meeting. This sends a clear message to your partners that your dedication to excellence includes social responsibility. Sava Hoteli Bled recycles 50% of its annual waste, keeps reducing energy and water consumption from year to year and favours Slovenian providers. Products developed by Sava Hoteli Bled for the purposes of environmental protection and raising awareness among hotel guests include virtually carbon neutral natural water and a line of products marketed under the name “Zeleni za jutri” (Green for tomorrow).

Green guidelines at Sava Hoteli Bled: • Usage of sustainable energy: Conference facilities with natural lighting. • Reducing power consumption: The temperature in the conference halls is adapted to the natural conditions: it is slightly lower in winter and slightly higher in summer. There is always an optimum microclimate in the halls to ensure that the audience feels comfortable and stimulated to participate fully in the event. • Usage of recycled materials

ACTING GREEN | GREEN FOR TOMORROW 41


FOODISM

Spring catering ideas

Incorporate the best of the spring season in your reception menu, with fresh fruit and vegetables a must! Let the mouth start watering with thoughts of Spring Lettuce with Avocado Dressing and Pistachios, Grilled Fonda Piran Sea Bass with Buttered Potatoes and Sautéed Baby Spinach, and a hearty slice of Raspberry Pie.

Ptuj healthy breakfast

Do something good for yourself – start the day with a balanced, healthy breakfast! If you want to stay in shape, maintain a healthy diet or just lose a bit of weight, the nutritionist Mojca Cepuš working together with Sava Hotels & Resorts chefs suggests you take a bowl of flakes (60g), cover it with plain yoghurt (1 pot – 200 ml) and add blueberries, strawberries or raspberries. An easy way to enjoy an energy-filled start to the day!

Moravske Toplice - Prekmurian dinner When the air smells like Prekmurje, you know that something really delicious is being cooked up. The top chefs in the Terme 3000, Moravske Toplice restaurants and cafe create dishes that add to the long list of reasons why guests love returning here time and time again, and have been doing so for the past five decades. Try the typical Prekmurje dishes like Bograch, Tunka or homemade pork sausage with sour turnip, while for dessert the famous Gibanica is an absolute must!

Bled – traditional finger food

Indulge yourself with little culinary delights to satisfy even the most demanding gourmets with a selection of canapés accompanied with wine or an aperitif. Try GRČA Karst Prosciutto with Bohinj Cheese or Veal Terrine with Goose Liver, Green Lettuce, Homemade Fig Marmalade, Herb Dressing, Brioche and Butter. Delicious!

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Prekmurska gibanica In the world of desserts the Prekmurska gibanica is a peculiarity and is also heralded as a Slovene national culinary specialty, priding itself on its European recognition of ‘Traditional Speciality Guaranteed’. This old Prekmurian festive and ritual dish takes its name from güba, or guba (meaning fold), and has had a home along the Mura river for a very long time. The oldest written source dates back to the year 1828, when the priest Jožef Kosič scripted a text mentioning the gibanica as a special Prekmurian dish that ‘is a must at wedding festivities and is also served to workers after finishing a big project. The gibanica is cut into triangular pieces and placed in a pile on the table. Everybody is served a piece that could be eaten or taken home’. Prekmurska gibanica has joined the illustrious EU list of traditional dishes whose recipe and traditional production techniques are protected. The European Commission has also registered idrijski zlikrofi, a type of ravioli from the western town of Idrija, as a Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG) from Slovenia and from the information available on the European Commission website a further Slovenian product or foodstuff registered in such a way is the extra-virgin olive oil from Slovenian Istria, which has a ‘Protected Designation of Origin’.

Do something good for yourself – put together a balanced, healthy meal at meetings!

Don’t eat

Working with nutritionist Mojca Cepuš the chefs at Terme Ptuj have put together some tips and suggestions for a healthy diet for your wellbeing at meetings. The tips are easy to follow when planning any of your events.

So, what is the best dietary advice that Mojca Cepuš can give you? • • • • • • • • •

Find healthy food that makes you feel great and integrate it into your lifestyle. Short-term diets never bring long-term results. Stay away from white sugar. Don’t avoid high-quality composite carbohydrates and healthy fats before 4pm, as they are essential for giving energy. If you don’t eat them during the day, you are sure to compensate for that in the evening or the following day. In the evening, focus mainly on vegetables and proteins. Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast. Don’t forget to have a snack, even if it’s just nuts or soup with rice noodles from a vacuum flask.

The special recipe and production technique gives a slice of Prekmurska gibanica a unique look that is definitely further enhanced by the variety of colourful stuffings that give the end-product its special charm and allure. It is further distinguished by its rich array of fragrances and flavours, as well as its pleasant texture, all of which evoke the epicurean senses of softness, succulence, and fullness.

Mojca Cepuš also recommends: • -If you want to stay in shape: eat seasonal, local, unrefined food – it contains the most biologically active substances. • If you want to maintain a healthy diet: half of your daily intake of food should consist of vegetables. • If you want to lose a bit of weight: five meals a day. The first three meals should be the largest and consist of carbohydrates, while your evening meals should consist of vegetables and proteins. • If you want to lose a lot of weight: Reduce your calorie intake. Keep your meals to below 500 kcal or 2090 KJ and replace your usual dinner with a good vegetable soup or salad. • If you are highly active and face a lot of stress on a daily basis, remember to maintain your sugar level throughout the day. The easiest way to do this is by eating snacks - always keep a handful of nuts in your pocket. Your diet should include food rich in vitamin B5, such as avocados, eggs, fat-free beef, trout, cheese, sunflower seeds, cauliflower and broccoli.

Especially for meetings: try some brain food: vegetables, fish, pumpkin seeds, walnuts or hazelnuts. CULINARY IDEAS | FOODISM 43


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