Vila Planinka – Two Awards for the Best Boutique Congress Hotel in New Europe

The Jezersko-based boutique hotel is the winner of a Meeting Star 2023/24 accolade 

Vila Planinka, our five-star boutique hotel in Jezersko, has just bagged two MEETING STAR awards. We're now proudly recognized as Slovenia's best boutique congress hotel for 2023/24 and the ultimate winner in the best boutique hotel and destination category for 2023/24. This remarkable achievement puts us ahead in a fierce competition from New Europe, injecting fresh energy into the meetings industry. The grand awards ceremony took place at the Conventa Trade Show, the pinnacle event in the meetings industry, hosted at the Cankarjev Dom congress centre on Wednesday.

We are pleased to announce that the international jury of the MEETING STAR competition presented Vila Planinka, a five-star boutique hotel in Jezersko, with the awards in two categories. At the prestigious event that took place in the Cankarjev Dom cultural and congress centre on Wednesday, Vila Planinka was named as Slovenia’s best boutique congress hotel 2023/24 and the absolute winner in the category of the best boutique hotel and destination 2023/24, up against fierce international competition of the countries that make up New Europe and bring fresh energy and momentum to the meetings industry.

The awards ceremony was held as part of the Conventa Trade Show, the meetings industry’s leading event.

Boutique hotels as a new trend in MICE tourism

As many as 300 hotels from all over Europe were evaluated according to strict criteria. The international jury of experts gave Vila Planinka one of the highest scores in the history of this competition. Industry experts with a wealth of experience in event organisation and comprehensive knowledge of the hotel management gave the boutique hotel a score of 4.98/5.

Here are the jury’s arguments in favour of their decision: "Sustainable transformation within the hotel industry is key to creating a more responsible meetings industry. How to put sustainable transformation into practice is best illustrated by Vila Planinka. The hotel exemplifies a new generation of boutique hotels that ought to inspire large hotel chains. It shows that less is more and that tourism can develop in harmony and balance with nature and the local people of Jezersko. Using "Less but better" as its motto, the Alpine chalet is part of a wider initiative of mountain villages that promote harmony between people and nature. The motto captures the essence of Vila Planinka. With its dedication and everything it does, the hotel goes ever further to ensure and enhance the quality. As the panel of judges, we thus believe that Vila Planinka deserves to be named as Slovenia’s best boutique congress hotel for 2023/2024.”

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Marjan Batagelj: “The one thing that truly impresses are authentic experiences.”

Marjan Batagelj, the owner of Vila Planinka, who attended the Meeting Stars event with his wife and head of the Marketing Department Katja Dolenc Batagelj and his daughter – who accepted the award – Lana Batagelj, could not hide his excitement about the award: “Back in the day, many people would give me a strange look, thinking why on earth I’d decided to renovate a hotel in the countryside, far away from towns and shopping centres, far away from people. In the sense of ‘Who’ll bother going all the way there?!’ They didn’t understand my sustainable philosophy, so to me, events like this one are proof that we are doing the right thing. Even if it's not always easy.” 

In an interview for the Kongres magazine following the finalist announcement, Mr Batagelj also discussed why “sustainability” is one of the most misused words and what role AI will play in the future of tourism. His answer to the question about the main problem of MICE tourism is interesting: “The main problem that we see as a boutique destination is the tendency to focus too much on ‘things and quantity of food’ in the hopes of delighting guests, while the one thing that truly impresses are authentic experiences.” And you can only experience this by staying at places that offer the very best.

At Wednesday’s event, the event organiser and Conventa co-founder Gorazd Čad agreed with the above, adding that the essence of MICE tourism is summed up in the beautiful Slovenian word SREČANJA (MEETINGS), which includes the word SREČA (HAPPINESS). And this is something that all of us who create the story of Vila Planinka can easily identify with, as the essence of our philosophy is “to make people happy”, and happiness and making others happy have become the most important and sought-after things in the meetings industry.

Vila Planinka – Unplug to recharge 

At Vila Planinka, we have proven time and again that all things authentic impress even the most discerning guests. With 22 one-of-a-kind guest rooms, a Michelin-starred restaurant, a wellness area and a wine room, the Alpine chalet seems to be an extension of Jezersko’s unspoilt nature. It is popular with both Slovenian and foreign guests, and companies looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Those who understand that the very best business ideas are born in an informal environment and thus want to enhance their business meetings with relaxing activities in nature. This is why clients often choose to lease the entire hotel for their MICE and congress events.