Kempinski Palace Portorož

Portoroz, Slovenia | C.1910

Photo Credit: Mariusz Majewski

If you’re looking at this facade, and you think the name (“Palace Hotel”), is not quite right, you’re correct, because it is now Kempinski Palace Portorož. The only deluxe hotel in Portorož, on the Adriatic coast of Slovenia, was closed three times before settling a 20-year contract to become the five-star location it is today.

The hotel’s roots date back to the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire when construction first began in 1908. Opened in 1910, Austrian architect Johannes (Giovanni) Eustacchio called on his Italian roots to give the hotel a classic Vienna feel while blending Art Nouveau, Secession, Bauhaus, and Art Deco influences.

In 1980, the hotel experienced its first closure, but even without regular operations, the three years later, the Municipal Decree on the Proclamation of Cultural and Historical Monuments in the Municipality of Piran stepped forward to declare certain parts of the building as monuments. These included the overall architectural approach of the hotel and surrounding man-made landscapes.

Kempinski Palace reopened shortly thereafter, but closed again in 1987. It would only operate for another three years before doors shuttered for what seemed to be the third and final time. It appeared the hotel would be saved by Australian businessman Jozef Zrim who leased the hotel in 1994 under a 99-year contract, thus founding the Imperial Palace holding company. But the company filed for bankruptcy, leaving the door open for Istrabenz Holding Company to take ownership.

Under Istrabenz’s direction, the hotel was renovated with a modern flare by Jean-Claude Laville as the head designer. Today, the five-star hotel welcomes statesmen and celebrities the world over, and has been a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide since 2016.

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