Publication in the journal Houses

22. February 2017

In the magazine Houses was in December published an article about our homestead. The author is Eva Prelovšek Niemelä.

Šenk`s homestead tourist farm is a place where history comes to life. People have settled here more than 500 years ago, and they certainly felt the special magic under the mighty two-thousand-meter high peaks of Kamnik-Savinja Alps. The investor Polona Virnik Karničar says that they only added a pinch of spices to enhance the taste and looks.

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They are renovating various facilities of the homestead since 2010, while carefully preserving the genius loci of this mountain place. The tourist offer includes the renovated "volovjek", a hayloft, stables for hens, a luxurious house called Preužitkarica, and the old house, where the renovation will be finished soon. Piece by piece they put together a story that offers guests everything - from classic hotel rooms and apartments to spending the night in a hayloft, in a place for caravans, or in a summer camp. They also provide sports activities, relaxation in the sauna, wildlife watching, and enjoying the local cuisine. They also offer accommodation on the mountain. For this purpose, they renovated a shepherds cottage on Jenkalm and the roof on the cottage on Štular`s mountain. The homestead is located just off the state border and attracts people from all over Europe. In a pleasant chat at the site of the renovation of the old house, the investor Polona Virnik Karničar and the architect Marko Šenk explained the background of the tourist farm.

What is your business idea? Do you expect that the investment in the renovation will reimburse?

Polona Virnik Karničar: Tourism on the farm; as much self-sufficient homestead as it gets with many animals, organic farming, and animal breeding. Yes, the investment will definitely pay off. My husband and I have created two jobs already, and there will be more. We are building the concept of a complex tourist offer; for different types of guests, of different social class, for business and leisure tourism. We are also adding the local cuisine and are renovating the mountain, where in the summer we will graze livestock and revive this type of farming and tourism in the mountains. All this is possible due to a special location of the farm and its architectural uniqueness; 500-year-old settlement with 8 buildings, all with wooden roofs.

Who are the most frequent guests?

PVK: Due to the options described above, we have quite a wide range of guests, there is something for everyone. But the thing they all have in common is the love of nature and familiarity, and appreciation for our efforts. We have guests from all around the world (Booking.com), but most of them are Germans, Dutch, Bulgarians, and Czechs. Of course, we have the most Slovenian guests. Interestingly, there are many young couples; more than older ones.

What would you advise to investors who are thinking about renovations?

PVK: First, you should know what you want to achieve with a renovation! And then just boldly move forward - of course, with a good team and a lot of patience with paperwork. Cooperation with the ZVKD is priceless - if you find a common language with the conservator, of course. We have succeeded and Mrs. Saša has contributed a lot to the success story!

Do you think that requirements of conservators make an investment more expensive?

Marko Šenk: It is clear that some details of the old houses (e.g. windows) are much more expensive than standard ones that we use in new construction, but wrong elements are immediately noticed and can damage the overall appearance of the building. Tourists, especially more demanding and educated ones, notice and appreciate such details. This certainly gives added value to the renovation, which a new building cannot have. PVK: Maybe it will be interesting for the readers that I do not consider the renovation more expensive than new construction. Of course, the new building has certain advantage - everything is new, with new, technically more sophisticated materials, but the renovation itself did not seem more expensive to me.

Why is this renovation an example of good practice?

Šenk`s homestead is an example of good practice because of the attitude of the owners towards their heritage - they respect, preserve, live, and change it, as well as share it with their guests and visitors.

Saša Roškar, conservator, ZVKDS, OE Kranj



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