*As seen in The Logbook.
A traveller to Slovenia would be hard pressed to find a place to stay that offered a more sublime, picturesque and legendary view. Today, Senkova Domacija is a well visited and highly respected vacation area offering comfortable and warm accommodation, a host of activities and the most stunning views imaginable. But there is a great story behind this business, and we spoke about it with Co-Founder Polona V. Karničar, who set up the business with her husband Drejc.
“Drejc and I grew up in this area,” she says, “He grew up in the mountain hut Češka koča, above valley of Jezersko and I was born on this farm. Both of us loved hospitality and turning the farm into a tourist destination is something I’ve always planned to do.”
Being 500 years old, the farm is an important part of the Slovenian past. So Polona and Drejc have been careful to maintain this valuable history while renovating the buildings to a high standard of hospitality.
Polona says, “The farm itself is special. It has eight stone and wood buildings, is surrounded by green meadows and has vast white mountains in the distance. It is a working farm and we have Slovenian animal breeds such as sheep, cows, pigs and chickens. They roam free and guests are encouraged to see and feed them.”
The farm also produces highly ecological food and that for guests and visitors local homemade dishes are prepared.
“It is important to give our guests a real authentic taste of the area,” she says, “And we believe that food is such an important part of hospitality.”
Essentially a family business, eight members work alongside three employees on a day to day basis and during summer a number of students are employed to help with the busier times. The employees are all from the nearby village and add to the already powerful family ethos of this business.
There are eleven rooms, comprised of four apartments and from July 2019 there will be seven double rooms with modern toilets and bathrooms in all. Outside there are an additional twenty spaces for tents and caravans with power sockets.
“We wanted to keep as much old wood in the buildings as possible since we wanted to offer that great wood smell,” Polona says, “It helps create a very nice atmosphere inside by stimulating more of our guest’s senses.”
WHAT GUESTS CAN EXPECT?
Building relationships is so important to Polona, and she knows that to properly look after guests you have to take care of the small details and work from there. Immaculate facilities that are clean and presentable, comfortable beds, fabulous showers and that wonderful superb crisp feeling are all part of the baseline standard they keep at Senkova Domacija.
“Speaking with our guests is a massive part of what we do,” she adds, “We show them around and we always help them in choosing the right trips or hikes in the region and we are always open to advice and suggestions.”
WIFE AND HUSBAND TEAM
Polona was born on the farm and grew up on the Senkova Homestead and has always been determined to get the farm involved in tourism. Having worked in the field herself in marketing, sales and logistics and having studied extensively she is a force to be reckoned with and along with her husband Drejc, the pair have shared some wonderous adventures together.
For example, together they climbed to the highest peak of Europe, Mont Blanc in 1994, and in 1996 they took part in a local expedition to South America, where Polona reached her height of 5200m. Then in 2007, she skied from the Mont Blanc ram which is 4500m high, and in 2008 from the top of the 4105m high peak Dom de Neige in the Ecrins Mountains. Even with three kids in their family they seem unlikely to slow down.
THE START OF SENKOVA DOMACIJA
After the 2008 crisis that hit the economy, Polona decided in the autumn of 2009 that it was time to build the farm into the farmstay she had dreamt of for so long. She decided to study at the Biotechnical Center Naklo, took over the management of the farm, and started the conversion to tourism.
Over five years they renewed most of the buildings on the farm, arranged for the entire homestead to be renovated, set up campsites for the camp guests, built a new housekeeping house and prepared plans for the reconstruction of the main Šenkova house.
Fortunately, this was not the first business venture that the pair of them had worked together on. They had previously set up a tour business in 1997 involving trips to the famous mountain lodge Czech Cottage above Jezersko . The pair of them knew they worked well together. Also, it was important to Polona for another reason.
“My great grandfather Josip Virnik, who was a landowner, had laid out plans to convert the farm into a tourist destination and accommodation decades ago,” she reveals, “However, post nationalization of agricultural land at the time meant the idea never came to fruition. We wanted to make sure it worked this time.”
Drejc, which is short for Andrew, is just as impressive, or even more. He is the youngest son of Anica and Andrej Karničar who were the long-standing caretakers of the Czech hut. Together with his sister and three brothers, he spent his youth closely connected with the hills and skiing. Passing the Alpine Test in 1988 he crowned the first descent from Annapurna’s Himalayan eight-eyelid, which he conquered in 1995 and co-authored with his brother Davo.
“He has also crossed the eastern wall of Matterhorn at 4478m,” Polona adds, “Skied several times down Mont Blanc and in our local hills he’s taken on the steep walls of Baba, Dolgi hrbet, Kočna and Grintovec.”
Together with Polona, he is the successor to his father as caretaker of the Czech hut above Jezersko and has been for five years. When not working on the renovation of the Šenkova Homestead and its tourist offering he was directing his wide alpine and skiing skills and pedagogical sense into programs for young people. Now he works as the mayor of Jezersko Municipality.
In 2019, seven new rooms will be added to the house. These will also be made out of natural materials to ensure that they fit with the expected aesthetic. This forms the next phase of their project and the third building permit will lead them to the reconstruction of the attic part of the old house. The construction will be entirely wooden, there will be roof windows on the southern side, and large light surfaces will be on the east and west side of the lodge. The plan is that from the north guests will not see anything happening in the house while the view of the hills will remain the same.
Rooms will be arranged on two floors; in the first mansard there will be an apartment for four people and two triple rooms and a common area or conference room. In the second mansard there will be smaller rooms; three double rooms and one apartment for two. Rooms will be ready until the beginning of the main season.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
This is a hiking area and there are many different levels of hiking on offer; from very easy to very demanding and a number of climbing and cross country skiing routes available. The homestead is 900 meters above sea level and the mountains are 2500 meters high. Bring appropriate clothing and always pack an extra jumper just in case.
TELEPHONE NUMBER:+386 31 777 188
PRICE: Camping Spots/night €8 (April, May, October) €10 (June and September) €12 (July and August)
BB and HB prices from €35 – €65/ person