The First Lady of the Tatras, as we like to call Hotel Lomnica, was built at this location 124 years ago.
LET ‘S TRAVEL BACK IN TIME TO THE VERY BEGINNNING OF HER STORY. TO THE YEARS WHEN THE HISTORY OF TATRANSKÁ LOMNICA ITSELF BEGAN TO UNFOLD.
It’s year 1892, Austria-Hungary. The government and the wealthy nobility from Budapest begin with the extensive building activity of the “Tatranská Lomnica villa settlement”. A year later, the construction of the grand project by the architect Gedeon Majunke is already under way. The building is to add its own face to the newly built Tatranská Lomnica. It is to be the very first hotel in the Tatras. Its construction takes one year, and the value of the investment is 85 000 forints.
In 1894, Hotel Lomnica opens its gates to first guests – high state officials, nobility, artists, but also visitors of the first alpine climate spa in the High Tatras. Accommodation is available in one of the twenty-eight rooms with the daily rate starting at 1 – 3 forints. In 1900, accommodation would set you back 2 – 6 crowns per night.
At the turn of the century, the Tatras come to life thanks to sports enthusiasts who travel here also to enjoy modern adrenaline adventures. Speed enthusiasts enjoy sledging on the newly built bobsleigh track or the wind in their hair while riding horse-drawn skis. Sports are dominated by golf, tennis, or clay pigeon shooting. Tatranská Lomnica becomes a popular hotspot offering its visitors a vast range of leisure activities. Nothing stands in the way of developing tourism and breaking of speed limits.
The parks flourish thanks to landscape designs of gardener Ján Böllmann while the hotel kitchen is regularly supplied with freshly grown vegetables directly from the gardens of the Lomnica.
An unexpected fall
However, only a few years later, the Tatras begin their descend to desolation. Hotel capacities no longer serve tourists, but soldiers and mountain rangers who arrive here for military training. The First World War changed everything now bringing dramatic moments to this former sanctuary of relaxation and entertainment. In the winter of 1917/1918, Tatranská Lomnica is completely abandoned.
After the war, the former property of the Hungarian kingdom – that includes also the hotel – is acquired by the newly formed Czechoslovak Republic. However, the buildings are looted and desolate. Cyril Holuby, an experienced balneologist and hotel manager, is assigned the task of restoring the lost reputation and glamour of Tatranská Lomnica. This brings a number of unpopular decisions against the opponents of the new regime. This also may have been the reason why Cyril Holuby mysteriously disappears only a while later.
A new hope
However, during the 1930s it dawns on better times. A cable car is being built up to the peak of Lomnický štít and the Lomnica again becomes a popular hotspot and a hub of social life. The golden 1930s bring a cultural boom also to the Lomnica. The rebuilt hotel terrace becomes a popular spot to relax in the invigorating alpine air of the Tatras and the hotel premises even serve as a studio for Vladimír Koštial, the photographer of the Tatras.
Just like the hotel had survived World War I, it also survived World War II. After the liberation of Czechoslovakia from Nazism, the hotel again enjoys a unique atmosphere. It hosts numerous musical and theatrical performances. Hotel guests also often enjoy the sound of the electrical organ as well as the merry laughter and hum of voices of hotel guests during the regular five o’clock tea.
Fatal tipping point
Hotel premises served different purposes throughout all the years – this included distinguished guests, soldiers, or inhabitants of the Tatras themselves. However, nothing affected the hotel like the 1990s. Shortly after the privatisation, the hotel was still in operation. In 1993, however, its renovated facade only displays a banner celebrating the hotel’s 100th anniversary. The building itself, unfortunately, no longer serves its purpose. Its operation was limited to sale of souvenirs, toys, and food.
However, these shops gradually ceased to exist and the building of the once famous First Lady of the Tatras remained abandoned subject to the ruthless ravages of time. Only a family of storks were accommodated in the building, and they were the last to “enter their names in the guest list”. Once beautiful premises become a ruin….The pride turns to disgrace…
The rebirth of the First Lady
In 2015, the First Lady of the Tatras sees a new glimmer of hope and a spark of new life. An investor and architects from GFI enter the now unsealed premises of the hotel. Despite the run-down and desolate conditions, the hotel takes their breath away. The pivotal task is to preserve the greatest possible part of the original building and to restore its original purpose, the lost glamour and prestige. In the same year, an ambitious project is put together which must meet the highest demands of contemporary hotel guests.
It is necessary to expand the accommodation capacity, complete the premises for the wellness centre as well as the congress venue. However, the new extension should not compete with the original building, on the contrary: Its task is to contrast with the historical section thus pointing out to its uniqueness. Therefore, the extension is designed in a minimalistic modern style with a silhouette resembling the contours of the Tatra peaks. Join us to have a peek into the premises just before the reconstruction and after it gets completed.