Felicity Long
Felicity Long

One thing we've learned during these challenging times is that not everyone is being affected equally by Covid-19, and that also holds true for the European travel industry. There's no question that even the most established destinations, like France, Germany and Italy, have been slammed by the loss in tourism revenue, for example, but does anyone really think tourism to those perennially popular cities won't fully recover eventually? 

The lure of Paris at night, castles on the Rhine and Michelangelo's David in Florence are so imbedded into the tourism lexicon as to seem virtually indestructible. 

But what about destinations that, however appealing, are newer to the mainstream stage?

Take Slovenia, for example. This is a destination that I would describe as newly famous. For the past few years, the country, no doubt inspired by the explosion in popularity of neighboring Croatia, has been making itself known to travelers looking for the next hot spot, thanks to a heady mix of natural beauty, noteworthy cuisine and an emerging luxury hotel scene.

That said, there are still plenty of Americans who couldn't find Slovenia on a map if you paid them.

The good news is that, rather than retreat, Slovenia tourism has used this time to refine and promote its product so that inbound travel sellers will be ready when we are.

Here's a sampling of what we can expect:

Lake Village, billed as the first floating glamping village in Slovenia, opened this summer. Located in the village of Rozna, Lake Village comprises a series of floating cottages -- four Water Villas designed for couples and a Forest Villa that can accommodate families -- set near the vineyards and unspoiled terrain of the Vipava Valley.

A highlight for guests at Lake Village is the Michelin Plate Award-winning Pikol restaurant, owned by the Gasparin family, who also operate the cottages.

Also new on the hotel scene is the four-star Villa Majda in the village of Osp, in an area favored by cyclists and climbers.

The six-room villa, which opened in July, features an outdoor heated pool and garden as well as a restaurant serving seasonal and farm-to-fork cuisine, a bar and a wine cellar.

Villa Majda is also set up for special events, including weddings, in a restored antique barn.

Meanwhile, spa-goers can unwind at the new 13-room, four-star Dobrna Boutique Hotel, set to open this fall in Dobrna, known as the location of the oldest working thermal spa in Slovenia, once frequented by Romans and Celts.

Formerly the Villa Senoa, the hotel was originally built in 1826 and has drawn famous guests, including Maria Theresa and Louis Bonaparte.

Today's visitors can book massages, facials and ayurveda treatments at La Vita Spa & Beauty massage and beauty center and dine at several on-site restaurants.

Slovenian chef Ana Ros is widely credited for putting the destination on the gourmet map for her award-winning Hisa Franko restaurant and her appearances on the Netflix series "Chef's Table."

In her footsteps, chef Uros Stefelin has emerged this summer as a top contender with his Michelin-starred Hisa Dank restaurant  at Vila Podvin, near the medieval town of Radovljica and not far from Bled and the Julian Alps.

The villa offers five rooms and two suites, all with private balconies, and the restaurant, formerly a stable, features an outdoor terrace and garden for alfresco dining in summer.

Finally, families and adventurers can enjoy a mash-up of an escape room and e-bike cycling, thanks to a joint promotion by Enigmarium and Polka Dot Cycling called UnlockBled.

The adventure sends participants on a 120-minute, 6-mile cycling tour around Bled, where they will encounter seven challenges, save a witch and learn about the city and its history.

The tour was designed for teams of two to five people and is available in Slovenian and English.

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