SK, High Tatras – Hrebienok
Our journey across cottages in the High Tatras will bring us today to popular place known as Hrebienok where an alpine hotel is located as well as an upper station of a cableway, great initial place for alpine tourism or once famous ski center that comes to live in the present from time to time.
But lets look at things one after another. You can get to Hrebienok easily. From Starý Smokovec there goes mildly raising asphalt road right to the top. The road is suitable for children and elder people as well. The walk will take you about 45 minutes and, of course, there is an alternative that used also Queen Elizabeth II during her first visit of the High Tatras and Slovakia. A modern surface cableway will spare you about thirty minutes of walk. But before we tell you something about the present of the place we will move few decades to the past first.
1908, the year is important for the fact that the very first cableway ride from Starý Smokovec to Hrebienok happened. In the upper station of the cableway was located an electro-engine that winded a steel rope up on which there were two open carriages that operated as a shuttle service. There was no waiting room in the station, on the other hand its platform was roofed. Tickets were sold in the carriages. Local business man Vincent Matějka bought land nearby the upper cableway station shortly after the cableway operations were launched. He built there a coffee stand and bistro stand that in the course of time were rebuilt to small but cozy hostel. After the Great War, a change of the owners of the cableway caused a change in business intentions there. The then Legiobanka, the new owner of the cableway, intended to built a “folk” touristic hotel on Hrebienok. And so it did! In the year 1928, the intention of the bank was carried out and the result was Sporthotel that replaced Matějka’s hostel. Not far from the hotel there were built flats for employees. The hotel had 66 rooms, electric lightning, bathrooms and even barber’s shop. A flat roof of the hotel guest used as “sun spas”. Maintenance of the hotel and its surroundings was carried out by František Pavela who got it from Legiobanka for rent. Under Mr Pavela administration the place flourished. Since 1930, he had began adjusting easy ski hills and ski slopes, he was maintaining a road from Starý Smokovec, or in winters he changed it to a sledge track. He also initiated a modification of the Under Slavkovský štít ski slope. Thanks to this there were regular competitions for so-called PAVEL cup, but when the Second World War began this tradition wanished. He also planned a construction of “mammoth” ski jump, unfortunately, it never happened.
After the Second World War, the cableway became a property of national railways company and in 1947 Sporthotel became a possession of Revoluční odborové hnutí (ROH). A renovation was launched, the cableway with opened carriages was rebuilt to a roofed cableway. Also equipment changed. In 1970, two new stations were built. The upper station was constructed 200 meters lower than its predecessor. The old building was demolished and Sporthotel got a new façade. In 1988, the hotel (or in ROH terms ROH Sanatorium Hrebienok) was closed due to an extensive renovation. It lasted 11 years. OIt was opened only in 1999 as a two-star Hotel Sorea Hrebienok. As usually, its fame hadn’t last long. Thanks to changing political circumstances it soon changed an owner and was renamed to Horský hotel Hrebienok. In the course of several last years the hotel experienced fire, in 2009 when a short circuit created a fire. Thanks to a short response from people who walked by the fire didn’t do much damage.
In the present, there are 112 beds. And also thanks to the road its furnishing is above-standard. In the bottom part of the hotel there are two restaurants. Hrebienok is one of the most popular places in the High Tatras. It is sort of an entrance gate to Malá Studená valley and Velká Studená valley. In the hotel’s vicinity there are several ski slopes where the World Skiing Championship of 1970 happened. Operations of majority of these ski slopes are, in the present, ceased and their long-gone fame is reminded only with judge towers. There are several events on Hrebienok each year. Among the most attractive are Bear days, various sport and adrenaline activities, or ice carpenters’ championship we recently saw.
Text and photo: Oskar Mažgút
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