The three-star Hotel Koran, just below the ski resort of Jahorina, must now be what marketing people call a "hard sell", and not only because of its name. It is near Sarajevo in Pale, the stronghold during the war in Yugoslavia of hardline Serbs such as Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, the two people to whom the war crimes tribunal in The Hague would most like to speak. Yet Jahorina, in the Bosnian Serbs' Republika Srpska, was once internationally known: British skiers, distracted by Torvill and Dean's Bolero on the Zetra ice-rink in Sarajevo, may have forgotten this, but Jahorina was the site for the women's downhill race in the 1984 Winter Olympics.
The war seriously hurt Sarajevo's image as a ski destination; and Nato planes, trying to knock out a radio mast on the mountain, wreaked collateral damage on the facilities of Jahorina's ski area, a small but charming wooded mountainside whose largely intermediate skiing slopes down from 1,900m to the 1,300m base. Immediately after the war, Serb-controlled Jahorina was in effect cut off from Sarajevo and otherOlympic sites in the Bosnian federation by the border lines established in the Dayton accord.
Now, however, Jahorina is accessible, and back to something like its old self. It has four chair-lifts and four drag-lifts serving 20km (12 miles) of pistes and the unpisted areas between, all available for a £5-per-day lift pass. The four-star Hotel Bistrica – a place of pilgrimage for fans of 1960s style – is even more of a bargain, costing from £14 per night for a double room. A better option for skiers, though, is to stay in Sarajevo, whose delightful old town suffered surprisingly little damage during the war, and take day trips to both Jahorina and Bjelasnica, the site of the men's downhill race in 1984. Also restored, the latter has six lifts (including two chair-lifts) and a new hotel; a one-day lift pass costs £6.
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