Can you imagine traveling without having to pay for fuel? Where all the charging stations would be located at idyllic sites, let's say, at a hotel which is near the modern urban bustle, but where you can at hear the primal sounds of nature? Fasten your seat belts and travel with us.
TWO YEARS AGO
In Silicon Valley, the home of companies that change experiences of users of digital technologies, like Apple, Google, Facebook and a variety of others, a man in his early 40s, who is not interested in cars with internal combustion engines, is also creating new experiences. Not for mobile phone or internet users, it's about cars. Elon Musk is someone who, at first glance, quite quixotically fights against the existing technologies used in car industry. He has just presented his baby to the world - the Tesla Model S, EV limousine with 400 kilometer range, but much more than that. The hype about Model S is not just about the car, it's about the promise that the users of his vehicles will never have to pay for energy at his fast charging stations, called Superchargers, which charges the car in matter of tens of minutes, not tens of hours. Tesla has very swiftly launched them across America, and not much later they begun their expansion into Europe.
Two years later, the journey of a German tourist to the Adriatic coast, a quite common destination of German holidaymaker in during summer holidays, can also be done with electric car. OK, not just any electric car, if you want your travel to be at least close to being as convenient as travelling with "old technologies" cars, you currently need a Tesla. Over one-hundred Superchargers have emerged across Europe to date and, by the end of 2015, there will be more than two-hundred of the fastest charging stations for electric cars in the world. Superchargers are set up at locations chosen so that the users of Tesla vehicles have no problems reaching the next charging location. Of course: having those stations at locations, interesting for tourists, not just within reach form previous charging station, is a big plus. Just waiting for a car to charge being replaced with local sightseeing or some good food and drinks is always a welcome change.
A STOP IN SLOVENIA
Travelling from the north of Europe to the Dalmatian coast in a Tesla using Superchargers will become a reality by the end of 2015, since they will be set up in Croatia, from Zagreb to Dubrovnik. But currently, the southernmost place where one can charge a Tesla on a Supercharger is in Ljubljana, and for the rest of the way charging on fast AC or Chademo stations is needed – slower, but you only need a little bit to get to Split, for example. While driving to coast listening to the silence, the navigation system offers us the following charging option: Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, which is a charming, beautiful small country. But it does have one weakness: its perfect location opens too many doors to the sea and too many tourists just drive through on their way to or from Croatian coastline.
While we are getting close to our goal, the car has approximately 80 kilometers of energy left since the last charge, in Salzburg. Enough for a carefree drive, as charging station an a hotel are waiting in Ljubljana. This city, which is considered one the most beautiful in the world (at least according to many tourists that come and then later come back), offers other types of charging stations as well, mostly high-speed AC stations, right in its center. Due to its green efforts, Ljubljana has been selected as the European Green Capital of 2016, and aims to be presented on the eco-map as a city that encourages advanced urban practices. But the navigation device does not take us directly to the center, but offers us the Tesla Supercharger, which is about 300 meters from the motorway, and is accessible from both directions. Excellent.
THE FOUR POINTS BY SHERATON – MONS HOTEL
An even better vista awaits us, when we get close to our charging station. The winding ascent is followed by a view of the first designer hotel in Slovenia: the Four Points by Sheraton – Mons, designed by architects Boris Podrecca and Miha Dobrin, edged by a forest, with a large car park (free, and the largest hotel car park in Ljubljana) and Tesla's Superchargers, of course. No wonder Tesla, which boasts locations all around the world, ranks the Ljubljana site among those of which they are most proud.
YIN AND YANG
When entering the hotel, we are once more surprised. In front of us, we see an imposing pendulum that divides the hotel into two opposing but complementary poles: on the left side, which overlooks the untouched forest, there are rooms that radiate peace, silence, rest and remote serenity from the fast pace of turbulent everyday life; on the right side, we see a bar, a restaurant, the hall and a view the motorway, reflecting dynamism. We are near the city center, but we are not marked by its laws. We are close to nature, but still in an urban environment, with all its infrastructure at our fingertips.
While the car is charging, it's time to start exploring the hotel. We found out that Starwood Hotels and Resorts, are committed to socially-responsible conduct, and this particular hotel has even received an award within the Starwood chain. They produced bags from recycled materials, in cooperation with the Smetumet Eco-Cultural Society, and all the guests grabbed them as quickly as they could (only one was left). In the field of mobility, they promote new trends that prioritize electric means of movement. Not only can their guests charge any electric car (Tesla cars that run on renewable energy sources), they can also use an electric Smart (provided by the leading Slovenian e-mobility services provider, Avant Car) to run errands or go to the city center.
The love of life and pleasure in simplicity can be seen at every step of the way at the Four Points by Sheraton – Mons Hotel. They tell us that they are innovative when it comes to everyday objects. Their beds, called the Four Comfort Bed, have above-average mattress thickness, thus being the most comfortable of beds. Desks are big and not cluttered, so guests can work without hindrance. Before going to see the city center of Ljubljana, we grabbed their Ljubljana Grand Burger, which contains typical Slovenian ingredients, including Kranj sausage and baked potatoes on the side ...
SEE YOU AGAIN
You've guessed it – we continued our journey the next day, since we spent the evening in the city center (the hotel shuttle runs every hour). The city center was full of people having fun, chatting, having a drink. The atmosphere was lively, locals friend, and retreating to the hotel came all to late, as we realised the next morning. Yes, we could have only stopped for an hour or two, to charge the car and have a burger and coffee. But that would have been a mistake.