Already last autumn, economists and the diocesan leadership agreed that they would no longer operate hotels and get rid of them. And the money from the financial compensation will be used for the construction of rental apartments.
The diocese has not disclosed the losses from its hotels, but they are certainly painful and will be exacerbated by the coronavirus epidemic, which has hit the hotel industry drastically. And the question is whether hotels will be salable during the coming economic crisis and also at what price.
“However, the hotel industry proved to be very problematic,” Jan Balík, the new vicar general of the Prague archbishopric, told Práva.
Sales for years
“Firstly, because we very often tried to convert valuable historic buildings into hotels, which is expensive and expensive. In addition, it turned out that we do not have the necessary know-how required by the hotel industry today, “Balík added, adding that the economic council of the archdiocese had decided to sell the hotel in Mostov u Chebu. The archbishopric bought and renovated the romantic-style chateau a few years ago.
“The operation of this hotel is not entirely easy, because Mostov is located near Cheb and it is not easy to gain clients here. That’s why we decided to sell it, “Balík explained.
According to information Rights for the hotel want tens of millions. The hotel has been sold by the real estate company Chateau for half a year, which does not provide information to journalists. “So far, we are still looking for buyers, there are several interested people and they are currently studying the building,” Archbishopric spokesman Jiří Prinz told Práva.
But the sale can take years. “Locks are bought more for private purposes. Hotels in castles were hard to sell before coronavirus, they will be even worse sold now, “a monument broker specializing in Práva.
The four-star Chateau Clara Futura hotel in Dolní Břežany near Prague probably has an uncertain fate. The archbishopric restituted the dilapidated chateau and invested 250 million crowns in its reconstruction and rented the hotel. But tenants fail to attract movable clients to the small town.
“In the spring, we started cooperating with the operator. Various offers are coming, but now we will be thinking for some time about which way to go next, “Balík added.
The Archbishopric also has the Panský dům hotel in Rožmitál pod Třemšínem. According to Balík, it works without problems, which is why the diocese will keep it. According to the vicar, the economists of the diocese are now considering investing in the construction and rental of flats.
Churches and religious societies receive two billion crowns a year as a lump sum compensation for unissued property. Four-fifths of this money – about 1.6 billion crowns – goes to the Catholic Church. Bishops invest most of their free finances in financial funds and part in real estate.
According to the economist of the Czech Bishops’ Conference, Karel Matysky, rental housing is a sure bet. “It’s easier and safer than running hotels, especially today in this crisis,” he said.
The Pilsen diocese, for example, has good experience with investments in flats and also in hostels. “In the Pilsen diocese, they have already started investing in rental housing under Bishop Radkovsky – for students, for example – and now they are successfully continuing to do so,” Matyska remarked. He added that he advised bishops not to bet on just one card and to invest money in stocks, bonds and real estate.
The Hradec Králové diocese, for example, has embarked on a large project, which as a partner has invested in a multifunctional building for 670 million crowns in Karlín, Prague. The house should have apartments, shops and offices.
Pandemic loss: 220 million
Not all bishops’ investments are applauded. E.g. The diocese of České Budějovice decided to do business in banking and real estate. It therefore invested a year ago in a real estate company and also in the purchase of a stake in the Artesa campaign. In particular, the acquisition of 9.5 percent of the shares of the largest Czech credit union raised questions.
Fugitive businessman František Savov is associated with Artesa and the bank was in search of the police. According to Matyska, it is still not clear whether this is a reasonable investment. “Investing in a bank is an individual step by Bishop Kročil, which raises many questions,” he said.
A week ago, in a letter to the priests, the Archbishop of Prague and Cardinal Dominik Duka also admitted that the Prague archbishopric was not doing well economically.
“I cannot hide the fact that the economic situation of the diocese is not optimal and it is necessary to respond to rapidly changing circumstances affecting the financing of the church, such as the bark beetle calamity, the coronavirus pandemic and others. I will not even defend some not very successful investments of the last few years, which do not bring the returns we hoped for and which I was assured of, “said Duka in the letter.
The Catholic Church – mainly the Diocese of Prague, Ostrava and Olomouc – manages 130,000 hectares of forests and 30,000 hectares of agricultural land. However, the price of wood has fallen by half since 2015 due to mining surpluses caused by bark beetles. Last year, according to foresters, losses in church forests exceeded 1.2 billion.
The Czech Catholic Church estimated the losses during the pandemic last week at 220 million. The amount includes the loss of profit from church collections, termination of the lease of establishments and flats managed by the church, loss of admission to museums or the operation of hotels and restaurants.