Not many Balaton establishments dare to stay open for winter, but thankfully there are exceptions to the rule. This year, Balatonlelle’s BL Bavaria YachtClub has joined the small club of lakeside establishments braving the cold winter weather, offering enticing events like stand-up comedy performances, a sailing-themed Christmas fair and a pig slaughter.
Even though its predecessor was one of the most elegant holiday resorts around Balaton in the 20s and 30s, YachtClub with its four-star apartments, family friendly facilities (playground, sandy beach, pools, dog friendly services) and top-notch restaurant no longer has an air of pretense about it.
Of course, the club hasn’t traded refinement for popularity: as you cast a glance from the glass-walled restaurant out onto the marina and the grey, wind-rippled Balaton, you feel privileged in some way – even if you couldn’t legally take any of the neatly parked sailing boats out for a spin.
Then your eye wanders to the catamaran towering right of the restaurant’s entrance – it must cost a fortune, you think –, which is in stark contrast to the sleek and minimal interior, and you suddenly realize that this dichotomy is at the heart of what BL is all about: high end and cozy-familiar at the same time.
This attitude is reflected not only in the food selection of the eatery we’ve featured in our roundups of the best Balaton burgers and the coolest marina restaurants, but also in the robust range of events expanded in line with the decision to stay open for winter: the poultry delicacies prepared for the Saint Martin’s Day festivities and the heavier pork goodies of the pig slaughter also held in November fit as much into the profile as elegant wine tastings.
Restaurant owner Balázs Tóth firmly believes that Balaton is a legitimate destination in the wintertime, but he admits that part of the reason they’ve opted for staying open all year round is that the staff, who play an integral part in maintaining the highest possible quality, would be hard to retain for seasonal employment only.
To make the most of this arrangement, they’ve launched a lunch delivery service called Menü Futár (Menu Messenger in Hungarian), providing tasty midday meals to the people of Lelle, Boglár and the surrounding townships, and have given the fall-winter event season a much needed boost with niche-filling novelties.
According to Balázs, staying open all year is totally natural even around some of the lakes with less favorable properties than Balaton. It seems that given the proper variety of entertainment, visitor numbers do not dwindle in the chillier months. Balázs hopes the same trend will apply to them in a couple of years, and Balaton catering teams experimenting with an all-year plan won’t be such curiosities by then.
Apart from the above-mentioned consumer-friendly refinement and versatility, one other principle was considered during the process of determining which events could be successful in the fall-winter period: the aim was to put together a program that has something for every age group, and can attract guests from as far as Budapest.
The fall-winter season will kick off with a summer farewell party combined with the finish of the Chrono Classic tour race, which will definitely turn the parking lot of YachtClub into an automobile museum. October will put a spin on Fat Thursday, introducing its Saturday counterpart with 50% discounts all day.
The highlights of November will include the Geese Days held in honor of Saint Martin as well as a traditional pig slaughter, while winter life in Balatonlelle will be reinvigorated with a sailing-themed Christmas fair with artisanal products, mulled wine and roasted chestnuts, and the exceptional 3rd New Year’s Eve Renault Regatta. The former or at least anything of the like has never been attempted before, and the latter is awaited with great anticipation after last year’s astonishing turnout: 180 boats entered the race, which was partly due to the 14-degree New Year’s Eve heat wave. The monthly stand-up show called Dumaszínház, a cultural specialty in the area, will return as part of the new initiative, and if all goes well, there will be no shortage of returning guests either.