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Hungarian rhapsody

It's not every day that a new five-star property opens in Hungary. Smaller than the state of Indiana, Hungary has a per capita income that's less then half that of the largest European countries.
Guest room: A suite at the Polus Palace.
Guest room: A suite at the Polus
/ Source: Forbes

It's not every day that a new five-star property opens in Hungary. Smaller than the state of Indiana, Hungary has a per capita income that's less then half that of the largest European countries. So the opening of the luxurious Polus Palace Thermal Golf Club Hotel
this past May--a year to the month after Hungary joined the European Union--did not go unnoticed.

After investing $24.5 million of his own money over the course of five years, Hungarian entrepreneur Peter Polus has created a luxury resort-cum-business hotel unlike anything else in Hungary. A grand Palladian facade, painted in yellow and reminiscent of an English manor house, is the first thing guests observe as they arrive. The next thing is the rolling expanse of green upon which the hotel is set. The Pilis hills loom in the distance.

With a private 18-hole golf course situated on a 178-acre nature reserve, a fully illuminated driving range with 16 sheltered stands and both pitching and putting greens, the Polus Palace bills itself as a "golf hotel." The golf facilities are excellent, and the hotel hosted the Polus Palace Masters Cup golf tournament, which was sponsored by General Motors-owned(nyse: GM - news - people ) Chevrolet, this summer. True to its country-house appearance, however, there is hunting, archery and tennis on offer, in addition to golf.

Hungary has long been a destination for international companies looking for a cheap place to open plants or subsidiaries--or hoping to find a non-Western consumer base. It also plays host to multinational companies with local affiliates, including Coca-Cola (nyse: KO - news - people ), LG Phillips LCD (nyse: LPL - news - people ) and cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris--now owned by the Altria Group (nyse: MO - news - people )--as well as car companies, such as Renault, Peugeot (other-otc: PEUGY - news - people ), Porsche, Opel and GM.

As membership in the EU results in a more accessible Hungary, hospitality professionals here predict that international trade will increase and hope to see international tourism rise right alongside it. And that's where the Polus Palace comes in. In fact, optimism about Hungarian tourism is so high that founder Peter Polus expects to make good on his investment within a decade, and is planning 25 luxury condos--to be rented on a time-share basis--nearby.

Even though Hungary is landlocked, and the Polus Palace itself isn't adjacent to any major water source, like a lake or the Danube River (which winds through the center of Budapest), the hotel's facilities, including an on-site casino and a full-service spa, lend the hotel a resort-like feel. A ten-horse stable offers equestrians the opportunity to explore the grounds on horseback, and an artificial beach and swimming pond with a fountain provide a venue for sunbathing during the Hungarian summer. Two thermal-water bathing pools are the draw for health-minded visitors who come to restore their hearts and lungs to proper working order: Thermal water has been called 'Hungary's oil' by tourism officials.

Experience the grand cities, amazing architecture and natural beauty of the Old Continent.

The hotel's 58 rooms vary in size from Superior to the Deluxe Family and Presidential Suites, but all of the rooms are decorated in the hotel's signature cherry-wood and bold-colored decor. Broadband Internet access, satellite television and five-channel music programs come standard in every room.

Three conference rooms, each named after a different French Impressionist painter, offer state-of-the-art audiovisual business facilities, including videoconferencing, while stages with dressing rooms and makeup studios are available for more theatrical presentations. For retreats or special conferences, activities as simple as Hungarian dance lessons or as elaborate as hot-air ballooning or helicopter tours of the Danube bend can be arranged.

Two restaurants, the Imperial Restaurant and Terrace and the Masters' Steak House and Club Lounge, are located on the hotel grounds; the Imperial Restaurant is on the hotel's ground floor, and the Masters' Steak House, with private cigar storage and deep leather couches, is in the Golf Club. Twenty-four-hour room service is available.

The Polus Palace is located in the rural town of Göd, about 25 minutes outside Budapest and an additional 20 minutes from Ferihegy Airport, so the hotel is easily accessible by taxi. Business travelers will find that the location and on-site conference rooms make the hotel ideal for a sequestered golf retreat, while the variety of recreational facilities make the destination a natural fit for leisure travelers. Room rates start at $150 per night.

For further information and to book, please contact Great Hotels of the World at 888-222-8859 or visit

Forbes Fact: Despite (or perhaps because of) Hungary's relatively low per capita income, unemployment in the country has remained at a low (for Europe) 6%. The economy is primarily service-oriented, with almost 67% of the population employed in service jobs and the remaining percentage in industry and agriculture. Germany is Hungary's largest trading partner.