Lake Balaton is the largest lake in Central Europe, renowned as the second-most visited tourist sight in Hungary, trailing only behind Budapest. The lakeshore has two sides. The north side, including the town of Balatonfüred, is more diverse and hailed as more prestigious, boasting a captivating offer of restaurants and well-developed wine tourism. The southern side, on the other hand, predominantly attracts younger, fun-seeking guests during the summer. Siofok is famed as the heart of the south of Lake Balaton, where camps dominate. Balatonfüred, renowned as the tourist centre of the northern lakeshore, is home to numerous hotels that offer enticing packages for demanding guests. The Lua Resort, which opened its doors in May 2022, aims to attract those guests. The resort includes a hotel, a conference centre in an adjoining building and a renovated marina that has flourished since its opening. The hotel sits on one of the most spectacular locations in Balaton and features views of the turquoise-coloured water reminding guests of exotic tropical destinations. The nearby city of Veszprem, the European Capital of Culture, is only 15 kilometres away.
The heart of Budapest is only 120 kilometres from the hotel or an hour and a half drive by car. The packed hotel parking signals that most guests arrive at the hotel by car. The M7 motorway between Balaton and Budapest is always full of vehicles headed to the Hungarian Sea in the summer season. An environment-friendly alternative is to take the train, which will take you from Budapest to Balatonfüred in two hours. Guests arriving by plane can ideally opt for the airport in Budapest, given the closest airport, Kesztehly, chiefly serves charter flights. The parking is not free of charge for hotel guests, which is perhaps unusual, as the parking is outdoors. Still, we must praise the hotel’s offering of electric scooters.
COLD STARTER - Architecture and aesthetics
The resort is situated directly on the lakefront of Lake Balaton, surrounded by a vast camp, which comes to life in the summer months. The hotel does not catch the eye with its height or size like the colossal neighbouring socialist hotels. Instead, the hotel boasts modern, elegant architecture with minimalist elements that remind guests of modernist hotels from the past. Intriguing green glass elements embellish the facade. Once the construction phase finishes and the Sun Lounge & Champagne Terrace becomes fully operational, Lua Resort will become one of the most elegant resorts on Lake Balaton. The interior boasts a minimalist design, similar to the exterior. It impressed us with the selection of colours and materials. Nevertheless, the interior is generic luxury architecture featuring no thrilling designer element.
WARM ENTRÉE - The staff and the culinary experience
Noon Restaurant guarantees an exceptional culinary experience. It is undoubtedly the hotel’s trump card. Michelin-star-awarded Hungarian chef István Pesti from Tata Restaurant curated the menu. He included Hungarian classics – from Hungarian foie gras and traditional pork to seasonally-inspired dishes. The creativity of the cuisine, the wine list and the service are unmatched. We had not relished such a delicious hotel dinner in a long time. We indulged in an original, local and tasty breakfast/brunch for the grand finale. Just the selection of side dishes and healthy spreads was impressive. The rest topped off the culinary experience, albeit the coffee could have been better. Without the excellent staff, the gastronomic journey would be incomplete. The head sommelier, waiter and host were unforgettable.
MAIN COURSE – The meetings offering at the hotel
The room we stayed in belonged to the Superior Lake Side category. It was average according to the size and designed with quality of materials. Measuring 30 m2, we can rank it in the bottom half of five-star hotels according to spaciousness. Still, all rooms include an alluring balcony. The interior furniture features pastel lake colours and flooring in dark earth colours. Due to the smaller size, the architects reduced the space of the writing desk and the desk pad, which will not satisfy business guests. Everything else, however, is world-class. We found the bed and bathroom with a walking shower particularly impressive. Molton Brown cosmetics enrich the entire package, whilst the excellent, uncomplicated and intuitive lighting makes the stay pleasant. Although classic, the illumination functions flawlessly. We must mention the great coffee machine with the resort’s own LUA coffee capsules and free filtered water.
We rarely come across conference centres that boast views, plenty of daylight, a large foyer and are located in a separate facility. That is why Lua Resort’s design is so precious and, in a way, unique. As the building is separated from the hotel, the venue is ideal for hosting your parties and weddings without the fear of hotel guests complaining. The central part of the conference centre is a 236 m2 large hall that can be divided into three separate halls with panoramic views of Lake Balaton. What caught our eyes were outdoor areas just waiting to be discovered by event organisers, who can either host their welcome reception in the marina or gala dinner next to the hotel pool. Altogether, the conference centre is an exceptional venue.
DESSERT – The extras
The above-standard spa and wellness attract guests to the hotel year-round. The world of saunas with indoor and outdoor pools and a massage area stretches over 1000 m2. Expert masseurs use exclusive products of the Omorovicza brand. The spa centre is spacious, welcoming and elegant. It offers a pleasant experience even when the hotel is fully occupied.
FLOP – NEGATIVE SURPRISES
When the hotel bar is full of cheerful groups, guests can hear them all the way to the rooms on the first floor. The hotel can improve the sound isolation and complete the resort with missing labelling for reaching the hotel. Given the high price of the hotel, the outdoor parking should be free of charge.
TOP – POSITIVE SURPRISES
Several professional and kind team members made our stay a memorable experience. What makes five-star hotels authentic is the personal service, not the architecture.
Several sustainable initiatives caught our eye. First and foremost, the energy-efficient building and hotel management was superb. In addition, we must praise the local ingredients in the culinary offer. On top of that, the CSR activities of the hotel include donating 1.000 HUF to Bethesda child hospital for every stay. The money will serve to purchase a new gastroscope. Lua Resort offers easy access to disabled people and is dog-friendly (Dog-Friendly Hotel Etiquette).
FINAL IMPRESSION AND CREDIBILITY
Lua Resort heralds the future of tourism for the north of Lake Balaton. The region is poised for a five-star transformation. The hotel’s architecture, quality and service are promising signs for its future. Still, a few details and consistency are what the hotel must improve to compete with the most luxurious five-star hotels. At the moment, the resort is not complete. That is why I believe the entire concept will impress everyone once finished. We found the conference centre and its format particularly praiseworthy. We have no doubts that business guests have already discovered the conference centre and its uniqueness, which sets it apart from the competition near Lake Balaton.
FINAL GRADE: 4.86 GOLD Resort Meeting Hotel
GOLD final score from 4.81 to 5.00
SILVER final score from 4.61 to 4.80
BRONZE final score from 4.41 to 4.60