Heart of the business Hotel and restaurant
Vendodhja Shko te harta
Access only by private vehicle; from Kruja towards the Shtama Pass on national road SH38 turn off 200 m before the pass, where the asphalted road stops; scenic, very windy road, asphalted all the way to the resort to allow access for all vehicles.No public transport access.
31 rooms with more under construction, from €60/night.
What to do
Hiking, quad tours, off-road driving, snowshoeing; excursions to the town of Kruja, or nearby Bovilla lake.
Perched into a hillside near the Shtama Pass (Qafshtame) lies Shkreli Resort, a mountain hotel and restaurant resort. The resort is seated on two hectares, located at the border between Kruja and Dibra Counties, in the heart of Qafshtama National Park. A 45-minute car ride from Kruja along windy but incredibly scenic roads brings you up to 1300 metres of elevation. Just before reaching the pass, the other side of which connects to Burrel and Dibra on an off-road track, a signpost leads the way to the resort’s entrance and parking.
Qafshtama National Park was established in 1996, and features pine and beech forests, small lakes and major water sources that make it a popular recreational area. The famous Queen Mother Qafshtama water source is found along the road to the resort; legend has it that the Albanian Royal Family required their drinking water to be delivered from this source daily, after a Viennese laboratory found it to be the best water in the country in 1932. So even before officially becoming a national park, Qafshtama was well known for its clean and healthy water and air. As the Queen of Albania, Geraldine, would spend her holidays here in the late 1930s, it is no surprise that during the communist period, an alpine sanatorium was established at the location of today’s resort, where once up to 250 guests could be accommodated.
The modernisation and revival of the Kamp, as it was known, is thanks to Kujtim Shkreli, the majority owner of the resort and initiator of the reconstruction project. With the help of a government grant, the renovation took place in 2018 to create a set of two detached buildings with 31 guest rooms between them; the completion of a third building is expected in the near future. The structures are loosely inspired by the traditional stone kulla fortified houses, and were designed by an Italian architect.
In yet another building, nearest the car park and small playground area, is the restaurant of Shkreli Resort. While very little food is grown on the grounds of the resort, the management, led by Kujtim’s son Lumtor, general manager of the resort, found a solution. He turned to the villages on both sides of the pass and contracted local farmers as suppliers for everything from fresh fruit and vegetables, mostly from the village of Cudhi and from Kruja below, to veal and kid, milk and dairy products sourced largely from summer pastures on the Burrel side of the pass. These longer-term contracts allow local farmers to plan and cultivate the necessary amount of crops for the upcoming season, while also providing a secure buyer for their goods. In return, the restaurant can offer regionally sourced dishes of controlled quality to its guests.
Even though it’s far from covering demand, a small 3 by 5 metre vegetable patch near the entrance to the resort, where tomatoes, cucumbers, spring onions, lettuce and peppers are grown showcases what’s possible. Furthermore, in 2018 a few fruit trees were planted along the aptly named Apple Trail, shtegu mollave. Yet even without human effort, nature provides. Taking a stroll behind the last accommodation building of the resort, one can find wild strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and elderberries in a patch of forest. More recently, a few chickens also roam the premises, while just downhill from the berry patch, visitors can have a look at the beehives and honey production, a hobby of Kujtim’s. The bees up here in the mountains have access to great pastures, making for a generous harvest of aromatic honey.
When it comes to activities, Lumtor Shkreli’s objective is for the resort to offer any and all mountain-related sports and outdoor activities. The area is perfect for hiking, and nature lovers interested in the local fauna will be delighted to know that the national park’s forests provide a habitat to brown bears, foxes, wolves, and a wide variety of birds. The resort staff can organise quad bike and off-road tours, mountain biking, and in winter guests can try snowshoeing through a real winter wonderland. Fields and nets for volleyball and football are in place for groups of friends looking for some exercise. For guests who prefer less active and more relaxing past-times, there are plans to transform the two floors above the restaurant into sauna and spa facilities, aiming to turn the hotel into a five-star resort..
While it’s not yet clear in which direction the business will develop, seemingly striving towards both a luxury resort as well as cosy home base for outdoor enthusiasts, with camping being the latest activity offered, it will be interesting to see where Shkreli Resort positions itself. Undoubtedly, the business is blessed with a prime location, offering visitors a mountain getaway surrounded by lush greenery. Now, adding agritourism to the mix, it seems to be reinventing itself to suit the needs of a wide variety of clients and their expectations.