Jan Horal would have celebrated his 100th birthday on 23 February 2023
Jan Horal was born on February 23, 1923 in Stráž pri Čope. He never forgot his hometown, and he loved to return there. He supported local compatriot associations and the civic association the Society of Friends of the Subcarpathian Rus’, of which he was a member. He left his native country at the onset of the Second World War for Palestine. During the war he served in British and Czechoslovak units in the Middle East and later, as a member of the Czechoslovak Independent Armored Brigade, he took part in the liberation of Europe. After the events of February 1948, he emigrated to Sweden, where he worked his way up from a factory worker to a serial entrepreneur. After the Velvet Revolution he returned to Czechoslovakia and started a new business in the hotel industry at the age of 71.
Jan opened his first hotel in Prague in 1994 - Hotel Duo. There he founded the so-called Aviation Club, dedicated to the memory of Czechoslovak pilots in the service of the British Royal Air Force (RAF), for whose rights and dignity he actively fought all his life. Czech ad foreign war veterans met regularly at the Hotel Duo and the Terezín Initiative held its meetings there. Jan Horal was a member of the Jewish Community of Prague and the Rotary Club Praha Staré Město, sponsored the statue of President Edvard Beneš on Loretánské Square in Prague and was responsible for his monument in Brno. In 2006 he became an honorary citizen of the Prague 18 district. There is a street named after him in Letňany.
The company Bohemia Properties expanded. Today it owns and operates an additional four hotels in the Czech Republic: Hotel Carol and Hotel Leonardo in Prague and two hotels in Český Krumlov: the famous Hotel Růže and the OLDINN Hotel which has recently been completely renovated.
Jan Horal was awarded by the city of Český Krumlov in 2000 for his contribution to and vision of developing the city and especially for creating many jobs. He also initiated a meeting of entrepreneurs and the establishment of the Český Krumlov Tourism Association in 2009. In addition, Jan Horal was posthumously awarded by President Zeman in 2022 for his contributions to the Czech Republic.
Jan was a long-time sponsor of the Foundation Fund of the Chamber Music Festival in Český Krumlov and a member of the festival committee. Overall, he made a significant contribution to the development of tourism in the South Bohemian region.
Jan Horal passed away on November 3rd, 2011 at the age of 88. He received numerous awards for his tenacity, versatility, combat deployment, charity work and inspirational approach to life:
- Order of the British Empire (MBE)
- French Legion of Honour
- British Campaign Medal, Africa Star
- Czechoslovak War Cross and Czechoslovak Medal for Bravery before the Enemy
- Cross of Merit, 1st Class
- Medal of Merit, 1st Class (for services to the state in the field of culture)
About the company:
The Horal family, based in Sweden, are the owners of Bohemia Properties a. s. and manage the JAN HOTELS group in the Czech Republic. The company was founded in 1994 by Jan Horal. Hotel Duo, one of the largest hotels in the Czech Republic with 654 rooms and convention facilities was the first of the hotels operated by the company. The company expanded with two more hotels in Český Krumlov; Hotel Růže opened in 1999 and Hotel OLDINN in 2001. Both became the leading hotels in the area. The moto of Jan Hotels is to constantly invest in further development in order to keep up with the latest trends in the hotel industry giving their employees career developing opportunities and providing superior services to its guests.
Hotel Duo and Hotel OLDINN have undergone a complete renovation. In 2018, the company bought and started operating Prague´s Hotel Leonardo, located just a few steps from Charles Bridge. The hotel has recently undergone the first stage of renovation, which will be fully completed by 2024, and has become a leading hotel in Prague. A project for the complete renovation of Hotel Růže in Český Krumlov is also planned. In 2020, the company successfully expanded its hotel portfolio and acquired Hotel Carol in close proximity to the O2 arena. Each of the hotels has its own distinctive charm and tells its own unique story. Jan Hotels combines modern, historic and boutique hotels. They aim to provide the highest level of service and strive to always exceed client expectations.