The resort that has received millions of euros in investment, yet Romanian tourists cannot enjoy it. Egos that hinder the development of the area.


A mountain of egos stands in the way of a nationally significant resort. Muntele Mic, a place where millions of euros have been invested, could become one of the most beautiful ski areas in the country. It could be a chapter that Romania needs. However, the perpetual ping-pong between authorities and business people is hindering the development of the area. Follow the series “Staţiuni de dezinteres naţional” (Resorts of National Disinterest).

Above the clouds, under the clear sky, and with a sea of white at your feet. This is how the skiers’ paradise in the western part of the country looks like. In theory, the Muntele Mic resort has all the ingredients for success: landscapes reminiscent of Austria or Switzerland; slopes just over two hours away from Timisoara; dreamy trails, both in summer and winter.

The perpetual ping-pong between authorities and business people is hindering the development of the area.

During the first weekend with real snow, the resort remained in darkness for days, with the road blocked by trees knocked down by blizzards, and high-tension wires broken. Even the chairlifts were de-iced manually with shovels and hammers. This is the reality found on Muntele Mic, a nationally significant resort, buried for two decades under the disputes between authorities and people with money and interests on the mountain.


Cristi Dunca showcases the multi-million euro investments made by his family. The Vâlsanu chairlift alone cost over 4 million euros. The state-of-the-art snow cannons are digitally connected and controlled online, costing an additional 200,000 euros. Here, you can also find the longest night skiing trail in Romania, stretching over 3 kilometers on Pârtia Vâlsanu. With such investments, what problems could this place have? The exact issue lies in the lack of collaboration between local authorities and business owners willing to invest in tourism. In theory, they set out on this journey together 10 years ago. Dunca was supposed to build the facility and later a ski school, two guesthouses, and a hotel. The municipality’s role was to contribute along the way.

According to Cristi Dunca, there have been several issues with the local authorities. They were supposed to provide security, guards, a surveillance point for the guards, and illuminate the resort, as well as install video cameras. However, none of these provisions were fulfilled. The problems arose when the Turnu Ruieni City Hall realized that the amounts paid for leasing the mountain land were too low, and the contract clauses were disadvantageous. For example, the investor insisted that no one else should be allowed to build in the area without his approval. Since then, Cristi Dunca claims that the city hall has been blocking investments.

It appears that the local administration’s involvement was expected in this situation. Since 2020, Cosmin Belci has been the mayor, but he did not want to speak with the Observator team. When the team visited the Turnu Ruieni City Hall, they were unable to find him there or reach him by phone. According to Cristi Dunca, he desires a harmonious development of the area, similar to what he has seen in the largest ski resorts worldwide. He is trying to avoid the problems that have occurred in the other part of the resort.

The area has witnessed haphazard development in recent years, with at least three buildings constructed without proper building permits or environmental approval, located within 50 meters of our resort. This unregulated development poses a significant risk to the safety of tourists and skiers. For instance, when we initially built the parking area, we only developed 5000 square meters out of the required 25,000 square meters. It has been 7-8 years since then, and we have not received any further permits for expansion. As a result, people criticize us for being incapable, but in reality, we are bound by strict regulations, hindering our ability to proceed with necessary developments.

Horaţiu Bunea grew up admiring the mountains and now he is eager to invest in the area. He plans to build an après-ski facility and the longest tubing slope in Romania. Additionally, he aims to replace the existing ski lift with a chairlift. However, he also points his finger at the bureaucracy within institutions as a major obstacle to these developments. As we continue to try and contact the mayor, it becomes evident that, despite the natural beauty of Muntele Mic, the lack of essential utilities remains a significant issue. Even after almost a century since the first tourists discovered its potential, the resort still faces challenges. The silence from the Turnu Ruieni City Hall exacerbates the situation. According to Cristi Dunca, investor, it is the immense pride and egos here that hinder progress, destroying communication and relationships between people.


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