Before Melania Trump, First Lady of the United States, became Slovenia's unofficial but, arguably, most famous ambassador, the country registered a whisper of a blip on the international travel map. Eclipsed by its more popular travel neighbours Italy and Croatia, a few years ago the best Slovenia's tourism office could muster was a play on words for its tagline.
But thanks in large part to the US election, the Central European country has drawn the attention of the notoriously fickle food and travel world which recently pronounced one of its chefs the best female chef in the world and Slovenia itself a beacon of sustainable tourism.
Here, we explore four reasons why you might want to visit this up-and-coming destination.
Home of the First Lady of America
According to the latest figures, Slovenia received a record 10.8 million overnight stays in 2016, up eight percent compared to 2015. Of those overnight stays, the country saw an 11 percent spike in foreign tourist arrivals, led mostly by visitors from Italy, Austria, Croatia, Germany, Serbia and the UK.
Melania Trump's hometown of Sevnica is also capitalising on its newfound fame, and is heavily promoting itself as a tourist destination anchored by Sevnica Castle, which dominates the city center.
Last year, the capital city of Ljubljana enjoyed the spotlight as the European Green Capital of 2016, for strategies that include a zero waste program, more bike lanes, electric trains and green buses to combat air pollution. The designation also drew the attention of a trade fair marketed as the world's largest, ITB Berlin, which named Slovenia their country partner at this year's edition.
Blessed By Mother Nature
The National Geographic World Legacy Awards recently named Slovenia's tourist board the winner of their Destination Leadership award. With nearly 60 percent of its land protected, Slovenia is touted as one of the world's most sustainable destinations.
"Our vision is for a 100 percent green Slovenia", said Maja Pak, Director of the Slovenian Tourism Office at ITB Berlin.
P.S. It doesn't hurt that it's the only country with the word 'love' in its name.
Earlier this year, chef Ana Ros of Hisa Franko restaurant in Kobarid's Soca Valley, just three kilometers from the Italian border, was pronounced the world's best female chef from the group that ranks the World's 50 Best Restaurants. At Hisa Franko, dishes give local Slovenian ingredients like homemade butter, Tolminc cheese and lamb leading roles.
Ros will be a familiar face to viewers of the Netflix series "Chef's Table," which featured the chef last year and highlighted her knack for combining surprising flavors, a talent food writer Alec Lobrano described as akin to "a broken haiku."
"When you read squid, sweetbreads, walnuts and Tolminc cheese, you can't imagine what these flavors are going to taste like when I put it in my mouth," Lobrano says. "But then you're in the midst of eating the said thing and suddenly you're surprised by how spectacular the food is."
Slovenia may be small, but this nation of two million people in southeastern Europe is a giant and pioneer in one high-flying area: ski jumping. With its more than 70 registered jumping hills nationwide, Slovenia is not just a big player in places to jump, it also makes top-notch equipment. And Slovenia also produces many of the stars of the sector. Peter Prevc, 24, is one such local hero, winning the 2016 Ski Jumping World Cup and being runner-up in 2015 and 2014.