Hosting in nature with a silver lining
More and more travelers have discovered that sustainable, natural and somewhat primitive accommodations are just the way to go. At Urnatur, extensive knowledge and hands-on creativity has resulted in lower costs, increased sales and more satisfied guests.
Nature is the main thread of Krynitz Ulrika and Håkan Strotz's company Urnatur. Here, in the middle of Holavedskogen outside Östergötland, Ödeshög is a place for rest, reflection and vision.
Håkan is a forester and Ulrika a biologist. As a guest of Urnatur, you live in willful, on-site self-timbered cottages and tree houses without electricity. The interior is characterized by Ulrika's design inspired by natural shapes, colors, shadows, movements, and light. Comfortable beds, sauna, and hot tub, dim view of the kerosene lamp, the aroma of boiled coffee and a crackling fireplace invites to exciting discussions and a lovely community.
Håkan Strotz and Ulrika Krynitz. Foto: Urnatur
– The tree houses are the ones that attract most visitors, but when people come here, they are amazed by our homegrown vegetables and how amazing it is to cook over open fire. It is sustainability in the broadest sense, combined with beautiful nature experiences.
Regarding nature and culture conservation, Håkan Strotz wants to see more devoted companies.
– That a company pays ten Swedish kronor per guest to the local nature conservation association, how sexy is that for the guests? You buy yourself free.
It happens that our guests ask us why not every forest looks like the one surrounding Urnatur. We explain that it is all because of our active work with nature and cultural conservation.
What initiatives do you work with related to nature and culture?
– Right now, we buy neighboring properties to rehabilitate them and to keep them away from the reckless buyers who do not understand either nature or cultural conservation. We are doing good economically, and we invest in protecting nature just like the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, but with private funds. We also create pasture lands and forest pastures and help mother nature to create more deadwood for biodiversity.
What made you want to become an eco-tourism entrepreneur?
–For us it is obvious. What is the alternative? I was involved in building up the Nature's Best scheme. It's about not to saw off the branch you are sitting on. In addition to nature and cultural values, there is an important social dimension that adjusts tourism according to the conditions prevailing on the site. Altogether, if you charge a reasonable amount of money for your experiences, you do not have to count on the number of guests, and can focus on quality.
What benefits do you get from being a quality labeled Nature's Best company?
–The marketing advantage is negligible, so it is. But one has to remember that there are other points. Generally, knowledge about nature and culture is shallow. Many people think that nature conservation only costs money, but that is not the case. If you do it in the right and smart way, everyone benefits from it. It's a ballfield where Nature's Best is a distinct player.
Do you notice an increased demand for sustainable experiences?
– Yes. Demand grows for each year, especially for the private travelers. Come spring, the tree houses will be fully booked for the season. Our guests are attracted to the sustainable, natural and somewhat primitive accommodations. We do not cook any food for our private guests, but we supply them with all the ingredients. Lamb meat from own sheep farm and local or self-grown vegetables, wild herbs, berries, and mushrooms picked on location. We have reduced costs, increased sales and have satisfied guests.
Nature's Best contains six codes of conduct. How do you communicate these as added values to your guests?
– Everything we do here depends on what is best for nature and culture. We produce 80% of everything we serve, we have built the houses ourselves, the facilities are powered by solar energy, and we are composting everything from the restrooms. All this is visible to our guests. If I'm going to stick my neck out; there is no nature-based tourism company in Sweden that is as sustainable as Urnatur.
Kicki Lind 2018-10-02