Luxury eco-villas perched on the shores of Finland’s spellbinding Lake Saimaa.
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Activity adventure | Beach | Spa
Lake Saimaa in Finland’s incredible Lakeland region – the largest lake region in Europe and one of the most heavily wooded areas in the world – is one of those places you can’t help but feel smug about knowing. While others might boast of pristine natural beauty and a place to get away from it all, this is the real deal. The Anttolanhovi Wellness Village, to which the Art&Design Villas belong, is perched on one of the lake’s curving bays, its wooden hotel and gaggle of cottages peeping out from the surrounding pine and birch forest. The drive from Helsinki takes around three hours, yet Mikkeli, the regional hub, is only 20 minutes away, meaning die-hard urbanites need never feel completely cut off. The Art&Design Lakeside Villas are just 25m from the lakeshore, with the Hillside Villas set just a little further back.
The ecologically friendly villas are all built from Finnish birch, with floors of natural stone. What sets them apart, however, is that the design of each villa was handed over to a different up-and-coming Finnish artist, all of whom used the platform to really show what they can do – no villa has a painting- or sculpture-free room. Artwork aside, each of the villas has its own sauna, a kitchen that will delight anyone familiar with modern Scandinavian designs, a BBQ, and a lounge with a well-stocked fireplace. Lakeside villas have three bedrooms, while hillside villas are semi-detached buildings comprising one three-bed and one two-bed villa. These can be combined into one five-bed property for larger groups.
It’s very tempting here to leave your immaculate kitchen unblemished and indulge in the fresh, local produce used by the hotel’s chefs. Food can be ordered direct to your villa, or you can chose to dine at either the Lakeside Restaurant or at the acclaimed Kota Restaurant. Presided over by Finnish celebrity chef Markus Maulavirta, Kota’s kitchen makes the most of what the region has to offer – pike, perch and salmon from the lake, fresh blueberries picked around its shore, wild mushrooms, pork and beef sourced from small, private butchers, and vegetables and roots from nearby local farms. It also offers some unusual, locally made berry wines.
Wooden walkways lead from each villa to a private jetty on the lake, where your own rowing boat awaits. The jetty also makes for an excellent swimming platform. The lakeshore itself has two big beaches and a large, traditional smoke sauna, a visit to which is a must. Accommodation includes breakfast, daily use of the gym, sports hall, sauna and swimming pools, plus free use of Nordic walking poles, bikes and outdoor games. Boats, canoes and fishing equipment can be hired. Frisbee golf, tennis and beach volleyball are all on offer. Numerous hiking trails wind their way through the forest and along the lakeshore. And a wellbeing village simply wouldn’t be a wellbeing village without an excellent on-site spa.
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