Roughly translating to “open-air-living” in Norwegian, friluftsliv is the outdoor trend that we have never craved more. From hiking through the mountains and sleeping under the stars to kayaking through the fjords, simply foraging for food or having an alfresco picnic, these properties in Scandinavia, Italy and the UK promise safe, stylish and immersive experiences to enable you to truly disconnect from day-to-day life and reconnect with the natural surroundings, sparking a healthier, happier lifestyle…
BEST FOR AN OFF-THE-BEATEN-TRACK ADVENTURE: 62ºNORD, Norway
To live the Norwegian way of life is to embody the friluftsliv. With a history of outdoor living, from hunters to Vikings, Norwegians have developed an existence that is predisposed to embracing nature and getting outdoors whatever the weather. Leading experiential travel company 62ºNORD, founded by Norwegian couple Knut and Line Flakk, seeks to offer this lifestyle to travellers across the world by offering an array of wonderful, highly personalised, world-class outdoor adventures on the North West coast of Norway.
From breathtakingly beautiful hikes, cycling trips, cross country skiing and helicopter adventures to deep sea fishing, wildlife safaris and destination dining – 62ºNORD offers the perfect antidote for those looking to reset, disconnect from the stresses of daily life and spend some time outdoors. Guests should check into the four-bedroom ‘Owners Cabin’ in Staurneset, Giske. Perfect for travellers looking to get away from it all and enjoy “hytte kultur” (cabin lifestyle), the Owner’s Cabin is a small cottage surrounded by untouched land with direct access to the sea. The cabin is located just steps away from the Nordic waters where guests will find a white sandy beach on the right and charming rocky tide pools to the left.
Giske island’s small size and comparatively gentle landscape do not betray the unique part it has played in the history of Norway, as home to noble Viking families. It is perfect for outings – hike or bike to see the curious mix of well-tended farms and swathes of wild forest and kayak to experience the uniqueness of the North Sea – home to colonies of seals and passing orcas. Those looking to push their limits with a real back to nature experience can spend a night under the stars, learning essential outdoor skills and about the beautiful wildlife of the region through the new and immersive camping experience.
Easily accessible, the Sunnmøre region is home to two airports, making it a perfect option for those looking for an off-the-beaten track adventure, without having to venture too far to experience it. With a collection of boats, helicopters and expert local guides, the team is able to design bespoke itineraries to create once in a life-time nature-orientated adventures to suit adventure aficionados of all levels.
How: All itineraries are tailormade. For more information visit www.62.no
BEST FOR THE ULTIMATE RESET: Deplar Farm, Iceland
Iceland is regarded as the ultimate getaway for travellers seeking the purest elements and space. The tiny island nation of 360,000 has one of the lowest population densities in the world and its barely explored northern peninsulas are the ideal places to go-off-grid and explore the raw and beautiful outdoors.
Deplar Farm, one of Eleven Experience’s most unique properties, is located in the remote Fljót Valley of northern Iceland with just a handful of resident farmers, where sheep outnumber humans in Iceland by more than 2:1. The free-standing Nordic-inspired lodge sleeps up to 26 guests and is located on the stunning Troll Peninsula. Come winter, it is surrounded by 3,000 ft snow-dusted mountains, allowing guests to have unrivalled access to over 1,500 square miles of untouched mountain terrain to explore. Due to limited light-pollution in Iceland, guests can also stargaze out across the clear Icelandic night sky from the impressive geo-thermally heated outdoor pool, and from late September to March, even catch a glimpse of the extraordinary Northern Lights dancing across the sky.
Guests can enjoy an exhilarating menu of outdoor pursuits, including heli-skiing, sea kayaking, whale watching in the surrounding fjords, astro-touring and fat biking special trails around the valley. To truly enhance the remote experience, guests can embark on an Eleven Life wellness retreat – a four-day programme that will push guests to their limits by combining a thrilling menu of outdoor adventures with physical and mental tasks and key lifestyle practices to take away from it. The key principles include stimulating challenges, outdoor adventure, spa therapies, fitness and nutrition, and where better to experience this than in some of the purest air and water in the world. Activities and challenges include laser tag in the wilderness, axe-throwing and sensory deprivation night walks, whilst spa treatments include The Viking Sauna, an incredible experience that combines drumming, breathing techniques, and hot and cold plunges to stimulate the immune system and test endurance.
HOW: Rates at Deplar Farm start from £1,370 per person per night (based on double occupancy). This includes customised adventure itineraries, all gear necessary for activities, pre-arrival planning with an Experience Manager, all in-house meals, house alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages, daily housekeeping and airport transfers to/from Akureyri airport. Find out more at Eleven Experience. www.elevenexperience.com
BEST FOR ADVENTUROUS EPICUREANS: Castello di Vicarello, Tuscany
Located in the heart of the stunning Tuscan countryside, with far-reaching views towards the under-the-radar Maremma coast, Castello di Vicarello is an exclusive family-owned 12th century castle, owned by the Baccheschi Berti family. With 40 hectares of private land, consisting of dreamy organic vineyards, olive groves, farmland and forests, Castello di Vicarello offers total privacy, peace and tranquillity, and is perfect for those seeking a refreshing escape in exceptional natural surroundings, with Italian authenticity at heart.
To connect with the castle’s spectacular landscapes and to take advantage of the sunnier climes, guests are invited to book a selection of bespoke tours. One of the best ways to discover Maremma’s untouched beauty is on horseback. With skilled guides on hand to lead individuals or small group treks through the hills, the horse-riding adventure is perfect for both experienced and novice riders. Alternatively, guests can embark on a 2-3-hour biking or e-biking tour with the Vicarello’s knowledgeable Emiliano who will lead guests along gentle paved roads or, for thrill-seekers, a more challenging trip along rocky terrain.
A trip to Tuscany would be incomplete without indulging in Italian haute cuisine. Outdoor lovers and foodies can learn first-hand the art of truffle hunting, venturing out on an expedition to seek out the gourmet Tuscan speciality, alongside an experienced guide and truffle-hunting dogs, then return to the property to savour the autumnal flavours.
Another essential part of the Castello di Vicarello experience is its wine, originally started by Carlo Baccheschi Berti and now with his son Brando Baccheschi Berti at the helm. With seven hectares of high-density, organically grown vineyards on the estate, oenophiles can treat themselves to the wine experience after an active day. During the tasting, guests can sample award-winning wines from organic grapes, grown and harvested on the Castello di Vicarello estate. Sharing the story of this family’s passion for creating the best possible Tuscan wines, Brando Baccheschi Berti, the producer, personally guides guests through the production process from grape to bottle. The tasting takes place in the magical atmosphere of the castle’s courtyard or in the middle of the vineyards, making for a truly memorable experience.
HOW: Rates at Castello di Vicarello start from €515 (currently approx. £466) based on two sharing on a B&B basis. Find out more at www.castellodivicarello.com
BEST FOR WILD WELLNESS: Gleneagles, Scotland
This Winter, Gleneagles launched ‘Wild Wellness’ – a mindful and restorative nature-based wellness programme, set in the wild surrounds of the hotel. Guided by the principle that exposure to nature has significant physical and mental health benefits, the two-day retreat invites guests to reconnect with the natural rhythm of the dramatic Scottish landscape, to nurture mind, body and soul.
Focusing on harnessing the outdoors’s natural healing powers while combining learnings from both Shinto and western practices, the retreat has been designed to focus on ‘organic mindfulness’, with self-connection to nature as the guiding factor – setting it apart from the traditional guided mediation approach. The Wild Wellness guide will master the skilful balance of providing information and insight, whilst encouraging moments of quiet and contemplation, to enable guests to forge an authentic connection with nature.
The Wild Wellness journey includes wellness activities such as pranayama breathing – known for its power to soothe and revitalise a tired body; immersive Nature Walks on the expansive estate, listening to the sounds and rhythms of the landscape and wildlife; stargazing under the inky-blue Scottish skies; an expedition to the magnificent Ben Vorlich for spectacular views, with an al fresco picnic lunch; and country pursuits including forest bathing, foraging and fishing. The new programme builds upon Gleneagles’ extensive wellness offering – the Spa comprises 20 treatment rooms, a steam room, a hot sauna cabin, a warm, dark vitality pool, a light-filled relaxation courtyard and a healthy Spa café.
HOW: Wild Wellness at Gleneagles will run on selected dates in 2021. Rates for the package start from £3,100 (currently approx. $4,217) based on two people sharing a Manor Room for two nights. www.gleneagles.com
Images credits in order of appearance: ChristianRemøy, 62°NORD, Deplar, Deplar, Castello di Vicarello, Castello di Vicarello and Ross Gilmore/Getty Images for Gleneagles.