Ask any Finn from CEOs to famous chefs what they love most about their country, and inevitably they say its forests and lakes. Considering that over 75 percent of Finland is covered in deep forest, and 188,000 glittering blue lakes dot the vast landscape, one could surmise that a deep connection to nature is just one of the reasons why this pristine Nordic country was once more named the Happiest Country in the World1.
Largely untouched by tourism, Finland’s Lakeland region exudes dramatic beauty, and its landscapes offer a unique Finnish experience that brings you back to nature in all seasons. Breathe in fresh clean air, and take a dip in lakes so pure they provide drinking water for over a million people.
Finland Takes You Back to Nature
To experience the best of Lakeland and discover the Finnish secrets to happiness, stay lakeside in a luxury mirror house, glass igloo, or design villa that thins the divide between the great outdoors and cozy Scandinavian living.
Haasi Mirror Houses
On the pristine sandy shores of Lake Päijänne, Finland’s second largest lake, sit the newly imagined Haasi Mirror Houses at Lehmonkärki Resort. These unique houses cultivate a unique sensation of floating over water.
Extending over the lake on a private pier, floor-to-ceiling glass mirror walls offer unobstructed views, all the while providing total privacy. Each mirror house boasts sophisticated Finnish design complete with a hot tub. The dedicated area is adults only and features large open terraces and a panoramic Finnish sauna with stunning lake and forest views.
Depending on the season, days are spent exploring the lake on SUP boards, snowshoeing or cruising through the snowy forest on silent electric snow mobiles.
Halla Nature & Design Villas
In southeastern Finland, Lake Saimaa is a geological wonder home to thousands of islands and the Halla Nature and Design Villas. Imagined by architect Emma Johansson, the villas blend a cozy yet expansive feeling with natural light and gorgeous views. Nature is an inseparable and elemental aspect of the architecture, here, where each villa features a private walkway leading to a floating dock with a swim ladder – the perfect invitation to take an exhilarating lake dip, even in winter. Built from eco-wood and natural materials from the Finnish forest, the design villas are also filled with Finnish art and, of course, a private sauna.
The Design Villas are perfect for hosting an intimate dinner with a local private chef highlighting D.O. Saimaa gastronomy. Foraged from the forest and fished from its lakes and streams – you’ll dine on unique specialties and sip on forest-infused cocktails that don’t exist anywhere else.
Revontuli Resort Lakeside Glass Igloos
In the Jyväskylä Region of Lakeland, just off one of the most scenic routes in Finland, is Revontuli, the Northern Lights Resort where you sleep under the stars in a lakefront glass igloo. Nature puts on quite a show that you can witness in total comfort. Watch the midnight sun set along the lake, or be awed by a stunning display of elegant birch trees that dot the lake. One of the darkest areas in Southern Finland, cross your fingers for Northern Lights, for on a clear night you have a good chance of seeing them.
Heralded as the Sauna Region of the World, the resort’s certified sauna trail along Lake Vesijärvi introduces traditional Finnish types of saunas, including the smoke sauna and tent steam sauna. You’ll learn how to cast a “sauna spell” as you pour water on the hot stones and offer up your wish to the heavens in the rising steam.
When in Finland, do as the Finns do and jump into the lake between sauna sessions. Afterwards dinner is served in a cozy lounge with a fireplace. Dine in your comfy bathrobe and traditional wool sauna hat for the coziest experience.
So What Made Finland the Happiest Country in the World?
It’s not just saunas followed by cold lake dips that deliver a sense of exhilaration and make you feel utterly alive. I believe it has more to do with connection to nature. Walking through the forest foraging for mushrooms on the weekend is as much a popular pastime as going to the mall in America.
What would I offer for a “sauna spell?” A bit more of that: to foster even more deeply my sense of wellbeing and happiness through my connection to nature, something Finland has mastered so well.
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