Juvet Landscape Hotel @ West Norway

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Juvet Landscape Hotel @ West Norway contact 

Juvet Landscape Hotel is managed by Knut, the Owner. INTERVIEW BY: Oliver Laugsch

— What was your inspiration to open Juvet Landscape Hotel?

Knut: “I grew up in Alesund, which is on the West Coast, about 100 kilometres from here, and in 1986 I bought a summer house here. Then, about 7 or 8 years ago there was a project called the National Tourist Route. The government invested 200 million Euros to improve the infrastructure along 18 selected stretches from the north to the south of Norway and all with very modern architecture.

As it happens in life, coincidence had it that I was part of a group discussing what sort of opportunities arose in this area due to this government project. The architects of Jensen & Skodvin Arkitektkontor approached me with the idea of building a landscape hotel. I was not planning on doing anything like this but then the guy who owned the farm asked me if I wanted to buy it. After two weeks, I had signed the papers and I was owner of a 3 million square metre farmland with an old house. I thought I would never be stupid enough to turn my Shangri-la into the place where I had all my work and problems.”

— Do you have any regrets?

Knut: “No, I am not that kind of guy. At the beginning it was planned to be rather small with no shower or toilet, only the container-like construction on stilts with futon beds inside and that’s it. I thought it was a good idea and an exciting thing to do. It completely changed the direction of my life.

Today I sometimes have to pinch my arm and ask myself if this is real. That I am in the middle of this fantastic nature. This has been a very exciting project. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

— What was the idea behind Juvet?

Knut: “Juvet Landscape Hotel is resting on three ideas. The first is nature and nature experiences. This is an adventurer’s paradise for people who love outdoor activity. You can do almost everything here in all 4 seasons. We have mountains, glaciers, summits; there’s the coastline, we have the fjords.

The second ideas is the cultural history of the place. I think a lot of people coming here see the surroundings and they can imagine life here has been a struggle for survival. We try to show what it would be like to live here 100, 200 years ago. So that’s why we restored the main house of the farm, which was built in 1870.

The third idea is we wanted to show what Norway is like today. That was actually one of the main goals of the National Tourist Route project. It was not allowed to copy our ancestors building copies of these wooden cottages for example. The aim was to show what Norway is like today when it comes to architecture and engineering skill.”

— The architecture of Juvet is very minimalistic and reflects the location, so as not to distract from the nature?

Knut: “Yes, it’s all about what you see on the outside. There is hardly anything inside, no paintings for example, just the basics. It is also quite dark inside. In a way it is giving you the impression of being in a camera and the window is the lens. That’s what it’s all about. All the rest is only for your protection.

The whole project is an experiment to see if it’s possible to do things in nature and instead of bringing it down, harnessing or making nature come out stronger after you did something. There is a famous architect who once said that the best buildings are those in difficult terrain. The whole idea with the buildings is the place where they are. It gives a very strong visual effect.”

— What would you describe to be the essence of Juvet?

Knut: “I have a feeling that it does something with people. The first thing they see when coming here is this well-restored farmhouse. Then they walk along and the beautiful river makes this turn, a very humble turn as if it is saluting the farm before it bends down again. Then they come past the barn and they first see the buildings scattered around the forest, you can actually see all of the big windows coming in from the outside.

At this point they usually get this ‘wow’ impression on their face. It is so strong. I can almost see and feel that they are lowering their shoulders, overwhelmed by the view. It is a harmonious marriage where nature and modern design bring out the best in each other. And the cabins are built on stilts, we are only guests in nature so it is a good idea to be able to take the hotel away again.”

— How would you like your guests to remember their stay at Juvet?

Knut: “I would love them to have a feeling that this is a fantastic place, that they had been visiting friends and that they had a very, very nice time. And that I am sorry that they had to pay for it.”

— What are the Norwegian Big Five?

Knut: “I have stolen this from South Africa where they say that unless you have seen the big five animals you have not been to South Africa. Our Norwegian Big Five are winter sports such as exhilerating skiing trips almost all year round, hikes, rafting through the raging waters of the Valldøla, camping in the wilderness around the campfire and a visit to Geirangerfjord, which in 2007 was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The scenery is magnificent and forbidding, and at the mountain farm you will see how people once doggedly carved a living for themselves in this area.

We would like to people experience nature hands on instead of coming just to have a look. It is not enough to just travel around and have a look, you need to experience it and create wonderful memories.”

— What is your favourite activity or tour?

Knut: “My favourite activity is skiing; especially in May and June where you can go skiing on the summits. You can drive 10, 15 minutes towards Trollstigen, that’s a rather famous serpentine road just further out the valley. You can ski on mountains 1.700m, 1.800m above sea level. And during this time of the year it is beautiful, very sunny and you have an amazing view. It is green all the way up to where you put your skis on.

But we are offering all sorts of tours and activities. We will take you to the mountain tops for skiing, organize wilderness camps, take you on three day hikes or go rafting with you. And if there is something a guest always dreamed about doing, we’ll do our best to organize it.”

— What feedback do you get from your guests?

Knut: “It is really great, we have guests from all over the world staying with us. And what is amazing is that they don’t come to see all the touristic places or tourist traps, they are coming because they have seen Juvet in some magazine, newspaper or on the Internet.

And the feedback is really great. For example, there are no curtains in the cabins and in June and July it is quite bright outside. We considered to put in some drapes in front of the beds. But our guests told us that it is almost like waking up in nature. You can just stay in bed if you wake up at 6 or 7 in the morning and stare and relax. It is the most special experience and something they will remember.”

— When is the best time to come for a visit to Juvet Landscape Hotel?

Knut: “For most people, I think summer would be the best time. If you’re especially interested in hiking without skis, there is fantastic terrain for hiking in autumn as well. I was hiking last Saturday, it was just with all the fantastic colours. The leaves have started falling, so you see a a few morels when you go through the woods to reach the higher mountain areas. But of course if you like skiing, the spring is absolutely fantastic. There is something particular in every season. You know, we have 4 very distinct seasons. It’s winter when it’s winter and it’s spring when it’s spring.”

— Thank you, Knut!