Juvet, Europe’s first landscape boutique hotel, lies on a sheer river bank in Valldal, West Norway, in amazingly unspoiled natural surroundings.
How would you describe Stokkøya Beach Hotel in a nutshell?
Stokkøya Beach Hotel is an architectural jewel on one of Norway's finest beaches. With modern cabin rentals, hostel rooms as well as a campsite, they offer a variety of lodgings, fit to whatever you might be looking for. Their Beach Bar is extremely well-known for their excellent cuisine, outstanding seafood dishes and events such as music shows and beer tastings. Stokkøya Beach Hotel are stunning buildings immersed into the coastal landscape and surrounded by wild and beautiful nature. In the summer you'll love the range of water activities such as kayaking, windsurfing and more. In the winter you should come here to see the dancing lights in the sky.
Please tell us a bit about the history and how Stokkøya came about.
I moved to the island in 1999 and met Roar, my husband. He and I took over the farm in 2000 and started thinking about how to make a living out of it. In 2002, the year our son was born, we had made a plan with an architect friend of ours who has done work in Japan with Tadao Ando, a very famous architect. My husband and he thought it would be fun to see how the landscape would interact with functional small cottages.
The idea was really to build small summer houses that were also inexpensive. We wanted all of our friends to be able to have a summer house here. As people who like the urban lifestyle, we wanted to bring the city to us.
How did the local people react?
A lot of the local people were against the idea, thinking the buildings were ugly. They went to the paper talking about how we were going to ruin the whole island. This started a lot of buzz, and a journalist for a big paper in Norway captured the story in one of the vacation magazines. It had beautiful photos and told the story from our point of view, which got us some great publicity.
After that, we sold 18 projects just from word of mouth. We were confident then that we were moving in the right direction, building smart architecture in this beautiful landscape.
What did you do before running these vacation rentals?
I used to be social worker in the city of Trondheim. I was working with drug addicts before I came here. But I’m interested in good food and good wine. Coming from working with drug addicts to working in a bar is quite a change.
My husband got really interested in architecture and after these 10 years we have learned a lot about design and architecture. We also have lots of friends who are artists and designers, as well as chefs, waiters and waitresses. When you spend a lot of time drinking nice wine at bars, you run into many interesting people.
Tell us a little bit about the architecture and the design of Stokkøya Beach Hotel.
The architects had fun working with us because we didn’t really compromise. We had a good dialogue throughout the project, so it wasn’t just the architects’ ideas. They took our ideas and brought them to fruition.
After a couple of years, we saw we needed more beds and built the sub-house. The message to the architects was to create something that the Wallpaper journalists would cry to write about. And they did. In 2009, there was a Wallpaper article about us.
We had a very small budget, so it was important for us to keep costs low. We spent some money on the Eames chairs and some other items of really good design, bought at auctions. We started to cooperate with an artist who was working on her Master’s degree at art school and hired her and some of her designer classmates. We gave them food and the equipment and tools to work with.
To you personally, what has been most rewarding about running Stokkøya?
We really love that we have succeeded in building a business that has created a lot of jobs for the people out here. People were moving away but because of our firm and our business, people are staying. There are more kids in the schools and more younger people living here who have jobs at our place. I’m really proud of that. And with all the media attention, the people are very proud too, even the neighbours. We’re all one big, happy family.
Also, other people have started businesses because of our business. One of our friends started his own firm renting out bikes, kayaks and small sailboats. The local store has more customers. Our business has made other businesses grow.