March 11th, 2023
March 11th, 2023
On a recent trip to London, I was introduced to the impressively well-travelled luxury travel advisor John O'Ceallaigh. Over the years, John has been privileged to experience the apex of luxury hospitality. In a presentation he developed with the travel trends-forecasting agency Globetrender, he shared 7 luxury travel trends and how they could impact Norway. In this article, we explore those concepts further and how they might be relevant for Up Norway travellers.
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The urge to escape from city life and retreat to architecturally stunning wilderness micro-retreats continues.
As a leader in nature-based travel, Norway is home to an impressive collection of landscape cabins (‘hytter’) in secluded locations all over the country. These compact-living, architectural passion projects have elevated our cabin culture to a whole new level.
In fact, one in six Norwegian families enjoy access to their own private cabins, and more than half of these are in locations where you can’t see your neighbours. Our ‘cabin culture’ – escaping to a remote location to reconnect with yourself, loved ones and nature – undoubtedly contributes to a happier state of mind. Travellers seeking a wilderness hideaway in Norway can choose between a range of impressive micro-retreats including:
PAN Treetop Cabins (Architect Espen Surnevik): Ultra-modern treehouses on steel constructions in the Finnskogen pine forest.
In our travel curator Danny’s words:
‘The architecture makes it unique. Waking up in the morning with the sun rising over the treetops makes it special. A great place to escape as a couple, or as a family.’
Ramnereiret: ‘The Raven’s Nest’, overlooking Sognefjord, invites you to live Viking-style with modern-day facilities in the Hugin treetop cabin.
‘We were amazed by the passion that has gone into this impressive family art project. Staying at the Raven's Nest intrigued us to investigate our Norse mythology and stave church culture. Guests who get to stay here are really lucky!’
- Henriette, Master of Journeys, Up Norway
Harnessing the fresh perspectives we gain from new environments, as a way of creating better lives for ourselves.
America’s personal development market is said to be worth $43 billion in 2022. The desire for self-improvement and increased self-recognition is anticipated to grow. This trend reinstates the importance of conceptual and curated travel; travellers are increasingly searching for something meaningful, and are embarking on journeys with a conscious goal in mind.
Having a journey designed according to your personal interests provides the ideal basis to ensure travel time is well-spent. It also increases the chance of building a meaningful connection to particular places and people. In our team, we spend time getting to know each and every traveller before we start to design journeys based on our company principles.
Some examples of our bespoke journey concepts include the following:
Healthy living and wellness, with inspiration from some of the most prosperous places on the planet.
Five areas around the world are defined as ‘Blue Zones’ – places where residents enjoy an unusually long and healthy lifespan. These are Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California. These areas share specific characteristics that contribute to their residents’ unique longevity, such as a mostly plant-based diet, regular exercise, moderate alcohol intake, healthy amounts of sleep, and good spiritual, family and social networks.
As a society, Norway ranks as the eighth Happiest Country in the World in the 2022 World Happiness Report, and fourth in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. It shares many qualities with the five Blue Zone areas. In the case of travel in Norway, blue zone wellness is all about recognising the healthy aspects of our lifestyle, and adapting and utilising them for maximum benefit. One Norwegian 'blue zone trait' worth exploring is the concept of ‘kos’.
Essentially, slow travel is the perfect way to discover 'kos' – a truly special, yet intangible concept that is uniquely Norwegian. Kos is a state of mind, a feeling of comfort and contentment that can be felt alone or with others. It is a feeling you can only achieve when you take time to connect to yourself, to others and to nature, and to show gratitude and appreciation for what you have around you. While kos is a Norwegian thing, it can certainly be experienced and enjoyed by anyone. We want travellers to discover it, practise it, and take it home.
Travelling as a breath of fresh air
Paradoxically, while air travel and its associated tourism contribute to air pollution, people also travel for clean air. The World Health Organisation has deemed air pollution the greatest environmental health risk today, and there is a noticeable renewed interest in the health benefits of pure air.
On the Air Quality Index (AQI), the Scandinavian nations rank among the least air-polluted countries in the world (all score between 0–50, which corresponds to Green / Good). In 2021, Alta in northern Norway was the country’s cleanest city with an AQI of 14, whereas the ultra-remote micro-settlement on Svalbard, Ny-Ålesund, is one of the best places on earth to take a gulp of fresh air.
Situated far from major sources of air pollution in an almost untouched Arctic environment, Ny-Ålesund is a tiny settlement (the world’s northernmost, in fact) of 45–150 yearly residents. Here, wi-fi is banned and all buildings are left unlocked in case you need to hide from polar bears. The town’s residents are largely scientists who are there to measure atmospheric pollution and greenhouse gas levels that are driving climate change. Only a few thousands leisure travellers make it to Ny-Ålesund annually, all on brief one-day visits as part of an expedition by boat.
Those travelling to Norway – or other global destinations, for that matter – to reap the benefits of fresh air should be conscious of their own carbon footprint. We have chosen to practise a minimum four-night stay for all Up Norway guests to Svalbard, and strongly encourage one long journey rather than various shorter bucket-list trips.
No country in the world has more electric cars per capita than Norway, yet its electric travel revolution goes far beyond cars. We look for ways to regenerate rather than compensate, but nevertheless, a clean air future places high demands on all of us as global citizens. Not just when we travel, but through rethinking how we live our lives and run our businesses.
In the Magnor forest, just over an hour outside Oslo, furniture producer Vestre is paving the way with their factory The Plus (Architect BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group), which is truly worth a visit for those seeking inspiration and insight on a personal and professional level.
Practising the mantra of eating local.
There’s no doubt that one of our favourite ways of experiencing and understanding culture is through food: harvesting, foraging, eating and drinking your way through a destination. In fact, one of our favourite ways to curate journeys through Norway is to mingle active outdoor adventures with food experiences.
These can range from spending time with passionate farmers Carl Eric and Elin, tasting the quality resulting from small-scale biodynamic farming; a cheese-making course in the Lofoten islands where goats range freely in green mountain pastures; free-diving for scallops or picking oysters off the coast; sharing a reindeer stew around the fire with Samis in a yurt on the Finnmark plains; being serenaded by a Hardangerfele (Hardanger fiddle) player as you glug Arctic cider in an intimate orchard farm by the Hardangerfjord; or wining and dining in one of Norway’s 14 Michelin-starred restaurants.
Eating sustainably in Norway is about more than striving to be a strict vegan or vegetarian. It is about making healthy eating choices including more plant-based food, locally sourced ingredients, and wild and organic meats.
Our principles of journey design encourage Up Norway travellers to do just that. Fortunately, the vast majority of Norway’s top chefs have adopted the same local, short-travel philosophy, and have made it their mission to showcase local producers and not let food resources go to waste.
The restaurant Rest in Oslo, Kvitnes Gård in Vesterålen and Holmen Lofoten’s Kitchen on the Edge of the World concept are excellent examples. In our efforts to protect and safeguard Norway’s (and the world’s) cultural and natural heritage (UN SDG no 11.4), we strive to make it easy for our travellers to choose to eat local and take an active role in understanding both the value chain, what they’re eating and why.
Venturing on expedition yachts to obscure intrepid destinations.
Remoteness has become a very powerful selling point. Modern luxury travellers want to be perceived as explorers seeking to get off the beaten path and avoid popular tourist traps at any cost. International luxury hotel brands such as Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons and Aman are diversifying their offerings to meet the new trend by debuting their own-brand yachts. In Norway, we have recently introduced Svalbard expeditions on board the MV Villa and MV Nansen Explorer as part of our bespoke journeys. The ships are staffed with professional and friendly crews with extensive Arctic experience, including navigating Arctic waters, wildlife photography and guiding.
When seeking tranquillity, your first thought might be a yoga retreat, but it is hard to beat the peace that descends after a few days on board as you coast, free from work and life responsibilities, through the breathtaking Svalbard landscapes.
From a sustainability aspect, it is also worth mentioning our innovative friends and partners, Brim Explorer, who offer silent boat tours on the Norwegian fjords with the ambition to disrupt and change the industry by showing that sustainable and eco-friendly cruises are possible.
Similarly, Norwegian company Northern Xplorer is researching how to create a paradigm-changing vessel that not only has zero emissions, but also demonstrates how ships can be entirely self-sufficient in energy.
Travellers are spending more than ever on transforming their bodies while they’re away.
Some people travel to practise their favourite sports in a new destination. Cycling, running, yoga, tennis, swimming – the list goes on. Others travel to conquer a challenge, be it taking a sport to an extreme level or trying something for the first time.
Exploring Norway like a true Norse(wo)man and reaping fitness benefits can be achieved through anything from the concept of ‘Friluftsliv’ (outdoors activities) to something as extreme as participating in ‘the Norseman’. This is considered the planet’s ultimate triathlon: a race that any hardcore triathlete should do at least once.
Some of the Up Norway team’s personal favourite athletic adventures include e-cycling day trips on Norway’s Scenic Route Geiranger–Trollstigen; skiing down the fjords of the Sunnmøre alps; kayaking around the archipelago of the Norwegian Maldives, Veiholmen; and playing golf in the light of the midnight sun.
Whatever your preferred athletic adventure might be, or wherever you are in the country, rest assured that there will always be an amazing sauna nearby to soothe those muscles when you’re done.
Explore some of our tailored journeys
To spark your inspiration, these itineraries show some of the diversity Norway can offer.
Book a journey as is or ask us to tailor it to your preference.
The word curator comes from the Latin word curare which means to take care of, and refers to someone who specialises in looking after another's interests. In the context of travel, this is a professional who is specialised in understanding the traveller's interests and preferences, mapping out opportunities, recommending, choosing and putting together personalised and comprehensive travel proposals. As travel curators, we specialise in choosing and putting together experiences in a journey that suits you.
Our most frequent travellers are quality conscious leisure travellers who want a meaningful holiday designed for their unique interests and preferences. Among these are couples, families, groups of friends and solo travellers, sometimes even four-legged friends. We cater to travellers with disabilities who we know from experience often have special needs. Many of our travellers are part of the LGBTQI community and we aim to demonstrate why Norway ranks high on equality.
We also cater to small group themed tours, for example foodies travelling with their own guide, and corporate travellers who travel for incentive trips, workations or bleisure purposes.
Danny DoddTravel Curator