Venice gets a taste of Danish hygge
TEXT: ELIZABETH HEATH | PHOTOS © PROCIDA CAMP RESORT
Venice, Italy is one of the world’s most magnificent cities. Its iconic bridges, Byzantine-influenced cathedral, romantic, gondola-filled canals, and narrow, characteristic streets have enchanted visitors for centuries. But it’s also a victim of its own success, as seen in well-publicised reports of the city straining under the effects of over-tourism. So while travellers keep visiting Venice, they’ve come to expect that they will encounter stifling crowds, overpriced hotels and restaurants, and generally a scene that’s more taxing than it is relaxing.
But what if there were a different way to experience Venice – to escape the crowds, leave less of a footprint and spend the night, not in a claustrophobically small hotel room, but under a starry sky, with the sound of waves lulling you into a restful sleep?
That’s the premise – and the promise – of Nordisk Village Venice, a luxury glamping experience on Ca’ Savio, a peninsula that shelters the Venetian Lagoon from the Adriatic Sea. The seasonal village is nestled in a full-service beachfront campground with pools and snack bars, but, like Venice, is an island unto itself. Composed of ten Scandinavian-style cotton tents, Nordisk Village is miles away from the typical camping experience – and it’s certainly worlds apart from the hectic pace of Venice.
“We wanted to create an out-of-the-ordinary experience for travellers to Venice,” says Erik Johannes Møller, CEO of Nordisk, which also has vacation villages near Naples, Paris, and on the Goto Islands of Japan. “We wanted the Doges (the historic rulers of Venice) to meet the Vikings, for those two incredible cultures to encounter one another in our village.”
Nordisk originally produced high-quality outdoor equipment, including tents, before it got into the holiday accommodation business. “The concept initially grew,” says Mr. Møller, “out of interest from the company’s Asian market. There, people are keen to escape crowded cities and get out into the countryside for their vacations or weekend breaks. Those same clients who used Nordisk tents started asking how they could visit Europe yet still stay close to nature – and the first Nordisk Village was born. “We figured that if we started pitching nice tents for nice people in nice places, we could offer them something really original, and a different way to experience their vacation.”
What attracts people to Nordisk Village is the Scandinavian way of embracing quality down time – often referred to as ‘hygge’ (pronounced ‘hoo-gah’). “Danes believe that there’s more to life than work, and that your time off should be carefree and easy,” says Mr. Møller. “You should be able to revel in breathing clean air, sitting under the stars, cooking and eating a good meal, having a beer with your neighbours. That’s what we’ve brought to Venice.”
At Nordisk Village Venice, guests stay on two- or four-person glamping tents with raised wooden floors, comfortable beds – no sleeping bags in sight – mini-fridges, sofas, outdoor dining areas and shared bathrooms. The tents are set in a shady area, and their breathable cotton construction ensures that they stay cool, even in peak summer. Within the Nordisk compound, a well-equipped communal kitchen invites guests to prepare their own meals, with herbs picked fresh from the on-site garden. A wide sandy beach is just yards away, and guests can avail themselves of the campground amenities as well.
“We wanted the experience to be luxury, but not excessively so,” explains Mr. Møller. “You’re staying in a nice tent that’s as nice as a hotel room, except it has cotton walls that let the fresh air in. You’ve got wine glasses, a space to relax. You’re outdoors without sacrificing comfort.” Since there are no permanent concrete structures in the village, which is open May to October, guests at Nordisk Village holiday in a more sustainable manner – something Venice is sorely in need of.
Sustainability amidst nature
Sustainability is also a requisite for many Nordisk Village guests. “Our guests are seasoned travellers, not typical Saturday campers,” says Mr. Møller. “They want to visit Venice, but they don’t want a typical experience, and they also want to know that their choices are eco-conscious. They might be the kind of people who would look for a boutique hotel. Instead, we’ve offered them a boutique glamping experience.” Today’s travellers, he explains, are also interested in engaging with fellow travellers. And that’s a lot more likely to happen at Nordisk Village than at a hotel. “Here,” he says, “you can share a meal if you want. You can pick some herbs for your gin and tonic, talk with other guests, then go back to the comfort of your tent. A hotel,” he adds, “can’t offer that sense of community and that good feeling—that hygge—of being outdoors and enjoying nature.”
Plus, it’s all a 35-minute boat ride from Piazza San Marco, the landmark square and site of Venice’s iconic Basilica di San Marco. The easy proximity allows Nordisk Village guests to make day trips to Venice to see the city’s marvellous churches and art museums and soak up its one-of-a-kind ambiance. Then they return to the tranquillity of their luxury tent, natural surroundings and relaxed community. There’s not an experience like it anywhere in Venice – and that’s just what Mr. Møller and his team aim for.
“We offer a completely out of the ordinary, sustainable way to spend your holiday in Venice,” he says.