Tue, Sep 1, 2009
By Rikke Bruntse-Dahl
In 1896 Norway’s first prime minister, Christian Michelsen, decided to buy and develop what would become Solstrand Hotel & Bad. His idea was to create a holiday resort for the Bergen merchant-princes, so that “they could have a place to gather strength for their great deeds.”
Originally a fjordside holiday resort for the Bergen merchant aristocracy, Solstrand today welcomes business folk and leisure guests alike to its idyllic countryside location.
Pernille Schau-Larsen, who is the fourth generation Schau-Larsen to own and run Solstrand, emphasises that Michelsen’s vision still holds true today. Business and Solstrand still go hand in hand, and besides hosting high-profile meetings and team-building days, the hotel’s Norwegian Management Programme is a testament to that.
The Solstrand Experience
More than 50 years ago, Solstrand started collaborating with the School of Business and Commerce of Bergen. It was just after the Second World War and Norwegian companies needed to develop new managers with new ways of thinking, so the School developed an extensive three-week programme, the Norwegian Management Programme. This prestigious business leadership course has always been held at Solstrand. The main reason for this is the hotel’s beautiful location, which is only 30 kilometres from Bergen city and airport. In addition to the training itself, Solstrand is attractive for business people because just being there encourages socialising and relaxation.
Arne Selvik from The Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration sings the praises of Solstrand: “Overa period of 57 years more than 4,000 Norwegian and international managers have enjoyed the outstanding qualities of Solstrand. Our faculty can always fully rely on first class service and support, saving valuable time and concentration for educational challenges in the programmes. Even through this period of financial setback we have a waiting list of top candidates, who want to join what is often referred to as The Solstrand Experience.”
A world of repose
However, Solstrand is also the perfect place for holiday guests who just want to go on a small retreat. People can easily spend a whole weekend at Solstrand without even noticing that anything of a work-related nature is happening there.
“In fact, whether you come for business or leisure, the stunning views of the fjord and the facilities here will simply make you relax,” Schau-Larsen says.
Norwegian journalist, Arnt Roger Aasen, confirms this. He calls Solstrand “an international phenomenon…[that] creates the good life 24/7 all year round.”
Solstrand’s uniqueness was already noted internationally in 1903, when English travel writer Charles W. Wood wrote: “If the English knew of this paradise they would spend many a summer there, revelling in the bathing and boating, all the marvels and splendours of nature which defy description. Above all, there was something infinitely restful and soothing and peaceful about Solstrand and the fjord; a world of repose.”
And spa indulgence
A present-day description of Solstrand’s qualities would mirror Charles W. Wood’s review perfectly. Although now it would definitely also include the new spa facilities as a major attraction.
Thirteen treatment rooms, a sauna, a steam bath, an ice pool and, best of all, windows facing the fjord and an outdoor pool all light and bright built using wood, glass and bronze. The typical Scandinavian minimalist design combined with Solstrand’s serenity and traditional Nordic bathing traditions makes for the ultimate Norwegian rural, fjord-side idyll.
Schau-Larsen, who grew up at Solstrand, says that after living, studying and working in other major European cities for nine years, she can now see how lucky she has been to spend her childhood in the beautiful and peaceful place that is Solstrand. She now fully understands why people around the world living busy lives really appreciate spending time at her home recharging their batteries. As nearly 85% of Norway’s hotels belong to a hotel chain, a family hotel of this calibre really is something rather unique for everyone involved.
Tags: Travel Norway