Sleep eco-friendly close to nature
Nature is close to you wherever you choose to stay in Åland. Regardless of whether you rent a cosy little cottage on an archipelago island or book a luxurious hotel room in the centre of Mariehamn, the sea is always within reach. If what you’re after is eco-friendly accommodation, there are many options to choose from.
You’ll be closest to nature if you opt to camp. Imagine sitting at the edge of the beach, watching the stars light up in the sky, falling asleep to the sound of the crickets and waking up to the lapping of the waves and with sunshine streaming through the tent canvas. There are about ten campsites around Åland, and what they have in common is that they are all close to the sea.
Guesthouse with bakery
If you’d rather sleep in a comfortable bed, there is plenty of holiday accommodation with sustainability certification. Anderssons Gästhem in Eckerö was one of the first to get what is known as Green Key certification in Åland, evidence that there is a constant push to improve sustainability and reduce impact on the environment. At the guesthouse, environmentally friendly cleaning products, detergent and hand-soaps are used, electricity and water are used sparingly, and waste is sorted for recycling and composting.
“A lot has happened in recent years. Finding ecolabelled cleaning materials and toilet paper used to be difficult. Now the range on offer is huge,” says Annette Andersson, who runs the guesthouse with her husband Hans.
The Andersson breakfast buffet consists of locally sourced, organic products and the farm’s own bakery uses organic stoneground flour from Åland.
“We notice that guests are becoming more and more interested in locally sourced products, so it’s great that Åland has such a fantastic range on offer,” says Annette Andersson.
An island for meetings and festive events
The Green Key flag can also be seen fluttering above the Silverskär tourist establishment in Åland’s northern archipelago. This is a place where sustainable meetings, conferences and festive events are held, and nature is seen as an enormous asset that needs to be taken care of. The people who run it cook with Åland ingredients, choose locally sourced wood and wrought-iron goods in construction and fittings, and use solar power and closed systems so that nothing is released into the surrounding sea.
“We have been working in the same way for 30 years and environmental awareness is in our DNA. What has changed is that other companies have become more aware, and these days there are many who choose us precisely because we have sustainability certification,” says Fia Karlsson at Silverskär.
She explains that Silverskär is working hard to find non-fossil fuel for the boat that ferries guests to and from the island.
“The idea is to find a solution that doesn’t impinge on maritime safety – as soon as we do that, we’ll go for it,” says Fia Karlsson.
Sleep well with the Nordic Ecolabel
There is work being done on sustainability among the larger hotel facilities in Mariehamn, and the Park Alandia Hotel and Hotel Arkipelag have Green Key certification. Ålandhotels’ Hotell Savoy and the Bistro Savoy restaurant have had the Nordic Ecolabel since 2012, and the Hotell Pommern and Kvarter 5 restaurant were awarded the Nordic Ecolabel in the spring of 2019.
“What we do includes monitoring our electricity and water usage, food waste and waste sorting, and we use many products in our restaurants that are locally sourced in Åland. As we have the Nordic Ecolabel, we use a lot of products that have the Nordic Ecolabel in our business,” says Niko Micklin at Ålandhotels.”
He adds that many of the Nordic Ecolabel criteria are met by Ålandhotels’ third tourist establishment, the Hotell Adlon, even though that hotel does not have the certification.
“Everyone must take these issues seriously and accept responsibility for their impact. The least we can do is have an ecolabel and comply with clear rules,” says Nico Micklin.
Rocked by the waves
The guest harbours are another place where people are trying hard to do their bit. Most guest harbours in Åland allow you to empty boat toilet tanks at their pump-out point, which is a good thing since discharging waste water into the Baltic Sea has been prohibited since 2005. The owners of pleasure boats are also working towards getting Blue Flag ecolabel certification for five guest harbours in Åland before the 2020 season starts, and a further ten by 2021.