The Okkola holiday cottages are a third-generation family business. The cottages and the villas are situated on the shore of Lake Saimaa, in the vicinity of the family manor. Restaurant Niinipuu, which is built in an old stone barn, is also nearby.
Paula, the host of the Okkola holiday cottages, hopes that a visit to the cottages would offer people amazing memories instead of materialistic things.
The unique cottages, made of Finnish wood, are designed by Heikki Okkola. During the design process, special attention has been paid to each cottage’s natural surroundings and their points of compass. The cottages blend into the nature around them. Special effort has been put into using sustainable and eco-labelled products, both in everyday utensils and in the building process.
The wood used in the fireplaces and saunas comes from the surrounding forest, which is managed respectfully with the environment and landscape in mind. The forests are managed in a way that enhances their carbon sinking function. They are also PEFC certified. Natural fields are maintained to promote biodiversity. We also have beehives, which take care of the important pollinating process of plants and help achieve greater biodiversity and sustainability.
Recycling and waste management
Okkola has a recycling point for the trash from the restaurant and the cottages. Through careful recycling, we want to enable the potential reuse of waste. We also avoid using single-use products, but if they must be used for lack of better alternatives, we opt for biodegradable and eco-marked products. We have signed the Sustainable Lifestyles Commitment which aims to further enhance recycling.
The ingredients at restaurant Niinipuu
Locally sourced food is of key importance at Okkola. The restaurant, which is situated in a traditional Finnish countryside landscape, has been built in an old stone barn. The restaurant serves traditional Eastern Finnish food made from locally sourced seasonal ingredients. The fish is bought from local fishermen and some of the herbs, potatoes, and berries are homegrown. We are committed to using more and more locally sourced ingredients.
Supporting local businesses
By using local services and employing locals, the business contributes to the local economy. We recommend that our visitors also use other nearby services, such as wellness services, car repairs, and laundrettes. The aim is to encourage customers to increase their business with other responsible entrepreneurs in Puumala.
We always sign job contracts directly with the staff, we do not use agencies. We want to make sure that our workers are committed to us and that in return they get a fair wage to live on.
Whenever something needs fixing at the restaurant or the cottages, we utilise local repair services. By supporting locals, we want to do our part in increasing the well-being of the Puumala economic region
Everyone is welcome
At Okkola everyone is welcome, be that as a customer, an employee, or a subcontractor – regardless of their background, gender, age, country of origin, nationality, sexual orientation, physical disability, religion, or political views. We show respect to everyone that in return shows it to us, to local residents, and to the surrounding nature.
Local culture and activities
The archipelago culture and local history play a big role in our daily life. The local culture is promoted on our tours and functions as a framework for our business. The courtyard boasts unique features built from recycled materials. These include a greenhouse and a “sulk booth”.
In 2019, the popular pie workshops hosted by Paula were awarded as the best Finnish food travel product at the “Hungry for Finland” gastronomic tourism awards.
A METSO wellness path, developed by the Forest Centre, begins from the Okkola courtyards. On the path, you can learn about biodiversity and its wellness benefits, as well as about local history. Whilst walking through the path, you can observe different types of forests and spot various animals, plants, and mushrooms. The path is entirely on our property and it is free for anyone to use.
During their visit, our guests are encouraged to visit nearby attractions, many of which are accessible by foot. We recommend activities such as mushroom and berry picking, fishing, or just walking and relaxing in nature. Because the activities are nearby, there is no need to use fossil fuels to access them. We also rent electric outboard motors for our visitors who are interested in boating or fishing. For longer distances, we rent both electric and regular bicycles. The staff recommends that the guests primarily visit nearby attractions, activities, and services.
Awards and co-operation
The Mikkeli Region Tourism Service Association granted the Okkola holiday cottages the 2016 Tourism promoter award. They justified their decision by saying that the Okkola cottages have developed not only their own business but also actively taken part in the development of the tourism industry in the area. The board note that this has also brought about positive visibility to the whole Saimaa and Mikkeli area. The board remark that the business is open to new challenges and wants to open-mindedly and persistently develop their own operations and the general tourism appeal of the area.
The Finnish National Board of Agriculture has awarded the Okkolas with an honorary certificate of excellent planning and realisation of a rural tourist attraction, as well as promoting rural building culture.
The business is part of the Saimaa Coop multi-stakeholder co-operative, which aims at creating opportunities and enhancing co-operation in the Saimaa area. Saimaa Bikes, a bike rental network in Puumala, is an example of a co-operative effort made by the entrepreneurs of the association.