DROP SPA IS THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN AT THE hilltop foreST
"The resort’s forest spa has a wood-burning sauna and an outdoor spa from Drop. The Drop spa pool immediately became the main attraction at our resort."
From Finance to Forest
Three years ago, two financial consultants came up with the idea of creating the perfect getaway resort. Their vision is now a reality. In the beginning of June Tiia Soppela and Craig McDonald opened the doors to their laid-back luxury forest resort, Hilltop Forest, in Inkoo, southern Finland. “The resort’s forest spa has a wood-burning sauna and an outdoor spa from Drop. The Drop spa immediately became the main attraction at our resort”, say Tiia and Craig.
How do two successful financial consultants end up in a forest in Inkoo? Tiia and Craig had spent a fair amount of time on the road, living and working in different countries and enjoying different high-end travel concepts, including villas, resorts and five-star hotels, but felt that something was missing. On a flight back from Bali, Indonesia, the idea of Hilltop Forest started to grow, and they could not stop thinking and talking about how to create the perfect getaway. “After a decade of consulting work abroad, we arrived back in Finland with the dream of creating a place and business of our own”, they explain.
Tiia Soppela is a Finn with an eye for detail and a love of beautiful things, while Craig McDonald is a gregarious optimistic Brit with a passion for problem solving. They shared a common vision about how they wanted the resort of their dreams to be. In Inkoo they found a 16 hectare plot of land, only 50 minutes from Helsinki, where they created a boutique resort tailored for busy city dwellers desiring unique experiences. They realised that there was a gap in the market for a small-scale boutique-style hotel close to the nature while remaining easily accessible. “Not everyone has a summer house and people don’t like to drive for hours to reach a resort. Hilltop Forest is less than an hour’s drive from Helsinki”, says Tiia.
Tiia and Craig developed their business independently because they wanted to have the freedom to make their own decisions. Sustainability has been their guiding star from the planning and construction phases to daily operations and selecting suppliers. During the construction they left as much as possible of the pristine forest nature unharmed. The three minimalistic hideaway cabins are sustainable wood constructions, just like the other buildings at the resort. “We also purchase green wind energy, have our own water supply and greywater filtration system. Moreover, at Hilltop Forest we handpick every detail and carefully select our suppliers, who are mostly small, family-owned or local businesses”, Craig emphasises.
Drop spa pool – the perfect match
When you think of a luxury resort, you inevitably also include a spa. Hilltop Forest is no exception. But what makes Hilltop Forest different is that the spa is located in the middle of the forest overlooking a sea of trees. The spa features a wood-burning sauna and a terrace with an outdoor hot tub. “The choice of spa pool was easy. Drop has the only good-looking spas on the market with a design that fits in perfectly with our minimalistic, clean, aesthetic style”, says Tiia. The dark grey Drop Lähde outdoor spa at Hilltop Forest has a shape and high finish making it perfect for the sauna terrace. The couple praises Drop’s customer service and says that Drop has been very supportive and helpful from the first contact to the final delivery. “Because of the location and the terrain, we had to lift it in by crane, but the installation was straightforward and quick”, says Craig.
Design, ease of use and the possibility for guests to relax are three advantages Tiia and Craig attribute to the Drop spa. “Another clear advantage is that it is always warm and ready to use. If our guests want to use the spa first thing in the morning or late in the evening, we can offer them that luxury without any extra work. Besides, it is also easy to clean and maintain”, says Craig.
The wood-burning sauna, complemented by the spa, was initially thought to be the highlight of the spa area. The feedback from guests, however, quickly showed that the Drop spa pool had become the main attraction of Hilltop Forest. “The hot tub in that setting stole the show and is now the jewel in the crown of our business. Each reservation has the option to book a private booking into the spa, which almost every guest chooses to do; it truly gives them that little special moment to carry with them afterwards”, says Tiia.
High-quality standards in a casual setting
Hilltop Forest is Tiia and Craig’s first interpretation of what an ultimate getaway should be, with a perfect balance between laid-back luxury and nature, together with those little treats you want on your night away. The original idea was to put a room as far into the forest as possible without harming the nature, although this meant compromising between size and weight. “We pushed the limits of what’s realistic to do”, says Craig. Still, they already are dreaming of placing another Drop spa and sauna combination even further into the forest. “That’s an ambitious project that we need to discuss further with Drop and other partners”, says Tiia.
Although Hilltop Forest has only recently opened to the public, the start has been very successful. The resort offers casual stays without lowering high-quality standards. This also means partnering up with entrepreneurs who can provide high-class products and services for the guests. “Drop is a partner that shares our values. Another thing that connects Hilltop Forest and Drop is that we are not introducing something new, we just do it in a nicer and better way”, say Tiia and Craig.
First and last photo: @valentinovalkaj