Apitherapy and relaxation in pure nature

Green Key awarded Želinc Tourist Farm from Slovenia is offering its guests a proximity to nature, locally produced food and healing through ‘apitherapy’


Želinc Tourist Farm is situated at the confluence of the Cerknica and Idrijca rivers, with a vast plain stretching at a distance just perfect to get away from the city noise and embark on an outdoor adventure.

The first known written records of the farm date back to the end of the 14th century. The farm was passed from one generation to another. It was basically self-sufficient, while any surplus was sold to buy fabric and sugar in particular. During World Wars I and II, the farm remained intact thanks to its strategically important military location. In 1995, the farm was renovated and a new building was built to provide for tourist activity. The tourist offer has expanded over the years, therewith changing and further complementing the image of the farm.

Urša, the present owner of the farm, states:

With the new generation of farm owners, the real estate expanded in terms of farming and tourism, and became even more connected with nature and environment. On our farm we produce fruit and vegetables without the use of pesticides and artificial fertilizers, and a large part of the food that our guests receive on our plates are produced with our hands. What we do not have, we buy mostly from neighboring farms or local shops. We care for our surrounding nature, and we regularly maintain it to keep the balance and give us the necessary raw materials for heating the house with wood. As we have our own source of water, we encourage our guests not to buy bottled water but to drink our water from the tap.

The farm has a special walking path around the property with beautiful views on surrounding hilltops, and the farm also offers a possibility for healing with beehive air and other bee products such as honey, pollen and honey liquer, called 'apitherapy'.


Guests of the Želinc tourist farm can be accommodated in 14 different spacious rooms that fully meet the requirements of the Green Key programme.  

Urša concludes:

Because we are lucky enough to be able to live in a nature with clean air, beautiful green surroundings, and because we respect and care about our nature, we decided to acquire the Green Key eco-label, and thus demonstrate to ourselves, our guests and others that we are on the right track.

 For more information about Želinc tourist farm, please visit

Arctic TreeHouse Hotel awarded the Green Key eco-label

Arctic TreeHouse Hotel from Rovaniemi has been awarded the Green Key eco-label as the first private hotel in Finnish Lapland.


Arctic TreeHouse Hotel is a family-owned hotel, located on the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi, Finland. The hotel provides a unique blend of luxury comfort in the heart of arctic nature, local traditions and modern Scandinavian design. In contrast to the meticulously designed accommodation and nest-like coziness, the panoramic views from the windows provide impressive spectacles of the surrounding forest and skies. Arctic TreeHouse Hotel has received a great deal of recognition and a number of awards since its opening in late 2016. and will host the upcoming World Luxury Hotel Awards in October 2019.

”We are committed to the values of sustainable tourism,” says Ilkka Länkinen, the CEO of the company. ”We want to ensure that the Rovaniemi area remains a great place to live in and visit in the future as well.”

Ecological values and the Green Key criteria have been kept in mind at the Arctic TreeHouse Hotel since the very beginning of its designing and building process. The company has also invested in remarkable renewable energy sources, such as geothermal heating and solar power. The latest investment is the newly installed OptiWatti system for smart energy management that sets the temperatures of the TreeHouses according to their capacity utilization.

”We monitor the strain caused on the environment and do our best to use our resources and energy as efficiently as possible,” Länkinen explains.

The hotel personnel has gotten together on various occasions to do some good for the environment. For example, they recently spent a day planting 10,000 pine tree seedling to the arctic forests.

”Our team has had a very positive and enthusiastic attitude about all of this. We have established an in-house Green Ambassador team that supports the environmental know-how of the rest of the staff and is responsible for executing internal sustainability-related audits, thus increasing our positive hand-print,” Länkinen says.

With its exemplary actions, the hotel is also responding to the growing demand for sustainable and ethically produced services.

”Today’s tourists are more and more aware of environmental issues and make decisions based on their own set of values. We want to develop our experiences with quality as the top priority. And naturally, our aim is also to communicate the principles of resposible travel to our guests,” Länkinen states.

From left to right: Katja Ikäheimo-Länkinen (owner, ATHH), Liisa Kokkarinen (manager, regional partnerships, Visit Finland), Ilkka Länkinen (owner, ATHH), Tina Kaikkonen (hotel manager, ATHH), Pirjo Pääkkönen (Green Key ambassador, ATHH)

From left to right: Katja Ikäheimo-Länkinen (owner, ATHH), Liisa Kokkarinen (manager, regional partnerships, Visit Finland), Ilkka Länkinen (owner, ATHH), Tina Kaikkonen (hotel manager, ATHH), Pirjo Pääkkönen (Green Key ambassador, ATHH)

Arctic TreeHouse Hotel wishes to encourage other local tourism operators to familiarize themselves with the the Green Key programme as well.

”The programme is very comprehensive and clear. It would be great to have even more Green Key certified businesses in Lapland. It would be a way for us all to work together for sustainable development,” Länkinen comments.

Weathering the storm with renewable energy

When the Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, the bed-and-breakfast Casa Sol with its solar panels on the roof became a centre of support for the whole neighbourhood.

© Marie Fazio: Ramirez with his solar panels on the roof of Casa Sol.

© Marie Fazio: Ramirez with his solar panels on the roof of Casa Sol.

Eddie Ramirez hasn’t forgotten the reaction when he installed solar panels on the roof of Casa Sol, his butterscotch-coloured bed-and-breakfast nestled on a cobblestone street just two blocks from Castillo San Cristóbal, the largest Spanish fort in the New World.

While Ramirez planned, his neighbours laughed.

“People said, ‘Why are you spending all this money, do you really need it?’” recounted Ramirez, who’s 56 years old and has owned Casa Sol for six years. But thanks to those solar panels, Casa Sol regained power just about 24 hours after Hurricane Maria struck. For months, Casa Sol was one of the few buildings in the neighbourhood with regular electricity. 

“When the storm hit they said, ‘Wow,’” Ramirez recalled of his neighbours. “We didn’t really install it because we thought something like this would happen, we just thought we have to put in our little contribution in order to protect the environment.” 

Ramirez was at the forefront of a push toward renewable energy that has swept over the island since Maria’s passage. Before the storm, roughly 2.5 percent of Puerto Rico’s electricity was drawn from renewable energy sources. Today, that figure is about 4 percent, with some neighbourhoods and towns — weary of unpredictable and enduring power outages — forming their own small-scale power grids.

Even though he was preaching the gospel of solar energy in the face of doubters, Ramirez was far from smug about his foresight or selfish with his good fortune. In the months after the storm, he left the doors of Casa Sol open for anyone who might need draw a bit of energy from the batteries that stored the power his solar panels collected.

Some came to charge appliances and cell phones or do laundry. Families stored breast milk and life-saving medications in his refrigerators. One man powered his sleep apnea machine at night. During one particular stretch, he recalled, as many 100 people a day would visit.

“Casa Sol came to be a centre of support during or after the storm for all our community and our neighbours,” Ramirez said.

Support, and also, it seems, inspiration. Today, more than a few of Ramirez’s neighbours also have solar panels.


Original article by Marie Fazio for Notre Dame Journalism