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Hot Tubs, Sauna & Nordic Tipis

Tuesday, 16 May 2017 at 07:44 am

Ever been to a rock festival? If so you probably recognize the slight emotional drain you might experience on your second or third day of camping out together with thousands of people, trying to get your first half hour of sleep during the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ sound check – which could, for all you know, be your tent neighbour’s boom box stuck on repeat while she’s left for a morning rave. At the biggest music/art festival in the Netherlands, The Lowlands festival, they have thought about this and reserved a special place where you can heal your battered ears. Tentipi PR-manager Torsten Gabrielsson called up area manager Caro Kuiper-Menger at her office in Zwolle, Netherlands.

“It’s called the Llowzone. It’s my “baby” and absolutely my pride and joy!”,Caro Kuiper says.

The Llowzone has been a must-visit on the super popular Lowlands festival for ten years, and it is in every sense the very opposite of the fast spinning festival that surrounds it: a small island refuge where lost souls swept ashore can recover their inner peace with hop-on yoga and cleansing sauna baths in an unexpected Nordic tipi/Oriental Bali mash-up environment. For many of the festival’s 55,000 visitors this oasis has become a central point for the weekend, as important as the music or even the diverse and high quality food offered at Lowlands.

Caro with the Llowzone sign
Caro with the Llowzone sign

The story of Llowzone is very much the story of Caro and the Tentipi rental business Zweedse Tenten (Dutch for “Swedish Tents”) she runs together with her husband, Onno. Back in early 90’s Onno, being an avid alpine climber and outdoorsman, started a climbing centre together with Caro, which soon grew into organising other outdoor activities as well.

“We both love Scandinavia, and one time, back in the summer of 2006 we were in Norway driving through the forest when Onno suddenly slammed on the brakes. There, in the clearing stood a giant tipi. We had no idea what we could do with it, we just knew we had to have one!” says Caro.

When they came back home the tent was still on their mind. As a happy surprise for these lovers of the north, the tents were (and still are) hand made in Swedish Lapland by Tentipi.

“So we thought ‘we can try with one tent, organise some great outdoor activities in it, and see what we also can do with it as a rental’ and we placed the order. Pretty soon it turned out we needed two tents. Three tents. Four tents…. ”

Getting a free hand

By that time, the Lowlands festival wanted to create a soothing chill-out zone at an area divided from the rest of the event by a body of water. There was a Finnish entrepreneur providing sauna tents and a yoga instructor giving classes. Caro and Onno had already been involved with the Lowlands festival for many years, providing mobile climbing walls as an activity for the visitors of the festival. They were asked to provide the Llowzone area with two tents and another tent on the festival area, and they got on the boat. After a couple of years the Finn dropped off and Caro got the question if she could take over the Llowzone.

“‘Make it great’ they said and we got a free hand to do whatever we wanted. To get that kind of responsibility from such a great company as Mojo (who run the festival) is something many entrepreneurs can only dream of!”

On site they built 2 connected Tentipi Stratus 72 as a yoga hall for Samana Yogacenter Amsterdam and two Nimbus 16 – one as a DJ booth and one as a shower room. In addition they had three custom-made Finnish sauna tents that matched the colour of the Tentipi products, as well as 2 hot tubs. All decorated with oriental flags, flowers and carpets.

Fresh start hottub
Fresh start hottub

View from the shower tent
View from the shower tent

“Of course you could build white plastic tent halls, “refrigerators” as we call them, but it’s not nice. With the Tentipi Nordic tipis you get atmosphere. You wouldn’t even have to decorate!”

However, decorations in this case brings in an extra dimension. And for Caro, this means letting her imagination flow!

“It’s very creative! For example, we have to have storage for the fire wood for the saunas. But instead of storing it in the boring pallet boxes they come in, we disassemble the pallet, use the pallet collars as frames and pile the wood inside of them. We then use them as walls or dividers to make separate areas in the Llowzone. They look gorgeous and perfectly match the natural, authentic feeling of the Tentipi tents!”

Sweaty business

One of the biggest challenges taking over the Llowzone was to fill the shoes of the Finn. According to Caro he was a bit of a character and had his own fan base of sauna-lovers.

“We had a hard time topping him because, although his sauna didn’t look that great, he was an expert in running a hot sauna tent. The tent he had was made for a bigger group of people. Our saunas can only hold max. 6 people at a time. We also had to work real hard to match his quality of heat. But we managed to succeed and on the last day of our first Llowzone (back in 2013) we received a big compliment from his biggest ‘die-hard’ fan!”

Running a sauna tent is quite a sweaty business, it turns out. Caro has 10 people in her crew working shifts during the three days of the festival, while Caro herself never leaves site during the 12 hour long days.

“Inside the sauna tents we do a steam blow ritual with essential oils, so that means we run in and out of the hot tents all days. Also we need to stay very alert since having people – occasionally under influence of alcohol or even drugs – in high temperatures can be potentially dangerous. So it’s a busy, busy time. But it is so much fun!”

Great for the resume

The work starts on Monday with the building crew setting up the tents. This year they will build two linked Stratus 72, two Nimbus 16, three sauna tents and a Cirrus 40 as dressing room at the Llowzone. In addition they will also build two linked Stratus 72 for an organic tea garden on the main festival area. This means two full days of work. Then they have Wednesday as overflow, in case there have been any delays. Thursday, Caro and two colleagues arrive for decorations. Friday, it’s doors open and full speed until Sunday night.

“Not only is it a fantastic, exhausting, energizing, great time, but also having the largest festival in Netherlands on your resume is good marketing. It has opened many doors for us as a Tentipi rental. We don’t do much advertising, it’s all word-to-mouth. We’ve even had visitors booking their tipi wedding from us after hanging out at the Llowzone!”

And the pleasure seems to be mutual.

“Lowlands Festival is very happy to work with Zweedse Tenten over the years. Caro and Onno are very pleasant and dedicated people. Not only as a supplier of accommodations for Horeca outlets at the festival but also as a partner in making the Llowzone and sauna concept to the success it is. We are looking forward to present the sauna in the new setting this year!” Katinka Zoethout, project manager at Mojo says when we reach her by e-mail.

Yoga class in a Stratus 72
Yoga class in a Stratus 72

Sauna guests
Sauna guests

25th anniversary special

2017 is going to be a special year since the festival celebrate it’s been around for a quarter of a century. There is a lot of changes going on, one of them being that the body of water dividing the Llowzone from the rest of the festival will be built over.

“The fact that the Llowzone will now be approachable by foot, visitors can come to us much easier and also the Llowzone will be much opener. This is great for the Yoga hall but as you can imagine the saunas will need some privacy and seclusion due to the fact that our visitors will only be dressed in white towels… ,” Caro says.

Because of this the sauna area will this year be built close to the water and surrounded by green (which will need some time to grow) and decorative barriers. The rest of the Llowzone will expand with some shops and a massage area and possibly even some more wellness activities.

“A big challenge for all of us to make the Llowzone even more energizing! After this year’s edition we can show you a new and improved Llowzone. Just you wait and see!!!”

By coincidence, only a few days after we spoke to Caro, Mojo presented the new ideas for the 2017 25th anniversary festival with this video: http://lowlands.nl/nieuws/2017/05/02/terreinveranderingen/

Cold shower after a hot and soothing sauna
Cold shower after a hot and soothing sauna

Llowzone across the water
Llowzone across the water

Sunday morning queue outside the festival
Sunday morning queue outside the festival

DJ Booth with stacked fire wood as walls
Nimbus 16 DJ Booth with stacked fire wood as walls

 

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