The heft and feel of a well-worn handle,
The sight of shavings that curl from a blade;
The logs in the wood pile, the sentiment of huge beams in an old-fashioned house;
The smell of fresh cut timber and the pungent fragrance of burning leaves;
The crackle of kindling and the hiss of burning logs.
Abundant to all the needs of man, how poor the world would be
Without wood.

Everard Hinrichs, quoted by Eric Sloane in A Reverence for Wood


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Great Designs in Wood (37) - Villa Miodula

If you're looking for a real escape, you might want to consider the Tatra Mountains, which form the border of Poland and Slovakia. I've made one trip to Poland, and found the back-country Poles warm, fun, and hospitable.

But the part of Poland I visited was far from Villa fact, most places are. Any lover of wood will marvel at this boutique hotel. It was built by Marta and Andrew Klimek because they disliked the larger commercial hotels of the region, and they wanted a place where they could "wake up and fall asleep in a cozy mountain-style interior, eat dinner by the fireplace, enjoy the sun on the terrace, and take a bath in a fragrant wood bathroom with a view of the mountains."

Well, what a vision it was, and what a dream destination it is. Located near the village of Koscielisko, 86 kilometers south of Krakow, it looks like a castle right out of a fairy tale. Built into the ground on a rock foundation, every part of this hotel oozes the warmth of wood, even in the dead of winter. The owners describe Villa Miodula as "a large tavern built with spruce logs in a perfectly highlander style."

As you can see, the wooden wonderland was continued into the interior detail. And perhaps most importantly for a chalet riding the crest of the Carpathians, the wood detail is carefully implemented to convey a sense of light, even in the bedrooms and baths.

The woodwork is all maintained in natural and whitewashed colors, and combined with large windows and skylights, the sense is one of lightness even though nearly all trimmings and detail are in wood.

You might think that the structure would be cold and chilly, but once again wood is utilized to chase off winter chill, in the form of a water-jacketed three stage high-efficiency wood stoves, controlled by computer in each room to maintain perfect temperatures. 
Since I'm not a skier, I will probably try to visit Villa Miodula in the summer, when I can appreciate hiking the local mountain trails and talking with locals along the side of the road. Just about every Pole has one or more relatives living in New York, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh or Chicago, so many of them speak at least broken English, which seems to get better when you've all had a few drinks.

Speaking of which, Miodula apparently translates from the Polish into "honey hive", and the owners have taken inspiration from the name to produce their own proprietary blend of "miodowka", or honey vodka. Apparently they greet you with a warm cup of it upon your arrival. Sounds like my kind of place.
I could spend days just studying the architecture of the place, and I hope to get the chance some day to do just that. If any of you makes it there before me, please send me notes and photos of your experience and we'll highlight it again here on Go Wood.

Contemplation in wood.

The website for Villa Miodula can be found here. And more details on the hotel are provided at Weranda.

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