The title is appropriate in so many ways, as Runde’s stunning location brings you as far out to sea as possible without getting your feet wet, making it a natural meeting place in many ways. While Runde Environmental Centre’s main task is as a research centre, it is becoming increasingly popular as a meeting destination due to its magical location and interesting research, which they are very happy to share.

Runde Environmental Centre is a meeting and conference venue that is out of the ordinary. Initially established as a research centre for climate, marine pollution and seabird monitoring, among other areas, it also offers top-notch meeting facilities and accommodation. Thus, it is a place for companies and people who wish to combine meetings in a calm environment; unique natural experiences, and gain expert insights into the wondrous surrounding nature. “It is a natural meeting place, both in the way that nature is all around both inside and outside the building walls, but also a place people feel relaxed,” manager and maritime researcher Nils-Roar Hareide says.

Runde Environmental Centre | the natural meeting place | Scan Magazine

A little piece of Shangri-La

It is said that the world is running out of Shangri La-kind of destinations, the fictional place described in the novel Lost Horizon in the 1930s, often used to describe earthly paradises far from the outside world. While Runde centre is not isolated from the rest of the world, as much as it may look it, it can easily be argued to be an earthly paradise. The research and conference centre is situated on Runde Island, a small island south west of Ålesund in Norway’s fjord region, with a stunning view both of the Norwegian Sea and the dramatic nature inland. With the location as its starting point, there is little wonder why nature is important in all that the centre offers.

Runde Environmental Centre | the natural meeting place | Scan Magazine

Combining nature experiences with new knowledge

“One guest noted that you can have a smashing meal at any restaurant in Oslo or London, but one cannot get the sense of a thousand birds leaving their nests at once, or sprays of the ocean covering your face the way you can here,” Hareide says. The guest captured the main factor which makes people come back for more, but while the experiences are important, Hareide also stresses sharing knowledge. “Our scientists working at the centre are very happy to talk about our fascinating research.”

One is forgiven for thinking the centre is for companies and people who already have an interest and understanding of maritime life, but this is not the case. With an auditorium taking between 50 to 70 people, as well as smaller rooms for seminars and courses, they welcome companies within all sectors. And the food is absolutely worth a remark as the menu is mainly based on local specialties of seafood.

Runde Environmental Centre | the natural meeting place | Scan Magazine

A bird watcher’s paradise

The island has the southernmost bird cliffs in Norway, including Atlantic puffins, gannets, and Northern fulmars. During the busy summer months, as many as 250,000 birds find their way to the island making it a much loved destination for bird watchers from all over the world.

For the keen hiker there are excellent trails around the island, while the small islands and narrow sounds in the area are perfect for kayaking and scuba diving. Particularly for the latter, divers have numerous shipwrecks to discover, including the Dutch ship Akerendam that sunk with a large amount of silver and gold coins. The treasure is on display in the centre. “Most guests take advantage of the spectacular nature right on our doorstep, which you do not find anywhere else in Norway, or possibly in the world. Guests who come here often say they get a feeling of being part of something bigger,” Hareide says.

Runde Environmental Centre | the natural meeting place | Scan Magazine

Within easy reach

Ålesund is the nearest city to Runde and welcomes direct flights from London Gatwick, Copenhagen and Amsterdam in addition to the main Norwegian airports, and from there it is an easy ride up to Runde.

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