Arcana is constructing ‘design-forward’ cabins in the Canadian wilderness to allow burnt-out urbanites a chance to reconnect with nature. Jenny Southan reports
Founded in 2021, Canadian company Arcana describes itself as “a movement that bridges the gap between the urban and the wild, and offers experiences to maximize the benefits of nature”.
Co-founded by a team including Tokyo Smoke’s Alan Gertner and Felicia Snyder, the fledgling brand offers stays in architectural cabins in the Ontario wilderness.
It also aims to provide “innovative, science-backed experiences and educational content to enable people to easily access the restorative powers of nature”.
As part of its initial launch, Arcana is offering exclusive stays in a pair of cabins in the wilderness, less than two hours north of Toronto, enhanced by unique wellbeing rituals to “further encourage connection with nature anytime, anywhere”.The secluded, design-forward cabins became available to book in August 2021, with rates starting at US$299 per weeknight for up to two guests, with a two night minimum stay required.
Guests can enjoy the full Arcana experience by staying in one of its initial cabins nested in a “self-directed,” nature retreat.
Presently found less than a two hour drive from Toronto, in an undisclosed location revealed only to guests, the 275-square-foot cabins are clad in reflective polished stainless steel, featuring a custom UV film designed in collaboration with Feather Friendly and FLAP Canada, to help make the cabins safer for birds.
The cabins blend into the surrounding deciduous forest while ensuring a minimal footprint on the natural environment.Cabins feature “luxurious sleeping spaces surrounded by windows that help blur the lines between inside and out”. Arcana says the “minimalist design-forward interiors and amenities recall nature and prioritise wellbeing”. Contactless check-in allows guests to feel comfortably secluded from the moment they arrive.On-site experiences include a private sauna and cold plunge pool, access to over 15km of hiking trails, and an analogue pavilion that has a record player, a “seasonally curated” selection of records, a wood burning fireplace and a herbal tea service using foraged ingredients such as wild Canadian chaga, star anise and cinnamon.
There will also be guided forest bathing on 15km of marked trails. Arcana has been intentionally designed without wifi to encourage guests to slow down and adapt to a more idle state. Guests can also immerse themselves in a custom meditative sound journey, created in collaboration with New York-based Woom Center and the Dojo Upstate.
“The meditative sound journey is a great example of the type of content Arcana will continue to create and share with our community,” said Jeremy Hill, another co-founder of Arcana.“You can think of Arcana not just as a place to stay, but as a platform for how to access the benefits of the natural world. We’re partnering with amazing experts to make the science of nature and its impact on well-being digestible and accessible on our sites, or from the comfort of your home.”
Future Arcana locations will be announced “soon”, as the company prepares to launch a number of new sites across the US and other parts of Canada.
“Our need for nature has never been greater than over the past year, with long lockdowns and being isolated inside for months, all contributing to a growing mental health crisis,” says Snyder.She adds: ”Research shows that spending as little as 20 minutes in nature can measurably reduce our stress and have an enormous positive impact on our mental health and well-being. We are building Arcana to provide a much needed on-ramp to time in nature.”
Gertner says: “We think the world would be a better place if we could all get more time in nature. With Arcana, we are creating a community to help us incorporate the natural world, and its emotional and mental benefits, into our lives. We hope that we are creating a ritual worth repeating – a long term, symbiotic relationship with nature that changes how we see the world and how we see ourselves within it.”
Trend update: September 2022
Over in Tennessee, Bolt Tree Farmhouse has unveiled five new mirrored cabins on a mountaintop outside Chattanooga that are designed to immerse guests in nature.According to Robb Report: “The luxurious campground, which is set across 55 acres on Whitwell Mountain, first opened in May 2020 with a range of luxe domes and tree houses that recently appeared on Netflix’s The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals. The aptly named Mirror Cabins appear to be equally amazing.”