Over the last one hundred years Friends of Nature have built more than 1000 Houses, ranging in standard from rustic mountain shelters to fully catered Hotels. The current 'Guiding Principles' set out the common objectives pursued in the operation and management of the Houses along with their potential use for activities. All Friends of Nature Houses are identifiable by the International Friends of Nature logo and name.
Guiding Principles for all Friends of Nature Houses
Friends of Nature
We are an international, democratically organised movement seeking to establish or to maintain sustainable relations among people and between people and nature.
Open minded, international and inspired by community spirit
Friends of Nature Houses act as social meeting points. We welcome all guests regardless of background and encourage a spirit of democracy, tolerance and community.
Ecological and sustainable
The sustainable use of resources and respect for the natural environment are essential elements of our overall goals. We seek to meet our energy requirements to the greatest possible extent from renewable resources, to use state of the art technologies to save water and energy, and to refrain from polluting the environment.
Families, children and young people are especially welcome. Disadvantaged groups (e.g. single parents, people with disabilities, those unemployed or from countries with low purchasing power) deserve our support and where possible we attempt to take account of their needs.
Members of the Friends of Nature movement make a major contribution to the upkeep of our Houses and are consequently entitled to discounts on overnight stays.
Fit and fun
Our focus is on encouraging enjoyable experiences between people and nature. We wish to instil people with health awareness in a cheerful and relaxing atmosphere.
We give pride of place to the well being of our visitors. We make them welcome, showing everyone the same consideration and respect.
Peace and quiet
We make sure that our visitors need for recreation and relaxation is not marred by noise and fumes in the vicinity of our Houses.
Eco-friendly furnishings and amenities
Our Houses are user friendly and cosy. In sensitive regions however, ecological requirements may take precedent over convenience.
When building, expanding and converting our Houses, we encourage the use of local construction materials and to build in a harmonious or regional style. When it comes to interior work, we try to go for an open, functional and welcoming design.
It goes without saying that our Houses comply with the statutory regulations for hygiene, safety, fire prevention, health and safety in the work place and environmental protection.
Teamwork and advanced training
Our Managers, leaseholders, volunteers and paid employees form welcoming teams who cooperate in a friendly and considerate way and undertake periodic enhanced training. They inform visitors about Friends of Nature activities.
A) Fully serviced Houses
The priority of our menus is for healthy food, sourced locally where possible, and with vegetarian/special dietary options available. Compliance with regulations on hygiene and cleanliness are standard features at our Houses.
Sustainability in catering
We seek to ensure that our Managers limit the use of non-returnable containers or packaged individual servings. Our guests are asked to take their litter home. Where possible we give preference to regional produce and supporting local businesses.
B) Houses with special functions
Focus on low impact, sustainable (soft) tourism
Those in charge of our Houses seek to introduce the visitor to the region's natural and cultural assets and to inform them of possible outings, excursions, cycling or walking routes. Where possible they will provide leaflets, written guides or maps. Friends of Nature walking guides are well trained to take care of visitors. Every effort is made to maintain trails and signage in the vicinity of the Houses.
Equipment rental (optional for boat houses, climbing centres, cycle locations, etc)
To visitors going in for climbing, canoeing or other leisure sports, House Managers will be happy to rent out available equipment and to establish contact with experts, should they require advice or instruction.
Safety and advice
In the mountains or in difficult terrain (e.g. densely wooded or uninhabited areas) staff will be prepared to give advice on weather forecasts, choice of equipment and possible routes. All serviced Houses provide rescue and first aid equipment as well as facilities for contacting the emergency services in the event of accident.