Inside the Swedish island where tourists go ‘feral’

Spending a week on a scenic island in the middle of a Swedish lake with five of your closest mates for free sounds like a perfect getaway. But according to tourists who have vacationed there, the cheap holiday quickly turns from tranquil to unruly.

Nestled in the heart of Sweden, just a 40 minute drive (and 200 metre paddle) from Stockholm, lies Vifärnaholme island, a private oasis for “creative people”.

The island, aptly named Ideas Island, is owned by motivational speaker and author Fredrik Haren and every summer hosts tourists who wish to embark on a creative journey.

However, there’s a catch. To score a free week-long stay on Ideas Island, you have to impress Haren with an idea of your own and plead your case for why you deserve to be gifted a vacation to the remote destination.

Haren’s logic behind Ideas Island is simple: to hone in and finesse your ideas, you must connect with the universe and immerse yourself in solitude. Yet, it’s this isolation and freedom from societal constraints which turn guests from polite denizens to wild tourists.

Ideas Island offers a small cabin on the lake for you and five of your closest pals. Picture: Ideas Island FacebookSource:Supplied

For Frances Brown, one of Vifärnaholme’s guests, it only took a couple days on the island before she and her guests became crazed.

“By day two, we had reverted to kids,” Brown admitted in an interview with Forbes.

“We got a bit feral. We were chopping down trees and fishing and at one point, accidentally, one of the girls was fishing, and the duck swallowed the hook. We tried to rescue it, but we couldn’t,” Brown said.

Freelance advertiser Sam Jenkins, another guest who stayed on Ideas Island in 2015 revealed her time spent in Sweden resulted in a slew of drunken dinners and late night boat trips after alcohol-fuelled festivities.

“It was very much a stab-in-the-dark, crazy thing to do. It seems kind of unbelievable, too good to be true that someone would let you go to this island,” Jenkins said. “It aroused feelings of adventure, of being a child again and going off into the unknown.”

The secluded island has tourists going wild. Picture: Ideas Island FacebookSource:Supplied

Haren envisioned the island would be “an environment that helps to bring some great ideas to life”. However, while Ideas Island is supposed to provide a calming sanctuary to develop thoughts into action, some guests were unprepared for the sheer amount of isolation.

“It’s a bit like being given a blank canvas at first. It can be a bit daunting,” Jenkins said. “It was the stillness, the emptiness of there being no other stimulus.

“When you’re given the time, you’re a little stunted almost by the vastness of it.”

If you can handle the solitude of Ideas Island without becoming overwhelmed by the wealth of time to gestate with your own thoughts, then the free Swedish vacay may be perfect for you, as it was for Aussie philanthropist Mark Philpott.

Philpott had just sold most of his possessions and embarked on an 18-month global adventure when he found himself on Ideas Island. For him, the island’s separation from the rest of the world provided the ideal circumstances to reflect on his journey.

“The island’s tranquillity and peace came at the right time for me to reflect on all the things I was trying to get out of my trip,” Philpott said. “I spent days there in the trees, working on that and getting in touch with nature and working with Mother Earth.

“There were days I paddled the boat out to the middle of the lake and sat there, watched the sunrise and sunsets and had those experiences alone that a lot of people dream about but never get to have.”

Accessible by row boat, guests are left in solitude for seven days. (Source: Ideas Island Facebook)Source:Supplied

The island itself is 7000sq m and can accommodate up to six guests in a “typical Swedish summer house”. While Ideas Island is private, guests only need to row for 200 metres to reach the mainland.

Although Haren offers up Vifärnaholme for free, the application asks guests to donate $US1000 to charity, fending off those hunting for a free getaway. Visitors also front the bill of food and travel expenses for the duration of the stay.

Ideas Island is available to “creatives” for a few months of the year, from May until September. Applications for 2020 trips are now open.

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