Business Kuopio


Raimo Sonninen – Water Calms Down the Busy Worker


Having led Bella-Veneet from a garage to the top of the world, Raimo Sonninen has many irons in the fire. His latest projects combine work, leisure and water.

After selling his company Bella-Veneet Oy about a year ago, Raimo Sonninen has already had time to establish holiday resort Kuopion Saana with his partners and is now involved in setting up both an apartment hotel and a sport hall in Bellanranta. They will provide the perfect way to combine work and leisure right next to Lake Kallavesi.

Bellanpuisto iltakuva_hotellisuunnitelmien havainnekuva

In the picture, an apartment hotel has been built next to the Saana in Bellanranta. Picture: QVIM Arkkitehdit Oy.

Sonninen thinks that the general mode of work is changing. For example, people want conference rooms that create a positive vibe and calm them down. Many also want to balance their work with something that detaches them from work. The plan is to also include e.g. padel courts and climbing facilities in the sport hall.

“In the old days, work was all that mattered, but thanks to more leisure time, people yearn for more experiences and hobbies to try as well.”

The hotel will have conference rooms overlooking the lake. Sonninen has noticed the calming effects of water also at home. He has always lived by the water – or at least has been able to see water from his windows. He finds water endlessly fascinating due to its ever-changing shapes, from calm surfaces to dark and stormy waters.

“In Saana, people prefer to withdraw by the lake to continue working after a lunch meeting. Some opt for a corner table next to a window, while others go out on the terrace. If you break your concentration to raise your head just a bit, you will find the water and nature right by your side, making you feel good.”

Water as an element also gave the first boost to Sonninen’s career in boatbuilding. When his father refused to buy him a boat, the 12-year-old Raimo made a canoe all by himself to be able to go out on the water – and that is how his career as a boatbuilder started. He has wanted to pass on the good that he has received and invests the money he has made in the boat business in things that will bring joy to others as well.

Sonninen believes that boat travel brings families together and creates good memories of times spent together on the water.

“As the old saying goes, if you spend your leisure time out of the water, the amount of time you get doubles. Out on the lake, you can look around and you do not have to tread along a narrow road, says Sonninen.

Saana also has a jetty where you can climb aboard an inland waterway vessel to visit various places or simply enjoy a scenic lake tour.

Origin of the article has been published in the Kuopio by nature 2021 journal.