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Modern Yurts vs. Traditional Yurts

Sain baina uu? 

Whether you’re new to the world of yurts, a yurt enthusiast, or for generations your family has been building and assembling gers from scratch, you have likely been made aware that there is more than one type of yurt. Yurts date back to more than 3000 years ago in Central Asia and have evolved a great deal since. Traditional Mongolian and Turkic yurts are most common in Central Asia, however, the rest of the world has seen growth in popularity for both the traditional and modern versions. But what is the best way to go? Well, this depends on your style, location, climate & municipal regulations. 

Traditional Yurts

Traditional yurts are nomadic tents that have been used by Central Asian tribes for centuries. They are made of felt or other natural materials and are typically circular in shape. The structure of a traditional yurt consists of lattice walls attached in a circle and supporting roof rafters that are radiating from a central dome opened to the sky (called toono in Mongolia). The wall and roof covers are made of felt and canvas and are held in place by horse-hair ropes. The floor is typically made of packed earth or a wooden platform.

Mongolian gers, in particular, are extremely efficient due to their compact silhouette that has been shaped in an extreme climate over the course of hundreds of years. They are fairly easy to move from one location to the other and leave little to no footprint.

Modern Yurts

Modern yurts, on the other hand, are a more recent development and are typically using more manmade materials such as vynil for the outer cover.  The structure of modern yurts are often higher to accommodate standard doors and a steeper pitch. Reflective bubble wrap is mostly used as insulation.  The flooring can be wooden or made of other sturdy materials. Some modern yurts can also be equipped with plumbing and electrical systems.

Durability

Mongolian yurts, which are still used today by about half the Mongolian population, were developed to withstand the harshest weather conditions – making them 4-season dwellings. Modern Yurts can also survive seasonal changes, which attests to why both are popular North America.

Doors

The origin proportions of the Mongolian yurt were tried and tested for thousands of years and are still honored throughout Mongolia to this day. Notably, the doors are smaller than North American standards. This is not because Mongolians are short, but rather, because of functionality and physics! The short doorway allows for a more aerodynamic shape, making it easy for the yurt structure to endure high winds. Additionally, it is also proven to be more efficient to heat during the winter season! 

Modern yurts were designed with higher doors to fit the North American building codes. It should be noted that this modification is not as effective at resisting high winds.

Materials 

Another main difference is the materials that are used to construct the yurts. Traditional Yurts are hand-made with natural and breathable materials, heavily avoiding the use of plastic to cover and insulate the yurt. Modern Yurts are mainly constructed with vinyl covers for the outside layer.  A big concern with the use of nonbreathable material is that the yurt consequently has an issue with fending off condensation, affecting ease of maintenance and comfortability.

About Groovy Yurts

At Groovy Yurts, we too have modified the yurt very slightly, with most respect for Mongolian traditions! Because of the moist climates we often face, we’ve added a layer of breathable membrane between the canvas and the felt insulation. This hinders the breathability of the yurt slightly but is the best compromise that we have found to prevent water from coming in, while allowing the humidity to escape. 

Additionally, for those with more minimalistic styles, we have partnered with Tuya and her team to provide our new line of contemporary yurtsThe Natural Wood Collection! These Mongolian gers allow the natural woodwork to shine. Be sure to check them out!

As one of the oldest dwellings in the world, the yurt never ceases to amaze us with its capacity to adapt to different needs and conditions. No matter how you compare them, they all share the same core value of roundness that brings people together! So, we’ve laid it all out. The pros, cons, and realities of living out of a traditional or modern yurt. Now the million-dollar question is, which yurt best suits you?

Next Read: Winter Yurt Tips  

 

Source:

Modern Yurt Image: https://zurl.co/IGG4

 

Hammond Hill Yurt

A Conversation with Aaron Markel from Hammond Hill

Hey Groovies!

We had an amazing conversation with entrepreneur and part-owner of Hammond Hill Eco Resorts, Aaron Markel. We chatted about a plethora of topics, covering all things yurts, business, and so much more! Learn more about Hammond Hill, Aaron’s business journey, and our partnership below!

Tell me about yourself and your business! 

My name is Aaron Markel. I’m part-owner of Hammond Hill Eco Resorts, located just outside of the Hammond Golf and Country Club in Hammond, ON. We’re a 62-acre eco-resort that’s been hosting guests for about a year and a half now! We made the decision to build completely off-grid and we run solar power, water reclamation, compostable toilets, our own sawmill, and so much more. 

Why did you decide that your business needed yurts on board? 

We ended up with the traditional yurt model because it fits our profile perfectly. Yurts (or Gers) were developed by Mongolian nomads and therefore have low environmental impact, are portable (yet stable), and are designed to be lived in all year ‘round.

We previously had a modern yurt for a year or so, but it was lost in a big storm along with about 4000 trees. Afterwards, we decided to purchase 3 Groovy Yurts to add to our yurt village – we wanted to fill the space with different styles of yurts. Peter from Groovy Yurts and his team came out and installed them for free after hearing about the devastating storm. We are so appreciative that they showed up for us – taking time out of their day to come help us out. They have a very special place in my heart, and I have nothing bad to say about them at all.

How did you hear about Groovy Yurts? 

Through research! We purchased a yurt from another company at first, but ultimately found that they were getting too expensive and started looking at alternatives. We quickly discovered that Groovy Yurts was just 30 minutes away from us, and we loved the local, symbiotic feel.

Can you speak on a moment that encompasses your relationship with them? 

I was there for the yurt installation and spent a lot of time with Peter. Through our interaction, I found that the Groovy Yurts team is extremely informative. Their passion and love for Mongolian people and their way of life is so inspiring – you can’t help but leave the install date with an overwhelming sense of “this is how people are supposed to think about other people and cultures.” Learning more about people, how they live, and who they are is so important.

Overall, dealing with the entire team has been so easy.  They accommodated us because the storm was unexpected, and we couldn’t pay the full amount right away. A lot of businesses would have demanded full payment upfront, but they were super understanding of our unique situation and even gave us lots of time to ensure that our order was perfect. Through that experience, I know we made the right choice by choosing Groovy Yurts! 

Why would you recommend Groovy Yurts to potential yurt buyers? 

I run a construction company and I talk to many suppliers, so based on previous experiences, I know my interaction with Groovy Yurts was great. They are very well organized, and I’ve held on to their pre-setup and post-setup checklists. Something that really stood out to me is a time that we had some issues on our end – a lot of suppliers would just go dark – but Peter came onsite 3 other times to meet with members of my team and make sure everyone was on the same page. Their implementation process was amazing, and it was clear that they’ve done this many times as the yurts showed up on time, and their emails were very explicit in terms of what we needed to have ready and what we could expect upon arrival.

So, the beginning was great, and as a salesperson, I know that the beginning is usually great because a business wants your business. But the thing that I will always remember is the after-sale service. I know I can call Peter right now and he’ll answer the phone. These are the kind of people that I will continue a relationship with because when things go wrong (and they often do), we know they’ll be there to advise and support in any way they can. It’s truly amazing. For me, Groovy Yurts gets a check, check, and check.

What has been your takeaway from this relationship?

I think it’s affirmation. I’m not too sure if karma is the right word but as for what you throw out to the universe, you just hope that it comes back. I also hope that they felt their interaction with us was just as beneficial for them. 

After they came to help us out, we bought the steak dinners and gave them a tour of our facility. There were lots of stories being told, and a little bit craziness (of the best variety) – it was all a part of the awesome experience. Perhaps my favourite story of all is how they began selling Mongolian gers. Yves, the owner, was a truck driver for a not-for-profit organization called Globe Trucker, which was delivering school supplies to rural Mongolia at the time. After dropping of the supplies, they didn’t want to head back with an empty truck, so they purchased a few yurts from a local manufacturer and brought them back to North America. I give a lot of tours of the eco-resort, and I start off with that story every time because it paints a picture of the power of global economy – it’s great stuff.

What has been your experience with providing an eco-resort? 

Our interaction with the city and the county has been surprisingly positive and supportive. Typically, interactions with city officials can be quite adversarial and, in some cases aggressive, but the moment that we presented this property we were fast-tracked for approvals. We were able to show people that we didn’t want to cut down trees, but rather that we wanted to build within the envelopes, reuse nature (use the natural materials and pathways already laid out and provided by nature) highlight trails – we were fortunate to be backed by the community.

As a constructor, I can’t begin to tell you the amount of stuff that we end up throwing away. In the past, there was a 20% commitment to upcycling materials, but when you start talking to people, like the mayor, the city council, and RBC, it’s more about the feel-good component to upcycling. We started thinking that if we build a business, we want to do it better. We can build more sustainably; something that our kids can be proud of. As far as I can tell, what we’re building is the first of its kind and I find it inspiring because our story impacts everyone a little bit differently. The general response has been amazing. 

We’re not reinventing the wheel, but we are doing things better at different stages in the process.  So yes, Groovy Yurts fits right into that model – we like how their traditional yurts are authentically hand-crafted by a Mongolian family out of mostly natural materials. Additionally, 25 trees are planted with each purchase to replace the ones that were cut down. 

Is the construction of Hammond Hill a long-time dream?

So, Hammond Hill is a recent idea – less than 2 years old. What’s amazing about the idea is that it was very organic, and it just grew alongside the company values. I have a great team, so it was a very interactive process.  “Where do you think we should put the campsite?” “Hmm, how about there?” The excitement of the team, sharing the journey with my friends, and showing people how we accomplished cutting a trail through wetlands and built bridges are a few of the highlights for me!

Does Hammond Hills bring a sense of purpose or fulfillment?

Since the storm, we’ve recorded 3000 hours of footage. I do a weekly update of the progress that has happened on the Hill. The story is powerful, but the rebuilding process has been even more impactful. We were totally knocked down because of the storm – alongside many other people and businesses – but now I can see that we’re equally participating in rebuilding the community. We’ve donated logs, generators, and overall, helped everyone recover. For us, our vision of what we do next is even better than what we started with. That’s both exciting and fulfilling.

Why would you recommend getting a yurt to other resort destinations?

I’m going to approach this from the opinion of our customers that have come to stay with us. The resounding response is that it’s like walking into a 4000-year-old piece of architecture. With traditional yurts, not much has changed from when they were first conceptualized – you’re basically stepping into a historical depiction of how people lived a long time ago in other parts of the world, and, how they continue to live. So, I think when you get this type of reaction from your guests, it becomes clear why you would purchase something like this. 

Why do you love traditional yurts (or Mongolian Gers)? 

I actually got my wedding license this year (I jump around a lot), and I married three people on the Hill. For the first wedding it was raining, and I married them in the yurt. I was appointed to write a speech that dealt with the idea of family – I had to be accurate in my understanding of the Mongolian ger and its symbolism. We talked about the imagery of a circle, the completion of the ring, being at the center of your family unit, and making sure that the people around you are of equal importance. It made me realize that the yurt is beautiful because it promotes togetherness due to its simplicity – there are limited modern world distractions, which fosters building connections with your loved ones. 

As we are leaving COVID (fingers crossed), a lot of people really want to get back to the basics and into nature, and our eco-resort provides the perfect getaway for this. We have many types of accommodations, including, pioneer homes and campsites, but with the yurt, it’s the only structure that promotes togetherness. I simply love and value it so much.

Thank you so much again Aaron for such an awesome time and conversation. We wish you the best in all your endeavors, and hope to chat again sooner than later!

Be sure to check out Hammond Hill Eco Resorts!

Next Read: The Intricate Symbolism of Mongolian Gers >

Customer Experience and Testimonial

​​When I say “Groovy,” you say “Tour”

Groovy!  – “Tour”

Groovy!  – “Tour”

Hey Groovies!

We have been journeying throughout the U.S. and Canada in our “Très Spécial” Groovy Delivery Bus, delivering authentic Mongolian yurts right to your doorstep. On this awesome adventure, we’ve had our share of ups and downs (THREE flat tires! womp-womp), not the least of which, meeting fabulous Groovies like yourselves! 

We love hearing from y’all! Please read this review from Daphne & Mark in Hesperus, Colorado. It was a great pleasure delivering their Ger, and learning about why yurt living was integral to their lifestyle.

 

Daphne’s Testimonial:

“ I am a sustainable architect, Biogeometry practitioner and yoga practitioner from the east. Mark and I both really value both the history, heritage and also health benefits to living in a natural and radial structure like a Ger. As Buddhists who spend much time in the Himalayas, it brings great joy to have the decorated visual forms with us on the West.

Long story short, we are deeply grateful for Groovy Yurts for making this happen for us at Windhorse (our land in Colorado which is named after Lungta (the mystical flying horse you see on some Tibetan prayer flags). And also for Groovy Yurts making the process so easy and accessible.

So whatever we can do to support Groovy Yurts back, we’ll make it happen.

(I also have a gag reflex for the vinyl and random stick frame structures that call themselves gers or yurts so you can imagine my despair before I finally found Groovy Yurts) “

With love,

Daphne

 

Thank you so much, Daphne. We are elated to hear that you both value the “history, heritage, and also health benefits” of Gers. Buddhism and Shamanism continue to thrive in Mongolia and are heavily associated with traditional yurts. We are glad to aid in your spiritual journey by providing Mongolian Gers to your doorstep. Thank you for being so wonderful, and we can’t wait to work with you both again soon.

Have a great day Groovies!

 

Additional Links

Tour Updates

 https://www.instagram.com/p/ChKjpWGOWoP/

https://groovyyurts.com/delivery-tours-2/

More on Mongolian Yurts, Impermanence and Buddhism:

https://groovyyurts.com/mongolian-yurts-impermanence-and-buddhism/

 

Logistics Issues

The reality is that some yurt parts are still being carried on horseback through Mongolia. They will then be completed in the capital city, shipped in a sea container, carried by train, and then shipped again by boat from China to Canada. This journey initially took 2 months but has since increased dramatically due to shipping determinants.

Last year everything was turned upside down in a worldwide shipping debacle. Containers could not be shipped from China anymore, and the ones that had already been shipped, took up to 9 months to arrive – this meant that the only other option was to ship through Russia to Europe. The containers were loaded on trucks or trains and then on a ship in Europe, costing 3 times the price, but ultimately, the gers did arrive intact. We decided to order them earlier this year to ensure we had what we needed for stock.

Then, a man who has all the power to help turn the world into a happy place, decided to do the opposite and invaded his neighbor. Our last container was on a train in Russia and began bouncing from place to place until it finally crossed the border with a few weeks delay. That was a huge relief. The container then arrived in Estonia, and then sat another few weeks in Germany until it was loaded on a boat. Alas, when the ship arrived in Montreal, the container was nowhere to be found. It is only one metal box amongst 10,000 others on a huge ship, however, we are waiting to start our annual delivery tour, making this an issue.

We have become accustomed to reshuffling but look forward to a certain normalcy. Right now, there’s a huge shortage of containers in Mongolia and therefore we have been presented with the most recent of logistics issues – sourcing shipping containers. In the meantime, Bataa and his family are still making gers. Thankfully, we’ve developed a brand-new shipping solution that uses special custom boxes being shipped in empty European trucks returning from delivering much-needed supplies to Mongolia. Bataa and his chaps again worked like crazy to make this happen. We are so grateful to work with such amazing partners. Our heart goes also to our shipping agent – Landbridge, who must find solutions in this insane market.

One way or the other, we’ll get you your Mongolian ger. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Warmly,

Yves and the Groovies