When the season turns colder .. and winter arrives with its icy grip, Lapland is on most people’s bucket list, wanting to see the marvel of the Aurora Borealis - the Northern Lights - and maybe catch a glimpse of Santa Claus and Rudolph preparing for their big day. Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Finland, ticks every box in that regard, being in the right zone for optimal aurora viewing, reindeer and Santa spotting - although it has plenty to offer visitors any time of year.
This family-friendly Kakslauttanen Artic Resort is located in two halves – East and West Villages – offering in total around 190 different types of accommodation - 65 log chalets, 65 glass igloos, 40 Kelo-Glass igloos (a combination of log chalet and glass igloo). The resort’s two restaurants offer à la carte menus packed with local Lappish delicacies. Private celebrations can also be booked in the Santa Claus Celebration House, Korsu “The Underground” Restaurant or the Smoke Sauna Restaurant.
There are five smoke saunas, including the largest one in the world, ice swimming and all types of safaris – husky; reindeer; snow mobile; snow tank; riding and ice fishing. Other activities include aurora hunting; cross-country skiing; icebreaker sampo; downhill skiing and snowboarding. In the autumn months, there are horse and ATV safaris; hiking in the Urho Kekkonen National Park; mushroom and berry picking; canoeing in the wilderness; mountain biking and gold panning. Many of these activities can also be enjoyed in the summer but the warmer months also offer Lemmenjoki Cruises and fishing trips. The resort can supply both rental clothing and equipment if booked in advance.
For souvenirs and local handicrafts, there is a gift shop in each section of the resort.
Kakslauttanen is a family friendly hotel in the Saariseklä Fell region of Finnish Lapland, 250 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. The nearest international airport is in Ivalo, just a 30-minute transfer away, serviced by Finnair and Norwegian from Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. The resort is also relatively close to northern Norway and Murmansk, Russia. The resort provides transport to and from Ivalo Airport for every client and there is a glass-roofed bus available which is ideal for admiring the northern lights or the midnight sun. Any transport to Norway can also be arranged. If arriving by car, the resort offers free parking and Lapland has excellent roads.
Located right at the edge of the wilderness, along the road from the Arctic Sea, it is a mere stone’s throw away from the Urho Kekkonen National Park, the largest of Finland’s national parks. The Sami, the indigenous people of Lapland, have inhabited the region for over a century and the surrounding environment is one of the cleanest you can find anywhere in the world. The water is so pure, you can quench your thirst from the lake from which it flows.
Lapland is a vast geographical area laying in the northernmost part of Scandinavia spreading to the areas of Finland, Russia, Norway and Sweden. It is the magnificent land of fells and reindeers with the highest peak being Halti at 1,328 metres.
Kakslauttanen Artic Resort offers around 190 different types of accommodation including 65 log chalets, 65 glass igloos and 40 Kelo-Glass igloos. The chalets and igloos are spread over two sites – the East and West Villages.
The Glass Igloos are perfect for admiring the Northern Lights and the bright starry sky unencumbered with light pollution. The two-person igloo includes a toilet and the option of an extra bed with saunas and showers available in separate buildings. The four person igloos include their own toilet and shower.
The Kelo-Glass Igloos combine the comforting warmth of a log chalet with the sensational views available from a glass igloo. Made from Lapland’s unique Kelo pinewood, these can accommodate up to six people and feature a private sauna, fireplace, kitchenette and a bedroom with a stunning glass roof.
The Log Chalets accommodate from one to ten people and are made from impressively large kelo pine – trees that once stood dead and dried out – and are designed in a rugged style which complements the surrounding landscape. Do not expect widescreen televisons or dishwashers, enjoy the open fireplace and a sauna instead.
The Snow Igloos offer a totally unique experience. Even if the mercury dips to minus 40 degrees centigrade / minus 104 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the temperature inside is a constant minus three to minus six / minus Centigrade - 37 to minus 43 Fahrenheit - with the resort providing sleeping bags and everything required for a cool, comfortable night in.
The Queen Suites are perfect for romantic couples. The spacious 60 square metre chalet features a seating area and a spacious bathroom complete with bathtub and sauna. On the terrace, there is an outdoor Jacuzzi for relaxing bathing whatever the season.
The Wedding Chambers are earth lodges which have been used as residences in Finland since ancient times. Their turf roofs conceal them in the landscape which is the perfect hideaway or romantic retreat. They feature saunas and a great bathroom with bathtub too.
In an almost century-old traditional house, guests can immerse themselves in the authentic Lapland lifestyle of days past. The log house sleeps two people and features a sauna too. It has a very distinguished history too.
Sivakka is the largest chalet on site and sleeps up to ten people. It features a large living room, three bedrooms, a kitchen, a separate fireplace room and a sauna.
The Gold Digger Chalets lie on the banks of the river in peace and quiet. Featuring their own sauna, there is a kick sled in the front yard – the traditional Finnish winter runabout which will take you to the restaurant or activity sites in no time at all.
If you prefer to travel light, you can rent winter overalls, rain clothes or rubber boots directly from the resort which also offer skis, snowshoes, sleds and bicycle rental. Just be sure to book in advance of travel.
Regarding souvenirs, there is a gift shop that also features local handicrafts in both the eastern and western villages – both of the areas that comprise Kakslauttanen.
When visiting Finland, going to the sauna is almost obligatory. Although each chalet has its own electric saunas, the resort offers five different-sized smoke saunas across the two villages, the largest one being the biggest smoke sauna in the world. The three saunas by the lake can take up to 100 bathers at once and each has a fireplace in the dressing room. Ice swimming is also available. The jetty leads out to the water and even if it is iced over, the resort will cut a hole in the ice just for you.
There is a wide range of safari available here throughout the year – husky (there are two big husky farms next door), reindeer, an adrenaline-pumping snow mobile, the enclosed panoramic sleigh pulled by a snow tank, riding and ice fishing on Lake Inarinjärvi. Other activities include aurora hunting, cross-country skiing, icebreaker sampo (an icebreaker cruise out of the town of Kemi), downhill skiing and snowboarding. Snow schools are also available.
In the autumn months, there are horse and ATV safaris, hiking in the UKK National Park, mushroom and berry picking, canoeing in the wilderness, mountain biking and gold panning. Many of these activities can also be enjoyed in the summer but the warmer months also offer Lemmenjoki Cruises, visit to the Sami Museum of Siida in Inari and fishing trips.
For Northern Lights spotting, the season lasts from late August to late April and as there is virtually no light pollution and very few trees obscuring the sky, Kakslauttanen is one of the best places to see this unique phenomenon. They may last for five minutes or five hours – the length being unpredictable. They are caused by solar winds hitting Earth’s upper atmosphere about 100 kilometres up in the sky although fables say they are reflections of the shields of the mythical female warrior Valkyrie or that they are spirits moving across heaven which is a little more poetic.
Santa’s House is open to personal visits but must be booked up in advance so Santa can be sure to be home when you call. His itinerary in December is pretty busy and most of his elves are beavering away, busily packing toys and treats for the big day.
There is also Santa’s Celebration House which is also Finland’s largest log building accommodating up to 250 guests for a private celebration.
Despite there being excellent Wi-Fi connections at the resort, this is perhaps a time to put away those tech devices and to just sit back and enjoy nature at its most pristine. Whether sitting in front of a roaring fire in a log cabin, kicking back in a glass igloo, sitting in a smoke sauna or participating in any of the numerous activities available, this is a place to watch and enjoy nature at work and at her most beautiful when the Northern Lights twinkle.
The brainchild of Jussi Eiramo who found the wilderness when running out of petrol on a fishing trip in northern Finland, he fell in love with the place and erected a small chalet and café to serve passers-by on their way to North Cape. Little by little, Kakslauttanen has grown over the years to become Finland’s internationally best-known travel business, still run by Jussi.
The resort’s two restaurants offer à la carte menus packed with local Lappish delicacies. Depending on where your accommodation is located, there is the traditional Kelo restaurant or the West Village Aurora restaurant with its famous glass igloo bar. Private celebrations can also be booked in the Santa Claus Celebration House, Korsu “The Underground” Restaurant or the Smoke Sauna Restaurant.
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is a place built in close contact with nature in a pristine, unspoilt environment by local skilled labourers and by the Sami whose heritage is proudly promoted. The surrounding landscape is one of the cleanest you can find anywhere in the world - the water being so pure, you can quench your thirst from the lake from which it flows.
All photographs and video is credited to: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Lapland, Finland