Rays of sunlight peer through the branches of trees fully coated by a fine, powdery snow. As far as the eye can see, a white, crystalline landscape evokes sentiments of magic and mystery not felt since childhood. You are 250 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle’s boundary in a winter wonderland words can only faintly attempt to describe. You try to take everything in – the silence, the stillness, the serenity –a mug of hot chocolate cradled in your hands, lounging in your cosiest pyjamas, surrounded by all the modern-day comforts of a world-class hotel. You are in Finnish Lapland and you are at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort.
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
I had seen pictures of the place for years, posted and shared on Facebook, included in the bucket lists of family and friends. We discussed it at Christmas dinner parties year after year. No one could get enough of the magical glass igloos tucked deep in the Finnish forests. I had the chance to visit the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, to stay a night in one of its flagship igloos, and to tour the resort for a taste of all it has to offer. Unlike so much shared online these days, there was no photoshopped, filtered trickery. The magic you see is truly the magic you feel.
The humble beginnings of the resort date back to the summer of 1973 when a 20-year-old, driving home from a fishing trip in the north, ran out of fuel and set up camp on the side of the road. Immediately falling in love with the region, Jussi Eiramo began building what would become one of the most iconic resorts in all of Europe, if not the world over.
GLASS IGLOOS AND MORE
If imitation is the highest form of flattery, Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort must be very flattered. Pioneering the initial glass igloo concept more than two decades ago, the region has seen many iterations pop up over the years. Still, Kakslauttanen remains on top, a pioneer of new and traditional accommodation options perfect for a variety of guests, whether romantic couples, families, groups of friends, or large corporate events.
The glass igloos are certainly a marvel. With options ranging from two- to four-person igloos, one can enjoy the natural beauty of Finnish winters, including their awe-inspiring northern light shows, under a 360-degree glass dome surrounded neatly by snow banks for added seclusion and privacy. The glass structure includes two panes of sturdy glass separated by an electric current, a technique that ensures the igloos stay warm while the view remains unobstructed by fog, frost, or accumulated snowfall. The two-person igloos include a discreet toilet area, so there’s no need to tiptoe about in the snow while aurora gazing, while the four-person igloos have the added feature of an in-igloo shower area. All igloos come with inclining beds, allowing for optimal comfort while watching the northern lights dance in the night.
Having perfected the glass igloo, the pioneering folk at Kakslauttanen didn’t stop there. A new design, called the kelo-glass igloo, offers a hybrid of the original igloo concept with a tradition log chalet. Great for groups of up to six, this accommodation features a kitchenette, fireplace, and a private sauna. Traditional log chalets are also available for groups up to 10. Built from locally sourced kelo pines, these chalets skip the modern LCD flat screen in favour of a sauna, a fireplace, and time well spent with loved ones.
For the more adventurous types, the resort offers a number of snow igloos. When outside temps drop to -40C, the snow igloo will remain a consistent -3C to -6C. Yet there’s no need to worry. The arctic experts at Kakslauttanen (they are an arctic resort, after all) offer the amenities and knowhow to enjoy a cool, cosy, natural stay. Other unique options at the resort include 60sqm queen suites, chalets on the riverbanks, kammii earth lodges, and traditional Lappish houses nearly a century old.
RELAX LIKE A LOCAL
A resort deep into the Arctic Circle doesn’t necessarily bring to mind images of pampered luxury. But that’s where you’d be wrong. The art of the traditional Finnish sauna is in full effect at Kakslauttanen. With three smoke saunas – the largest of which is actually the world’s largest – and a number of steam saunas, you’d be remiss to not experience the physical and mental relaxation enjoyed by locals for centuries. Afterward, take a dip in a refreshing ice bath where a hole cut in the ice allows for a swim in a lake of fresh spring water.
Feeling refreshed, it’s time for dinner. The resort’s many restaurants, including an underground korsu location, offer a number of traditional Lappish dishes, from reindeer and lingonberry, to the fresh catch of the day. My stay at the resort found a three-course dinner menu highlighting some of the regions favoured flavours. A blue cheese salad topped with caramelised pumpkin seeds, marinated cucumber and mustard-apple dressing opened the meal. The main course was a beautiful pan-fried wild pike-perch, served with leeks and potato sauce, a tomato pie, and oven baked root vegetables. For desert, a local favourite: homemade pancakes with whipped cream and kissel, a syrupy berry-juice dressing. Thirsty? I recommend the Finnish favourites: the Hartwall Original Long Drink (ask for the “lonkero” to sound like a local) is a sweet and incredibly refreshing gin cocktail, while a hot chocolate with Minttu can never fail to warm you up.
STEEPED IN TRADITION, LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
One of the most exciting things to see at Kakslauttanen is the resort’s unstoppable drive toward innovation. Having absolutely perfected its traditional, luxury hospitality, they had to ask, “Why stop there?” While touring the resort, I was told about many of the plans for Kakslauttanen’s near future. In development is a 155-seat planetarium, the biggest in Scandinavia, intentionally, by five seats. Shows allow it’s aurora-hunting patrons to step inside and learn more about the night sky and the natural sciences at work to produce these seemingly magical dancing lights.
It must be mentioned that the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is a huge patron of the local and global art communities. A state-of-the-art gallery space allows for artists to display and sell works inspired by the region, its people, and its traditions. Finnish and Sami artists (the Sami are the indigenous people of northern Europe) are routinely featured around the resort. In fact, the gallery is only a small part of the resort’s artistic inclination. One would be hard pressed to not see art pieces all over the resort, whether on the sides of log chalets, or adorning the interiors of buildings around the premise. Interested in more? Don’t miss Arctic Art Week, held each year in August.
My favourite project, reminiscent of my imaginative childhood, takes the glass igloo concept, magnifies it, and elevates it 30 metres above the Finnish arctic forest. Aptly named the Glass Igloo Tower, the vista from atop is hard to beat: up, down, left, right, for as far as the eye can see. Sit and lounge a moment as you take in a gorgeous natural forest covered in a blanket of snow.
One quickly gets the sense that Kakslauttanen aims to be more just than another resort, it seeks to promote the Finnish values of family...
For those inclined toward the outdoors, Lapland is packed full of opportunities any time of the year. Whatever the season, you’ll be busy participating in many of the region’s favourite activities. In the winter, no snow sport is off limits. The list is long: downhill skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowmobile safaris, and my favourite, the husky safaris, where you take the reigns of a well cared for team of energetic dogs. Leave it to the resort to coordinate ice fishing trips, aurora hunting excursions, and even a cruise on Finland’s icebreaker, Sampo. Don’t worry if you’ve underdressed for the cold, or the airline lost your baggage, Kakslauttanen has all the boots, jackets, gloves, and accessories you’ll need to stay warm.
Children are sure to enjoy one of the resort’s newest additions. After centuries of solitude, Santa has opened his doors for visitors of any age. And doors they are. Santa’s Celebration House is the largest log house in Finland, accommodating more than 250 guests for a variety of events and functions. Included in Santa’s Village are a number of activities, including a reindeer farm, a wishing bridge, and the chance to spend some time with the man himself. Even after the snow has gone, the rest of the year offers a variety of activities with their own flair. Hike, bike, husky or horse your way around the Finnish countryside. Take a canoeing trip, or visit a Sami museum. Pan for gold on the river or pick berries and mushrooms in the forest, a traditional local favourite pastime.
A LASTING IMPRESSION
Still managed and run by the Eiramo family to this day, the resort is truly a family affair. My guide around the resort was an Italian man who has worked at the resort for many years. While driving around the premise, he told me how he had come to Finland, learned its language, had taken a Finnish wife and was raising a young child with her. One quickly gets the sense that Kakslauttanen aims to be more just than another resort, it seeks to promote the Finnish values of family, community, and hospitality. With its multicultural staff, its sensitivities to nature, tradition, and culture, and its undisputed mastery of arctic luxury, it’s easy to see why Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort has been on, and will remain on, the bucket lists of holiday goers for years to come.
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
+358 16 667101