Archive for July, 2012

July 12th, 2012

Holiday travels in Finland

My holiday started on Monday, and during the three weeks I’ll be travelling in Finland. This might be one of the first holidays after the late nineties that I’ve stayed in Finland.

Anyhow, we kicked off the holiday with a family vacation in Holiday Club Saimaa hotel and spa in Lappeenranta, near the Russian border. The town is around three hour car drive away from Helsinki, and hosts surprisingly many high-end boutiques — typical Finnish town has none. This is due to the huge amount of Russian tourists from the St. Petersburg region.

We strolled around for a few hours shopping and then drove to the hotel, another 35 kilometers towards northeast. After queuing quite a bit for the reception, we got the room and went for a plunge in the spa. Seela, our youngest and almost six months olds, was really thrilled with the pools and spent quite some time in the water every day.

The next day, Saturday, was reserved for Loma-asuntomessut (Holiday Housing Fair), as we are planning our own cottage by the lake. It was a fun event, and we took plenty of photos about ideas worth considering.

Then we had a two hour sales pitch about purchasing a timeshare condo. We got our room way cheaper, as we promised to attend to the sales event. It took two hours, and lead to nothing. I’ve participated in a couple of similar pitches earlier, and their sales model makes me suspicious. It is very American, starting with dreaming, keeping the prices hidden until very end, having other people joining in, and so forth. I’d love to see open and transparent discussion about the pros and cons.

After that, we spent both Saturday evening and Sunday morning in the spa. Then we drive, fast and furious, back to Espoo to meet my parents that had arrived to help us to cut some trees at our summer cottage.

That took three days, my hands are still hurting, and there is plenty of trees left for later. But the area looks way nicer.

Yesterday evening we booked hotels in Turku and Tampere for a night in each city. We’ll leave on Saturday morning and return on Monday evening — the programme includes visiting the first official Angry Birds theme park in Tampere. The boys can’t wait.

Spa among nature

Holiday Club Saimaa is a brand-spanking new (opened in 2011) hotel & spa complex located near the Russian border in Southern Carelia province in Finland. The hotel is located at the northern end of the city of Lappeenranta, about 35 kilometers from the city centre.

We had a standard room and it could fit five people without issues — two adults, two kids, and one baby. There was a foldable sofa in the room that fit the kids, and the baby slept between us. The sofa is not suitable for two adults or older teenagers, as it is merely 120 cm wide. The room was spotless and large in Finnish standards.

The spa is grandiose with a lot of different interconnected pools and a couple big waterslides. There are Finnish saunas for both genders included in the ticket price, and there is a “traditional” smoke sauna on the open air deck above the spa building. An additional sauna world is located upstairs. A day ticket costs €5 a person and grants access to four different saunas, well worth a visit for sauna aficionados.

There are two restaurants on the spot, and they are just ok — albeit pricey for the quality of the food served.