I’ve always enjoyed looking after Tina’s holidays, who in her own words can be “difficult to impress”. Since her and Gregor‘s honeymoon, their family adventures have included a previous visit to Lapland. This time they opted for different accommodation with evening entertainment for the kids, in addition to the search for the big fella...
I don’t think I could tire of going back to Lapland - it is the most beautiful, peaceful place.
It holds a very special place in my heart as it was where I got engaged to my husband, and last December was our third time visiting, once without children and twice with.
This time we went to Saariselka on Santa’s Magic 3-night holiday, staying in Santa’s Holiday Club on a half-board basis, differing slightly different to the log cabins in which we had previously stayed.
There are pros and cons to each; I lean towards the cabin with its inside sauna and log burner, so appreciated after a day out in the snow and its outside hot tub in which to relax and try to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
The children would vote for the hotel with its swimming pool, water slides and jacuzzi, where they went nightly, and which handily kept them entertained, off screens, and allowed me time to get organised for the following day.
The log cabin scores higher for me for space and additional drying opportunities for wet clothes although the hotel’s inside restaurant allowed us to pop down in just indoor clothing as opposed to having to get wrapped up and head out into the snow to eat.
I guess all things considered, the hotel wins on practicality and provision of entertainment, but the log cabin feels just a little more special.
A small point to remember about the pool area, particularly the sauna, steam room and changing facilities, is the Finnish local tradition of enjoying naked freedom - it may be useful to be aware! 😊
We flew from Edinburgh to Ivalo; the flight and bus transfer was made extra fun for the children with the elves singing, playing games and behaving mischievously.
The check-in and process of getting our outdoor wear was extremely smooth and the hotel staff were friendly and welcoming.
On the first day, our morning was spent messing around in the snow, sledding and making snow angels with some scheduled activities in the afternoon, that differed slightly due to the children’s ages but were both equally amazing.
My husband and daughter went on a 10km husky sled ride through the mountains whilst my son and I took out the snowmobiles for a two-hour journey through the arctic wilderness.
Although he wasn’t old enough to drive it, he was thrilled to be tall enough to sit on the back of the snowmobile rather than be pulled in a trailer behind the instructor.
I had the privilege to drive us through the beautiful scenery, observing the wildlife and stopping along the way for some hot berry juice and cinnamon biscuits. I loved every single minute.
It was minus 30 degrees at times, but we were suitably dressed and never felt the cold. Although quite pricey, the excursions are worth every penny for the experience and memories.
On day two, we were collected in the morning for the forest Santa hunt. There was plenty to do at the site, including husky rides, mini skidoos, snow hockey and fishing, plus an ice bar and warm pancakes by the fires.
There were two camps and transport available between each whenever required. The husky sled ride and a restaurant lunch slot were the only things with set times, the rest was yours to organise as wished and we managed to experience all the activities throughout the day.
The hunt for Santa’s cabin, the headline attraction, isn’t at a fixed time but on a queuing basis. When reaching the front, you were whisked off by skidoo to a magical little cabin in the forest to be greeted by some singing and dancing elves and taken inside to find the main man.
Santa was warm and welcoming, and my daughter’s face was worth the cold journey. I would advise doing this part of the trip early and in daylight. The cold air from the speed of the journey hits your face and pulling our scarves up for protection made seeing the approach to the cabin difficult.
The queue for entry is constant all day and although fire pits are lit nearby and naughty elves try to entertain you, it gets darker, colder and makes standing still more challenging as the day goes on.
It’s always sad to leave Lapland and on our final day, we wandered around the town, finding some lovely tents serving hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows and local shops to purchase small gifts to take home.
I would shop around as the nearby gift shop was full of lovely items but was expensive and prices at the airport are crazy.
Lapland has become a favourite destination and I would consider returning again.
We have booked many holidays with Gillian, and she was awesome as always, ensuring all the little parts that make a holiday special are taken care of.