Finding Christmas Spirit at Santa Claus Holiday Village
It’s a chilly afternoon in Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland. The city just got its first snow so the darkness that has already fallen doesn’t bother me. We’re at the Arctic circle so the sun went down a few hours ago at 3pm. However, as it’s the beginning of November, the darkest time without sunlight at all is yet to come.
Right after arriving at Rovaniemi Airport I notice Janne, Santa Claus Holiday Village hotel’s employee, expecting me in the terminal. He takes me to Santa Claus Holiday Village with a red minibus, and during a short, 5-minute ride he fills me in with all the must-know details. When we get to Santa Claus Village I have to blink twice: everything looks exactly like in Christmas movies.
As I get to my cabin I feel like home right away. The cabins are designed with traditional Finnish style. I have my own sauna (of course, we’re in Finland!), kitchen and porch with a lovely Christmas tree. The holiday season hasn’t even begun but it feels already like Christmas Eve.
Many people come all the way to Rovaniemi because of the Christmas spirit. Rovaniemi is the official hometown of Santa Claus who lives in this particular village where I’m staying. I haven’t bumped into Santa yet, but according to Hotel Owner Inga Pokka-Jääskö I get to check that from my bucket list during this visit. The task should be easy as both Santa’s Main Post office and Holiday Village’s Christmas House are located next to the hotel reception. If you wish to experience the presence of Santa Claus with a smaller group, you can even invite him over to your own cabin!
I head to dinner to the Three Elves restaurant. I might be the only Finn here, I ponder silently in my head as I hear at least 5 different languages being spoken. Pokka-Jääskö tells me that during winter time 95 % of the visitors are international tourists traveling to the exotic Lapland; hence the hotel staff is very skilled in languages.
Speaking of the staff: I can’t help but notice how well everyone seems to know each other. They are like a one big family: one minute they are picking on each other and the next giving compliments and encouraging everyone. “We want to give our staff responsibility. If something goes south, they can fix it without asking any permissions. We fully trust them”, says Pokka-Jääskö proudly.
Other important guidance the hotel manager wants to give her employees is that guests aren’t just guests but their friends. There’s no doubt that the feeling is mutual: the hotel has won Tripadvisor Traveler’s Choice certificate many years in a row.
“It’s very important for us that the hotel feels warm and welcoming. Even though we already have more than 100 rooms, we intend to get to know all of our guests personally”, says Pokka-Jääskö and continues “Our goal is to make a seamless stay for our guests. Airport shuttle is always included in the price, we offer different excursions and help arranging everything the guest might need.”
When I ask about their guests, Pokka-Jääskö doesn’t have to think twice: “We have the best guests! They’re so positive and happy. Many have dreamed about visiting Santa Claus Village for a long time and spending the days with us is a dream come true for them. We don’t want to let them down and that’s why we do everything we can to make their experience unforgettable.”
Pokka-Jääskö knows that there’s one thing that can ruin the experience for good: bed bugs. That’s why Santa Claus Holiday Village joined Valpas Collaborator network and is now 100 % safe of bed bugs. “We know that bed bugs are increasing rapidly and all the hotels are involuntarily exposed to them as people travel more than ever before. We care about our guests so much that even the idea of bed bugs ruining their stay is unbearable”, comments Pokka-Jääskö.
This must also make the world's most known traveler, Santa Claus, really happy!
Valpas is the first and only company in the world that advances thoughtful travel by introducing travelers to hotels that will keep them safe from gnarly bed bugs. Valpas collaborates with the most caring hotels around the world to leave people, places and the planet better off than how they found it. The company was founded in 2013 and has offices in Helsinki, Finland and Dubai, UAE. valpas.io