Winter is Coming: Our Stay at Kakslauttenan Arctic Resort

November 2nd, 2016

Me: I wish I could travel as much as you.

Britt: You can.

Me: You should document your travels more since you’re Carmen San Diego. Start taking pics for your future kids to see where their mom went. You should blog.

Britt: I can’t take pictures of myself. You should blog.

Me: I’ll take pics of you. Let’s do one together.

Both: Blah Blah Blah…

Me: Let’s make vision boards to manifest the exact places we want to go.

Britt: I want to see the northern lights and stay at the ice igloos.

Me: THAT’S ON MY VISIONBOARD TOO.

 

16 MONTHS LATER OUR DREAMS CAME TRUE

We wake up under the window pane of a heated Glass Igloo to what looks like Narnia. Except this is not fiction and Mr. Tumnis is off duty. The morning sun glistens and twinkles between the snowflakes that fall onto a sea of snow. It is quiet, peaceful and cozy by the fire of our log chalet at Kakslauttenan Arctic Resort in Finland.

Kakslauttenan is an exclusive getaway in Finnish Lapland, located 250km north of the Arctic Circle. With sub zero temperatures, they boast the world’s first heated glass igloos, and are host to over 200 visible days of the Northern Lights in a year. On site there are two restaurants, a glass igloo bar to chill and three saunas to get things steamy.

We were lucky enough to stay in the Kelo Glass Igloo for the best of both worlds. You get the view of the starry night sky, as you would in the glass igloos but you have the luxury amenities of the log chalet that includes the kitchenette, fireplace, and personal sauna!

To complete the Finnish experience, Kakslauttenan offers many excursions as a nod to the traditional Finnish and indigenous Sámi culture.

Dog Sledding, don’t forget your ski mask.

Our guide dedicated his life to making sure the sled dogs were happy and well cared for. That reassured me that they were in good hands and treated in a humane manner. As we trudged through what felt like a blizzard  to begin our journey we were relieved to get on the sled. After cuddles with the happy huskies we were off like a prom dress into the woods. After about an hour of dog sledding and detour of rescuing a snowmobile, we were starving. We walked to a traditional Sámi hut to have a standard meal of salmon potato soup and berry tea, prepared over the fire built by our guide. Pretty delicious.

 

Reindeer Games

When I first walked into the resort there were antlers EVERYWHERE. I was NOT here for it. Then I was reassured that reindeers shed their antlers ALL the time and learned more about how the people of the north respect the wildlife, especially reindeer.

The Sámi are a indigenous minority group of the Lapland region. The Sámi culture in Lapland is intimately connected to the reindeer, similar to Native Americans and the buffalo. There are more reindeer than people in Lapland so the reindeer are a staple to the Sámi people for basic needs like food, shelter, clothing, and even transportation. They value the reindeer so much that every single reindeer in Lapland belongs to someone and is closely watched and followed.

Since the Sámi were following the reindeer at the time we visited, we were unable to meet them and Blitzen. But, the staff at Kakslauttenan still made sure that we had an authentic experience in the laavu, a traditional Sámi hut, with more berry tea and cookies.

Aurora Borealis! Where is my wand Harry Potter? That sh*t was magical.

We actually went on a sleigh ride at midnight Aurora Hunting to get a front row seat of the Aurora Borealis light show. Unfortunately, the first two days the snow disrespected our dreams but the last night, after much prayer and faith at about 2am a breath of light danced through the sky. We were at the tail end of the lights in April and they still came out to play. Although they were not as luminous as we expected, they were still overwhelming. The light danced across horizon one minute and jump to the next. You have to watch closely or like most important things, you’ll miss it.

* To get great pictures you either need an external flash outdoors or steady light source and a slow shutter. Unfortunately we didn’t have a light source to even try to go outside with. But, a slow shutter will do ( just stay very still ).

Fishing On Ice in Inari

The best part about fishing on Lake Inari wasn’t the fishing. It was the snowmobile ride to get there. Lake Inari  is the largest lake in Sápmi and the third-largest lake in Finland. It is located in the northern part of Lapland, north of the Arctic Circle and spans approximately 425 miles. THIS WAS WHERE THE FUN WAS. Top speed on a snowmobile on a frozen lake is one of the most exhilarating feelings next to skydiving I’ve experienced.

Once we parked our guide showed us how to drill the holes, bait the line, and ice fish. He let us experience it for about an hour. It was pretty relaxing to fish in complete silence, since no one is in the middle of a lake in the arctic with you. One of the girls in our group actually caught a fish!

Then, we ate that fish cooked over the fire that our guide prepared for us.

Traditional Finnish Saunas and an Ice Plunge Challenge – A Buck Naked Energy Boost.

 

This is freezing. I’m pretty sure this is how the White Walkers bathe because that is how they have all that energy to continuously walk through the North.

We love the Korean spa at home. There is an ice bath that is great for circulation and your immune system that you hop in after a hot sauna mesh that feels great. But this was on another level. It is naturally freezing in the Arctic so going from “finally its warm” in a naturally heated sauna to Frozone is the best and will have you feeling super! ( See what I did there? ) We could tell you all about it but its best to catch it in our Vlog.

Sámi Museum Siida

The Sámi Museum Siida is the national museum of the Sámi and a special museum in Finland. The Sámi Museum stores the spiritual and material culture of the Finnish Sámi in its collections and presents it to the public through exhibitions and publications. Its main purpose is to support the identity and the cultural self-esteem of the Sámi. We couldn’t get great images or video of this for our blog because the light was too dark inside. The museum is small but worth dropping by for a visit if you’re already in Inari. I wouldn’t suggest traveling all the way there just for the museum.

Overall we’re glad we traded in sand for snow. We got to experience so much in just 4 days and have recommended it to everyone.

Getting There

  • Take a flight from Helsinki (Finland) to Ivalo (Finland). Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is just 30 minutes away and offers transfers from Ivalo Airport. You could also take a bus from Ivalo Airport – it will drop you in front of Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
    Or you can take an overnight train from Helsinki (Finland) to Ivalo (Finland).
  • Prices for an average room at Kakslauttanan can range from $224-$579 depending on the time of year.

Know before you go

  • Make SURE  you pack insulated snow boots, thermals, and warm clothing if you visit during winter. However, they do provide snowsuits, boots, gloves and ski masks for most excursions and have a gift shop if you forget something.
  • Kakslauttanen is not a luxury resort, however; it is very romantic and family friendly. The traditional cabin décor makes it feels like home. The remote heated location with sub-zero temperatures, and the unique experiences that the resort offers are what make it worth the price. The log chalets are large enough to fit a family of six or more and include saunas inside! They have an expansive dining room, and three course dinners. Our food was lovely and the chef greeted us and laid out the menu every night.
  • There is no hotel phone. If you need something they will be happy to arrange it at the front desk or via email. If you are staying in a log chalet, you must request firewood before the 5:30pm.
  • Bring snacks and drinks with you. There isn’t a vending machine around. Just a variety of white snow.
  • There are no TVs…which actually gave me a lot more to see and do.

Check out our Blog on Finland to see our experience in motion!

Ashley Nguyen

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