By: Amber Bell
More than 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle, on the road to the Arctic Sea and surrounded by a dense forest that gives way to the vast subarctic wilderness of Urho Kekkonen National Park, 20 glass igloos pepper the landscape. These futuristic structures may at first appear to be part of some scientific outpost for studying reindeer, but a closer look reveals one of
the world’s most unique getaways.
The igloos belong to Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, a luxury destination in the northernmost region of Finland. This region, known as Lapland, is best recognized for phenomena like the Northern Lights and the midnight sun, and it’s the homeland of the indigenous Sami people. But there is far more to this landscape, and Kakslauttanen invites you to stay awhile and experience a whole new world.
The resort started by happenstance in 1973 when the founder, a man named Jussi, on the way home from a fishing trip to Utsoki in Northern Finland, found himself out of fuel and stranded in the middle of the wilderness. What began as one night of roadside camping turned into a summer-long tent stay. The next summer, Jussi returned and built a small chalet and café for travelers headed north. As the years passed, the idea for Kakslauttanen grew into one of Finland’s best-known resorts.
Your own Kakslauttanen adventure begins with a variety of accommodation options, starting with the resort’s famed glass igloos. Whether you visit during the Northern Lights season from August to April or come when countless twinkling stars fill the night sky, a snooze beneath these crystal clear domes is sure to be a night you won’t soon forget. The structures’ thermal glass walls and ceilings are built for warmth and designed to be frost preventative on even the coldest of nights.
For larger parties or those who prefer the comfort of a spacious chalet, Kakslauttanen’s kelo pine log chalets offer guests a rugged elegance fit for the Finnish wilderness, along with the luxury of a personal sauna, full-size bathroom and large stone fireplace. The resort’s classy queen suites include an outdoor Jacuzzi on the terrace, while the kelo-glass igloos combine the luxury of a cozy chalet with the panoramic views of the glass igloos for the best of both worlds.
Adventurous guests will enjoy the seclusion of the riverside gold digger’s chalets. These inviting cabins include a sauna, a front yard and even a Finnish kick sled to get around the resort. Meanwhile, truly daring winter guests will want to spend at least one night in a snow igloo where, no matter what the mercury reads outside, the temperature inside stays a cozy 21 degrees Fahrenheit all night. But don’t worry, Kakslauttanen provides you with a down sleeping bag and bearskin rug.
No matter where you choose to sleep, Kakslauttanen is full of luxurious amenities. Saunas are a popular feature throughout the resort, and guests are encouraged to unwind and sweat away the stress of everyday life in one of the three riverside smoke saunas. In fact, the biggest of these smoke saunas is celebrated as the largest in the world. But when things get too steamy inside, run outside to the end of the jetty and take a refreshing dip in the icy-cold spring water.
For fine Lappish cuisine, the resort’s traditional Kelp restaurant or the West Village Aurora restaurant—complete with a glass igloo bar—provide gourmet menus all day. Visitors can also meet Kakslauttanen’s most popular year-round guest by crossing a narrow footbridge to the red chalet that is Santa’s home. Santa’s Celebration House is also a great setting for corporate events as it accommodates more than 250 people and offers state-of-the-art technology.
In addition to unique accommodation options, guests of Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort will enjoy a robust menu of winter activities, including ice fishing on Lake Inarinjarvi, horseback riding through snowy forests, and skiing and snowboarding at nearby Saariselka, Finland’s northernmost ski area.
Two large husky farms neighbor the resort and allow for winter and summer husky safaris throughout the Lapland landscape. Head out on a short 15-minute trip, pack for an overnight expedition or pair up with one of the huskies for an afternoon stroll.
When the sun rises at the end of the polar night, join a local reindeer herder for a relaxing reindeer safari, head out on a more exhilarating snowmobile safari through the snowy Lapland forest or take in the panoramic views from the comfort and warmth of the resort’s snow tank.
The summer sun never sets in northern Finland, so between mid-May and early August—whether you’re fishing for trout, grayling and Arctic char; mountain biking or hiking the nearby national parks; or exploring the Lemmenjoki on a riverboat cruise—Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort feels like a never-ending Arctic adventure. Try your luck at gold panning, head out on an ATV expedition or roam the nearby forests and wetlands in search of mushrooms, blueberries, and the local cloudberries. Then kayak the rapids of the wild Juutua River or load up a canoe for an overnight wilderness stay on the banks of the serene Lutto River.
In a place so full of adventure, it makes sense to start your life’s greatest adventure here too. For years Kakslauttanen has been a popular place to tie the knot. During the winter months, couples can marry in a chapel made of snow and ride away together in a reindeer-drawn sleigh. And in the summer months, couples have their choice of matrimonial sites, including the peak of Kaunispaa, the holy island of Ukko, or beneath the portable wedding altar placed anywhere in the Lapland wilderness.
Although you may come for the glass igloos and the Northern Lights, you’ll soon discover that these gems are merely scratching the surface of Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort. So don’t let the cold temperatures keep you away. Instead, pack your wool socks and your down parka, clear your calendar for at least a week and journey north to your next adventure in the Arctic Circle. The saunas are already warm and waiting.
By: Amber Bell