And now for something completely different (after writing about Sheffield last time out!)and I mean different. Lapland! We went for three days with the highly recommended ‘Santa’s Lapland’ and from the moment we and our four-year-old granddaughter and her parents checked in it was truly magical.
The staff, dressed in festive costumes (not cheesy and added brilliantly to the atmosphere), were welcoming and check in and embarkation totally stress-free. The cabin crew, also suitably attired, entertained throughout the three and a half hour journey with songs and quizzes during the flight and the fun continued at Ivalo airport in Finnish Lapland where we were met by cheeky elves and a real reindeer!
A 25 minute coach trip with more singing and games and we were at our resort. We’re not really the singing and games type but with the convivial mood and the excited children it all worked brilliantly. There’s a huge range of accommodation options available and we stayed in a cabin apartment near to Santa’s Hotel. The hotel has a fabulous swimming pool complete with water slide, waterfalls, Jacuzzis and other great facilities and so we were able to take advantage of those whilst having our own space and privacy.
There wasn’t too much time for typical “relaxation” as we were generally busy tobogganing, husky sled driving, reindeer-pulled sleigh riding or just playing around in the thick, thick snow. The location is amazing, neither too remote nor too commercialised – just right! Although our plane was full, once there we never felt rushed or anything other than special – everyone got to do everything and the Search for Santa day was so well organised.
Each family set off on its own skidoo-drawn sleighs through a winter wonderland of forests and past icy lakes to Santa’s cabin where the man himself, exactly as you’d imagine from story books (rather than Bad Santa and department stores!) greeted our granddaughter by name and with the letter she’d written previously in his hand! Her face – our faces too for that matter – was a picture and worth the cost of the holiday by itself. Again the experience was unrushed and culminated in a present (a good quality toy reindeer dressed in national dress) and some festive wishes.
Good quality, warm outer wear is provided so everyone stays comfortable and there were unlimited hot drinks and pancakes available all day as well as a filling lunch on the Search for Santa day. A gala dinner at night, again with games and songs for the children and the next day we were on our way home, all too soon but thoroughly satisfied.
The food is very good and child friendly with buffet breakfasts and dinners but although local delicacies are available you don’t go for the food experience. This break is not cheap but considering the high ratio of staff to guests, the total child-centred experience and the range of activities included in the package it was worth every penny – testament to this is the fact that our little one wants to go next year but ‘for longer’!
If you go – and we can’t recommend it enough – then book in summer when offers bring the price down considerably and most importantly of all, go whilst the younger guests in your party still believe that the ‘real’ Santa lives in a snowy place in the forest!