Luxurious Lapland

BATD ON Feb 04, 2010 AT 12:55 pm

Harriniva Holiday Centre

Harriniva Holiday Centre

By Matt Risley

Let’s face it. Sun-kissed, beachside spa resorts are ten a penny. While that’s not to say we’d ever turn one down, a year of relentless work and staid office-gym-sleep routine meant we were craving something a little more unique.

And while you may not instantly think of -26 degree temperatures and snowsuits when you picture yourself being pampered, Lapland has everything you could need in a relaxation destination.

And that extra, magical bit more.

Where else do you know that you can have a massage at the hands of a genuine Nordic masseuse or unwind in an outside jacuzzi beneath the Northern Lights?

A mere 3 hour flight away, northern Scandinavia guarantees you the quintessential winter wonderland experience, a truly distinctive getaway and some of the most tantalising, unique relaxation treatments this side of Thailand.

Nestled in the heart of the Finnish countryside, Harriniva’s entire resort is a picturesque, Scandinavian dream come true. The cosy, family run site has been in business for well over 30 years, with an impressive selection of accommodation and activities that range from the sublime to the bizarrely sublime, with beautiful – but decidedly nippy – Igloo accommodation and Tipis available during the winter. Yet with the temperatures plummeting and mild toe numbness setting in, we decided to opt for the toasty, welcoming log cabin bedrooms.

The "Hot Pools" at Hotel Harriniva

The "Hot Pools" at Hotel Harriniva

With snow gently falling outside, and a hearty, cheerful buzz coming from the rustic annexed pub, I headed downstairs for a warming hot chocolate and a perusal of the site’s well-being treatments.

Utilising the region’s native lineage and the outstanding natural surroundings, Harriniva aims to pamper both body and soul with a healthy combination of traditional spa rituals (saunas, Western massage) and one of a kind, Sami-inspired treatments (the people indigenous to the area).

After a vigorous day spent Husky-mushing and Snowmobiling (more exhausting then you’d think), I opted to unwind with the Lappish Fountain of Youth and The Touch of the Shaman treatments.

Trudging through the arctic, blustery conditions across to the spa outhouse, I opened the door to the stereotypical – if not unwelcome – arms of a beefy, male masseuse. The Touch of the Shaman uses ancient Shamanistic dry cupping methods to accentuate the benefits of traditional massage techniques.

Multiple glass baubles are applied to the back and shoulders, and gently lit from the inside. The heat is then withdrawn and the vacuum that occurs from the air cooling ensures the baubles stick to your skin.

This, in laymans terms, draws blood flow to the areas of pain or tightness, which nourishes and re-supplies the area with vital nutrients.

A series of giant, oval shaped back hickies later, and with my shoulders suitably unwound, I moved onto another well-known Nordic tradition.

Northern Lights

Northern Lights

Cosying up in a nearby sauna is all well and good, but to get the blood really rushing, you need to make use of the inches of snow just outside the door.

Sprinting out into the biting cold in nothing but a skimpy pair of trunks (boardshorts aren’t particularly in vogue in Wintertime Lapland, it seems), I launched myself on the floor and began rolling around in the freshly laid powder outside. Another quick run back to the sauna, and I could literally feel every single pore come alive, tingling and buzzing with a heart-stopping frisson.

For the true out-of-this world experience though, you simply need to take a wander across the snowy path outside. Situated on the edge of a (then frozen) lake, Harriniva is surrounded by a forest of pine trees and the most spectacular natural light show available on the planet.

Slipping into the bubbling outdoor jacuzzi to gaze upon the shifting, spectral and gorgeous Northern Lights guarantees the ‘wow’ factor. This is where Harriniva comes alive, with a natural ambience and setting truly unlike any other spa you’ve been to before.

And as if that wasn’t enough to have you googling Visit Finland as we speak, the hotel’s restaurant is just as exquisite. Three course meals are cheerily affordable, with a local a la carte menu. As much as it pains me to say it (I really did love Bambi as a child), the reindeer is delectable, while the accompanying selection of fish, salads and desserts are all locally produced.

With hospitality, originality and relaxation treatments gloriously contradictory to the frosty reception outside, Harriniva as a whole offers an experience and getaway as magical as its surroundings.

Harriniva Holiday Centre
Rates: Rooms start at £80.00 a night for a double room.
Treatments: Massage and relaxation treatments start from £40, while activities start from £20.

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