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Park Profile

The Arctic Treehouse Hotel

out after the first three days. Because Christmas is our speciality, they do not need to make any mistakes. I truly believe we offer the best Christmas experiences in the world, and have won several national and international awards for the level of service and experience we provide. As well as China, we have been getting good growth

the last few years from the UK and Ireland. Tourist business in the entire Rovaniemi region is up by 133%, and it is the number four employer in Lapland. We have also have a lot of high industry, like Lappset, as well as a snowmobile factory, several other factories, plus mining and agriculture.

Santa's got a brand new sleigh!

Guests at Santa Park in Rovaniemi have been enjoying an even more authentic sleigh ride this festive season. The Magic Sleigh Ride is one of the signature attractions at this popular destination in the Arctic Circle, yet the dark ride's 20-year-old vehicles and track had become a little unreliable, and so a new system was required. Replacing the previous two-seater

cars, the new four-seater sleighs by the British company Garmendale Engineering Ltd (GEL Rides) take around six minutes to complete each circuit of the 150m-long track, as excited passengers pass through winter scenes and vistas, meeting elves and reindeer along the way. The ride system was designed and delivered by the team at Garmendale in less than six months. “When Santa Park approached us, the deadline for delivery was already very tight, but we

have the skills in-house to be able to deliver on time and budget,” notes Garmendale managing director David Shelmerdine. “With a little bit of juggling it has been a relatively smooth process. One of the reasons we were awarded the contract is that we are one of the few suppliers in the world with our own manufacturing skills that meet BS/EN 1090, ensuring all of our work is not only safe, but that every part we use is made to an agreed international standard and completely traceable too.” “Our brief from the client was based on an authentically 'Finnish' representation of a sleigh rather than the red sleigh you might see elsewhere,” adds GEL marketing director Zoe Shelmerdine. “We had to work with our client's existing track space (although we replaced the physical track) and scenery. Santa Park has had a huge investment in the whole destination this season. It really is like a new world.”


Meetings, events and Arctic treehouses After the peak season, we have a lot of MICE events (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions), as well as gala dinners, even weddings. The Ice Bar and Ice Gallery are very popular at these events. Now, with the opening of the new hotel, we are hoping to extend the opening days of Santa Park but we haven't decided yet. I would say at least 90% of our guests stay at least one

night in the area. Each entrance bracelet is valid for two consecutive days, so especially when it is cold families with small children like to come again. We actually prefer them to stay three or four nights. The average stay at the moment is 2.34 nights, and we expect that to be longer next year as a result of the new hotel, which only opened on November 19. The hotel has been planned for 50 years. The name is the Arctic Treehouse Hotel. There is a huge boom locally in building igloos, but we didn't want to copy, we wanted to create our own concept. We didn't have enough room on the hill, so we put cabins on stilts. The highest part is about 5 metres above the ground and when you stand and look through these huge panoramic windows over the treetops, you get this wonderful flying. It's a great way to experience nature, but feel cosy and warm as you enjoy the views with a tea, coffee, or a glass of wine. We also have all these new experience providers coming along offering packages with igloos, reindeer, northern lights, spa packages etc. Yet even with our new new hotel, which has 32 treehouses and five Arctic glasshouses, we still only have around 3,600 beds in the whole of Rovaniemi, where rooms are on average €30 more per night than in the rest of Finland. Demand is so huge that we are now taking bookings at the Arctic Treehouse Hotel for Christmas of 2018; 2017 is almost sold out. I see a lot of possibilities for making Little Christmases

abroad over the coming years, but Rovaniemi will remain the flagship location for Santa Park. One of the challenges at the moment is to develop something for boys aged 10 to 14. Smaller kids come believing in Santa Claus but for older kids, certainly over the age of 12, it is difficult. And what about all those other “Father Christmases” people might see around town? There is only one real Santa that we all are helping, and his dress code is unique. If children tell our Santa thay they saw another Santa in the shopping mall then he will say: “Ah, you saw my helper, but I am the real one.”

Ilkka Lankinen was in conversation with Owen Ralph. Santa Park's main season came to a close on January 8, however the park will be the subject of an industry-only behind-the-scenes tour and SATE Academy event in February, hosted by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). See for more details


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