Valo Luxury Retreats a new tourism investment in Saariselkä
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Xander van Rijswijk: “We are investing in Saariselkä because we believe in the area’s potential as a premium holiday destination”

Valo Luxury Retreats is a Finnish company which focuses on high-quality full-service villa holidays. The company is currently developing new accommodation at Saariselkä. The modern villas shall be rented out in cooperation with Dutchen B.V. which is a Dutch company known for its high-quality holiday apartments.  The investors’ overnight snowmobile safari in the wilderness sealed the decision for choosing the destination.

Finland’s northern-most leisure centre, Saariselkä, is situated approximately 250 kilometres north from the Arctic Circle. At the peak of its perhaps most well-known fell, Kaunispää, stunning views open out over Finland’s second largest national park. During the winter, snow is guaranteed in the area together with approximately 200 kilometres of well-maintained ski tracks. Downhill skiers also have access to 15 different slopes at two fells. There are numerous guided activities as well as activities suitable for independent tourists, such as fat-biking, husky rides and Finland’s longest sledging hill.

– We chose Finland’s Saariselkä as our destination because we believe in the area’s potential as a premium holiday destination. Saariselkä is situated in the vicinity of a variety of services, only 25 minutes away from the airport, explains Xander van Rijswijk, CEO of Dutchen B.V.

The profitability of the area’s accommodation operations seems promising. According to accommodation statistics, the revenue per available room (RevPAR) at Saariselkä has increased and last year it was  higher than the average in Finland.

Valo Luxury Retreats shall finalize seven villas for the next winter season in cooperation with the owner and partner company, Dutchen, but the company has a larger area reserve at the slope of Kaunispää, and its objective is to increase its business operations in the next few years.

– In Finland, international tourists are intrigued by the prevailing safety, tranquillity and unique nature together with the landscapes and activities that vary according to the seasons, Rijswijk concludes while also sharing his own experiences.

The companies investing in the project already had an interest towards Finland, but the project didn’t really kick off until the directors of the companies had the opportunity to personally familiarise in the plots. The naturally beautiful landscapes, direct access to the downhill skiing slopes and the high-quality services in the area made a good impression. The decision concerning the selection of the destination was sealed by an overnight snowmobile safari in the wilderness.

Sustainable quality

Saariselkä’s destination is targeted for tourists who are seeking high-quality accommodation, their own peace and quiet, as well as access to beautiful nature. Cooperation with the Dutch company, which specialises in villa accommodation and high-quality holiday villages, has been very beneficial to Valo Luxury Retreats.

– We have gained knowledge from Dutchen for planning the villas and for managing the holiday village, as well as concrete support e.g. in the development of the booking systems, says Taru Lehtonen, CEO of Valo Luxury Retreats.

The planning and construction of the destination is guided by the principles of sustainable development.

– Our aim is for the villas to look like premium holiday destination in twenty – and still in eighty – years’ time. The timeless approach of design and the material choices have been made on the basis of this ideology. The indoor premises shall be altered in accordance with the wishes of future customer groups.

The buildings are Finnish log villas, which have been finished with natural materials such as granite. All the villas have panoramic windows with stunning views over the national park, two fireplaces, a jacuzzi in the sauna department and bedrooms that are equipped with private bathrooms.

The area already had a land use plan, but the plans did not fully meet the buyers’ wishes.

– Changes to the plans have so far been implemented successfully, and I hope that cooperation will continue to proceed in a smooth manner. The municipality of Inari has been a pleasant partner, providing quick responses and opportunities for entrepreneurship. Overall, cooperation with the operators in the area has been a positive experience. The area offers expertise and great individuals with whom work, as well as difficult challenges, are successfully agreed, Lehtonen praises.

Opportunities for other investors too

Next winter, it is Valo Luxury Retreats’ objective to build seven villas which will have a total accommodation capacity of 42 beds.

– We shall annually increase the number of villas over the next five years. Some of the villas will remain within the ownership of the company, but some of them will be sold to investors. All the villas will remain as rental properties, and the appearance and maintenance of the villas will be kept uniform in order to ensure a high-quality customer experience, Lehtonen explains.

The company is also interested in following other investments in the area.

– It is important to us that the area develops on the basis of high-quality tourism and nature values. Our customers seek first-class programme services, personal service, delicious culinary experiences and nature experiences. For some of our customers, nature experiences refer to safe safaris in small groups while others are ready to invest in more unique activities. Our local partners will be responsible for these experiences.

The accessibility of the area is, naturally, also important to Valo Luxury Retreats.

– A sufficient number of flight connections via Helsinki and directly from other countries will ensure tourists’ access to the area.

According to Lehtonen, it is difficult to assess the effects of the coronavirus situation at this time, so it is now time to live in the moment and be ready to adapt to new situations where necessary.

– Saariselkä is a safe and naturally beautiful area where snow is guaranteed, and which offers a lot of calming elements to tourists. These important trumps will certainly attract tourists from around the world where factors of uncertainty seem to have increased.