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"Magical - worth every penny…"
Lapland is magical, there is simply no other way to describe it.
But to start at the beginning, Mumsnet was invited to attend on a three-day trip to Lapland and I was lucky enough to be picked. We had to pull names out of the hat as so many of us wanted to go. I took my 7-year-old son Richard and we went the week before Xmas.
The flight is really really early so do be prepared for this, especially if you are travelling with really little ones.
The flight isn’t too long. I did panic when the Air hostess said we were now all going to sing carols as group participation isn’t me thang but in fact it was so sweet with all the children on board singing renditions of whatever their school nativity play had been. Bit like Nativity 2 but on a plane.
We arrived just before lunch but at this time of year Lapland only has five hours 'grey light' and darkness. You don’t need to bring your snow gear as all of this is provided for you by Thomson either at the airport or at the hotel.
You are met at the Airport by your 'elf'. Ours was called Snow Berry and I have to said probably the best elf I’ve ever met. Bit of a dude really, who then surfed in the Summer. The children in the group adored/worshipped him and just followed him like the pied piper.
The Mums just couldn’t remember his name and called him Beetle Juice/Berry Juice/Elf, all of which he took in his stride.
We were staying in the Snow Princess, which Thomson describe on their website as basic. It was basic, but actually very warm and cosy. Our room was larger than average with an upstairs mezzanine so a family of four would have been comfortable. It didn’t have a bath but it DID HAVE A SAUNA – how cool is that?
The only downside was the food. Extremely hit and miss, especially the children’s selection. Breakfast was fine with waffles you can make yourself and a good selection of various goodies but the rest of the meals, not so good.
Each day there are various activities dependent on what you have booked.
I have to say I would recommend them all.
The best was the Lapland experience. It was so interesting to learn more about the customs and legends of the indigenous Sami people. We also went on the Husky Trailblazer; I now have a new dinner table topic on driving Huskies, how cool is that?
I asked Richard what he liked best and he said it was the Ice hotel. This is an evening trip to the Ice hotel which, as the name implies, is a hotel completely built of ice. I liked its bar with the glasses made of ice for your vodka but I don’t think this is what he meant. It is a wonder and should definitely be on your life list.
Richard also loved the activities you could do there, such as snowmobiling for the kids and sledging and a ski taster for the little ones.
So on to the main event, that was the visit to Father Christmas. The children just lapped it up and were so sweet. Father Christmas was, well, just Father Christmas, simple as that. The children were enchanted. After your visit you can then go sledging, meet reindeer and go for a sledge ride. It's all very Christmassy and lovely.
When you are not out on trips there is the opportunity to play in the snow. Richard had never ever seen so much and really enjoyed just building snowmen, snow ball fights and sledging. The Snow Princess is near to town and there are a few good shops there. I noticed that whilst there were lots of Grandparents and big family parties, it worked as a holiday whatever your age.
We had the most amazing time, when we got back I looked up going back with my DD and DH and saw that already the hotel was getting full for 2013.
It was also the first time I’d travelled with Thomson, I’ve always shied away from the whole organized holiday thing but I was really impressed. The trip was very very well organized and the reps at the holiday were really nice. Not in your face in a red coat kind of a way, just fun to talk to and great at sorting things out which is really all you want. On the first night they organized sledging and marshmallow roasting at the hotel which was so so lovely.
Reading my review back I realize I have said lovely, enchanting and magical a lot but that is exactly our experience.Read moreLess
"OK - it was about 7 years ago now, but…"
OK - it was about 7 years ago now, but it was one of the most magical experiences ever. It was more than we would normally pay, but worth every penny. My daughter found an invitation to visit him from Father Christmas in our fireplace because he had heard she had been kind. We also took letters from all of her class when we visited him -so there was lots of preparation all adding to the excitement. I also particularly liked the fact that Canterbury Travel place a financial limit on what you can buy for FC to give to your child so that no child is seen to receive more than others. FC himself really did have twinkling eyes and he had the letter that my daughter had sent him (handed to the reps on arrival with the present)and although the elves were patently young adults with very rouged cheeks my daughter was totally convinced they were elves.
The activities were wonderful, no they didn't last long but were enough of a taster and the sort of thing that you would never do anywhere else, to be exciting. The whole trip was made worthwhile to us when my daughter said , when asked why she hadn't said anything to Father Christmas " I couldn't, I was too busy smiling inside."Read moreLess
"I wanted to give my daughter a real 'trip of…"
I wanted to give my daughter a real 'trip of a lifetime' visit to see Santa in Lapland before her belief in the man in the red suit disappeared, so I was delighted to be invited on a First Choice Santa trip to Lapland. We plumped for a two day overnight trip - leaving Gatwick frighteningly early on Saturday morning to be back by early evening on Sunday.
Our adventure began the minute we climbed the steps to the airplane with every child getting a Santa Hat and special Christmas activity pack to keep them occupied at least part of the way on the 3 and a half hour trip. Festive films and cartoons played for the duration of the flight - you really have to be a fan of Christmas for this kind of holiday - and there was a carol singing contest as we crossed into Lapland airspace.
We landed with a planeload of children buzzed with excitement at Kittila airport - it was 11am Lapland time, but the sun had only risen - in early December daylight lasts an hour or two. Just before Christmas it actually disappears altogether. As part of this trip, First Choice provide you with all the clothing you'd need to keep you and your children warm - so our first step was to queue up for snow suits, boots, balaclavas, gloves, ski socks and snow boots. Take everything that's offered to you - you'll need it. (Tip - you could be waiting in temperatures of -17 at this point, so make sure you all have plenty of layers on when at this stage. It's a good idea for the family to put on any thermals before you leave the plane).
From here we were whisked to the Snow Village where we switched from a coach to snowmobiles to head into the forest to see Santa Claus. Crowd control was well organised, so there was just a few of us waiting with cups of warm berry juice by an open fire, before we were led into to meet the man in red. Every child gets a present at this point, but it's also the perfect opportunity to pass over your child's Christmas present list.
The Snow Village has a whole heap of activities on offer - you can wander round an Ice Hotel, go on reindeer sleigh rides - there's even a chance for older children to drive their own pint-sized snowmobiles. But were were feeling the cold by now and didn't complain when it was time to decamp to the Crazy Reindeer Hotel in the nearby ski resort of Levi.
Our hotel looked magical on arrival - covered in snow and with a million fairy lights lit up all over it. Our room was warm and modern, with an immaculately clean bathroom and there are hot drinks machines and vending machines on every floor. You may be in a room which isn't in the main building, so you'll need coats and boots to come in for the restaurant and bar.
Dinner on the night we were there was a 'gala dinner'. You could dress up, but most people went in smart casual. The buffet food was tasty - expect turkey and vegetables for adults, and a choice of burgers and nuggets for kids. Entertainment included a hotly-contested quiz followed by a children's disco and then a short fireworks display in the hotel forecourt. A lot of the other families on longer trips here took advantage of the nearby floodlit slopes to take their kids tobogganing in the evenings.
The next day we ended our trip with a visit to a huskie farm for a half-hour huskie sledge ride through the countryside. This was an utterly magical experience - definitely the highlight for everyone in our group - and well worth going on if you get the chance. Then we were back to the airport for our flight home complete with Christmas lunch.
All in all, a great trip, worth doing once if you can afford it, before your kids wise up and no longer believe in Santa.Read moreLess
4 people found this review helpful.
"We stayed in one of teh log cabins and ate…"
We stayed in one of teh log cabins and ate at the upmarket restaurant with selections. We went in 2006 so it was a little while ago and our friends gave it rave reviews before we went. I wouldn't as I hate being herded about and it wasn't how I had hoped. May be it has gone down hill since we were there. It wasn't cold enough to do teh sleeping a an eskimo which was disapointing and it was very expensive!Read moreLess
"We booked a christmas trip to lapland with canterbury travel.…"
We booked a christmas trip to lapland with canterbury travel. It cost a fortune and was really not worth the money. One to avoid.Read moreLess
"Please do not book with Canterbury Travel. We went to…"
Please do not book with Canterbury Travel. We went to Luosto over Christmas and the Santa was dreadful - really young, obvious false beard, obvious stuffing up his tunic etc. Our 6 year old son wasn't convinced and it made us really sad. Canterbury Travel do not want to acknowledge any criticisms. They reply to letters with arrogance and have absolutely no concern for their customers. They seem to think they are above criticism. Please do not waste your money on this company - there are plenty of others out there and I suggest you shop around.Read moreLess
1 person found this review helpful.
"This being a once in a lifetime trip, and costing…"
This being a once in a lifetime trip, and costing a lot of money, we were very disappointed with the whole tour by Canterbury Travel. We travelled with them because their brochure was good and travel agents seemed to recommend them, but we would certainly not use them again.
Santa himself was very convincing and all you would have expected, the log cabin accommodation was very traditional set in scenic setting - but everything else was a poor standard.
Your rides on sleighs pulled by huskies, horses and reindeer lasted 4-5 mins - queueing for your turn took longer.
Rides on skidoos lasted generally 5-10 mins - again you would have to wait your turn.
Tobogan runs were not very thrilling (apart from one which we visited on last day of tour) probally size-wise similar to what you might find in your park.
Food in log cabin resturant was bog standard buffet style - always slightly warm.
The tour reps are Finnish and not very sympathetic.
All day long you would be getting on a coach to drive to the above mentioned activities, stay there for appx 30 -60 min and then have to get back on the coach to drive to the next activity . You would do this probably 6-7 times in the day. It was really not what we expected.
There is a whole theme with elves helping you to find Santa on your tour which was quite good and the children enjoyed - but overall I was very disapointed and have since read other tour operators brochures and they seem to be much better, with more real content and specified activities lasting longer and more lifelike... not just a reindeer ride around a roped off circled area.
Think seriously before booking with Canterbury Travel, I would advise you not to.Read moreLess
6 people found this review helpful.