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Glass igloo photo goes viral: Resort in Finnish Lapland expands to meet demand

An aerial shot of cosy glass igloos glowing in the azure winter hues of northern Finland has been viewed on social media over one billion times around the world. This massive exposure propelled the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort near Saariselkä to invest even more in its expanding business.

Kakslauttasen lasi-iglut, Saariselkä, Sodankylä,Lappi
The photo behind it all: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort's glass igloos Image: Kakslauttanen

The Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort near the popular tourist destination of Saariselkä, Finland is expanding its operations to meet increased demand, after an aerial photo of its one-of-a-kind glass igloo accommodation options has gone viral on social media. Owner Juhani "Jussi" Eiramo says the image has been viewed over one billion times.

"In less than a month's time, we will have completed all of our construction projects. After this we will be able to provide accommodations for 550 guests," he says.

The 70-year-old started a turf-roof cafe in the village of Kakslauttanen already in the 1970s, and he has been busy adding on every since. For the last nine years, he has been investing between 5 and 10 million euros annually in his Arctic Resort, and he plans to have a finished product in 2020.

In addition to the many different forms of accommodation – from the famous glass igloos to log cabins to hybrids of the two – the resort now features a 1,000-square-meter house for Santa Claus, a 450-square-metre art gallery, and an igloo viewing tower. In a few years, work will be done on a 150-seat planetarium, ideal for admiring the dancing and colourful Northern Lights in the Lapland night sky.

Jussi Eiramo inside one of his glass igloos Image: Vesa Toppari / Yle

Eiramo has seen it all in the tourism business, building a few cabins near his cafe in the 70s, expanding and making a good profit in the 80s, and then hitting rock bottom after the financial crisis of the 90s. In the 2000s, Eiramo knew that the way forward was in attracting foreign tourists, so he packed his car with brochures and heading to travel fairs in central Europe.

Alice Cooper and Ralph Lauren

His success story in the 2010s is without peers in Finland. Photo shoots by magazines like Sports Illustrated and Vogue and fashion houses like Ralph Lauren have spread images from Kakslauttanen to tens of millions of homes. Celebrities like Alice Cooper praised Lapland's beauty after his stay.

"We are the most famous tourist destination in northern Finland because of that one photo of the glass igloos. The fashion magazine editors saw that photo and then they contacted us," says Eiramo.

US advertising firm on board

Eiramo has enlisted the help of an American ad firm to coordinate his business' social media efforts and measure the resort's online visibility. In the last four years, his turnover has increased by 13.3 million euros, and his financial result has improved by four million.

Kakslauttanen, Kultaoja, Saariselkä
Winter wonderland Image: Vesa Toppari / Yle

He predicts that tourism in the Saariselkä region will double in the next few years, if there are a sufficient amount of reasonably-priced airline connections to cater to the potential market.

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