Exploring Lake Saimaa in Finland with Club Mahindra!

It's not often that you relax in a pond of warm water while the fresh snow settles down on the ground near you. But that's exactly how I spent my Monday at Club Mahindra's plush hotel in Saimaa, Finland. A long time back Russian writer Maxim Gorky wrote this about Saimaa - it's beautiful here, like a fairy tale. That's a sentiment I also echo after my short yet memorable stay here.

Read on.

relaxing lake saimaa finland
Relaxing by the side of Lake Saimaa (Photo credits: Tobias Meyer)

Surprised? Well, so was I when I heard about Club Mahindra in Europe, but quite recently they acquired a major European holiday-maker, Holiday Club Resorts Oy, and are now are present in Finland, Sweden and Spain with 46 plush resorts. If you already have a Club Mahindra membership you know exactly where you just head out to for your vacation next time. If you are not, you can look here to see if you want to apply for one.

However, before you plan your trip to Finland, it's important to know about the country well - the main regions, travel destinations as well as tips for visa, things to do in summers and winters, food to eat among other things.


Now most people visit Finland to see the Northern Lights, but the country actually has much more to offer. This is what even I went in for, and so it was quite a nice surprise to explore so much more. There are mountains, national parks, tons of opportunities for adventure sports, and much much more. The capital city, Helsinki, is known as the design city and that in itself could be a reason to visit and explore the country.


Lake Saimaa 

An essential part of Finland experience is actually spending some time in and around Lake Saimaa. It's the largest lake in Finland and fourth largest natural freshwater lake in the whole of Europe. Due to its large coastline, the lake is a hugely popular tourist destination and travellers throng here in all seasons for a variety of experiences, different for each season.



It's actually right next to this beautiful large lake that the Holiday Club resort is located. It's not just the perfect location (just 250 km from Helsinki and 230km from St Petersburg in Russia), but also a prefect resort which allows you to explore the lake and it's surroundings rather nicely and conveniently.

Holiday Club Saimaa

The first resort at this site was established in the year 1894 which was then converted into a sanitarium. The present property is a gorgeous spa hotel with 221 rooms, unique Cirque de Saimaa spa, ice arena and restaurant world.

holiday club resort lake saimaa finland
Holiday Club resort at Lake Saimaa

If you are staying here, you can actually pick from from three different hotel wings, each with its own unique environment.

Read more: Holiday Club Saimaa

So what did I enjoy the most?

Well, I liked pretty much everything, but my favourite part was to experience the rather famous Finnish sauna in Finland. Having gotten over my inhibitions about getting completely naked in a German sauna, I could really be free here and enjoyed the heat and the steam to the fullest. It's certainly easier when you are anonymous, though I think I did stand out as the only naked Indian guy around :)

Closely following the sauna experience, was the enclosed water park with fountains and some really fun rides. I did them all, and also ensured that everyone in the group did it too! It was quite a lot of fun giving the last shove to the faint hearted...haha!

Things to explore in and around Saimaa Lake

While the resort is great, a visit to the place isn't complete if you don't walk around, preferably alone. Though the temperature was always hovering around minus ten, I spent all the hours with light walking out and around. The most fun was perhaps getting a bit stuck in a forest a little distance away from the hotel. There was a lot of snow, and it was a bit deep, and I a rather tough time walking and getting back to the hotel.



If you enjoy fishing, you can also try some at the lake in the winters. Your guide can help you dig a small hole in the thick ice of the lake and then it's pretty much up to your luck and patience. Actually lots of patience!

Cross country skiing on the frozen lake is another popular activity. I did try it later in Saariselka, but here I was happy observing.

stranded old ship wreck lake saimaa finland
A ship in the lake!
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Lake Saimaa in summers (Photo credits: Tuukka Kaski)

There is also another very popular indoor park, Angry Bird Park. I chose to instead take a walk alone in the forest, and my young nephew and niece were quite disappointed. I did buy some Angry Bird confectionery, but I do feel a bit guilty about skipping the park. Maybe another time :)

In summers, there are numerous other water sports that one can try out. There is also a golf course which opened in 2013, though in winters it's completely covered in snow. Of course, beer is something that everyone can enjoy whether it's winters or summers. If you plan to try out local beer, here are some to pick from Olvi, Koff, Lapin Kult and Karjala.

To reach Holiday Club Saimaa


By car
Holiday Club Saimaa is easily accessible via Highway 6 through Vesivalo interchange.

By train
The nearest railway station is in Imatra, 7 kilometres away. It's best to simply take a cab from the station to the hotel.

By plane
The nearest airport is in Lappeenranta, 35 kilometres away. Hail a cab to reach the hotel from there.

Before I sign off, let me share a short video of my journey from my home in Pune to Finland! I am sure you will enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it.





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Disclaimers:
1. I was in Finland on invitation of Club Mahindra. All views expressed are my own and based on my personal experiences/ conversations in the the country.
2. Some of the the images used have been provided by Visit Finland and have been used with permission. Wherever available, the name of the photographer is also mentioned. 

Comments

  1. Hi Sid,

    Beyond awesome spot. A fairy tale indeed.

    I would HAVE to try the cross country skiing on the lake. Not a skier really but doing the level skiing bit and doing so on a lake seems like a fun thing. Why not? Right? Of course, the main objection being broken ice LOL.

    Thanks for sharing :)

    Ryan

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  2. these photos are beautiful! the river looks so wide and peaceful. Thanks for sharing a article.

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  3. Lake Saimaa looks so pretty! Sounds like there's lots of great activities on offer at Club Mahindra. Did you roll around in the snow after your sauna, aka Finnish style? ;)

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  4. Club Mahindra sounds like a fantastic holiday club resort, and the Holiday Club Saimaa sounds wonderful. Lake Saimaa looks so beautiful! I would love to stay right next to it and the saunas sound like they would be amazing too. Sounds like you had some fun winter adventures!

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  5. Lake Saimaa looks like a fairy tale indeed! I've still not been to Finland, but when I finally get there I know Club Mahindra will have to be on the list. Now I just have to get over my aversion to cold!

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  6. As soon as I visit my dream destination-Finland, I will have to visit this stunning place. Saimaa seems breathtaking!

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  7. I adore Scandinavia and am dying to get to Finland. Your pics are lovely and make me want to include Lake Saimaa on my Finnish itinerary.

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  8. Lake Saimaa looks like a fairy tale. I wonder if they do the Finnish Sauna and jump in the lake. That would be.... breathtaking. After recovering I think I would explore Club Mahindra. It looks like the sort of place with hidden passages and plenty of secrets.

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  9. Club Mahindra Saimaa seems like a beautiful place to visit any time of the year! It sounds like there's so much to do there, from the lakes to wandering around in the forest, and even a water park and rides. So funny about your experience in the sauna! I would definitely check this place out when we visit Finland.

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  10. Lake Saimaa looks beautiful. I would love to be able to explore these areas of Finland. I've been dying to go but haven't had the opportunity. Oh well, I can always dream and add to my list.

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  11. What beautiful and tranquil place to spend a vacation. I'd love to do some of the winter activities you highlighted and then reward myself in the sauna! Although, Lake Saimaa is so stunning that you can't go wrong going during any season. I've always wanted to travel to Finland and I'll be sure to include a stay at Club Mahindra on my itinerary. Thanks for putting Lake Saimaa on my radar.

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  12. This looks like the perfect place to spend a weekend! I'm a big fan of indoor water parks, so that would definitely be my favorite thing as well. I've been to Finland, but only to Tampere. Looks like I need to plan a return visit!

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  13. Sounds like an incredible experience - I would love to stay at the resort and spend time wandering around Lake Saimaa - cross country skiing across the lake sounds pretty adventurous! I love winter, so a fairytale winter wonderland sounds like the perfect vacation for me :)

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  14. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired me to start my own blog now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a fine example of it.

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