This review covers the whole TUI Santa holiday experience, based at Hotel Hetta.
As per the previous reviews we’ll start by covering the negatives - the rooms are slightly dated, someone could try harder to alert you to the Northern lights, and the Santa and Husky experiences could be improved.
BUT don’t get us wrong – these did not spoil the holiday and are just some things that would have made a fantastic trip perfect.
The magic starts at the airport with staff in Christmas hats. The plane was piloted by Santa who waves as you board. The stewards give the children little cardboard packs with colouring and games etc in and you are given a song sheet to help you join in with carols on the way. The food was delicious and plentiful.
On the way there was a colouring competition and the best Christmas jumper competition and the pilot reminded us that we were in Santa’s training ground so to look out for the big man himself. (We saw him glistening on the horizon).
As we neared Lapland the pilot made us aware that Rudolph was tired on his training run and that Santa had asked permission for them to land on our plane to rest. Which they did (the plane lowered slightly). This sort of thing helped make it magical.
We stayed in a bungalow opposite the main hotel. The rooms are slightly dated, but warm, clean, and had everything you needed (hob, oven, microwave, kettle, fridge/freezer, pots, pans, cutlery etc). The beds were very comfy and towels were clean.
We realise no-one goes to Lapland in winter solely to swim, but our kids love splashing about so we did try it. The swimming pool in the hotel was lovely albeit absolutely freezing. (not just uncomfortable getting in type of cold), good for swimming a few lengths rather than splashing about with the kids. We didn’t stay in long but did make use of the sauna. The facilities were all good and clean and towels are provided.
The food was good. Hot and plentiful, and available when you needed it, and there was something for everyone. Traditionally cooked meat and fish, potato & veg dishes. Chips and nuggets, Salad and cold meats & cheese and lots of fresh bread. We very much enjoyed trying different things and found most of it delicious. Dessert was also lovely and tea selection & coffee was good. There was also a great choice at breakfast, with cereal, yogurt, fresh fruit, bacon, sausages, eggs, and cold meats and bread too. Compliments to the restaurant team.
The bar was expensive, (€8-10 for a pint) but it is a hotel bar, in Lapland (which we found generally a bit expensive) and we weren’t too concerned about not drinking.
The hotel sits right on the edge of a frozen lake, with a few toboggan runs which the kids loved. There are sledges left in and around the hotel for you to borrow and return.
The transfer from the airport is 2 hours long but this was made enjoyable by the reps trying hard to entertain. We are still singing the crazy reindeer song.
The hotel is in a remote area and therefore not commercialised like other resorts and we loved this.
In the town about 15-20 minutes walk away from the hotel there is a supermarket with everything you need. There is also a burger restaurant (we didn’t try it so I can’t review). We took the sledges with us and towed the kids – which was enjoyable.
The Northern lights made an appearance, but we were unaware and like others have said – it would have been nice if the rep(s) or hotel had contacted us to make us aware, as this is something we very much would have liked to have seen. Maybe a group text message alert or something simple like that would work.
Upon arrival at the airport you are sent to a warehouse where they provide you with your snow gear. We received boots, onesie snow suit, lovely warm socks (to put over ours) and fleece gloves with a leather outer cover. (I wore glove liners under). We visited in December and would recommend you bring hats and face guards (as the freezing wind hurts) and obviously thermal layers.
The TUI team were good, and helped keep the kids entertained. The panto on the last night showed their hard work. Oh no it didn’t…. Oh yes it did! Well done girls.
The Huskies, reindeer pulled sleigh and snowmobile taster sessions were all brilliant experiences. And our children very much enjoyed these together with the sledging. We also enjoyed the hot berry juice and biscuits provided.
We paid extra for the huskies full experience and generally we were pleased (it was an amazing experience driving them) but due to the extreme cold (-26c + wind factor) we found that the children especially, got too cold to enjoy it and by the end we found we just wanted it to end so that we could all get warm. Extra blankets may have helped?
Another issue was it was done in the afternoon with a walk round the farm itself in daylight and then at sunset we found ourselves driving with little light and therefore found it very difficult to see the people in front (which you need to see so you don’t crash the dogs into them) or to view the magical scenery. The lit section at the very end was beautiful so maybe some lights on the course would improve this experience, or provide head torches or even do the driving first and visit the farm after. We did the taster session in the daylight and it was AMAZING.
The Santa visit was lovely but could easily be improved. He knew their names and asked some good questions and was assisted by a traditional looking elf and in a suitable log cabin.
As others have said – the bus shuttle to the cabin was naff and took away a bit of the magic. I’m sure one of the taster sessions could be put to more use (like a taster on the reindeers ending near the cabin maybe?) or, like someone else suggested a twinkle lit path for you to walk down,
We were then met by a TUI uniformed rep (rather than those dressed as elves) and again this could easily be rectified to add some magic.
And as for the snow globe (gift from Santa) having the TUI logo on – well that was pants and like someone else has said – our older child questioned this. They were confused as to why Santa would have TUI gifts. We made some silly story about him knowing we were on a TUI holiday but there was just no need for the logo to be there.
This break had the potential to be amazing and in parts was, however the minor points could significantly improve it. Having said that we had a wonderful time, the children loved it and we have some delightful memories to look back on.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC