An expansive business
To Sara Ljunggren it wasn’t always obvious that she’d end up in Särkimukka. She met Johan at the guide training program in Dals-Ed. They then moved to Sälen where they worked for a couple of years before they decided to start their own business in the Torne Valley. In the beginning, it was pure dog-sledding trips they worked with, in and around Särkimukka. But then they got the idea to build their own accommodation, an idea that turned into Pinetree Lodge. The journey hasn’t always been easy. Try getting a loan for hotel construction in the middle of a pine forest, five kilometres beyond the sign “Public Road Ends Here”, see how easy it is. Johan says:
– We were granted a loan from the bank under one specific condition: that we’d build the lodge in modules that could be moved. That way, if we couldn’t get the business to work, at least the bank would be able to get the house out of the forest.
But they made it work. The facilities in Särkimukka have been expanded in various stages, just like the entire business. First, they sorted out Aurora Mountain Lodge in Lannavara, and during winter 2018/2019 the Arctic River Lodge in Tärendö was finished as well. It’s the old Forest Hotel that’s had a significant facelift, and it was an instant success. During 13 weeks during the season, Sara and Johan welcome their own charter flights from Brussels. The flights land on the Finnish side of Lapland and then people end up at one of the three hotels they manage.
– People check in two days per week: Sundays and Thursdays, so you have to be prepared. Make sure the sales work and that the rooms are filled, says Sara.