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travelholiday Compiled and written by LeiLa itkonen From the igloo to the campfire Lapland's Levi offers priceless luxury amidst ascetic nature. NortherN FiNlaNd's liveliest winter resort, Levi, has shrugged off the languid summer and stays cheery in the crispy air 24 hours a day. Culinarists, extreme travellers and those in search of luxury accommodations are in store for a frosty horn of abundance. One of the ski resort's main selling points is a holiday village made of four glass igloos (www.leviniglut.fi). Only you (and your one and only) can fit into one of these tiny glass houses to admire the diamond-studded sky. Mundane reality disappears in a blink, especially if you've arrived by helicopter from the Kittilä airport. Price per night ranges from 250 to 345 euros. The igloos offer a view of forlorn pine trees, the grandiosely curving landscape and the Ounasjoki river, which cuts its way through the wilderness. The larger holiday resort, whose flurry from afar reminds one of an ant colony, is on the other side of the fell. Many fanatical skiers choose to stay at Hotel Levi Panorama (www.levipanorama.fi/2009/ index.php/en). A gondola lift takes skiers to the centre of the resort in three minutes. one of Finland's heroes, NHL player Teemu invested in the area's tourism efforts. At Cantina bistro, located in Levi's alpine-inspired centre (www.ravintolakatu.fi/en), patrons can order a Selänne-inspired Finnish Flash pizza and dine underneath a display of the hockey legend's jerseys. Selänne and his business partners have built lavish hideaways, more than 400 square metres in size, about a 15-minute drive away from the centre of Levi. All Levi Spirit villas (www.levispirit. fi/site) are available for rent starting at 750 a night for 1­3 people. Guests don't have to leave the immaculate silence of this luxury village, as its staff is available for help around the clock. Services such as spa treatments and in-room gourmet dining can also be purchased from outside vendors. Finnair Plus members earn Plus points for their stay. Cross-country skiers at Levi are encouraged picked in these surroundings during the summer, skiers can warm up either by an outdoor fireplace or inside the hut. There's no need to rush off after you finish your lettu and coffee; at Levi, an unspoken rule dictates that everyone can move at his or her own pace. at hotel K5, one feels an inclination to sing a decades-old Finnish evergreen called Lapin Tango (The Tango of Lapland): "Lapland's nature creates strange magic," the lyrics proclaim. At breakfast, guests can gaze at the hotel's own herd of reindeer; dinners, meanwhile, can be enjoyed inside a traditional Sàmi hut. Among the hotel's several personalised services is sauna therapy (www.taikataival.com). Accompanied by traditional lapp yodling and drumming, this therapy is likely to surprise even a bona fide sauna nut. Expect whisking, treatments involving tar and buckthorn oil, a foot bath scented with birch leaves and an expert massage Restaurant (155 euros). Kultainen Poro www.k5.fi Finnair flies to kittilä twice daily on most days. Selänne, is among those who have left their hearts at Levi. He and his friends have also to stop in at one of several no-nonsense cafes located alongside the trails. These break spots can easily be ranked following a "the smaller, the better"-rule of thumb. Jouni's cafe, for example, is a tiny stand in the middle of a landscape dotted with dwarf birches. A dog greets visitors with a wag of the tail. While waiting for a flat pancake (lettu) topped with whipped cream and cloudberries offers fine Lapp dining (hulluporo.fi > Restaurants, +358 (0)16 6510-500, Hiihtäjänkuja 10). Levi by the numbers · Receives 600,000 travellers yearly · Located in Kittilä, 170 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle and 15 kilometres from the airport · The fell is 531 metres tall and has 45 ski runs. · Levi has 230 kilometres of trails for cross-country skiing and 886 kilometres of trails for snow scooters. · See www.levi.fi to browse an eclectic range of wintery activities. Levi's glass igloos have a dreamlike appeal. 20 BLUe WinGS DECEMBER 2010

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