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Finland Is Expanding Its Luxury Appeal to Tourists

Finland Is Expanding Its Luxury Appeal to Tourists

When construction at the Hotel Maria is completed in June, 159 chandeliers will hang from the ceilings of its 79 rooms, 38 suites and public areas. Its bar will serve 31 types of Champagne. And the renovations on its four buildings — two of which opened in December — will have included the restoration of 42 kilometers (26 miles) of original moldings.

Those are just some of the things that will distinguish the Maria as a “true five-star city hotel,” according to Heli Mende, its commercial director.

The Finnish capital is no stranger to luxury. It already has several high-end hotels, including Hotel Kamp and the St. George. There are upscale boutiques and department stores; the Palace restaurant, which has two Michelin stars; and a handful of other single-star spots. (In May, the city is scheduled to host the 2024 Michelin Guide ceremony for the Nordic region.)

And to the north, in Lapland, the country has a robust tourism operation that includes luxury services and accommodations such as clear glass igloos to shelter guests as they sip Champagne and gaze at the night sky, waiting for a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

But this country of about five and a half million, which is between Sweden to the west and Russia to the east, has historically lacked the sort of elaborate luxury infrastructure found in other European cities or global hubs such as Singapore; Dubai, the United Arab Emirates; and New York City.

“Partly this is due to the fact that Finland is not very hierarchical as a culture and, for example, income differences have traditionally been small,” said Juri Maki, the chief executive of the Helsinki research firm Red Note, which in 2018 did an extensive study on the travel industry’s perceptions of Finland and its luxury offerings. “Because of this, this style of culture is not very characteristic of Finland.”

Among international travelers, he said, Finland’s greatest strength “is certainly not in outwardly visible, classic luxury,” but rather in the unusual experiences available in its pristine outdoors — like evenings in the glass igloos.

Finns themselves cherish solitude and are famous for avoiding small talk with strangers. “The ultimate compliment is to offer luxury and to leave people alone to enjoy it,” wrote Stephen Lee, an American who has lived in the country for 24 years and worked with luxury brands in communications and marketing. “Where Americans expect high amounts of service, chatting and even humor, Finns…

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