Lauretthe McClellan from Pineapple Events has just returned from a very interesting weekend visit to Helsinki, the white capital of Finland hosted by Nordic Choice Hotels and their UK representation company Hosmark. The north of the country being famous for Lapland, Reindeers & Santa Claus.

Helsinki, located in the south, is surrounded by the Baltic sea and over 300 small islands with Sweden to the east, Russia to the west and Estonia to the south. You can take a maximum 72 hour trip to St.Petersburg by train, around a three hour journey although visas are required. Additionally ferries depart daily to Estonia, so a two City Incentive is easily possible.

It’s a very modern, safe, clean and relaxed City with a small population of just over 620,000 and with the world famous Scandinavian design and food. Finland is also a world leader in technology with companies such as Nokia and is now the home to over 300 mobile gaming developers. Angry Bird was developed there. Additionally several Global Pharmaceutical companies have headquarters including Pfizer, Merck & Roche.

Helsinki has become a hub for China and the airport has grown considerably with the usual high-end luxury brands to capture the market, which also makes it more accessible for Global events.

I travelled from Manchester with Finnair, a direct flight of 2 hours 40 mins with the rest of the group out of Gatwick with Norwegian Air and a flight time of 2 hours 50 mins. Transfers to the City are quick and efficient with very little traffic, just 40 mins.

Our host hotel, Clarion Helsinki is a new, stylish, four star hotel located on the harbour front and a 10 minute walk from the City Centre with a metro stop opposite. 425 bedrooms, 13 meeting rooms and the Makasiini Event Centre with a capacity of 700 makes it one of the largest hotels in Helsinki and great for events. The hotel has a good vibe, very relaxed with a stunning Sky Bar overlooking the City and as you can imagine very popular with the locals.

While we were there they were hosting a large International Academic Association Conference over the weekend and the event was perfectly suited to the venue. Additionally, the group have the equally stylish Clarion Hotel Airport with 258 bedrooms and meeting facilities for 250.

We also visited a variety of venues like the Paasitorni Congress Centre, a lovely historical and unusual venue with a capacity of 800, Finlandia Hall designed by the world famous architect Alvar Aalto a unique classic of architecture and design. The Cable Factory – a really cool, industrial blank canvas venue with a variety of spaces and now the largest cultural centre in Finland. It houses artists, bands, museums and is available on a dry hire basis. 3148 m2 with a capacity of 2870 in the largest hall with a dry hire rental price of around 3,000 euros per day. Other site visits included Tre Salon an exclusive and intimate venue showcasing art and collectables, Lasipalatsi an iconic Art Deco cinema complex with large dining spaces and theatre.

No visit would be complete without a trip to one of the many small islands surrounding Helsinki and we were taken to Suomenlinna, a UNESCO World Heritage site with a historical military fortress dating back to 1748, with views of Finnish archipelago.

Following the visit, we were hosted for dinner at a lovely atmospheric restaurant called Restaurant Saari on Sirpalesaari Island. Open fires, rustic and traditional Finnish cooking with stunning views across the gulf of Finland, yet the transfer by boat was just minutes from the City.

During our stay, Nordic Choice Hotels had just announced the acquisition of the Kamp Collection, Helsinki. A collection of seven luxury and boutique style hotels all located in the immediate City centre. We were lucky to have the opportunity to visit four of the venues from the beautiful 5* Hotel Kamp – an iconic luxury landmark hotel, similar to The Savoy in style, through to Hotel Lilla Roberts, very design-led and quirky with interesting art pieces throughout. The collection well suited to Incentive groups or smaller events.

The whole weekend was exceptionally well organised by the hosts and Elamys Group DMC with a good balance of visits to hotels, key attractions and offsite venues. Really felt we got a good feel for the destination during our short stay and definitely a City worth considering for a variety of events and budgets