At this spa, watch planes go by

September 11th, 2010 - 11:44 am ICT by IANS  

By Vishnu Makhijani
Helsinki, Sep 11 (IANS) Fancy relaxing in a spa and watching the planes go by? Head for the Helsinki-Vantaa airport where you can savour the facilities for free or pay a fee, depending on the class you are flying in with Nordic carrier Finnair. From sauna to naturopathy, there is much on offer.

It’s called the Via Spa and, as the name implies, is meant for passengers arriving at or departing from the Finnish capital. For those who have to pay, the fee ranges from a little over 20 euros to upwards of 50 euros for a rejuvenating experience.

“This high quality facility offers Finnair customers first class spa and wellness facilities,” Markku Remes, the airline’s customer experience development manager, told a visiting IANS correspondent.

“The freshness of Finland’s natural environment is conveyed by the scent of pine twigs, the glitter of ice, the lapping of water and the unforgettable swish of birch branches in the sauna,” he added.

The spa offers a spruce sauna and a stone sauna from the Alps, a stream sauna and a traditional Finnish sauna that provides a view from a mineral water pool to the aircraft taxiways.

The spa, which opened last December, has been a huge hit in the nine months since then.

“Sometimes, passengers fall asleep and they miss their flights. So we have opened a ticket office so that they can purchase a ticket for the next available flight!” said Remes, tongue firmly in cheek.

“But I can tell you that passengers arriving on long haul flights often fall asleep and we have to wake them up,” he insisted.

Spread over 1,600 square metres, the Via Spa and the new Via Lounge that provides access to the facility are part of Finnair’s efforts to enhance the experience of passengers, mainly those flying between Asia and Europe and transfer passengers travelling vice versa.

“You come in on a 10-hour flight from Hong Kong and you are jetlagged and your body aches. One hour in the spa and your aches and pains are gone and you are rejuvenated and ready to take on the world,” Remes said.

To this end, the Via Spa offers new generation, naturopathic treatments. All of the spa’s products are made of pure, organic ingredients.

Access to Via Spa is free of charge to Finnair Plus Platinum cardholders, while all other customers can use the facilities for a fee.

After being refreshed, passengers can move to the Via Lounge, which is open to Finnair Plus and OneWorld top-tier members and business class customers free of charge and to all other customers for a fee.

Behind the spa concept is an innovative ideology based on the more than 40 years’ experience and research of the German spa pioneer Paul Haslauer, Remes explained.

The stylish Via Lounge has room for around 250 customers and its facilities include six private shower rooms, a diverse buffet, a Via Bar and various relaxation areas with top-notch Samsung LED TVs.

For work aficionados, there is a free Wi-Fi network, work points with iMac PCs and Finnish Powerkiss work desks allowing wireless mobile phone recharging.

The innovations are linked to joint development work by Finnair, Finavia that maintains a network of 25 airports in Finland and service provider SSP Finland to improve the competitiveness of Helsinki-Vantaa, Remes explained.

“Finnair has purposefully increased its Asian traffic passing through Helsinki-Vantaa since the turn of the millennium. The number of Via Helsinki transit passengers has remained favourable this year, even in a highly challenging competitive and financial environment,” he added.

So, why is Finnair specifically targeting the Asian markets?

Christer Haglund, the airlines’ senior vice president for public affairs and corporate communications, said: “More than half our revenues are from Asian traffic.”

“Asian economies have grown significantly despite the recession and the prosperity of Asian consumers is fast increasing, 24 of the 25 economically fastest growing cities in the world are in Asia, Finnair’s potential markets are 600 times larger than Finnish markets and traffic between Asia and Europe is growing faster than the world economy,” he added.

At 474 million euros, Finnair recorded a revenue growth of 11 percent in the April-June quarter of 2010.

(Vishnu Makhijani can be contacted at vishnu.makhijani@ians.in)

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