My fiance and I are looking to spend a week in Lapland at the beginning of 2013 for my 30th. We are a young(ish) couple who are looking to snowboard/ski (both beginners), do the usual excursions, eat out and of course chase the Aurora Borealis. We've wanted to do this for so long (it's at the top of our bucket lists!) and have decided to bite the bullet as 2012 going into 2013 is meant to be the max of the 11 year solar cycle for light viewing. This is my first time booking a winter holiday so want to get it right. I have a few questions below:
DESTINATION: Saariselka, Yllas or Levi??
Which area do you think is most suited to us based on the before mentioned info? We would like somewhere that's quite busy and has lots to do seeing as we will be there for a week. Am I right in saying Saariselka is a lot more quieter than Yllas and Levi?
TIME: is there a better time of year to go?
Our options are January, February or March - comparing the 3 what are the main differences? Are there months that are cheaper than the other? Is there a lot more daylight and sunlight in March? What month do you think would be better for seeing the Northern Lights?
AGENCY: which tour operator do you recommend?
I have been basing all of my research on Google and the only operator that seems to accommodate what we want is Inghams. Are they good? Or are there others we should try?
ACCOMMODATION: cabins or hotel?
Staying in a log cabin would seem the obvious choice (when in Rome and all that) but price wise doesn't seem very viable for a couple. It seems that it would be cheaper for us to stay in a hotel by the time they charge us for under occupancy (as most cabins sleep at least 4). Is the hotel a better option for us for our first trip seeing as we haven't been before and it's only the 2 of us?
AIRPORT: how long does it take to get to 3 different destinations from Kitilla airport (the closer the better!)
COSTS: how much should we expect to pay?
Accommodation? Eating out? Drinks? Excursions?
PACKAGES/EXCURSIONS: when should we book? On the Inghams website there is an option to book packages for skiing, is it worth booking them now or cheaper to book with other operators when we get there? Inghams prices are below:
Ski Pass for 1wk = £120pp
Ski Equipment and Boots for 1wk = £70-£100pp
Thermals for 1wk = £50
Lessons for 3 days = £77
Snow Mobile Safaris = £65
Ski Package inc Tuition = £231 - £274
FLIGHTS: there seems to be very limited flights! The nearest flight Ingham offers is from Manchester (4 hours from us). Does anyone know of any decently priced direct flights from any Scottish airports or Newcastle? Also, Inghmas have stated Jet2 as their flight supplier but after phoning Jet2 they said they don't fly to Finland??? Does anyone have any insight into this?
Sorry for all the questions but thank you for taking the time to read them. If you have any advice at all from your own experiences we would greatly appreciate it as this is a once in a lifetime trip for us and we'd like to do it right :)