Finland markets first Nordic luxury products

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NEW YORK -- The Finnish Tourist Board teamed with Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Passage Tours of Scandinavia and four Nordic suppliers to craft what's being touted as the first luxury tour to Finland and Sweden.

The five-day Escape to Luxury: Take the Ultimate Trip to the Top of the World package combines roundtrip travel from North America on SAS Scandinavian Airlines; two-night stays at both the Sheraton Stockholm Hotel & Towers and Helsinki's five-star Hotel Kamp, and a cross-Baltic "minicruise" on one of two premium Silja Line ships with additional perks, including limousine transfers.

Other high-end add-ons -- such as SAS business class upgrades, private museum tours and Lapland excursions -- are also available.

"We've offered packages that featured five-star Scandinavian hotels before," noted Roald Noto, vice president of Passage Tours, which is offering 10% commission and guaranteed pricing through the end of next year.

"But this is the first time the tourist boards are actively promoting luxury travel."

The tour package aims to show travelers Stockholm at its most luxurious. Nino de Prado, director, North America, for the Finnish Tourist Board in New York, cited a surge in international interest in Helsinki -- and the famed Hotel Kamp, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts' Luxury Collection, in particular -- as inspirations for the package.

"We have never talked about Finland or Sweden as luxury destinations before, but then we've never had a luxury product to market before, either," he added.

Anna-Lena Sharivar, an independent travel consultant and Scandinavian specialist affiliated with Classic Travel Service in New York, welcomed the package, noting that Nordic destinations and hotel properties -- despite their prosperous image and high quality, respectively -- generally do not meet the expectations of well-heeled international travelers.

"Scandinavians live plainly and are not used to service or luxury standards," she said.

"What you'll usually find in Stockholm hotels is not what you'll get in London, but the Kamp in Helsinki is absolutely top-notch. I'm pleased they're offering this package."

Pricing, based on double occupancy, begins at $1,798. Single supplements are available from $1,360, and air fare upgrades start at $2,998.

Spouse fares are also available.

For more information, contact Passage Tours of Scandinavia at (800) 548-5960 or (954) 776-7070; fax: (954) 776- 7188, or e-mail: [email protected].

Passage Tours' Web site can be found at www.passagetours.com.

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