“Responsibility stems from a love to things that are important to us”

In the juncture of three national parks, you can find the historical Bomba Karelian Village and Break Sokos Hotel Bomba with its luxurious spa. The area plays an important role in looking after Karelian culture in Northern Karelia. When Covid closed everything down, Hotel Director Sanna Tenhunen, a newly settled resident in the town of Nurmes, had space to think about how you could enrich tourism in the area by promoting this culture.

Sanna Tenhunen in Bomba House

Time to think

Sanna Tenhunen, the Director of Break Sokos Hotel Bomba, started her career on the shores of Lake Pielinen just as the coronavirus left hotels and restaurants empty of both customers and staff.

– When the hotel was completely empty, I had all the time in the world to think about what we are doing here and why. That can be seen as a luxury, since the usual hustle and bustle normally takes up pretty much every moment of every day. Now, I had the time to think and learn about Karelian culture as a newcomer myself. The folks from Suojärvi Socken Association were especially helpful in this, explains Tenhunen who had moved to Nurmes from Oulu.

These meditations also inspired two summer exhibitions. The first one was “Karjalainen nainen juhlassa” (“Karelian Woman In Times of Celebration”) and the second, a textile exhibition, “Käspaikka”. The following summer saw the “Evakon matkassa” (“On the Run with Evacuees”) photographic exhibition. The story of the Bomba village itself was laid out in photos on the second floor of the building. The sights in the outdoor areas were marked out with guide posts that allow visitors to learn about the history of the Bomba area. The guide posts feature videos that are available in Finnish, English and Russian. Courses in Karelian handcrafts, language and genealogy research have been organized, too.

– Responsibility is about promoting all the things that make Bomba worth a visit. It comes from a love for nature and the people around us. These issues are clearly important to our staff, so there’s a positive attitude towards this work, Tenhunen says, describing the culture at the spa.

Hotel room in Bomba

Responsibility requires technical solutions

When building something new or fixing up something old, you always look for ways to do things in a smarter way.

– Through our co-operative chain, the S-Group, we always make plans with a clear view to responsibility. Sometimes, it is necessary to justify to the customers why the water pressure in the shower is what it is, but mostly our guests don’t even pay attention to these things. During the renovation of the spa, we made a lot of decisions to spare both money and the environment. We also seek to employ local people for our projects, explains Hotel Director Sanna Tenhunen about the hotel’s thinking regarding responsibility.

All Sokos Hotels have been granted the Green Key certificate, and the co-operative S-Group aims to be a pioneer for responsible business in all of its activities. Break Sokos Hotel Bomba has also received the Sustainable Travel Finland label from VisitFinland.

Signs in front of the Bomba House

Responsibility for fostering culture

The name ‘Bomba’ comes from the Bomba House, which is found in the village. The house, built in 1978, is based on the model of a legendary Karelian house from the 1800s. In its day, it was one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, with long lines of buses driving up to see it. Now, the house is a part of the Bomba village, located in the juncture of three national parks. In addition to the Karelian house itself, the area boasts a hotel, spa, holiday village and two restaurants.

When it comes to Karelian culture and preserving it, food is essential.

– The Karelian feast is a speciality at the Bomba House, and it’s available to groups upon request. Other than that, food adapted from the Karelian traditions is always available to visitors. Finnish and locally sourced ingredients are a priority.

Break Sokos Hotel Bomba promotes a cultural heritage of its own together with the Valamo Monastery. Fruit wines made at the monastery complete a celebratory menu of the highest quality featuring zander caught in Lake Pielinen, visible through the windows of the restaurant.

According to Tenhunen, responsibility also means building shared co-operation with the businesses in the area – benefiting everyone.

– We don’t want to provide all of the services ourselves. Instead, we are committed to working with the local companies. A course on how to prepare Karelian pasties has been organized with Rautavaara Bakery, and the craftspeople of the northern reaches of North Karelia sell their products at the Bomba House. I’m also happy to see what Anni Korhonen is doing with Karelian cultural heritage at the Puukarin Pysäkki Guesthouse, Tenhunen rejoices.

– The heat in the so-called “greywater” coming from the pools and showers of the Bomba Spa is preserved, and the energy used by the spa-hotel is produced entirely with renewable energy. The hotel uses automation technology to e.g. adjust the lighting and heating.

– Fostering Karelian culture and promoting regional co-operation is the guiding principle of Break Sokos Hotel Bomba’s activities.

– The local lifestyle that is still close to nature, helps the organization with its work regarding responsibility.

Read more about Bomba’s services and actions for sustainability