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Sleeping and brainstorming in Helsinki

Radisson Blu Royal Helsinki exterior

ITCM overnights at the Radisson Blu Royal

ITCM had limited time to spend in Helsinki on the way to more distant parts of Finland. Radisson Blu has three hotels in Helsinki and it turned out that the Radisson Blu Royal was a very good choice for our purposes.

It was literally in walking distance of most of the inner city places where we had appointments, as well as the central railway station, which is also the terminus for the Finnair international airport bus. The Art Nouveau station is a visitor attraction in itself, dating from 1919 and having been designed by the internationally renowned Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, father of the equally famous architect and industrial designer, Eero Saarinen.

Did you know that Helsinki has had an underground transport system, the Metro, since 1982? It has 17 stations and is currently planning extensions. We could walk out of the front entrance of our hotel and, crossing one road, straight to the escalator that took us down to a Metro station. This is located under the extensive Kamppi indoor shopping and dining centre. Also underneath this facility is the city’s central bus station.

This is why ITCM considered the Radisson Blu Royal a remarkably good choice as a convenient base for a short stay in Finland’s capital.

The hotel is particularly suited to business guests who want comfort without fuss. There is free Wi-Fi throughout; the Super Breakfast Buffet is included in the room price; tea- and coffee-making facilities are in every room; there are coffee machines on tap in public areas not only for meetings delegates but also for guests in general. There is a high quality sauna (naturally, in Finland) to which guests gain entry with their room cards. The approach is casual for convenience, but not shabby. Rooms benefit from Scandinavian streamlining and the hotel’s Grill-it restaurant has a Michelin rating.

Reception consists of individual workstations, so that the staff are very accessible and amenable to answer questions and give help on the spot.

The hotel’s central location and efficient design have made it a popular venue for incentive groups and also for meetings. Event organising clients tend to be from the home country, but delegates come in from all over the world, as Helsinki is very well connected.

That was very obvious during our transit through the airport and the station. They were crowded with Asian visitors. ‘This is because’, explains Petri Isomäki, the hotel’s General Manager, ‘the preferred route to Europe from China, Japan, Thailand and many other Asian countries is a flight over Siberia to Helsinki as a European hub. This is a route that is funnelling huge numbers of visiting groups, both consumer and corporate’.

The Radisson Blu Royal Helsinki has as many as 16 purpose-designed meeting rooms in close proximity on two floors. Two alongside each other can seat 300 and 350 respectively. The conference wing is watched over by a dedicated Events and Meetings Manager, always on hand to sort anything out on behalf of client organisers.

He is currently responsible for the introduction of Radisson’s new Experience Meetings offer. When it is fully operational in September 2013, it will be a pioneering first in Finland. ‘It is based’, says Petri, ‘on a combination of ‘hardware’ and ‘software’ services. The ‘software’ components are free Wi-Fi; Think Planet; Meet Yes I can!; Meet Satisfaction; and Meet Rewards. The ‘hardware’ is a specially created delegates menu called ‘Brain Food for Meetings’; and a Brain Box Break-Out Room.’

The menu offers dishes that are nutritious but do not cause drowsiness and discomfort. They comprise locally sourced fish, whole-grain products, fruit and vegetables, with natural sweetening where possible.

The Brain Box will be furnished so that there can be brain-storming and networking in a very comfortable, relaxed environment in upholstered easy chairs.

Radisson has prepared a chart, under the umbrella title of Experience Meetings that shows the services and philosophy behind this approach for the pre-meeting period, the time when the meeting is in progress and post-meeting.

‘This all shows’, says Petri, ‘that we take corporate group business very seriously and are constantly thinking of how we can make life easier and more efficient for the organisers and their delegates.’

ITCM not only slept at the Radisson Blu Royal Helsinki but really slept well. There was a heatwave in Finland during our visit in August. We assumed bedrooms would have heating facilities in Finland, but were pleasantly surprised that they were also air-conditioned – and provided with a Magic Dream bed with a satin-covered ‘intelligent’ mattress to conform to each person’s body shape. Each room has a Japanese-designed rocking chair.

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