- Author: Saana JaakkolaWhy is Kalev Spa one of Tallinn's most popular spas? My point of view
In mid-February we spent a relaxing weekend getaway in Tallinn, Estonia. During our visit we tested two spa hotels, which were very different from each other. The first night we spent in Kreutzwald Hotel Tallinn. For the second day and night we headed for one of Tallinn’s most popular spa hotels, Kalev Spa.
I was very excited about our visit in Kalev Spa, as I have stayed there once before with my mum. It was quite many years ago, so my recollection of the hotel was a bit poor. I didn’t even have any pictures from the trip, thanks to my own clumsiness. A few years ago I dropped my external hard drive on the floor and lost every single picture since having my first digital camera. Great. You’d think you got smarter after that kind of disappointment, but guess what? I still keep all of my pictures on one specific hard drive. (*Note to self: make backup copies of your pictures and store them somewhere safe!*)
For this post I had to borrow a few pictures from Kalev Spa website, as they are better quality, and I didn’t dare to take my camera with me for example to the water park.
Once again we arrived at the hotel a lot before the check-in time and once again it was worth it. Our room was ready for us and we got in right away. The room was really spacious, even though my snapshot below doesn’t give enough credit for the size of the room. It was located on the corner of the building, so we had two different views of the old town, very nice.
I also want to point out that the room was very peaceful. We were a bit worried that we’d need to wake up way too early due to the noise of early birds staying at the hotel, as our room was located right next to the breakfast room. But we didn’t hear a sizzle, so points for that as well!
So our first impression of the hotel was excellent, but it doesn’t paint the full picture of the reasons why Kalev Spa is one of Tallinn’s most popular spas…
Jaakkola S. (2015) Why is Kalev Spa one of Tallinn’s most popular spas? My point of view. Internet page http://livenowdreamlater.net/2015/03/18/why-is-kalev-spa-one-of-tallinns-most-popular-spas-my-point-of-view/ (25.03.2015)
- Author: Julia GalanThe Kalev Spa: A Swimmer’s Paradise in the Heart of Tallinn
Just off the shores of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea lies Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia. Meandering through the cobble-stoned streets, surrounded by medieval architecture, it is easy to see why the city’s Old Town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But for those visitors who also happen to be swimmers, Tallinn is not simply a place of beauty. Tucked away just off the Old Town is the Kalev Spa, an all-in-one hotel, spa and aquatics complex.
Picture waking up after a refreshing night’s sleep and gazing out of the window at the red-tiled roofs of the city, the tall steeple of Saint Olaf’s Church and the turret towers of the historical Old Town. Stroll over to the 4th floor and indulge in a delicious buffet breakfast – scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, or cold cuts and fresh vegetables, if you prefer. Like porridge or cold cereal, or maybe just bread with fresh strawberry or black currant jam? On a gluten-free or vegetarian diet? They cater to those needs, too. Sit down and enjoy a view of the aquatics complex with your meal. Yes, the aquatics complex is right in the hotel! Which means that after breakfast, you can change into your suit, grab a robe and towel from your room, and head downstairs for a training session in the beautiful 8-lane, 50 meter pool. Post-swim, you have the entire day to explore Tallinn and its surroundings. If you are in serious training, you’ll visit the fitness center upstairs for some dryland work first. And of course you won’t forget to treat yourself to one or more of the many spa therapy services that the Kalev Spa offers!
I first discovered the Kalev Spa in November 2013, when the hotel and aquatics complex hosted the Kalev Open, the 8th edition of the EU Swim Series. Choosing the Kalev Spa as the 2013 host pool and the Kalevi Ujumiskool – Tallinn’s premier swimming club – as the host club was an easy decision to make. The facilities and the location were clearly excellent, but experiencing the Spa in person was even sweeter – which is why I returned for a second time this September! Staying for the week allowed me to achieve the perfect mix of training and tourism. I got in my swimming workout every morning after breakfast, sharing the lanes with my friends from the Keila Swim Club and the Kalevi Ujumiskool and their team leaders, Toni Meijel and Kristo Krinpus. After this morning ritual, I had the entire rest of the day to spend exploring Tallinn and its surroundings. From the TV tower, to the tiny fishing villages along the coast, to the delights of the Old Town itself, each day was jam-packed with places to see and things to do. When evening drew near, I could return to “home base” at the Spa, and sleep soundly until the routine began again the next morning.
Besides experiencing the Kalev Spa myself, I was curious to learn more about the establishment. So I met with Marina Mättik, the Spa’s sales and marketing manager to discuss the history of the Spa, what it has to offer for guests and its future goals. Below is our conversation.
JG: Marina, tell me about the history of the Kalev Spa. When did it open and how did you manage to get a gorgeous 50 meter facility inside of such a great hotel and spa?
MM: The Kalev Spa really first started out exclusively as a swimming pool, which was first designed in the mid-1950s by Uno Tölpus, the top Estonian architect of that time. The pool was ultimately opened in 1964 and was home to several major international competitions from the start. In 2005, the pool needed to undergo major renovations and we took that opportunity to think about ways to innovate and make something new. Ultimately, the goal was to turn the place into a leisure center and hotel, so that guests could take advantage of a variety of different activities and use the hotel as their base point while staying in Tallinn. The result? An entirely new building complex, designed by architect Emil Urbel, with the interior design by Taavi Aunre, consisting of a 100-room hotel, a restaurant (the Linda, featuring buffet and à la carte menus on different floors) , cafes, a beauty, wellness and health centre and a fitness centre. We are now very proud to offer so many services and continue to maintain the pool as one of the main training venues for Estonian national athletes. Our waterpark is one of the largest in northern Estonia, complete with several saunas, hot tubs and water slides in addition to the main pool.
JG: What were some of the challenges that the Kalev Spa faced when it first opened?
MM: Initially we faced a few structural challenges due to the transition from a swimming pool to a pool and a hotel. With perseverance, however, we have updated and resolved all of the initial hiccups and can now focus on developing and growing our hotel. We are very pleased to continually receive more and more guests, and the hotel and water park are really surging in popularity. We have achieved more synergy between all of our different departments and have been able to focus on offering new products and services, the latest being our spa center developments.
JG: In your opinion, what makes the Kalev Spa a really great place to visit and spend some time in?
MM: I think the Kalev Spa is really unique because of its long swimming tradition and today it has become the largest water park in Tallinn and north Estonia. It has such a great location, right at the edge of the historical Old Town of Tallinn and it offers something for everyone, for people of any age. We have our 50 meter pool and fitness center which attract competitive swimmers and fitness-oriented individuals who want to have an active holiday. Our smaller pools and slides are perfect for kids and families who want to relax. We have a high-quality restaurant overlooking the pool so you don’t even have to step out the door to get delicious Estonian cuisine. And of course, our beauty, wellness and health center offers everything from facials and beauty treatments to massages and body treatments. We like to provide our clients with the best and most exclusive product ranges in the world, such as Guinot, Alessandro, Alfraparf, Kalahari and Germaine de Capuccini.
JG: What are your goals for the future as a hotel?
MM: Our long-term goal is to become the most popular water park for Tallinn residents and the first choice for visitors looking to get a spa holiday or family retreat. We hope to constantly enrich the different possibilities available to the citizens of Tallinn and visitors to the city alike for an active holiday by providing a large variety of services in our spacious and modern spa hotel and water park in the very heart of the city. In order to achieve our strategic goals, we need to offer the highest level of service, constantly fulfilling and even exceeding our clients’ expectations. We try to cultivate a culture of service that is customer-service oriented and always providing clients with positive surprises. We often like to refurbish our public areas, hotel rooms and spa facilities, and introduce new services –like medical and beauty services, catering services, or new personal training and fitness programs. We think we are succeeding in accomplishing our goals, and we hope our guests do, too!
From my conversation with Marina and my experience at the Kalev Spa, I have no doubt that this establishment is more than successful and will only increase in popularity! Check out the hotel for yourself and consider a trip to Tallinn the near future, a magical city of possibilities – and a swimmer’s paradise!
Galan J. (2014) The Kalev Spa: A Swimmer’s Paradise in the Heart of Tallinn. Internet page http://www.swimspire.com/kalev-spa-swimmers-paradise-heart-tallinn/ (10.11.2014)