Sato introduces a cosy and convenient alternative to hotels.
AFTER a few years on the drawing board, the Sato HotelHome apartment on Lapinlahdenkatu welcomed its first visitors, from Japan, earlier this autumn. Essentially, the HotelHome concept is to offer an alternative short-term lodging solution for both tourists and business visitors in a central and convenient, yet cosy and quiet, location in Helsinki. Visitors can experience the Finnish capital and return to their home away from home – as Sato puts it – in a prestigious Helsinki neighbourhood.
According to the manager of HotelHome, Petri Kajaan, the concept was devised by Miikka Karjaluoto, who was the customer service manager at Sato at the time. Similar short-term housing services are available abroad, and also to a limited extent in Finland, but Kajaan maintains that the impetus for developing the HotelHome concept emerged mainly from the domestic real estate market. “There is a severe lack of furnished apartments available for short-term leasing. The supply has long failed to satisfy the demand.”
Despite the booming demand, Kajaan believes that Sato can establish itself as a force to be reckoned with. “The current market is extremely fragmented and consists of a multitude of small service providers. Our competence in the real estate industry is definitely a benefit.”
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HotelHome prices vary according
The need for a temporary housing solution like the Sato HotelHome typically stems from a change in either personal or professional life. “Personal reasons may range from renovations and water damage to divorce,” says Kajaan. Business visitors may include employees on secondment, consultants, project workers, researchers, as well as both Finnish and overseas sellers who visit Helsinki on a regular basis.
“But, there is also a growing demand from tourists, especially families,” Kajaan says. “They appreciate the cosy and quiet atmosphere, as well as the full kitchen facilities, which make their holidays so much more convenient.”
For a variety of customers, a variety of apartments is needed. Sato’s HotelHome apartments range from 27-square metre studios to over 70-square metre two-bedroom apartments suitable for entire families. All apartments feature a fully equipped kitchen and modern electronic appliances, while complimentary services include weekly and end-of-stay cleaning, clean towels and bed linen, and a wireless internet connection.
“That alone makes our service more developed than most competitors,” Kajaan states. “Naturally, we aim to develop the concept further in order to improve the customer experience. But for now, we encourage customers to leave us feedback.”
In the building – which is accessed with a key code provided after your booking is confirmed – guests have a self-service laundry room and common sauna at their disposal. The apartments are decorated by Piritta Kokkonen, Sato’s design manager, in the vein of Finnish functionalism, with classic wooden furniture and designer lamps.
“The decor embraces the spirit of the building, which was constructed in the 1950s, and the whole neighbourhood,” describes Kajaan.
In addition to the Lapinlahdenkatu apartments, another HotelHome in Helsinki is set to open its doors on Kristianinkatu in 2013. Both locations were carefully selected from a number of Sato apartments identified as renovation targets in the preparation phase of the project, because, as Kajaan acknowledges, location is a crucial component of the HotelHome service.
“A quiet neighbourhood is a significant part of the appeal of HotelHome.”
Naturally, the availability of basic services was also a criterion used to identify the HotelHome locations. “On Lapinlahdenkatu, the nearest grocery shop is only a few minutes’ walk away. And in the near vicinity, there are a dozen restaurants from various parts of the world,” Kajaan says.
In addition, the street level of the Lapinlahdenkatu building is leased to proprietors. Therefore, HotelHome guests may enjoy indulge in a cup of coffee or a haircut before exploring the city and drop by a gym on their way back before calling it a day.