Saarijärvi Summassaari Spa Hotel has a history of more than 50 years.
It is located in a beautiful recreation area on the island.
Opened by Rantasipi and Kekkonen himself in his time, the korpi hotel, reminiscent of the past, attracted a lot of West and East German tourists.
The place has played a major role in Saarijärvi as an accommodation place, an employer and a provider of rehabilitation holidays supported by Veikkaus funds.
Summassaari is located in Saarmasärvi's Summasjärvi. Photo: Saarijärvi Spa Oy
A year ago in the summer, the former owner Solaris-lomat ry put Summassaari up for sale.
It is an association that offers full-time leave for low-income people.
A new owner was wanted for Summassaari, who would make the business profitable.
Summassaari comprises a hotel and restaurant, a spa building with a swimming pool and treatment facilities, and 23 holiday cottages.
The place is badly ruined.
On March 31, after the corona had already struck Finland, the hotel changed owners with few votes.
The joy of the new owner, the big plans and the promised renovation money was short.
A special businessman
The new owner Jari Niemi arrived at the scene last winter and lived in Summassaari for a long time.
He did not introduce himself to the staff, but many initially thought Niemi was a kind of consultant.
Taloussanomat has interviewed eight people about the case.
They are Niemi himself, the former staff of the hotel, representatives of the city, a village activist as well as a representative of the seller and broker and the liquidator of the bankruptcy estate.
The hotel began visiting contractors and designers for, among other things, geothermal, window and pool renovations and asphalting.
There were big speeches on the cape, but nothing really happened, a hotel employee said.
Another also says that, based on first impressions, there was a great contradiction between speeches and deeds.
The deal involved Niemi paying the bills at the beginning of the year and transferring the personnel as former employees to the new company.
The previous year's holiday pay was also transferred with the transaction.
In May, he was reported to have reported difficulties in getting money to pay the bills.
Then Niemi disappeared for weeks.
Niemi confirms the financial difficulties and points to the corona situation alone as the cause of the problems.
One Friday, the hotel’s electricity was already threatening to cut off.
Then money appeared in the account and the busiest bills were paid.
Niemi has not operated in the hotel industry and remained in the background.
He liked his role as an investor, leaving operational activities to hotel management.
Niemi behaved kindly, but was often out of reach and never interviewed the staff.
- I told them they had the authority to act.
There is no need to be a caliph in the place of a caliph, in these words, Niemi describes his role as owner.
He left introductory meetings and contacts with staff.
Nobody knows the business background of the peninsula.
No information can be found on the peninsula, except for a table box company in Seinäjoki, whose field of activity is cultivation and an Estonian company.
Niemi, who is in Estonia, also speaks at least Russia and Estonia.
Among other things, he uses free emails, which those who dealt with him found special about the businessman who bought the hotel, who talked about a substantial investment.
The main building with its restaurants is in better condition than the spa. Photo: Aino Majava
At the beginning of June, the hotel manager got frustrated with the cash register drying up and got into an argument with Niemi.
After the layoffs ended, he no longer returned to work.
Before Midsummer, Niemi left the place again and did not reappear.
At the same time, Yle still reports that new winds are blowing in Summassaari and that the new owner also wants tourists from Central Europe.
In June, Niemi received Business Finland development funding of 10,000 euros for his hotel during a time when the hotel was already in complete chaos.
A group of Albanian renovators remained on site to make a restaurant floor.
The contract was handled in sign language.
The floor tiles came in a package that was addressed to “Hotel Suomaniemi”.
Back in July, staff assumed the hotel would open on August 3rd.
At that time, rehabilitators were coming for supported holidays.
New rehabilitation courses had already been agreed for the autumn and next year, which had accumulated due to spring cancellations.
At the end of July - during the domestic tourism boom - the staff read the newspaper Keskisuomalainen, which said that Niemi had filed for bankruptcy in Summassaari.
Saarijärven Kylpylä Oy, which runs Summasaari, had found itself in an economic situation where it was not financially possible to continue operations.
The hotel spa has been empty from spring to autumn. Photo: Saarijärven Kylpylä Oy
The Tarvaala village association made a request to the police for a preliminary investigation into the shops.
Among other things, it stated that a deal made with the “apparently low discretion” of Solaris vacations, in conjunction with Niemi’s operations, drove the hotel’s nearly 30 employees into unemployment.
On September 1, police said there was no reason to suspect a crime.
Niemi now says that the bankruptcy could not come as a surprise to anyone due to the corona situation.
He says he reported the bankruptcy to the hotel.
The law was already announced on 16 March.
You had been familiar with the hotel for a long time and knew the poor profitability figures.
- I didn't know yet [then] that it [the hotel] had to close.
I can't help but apologize.
Because of the corona, the only option was to cease operations.
- I knew that this had been [unprofitable] in the past and that there was a system for it that was becoming Central European tourists so that the situation could have turned into something else.
The cape itself is the largest creditor of its nest
The bankruptcy concerns Saarijärven Kylpylä Oy, which owns the property and the business.
Sammunranta Oy, which owns the land, ie a scenically valuable recreation area, was also transferred with the transaction.
The bankruptcy does not apply to Sammunranta, which thus remains in Niemi.
It does not tell you how much the transaction was or whether he intends to keep the plot or sell it.
In recent years, the hotel has made a loss of around EUR 200 000 to EUR 300 000.
Very high energy costs burden the business.
Net sales have been in the order of more than a couple of million euros.
Ari Kuukka, the lawyer in charge of the bankruptcy estate, says that according to the preliminary estimate, the debt is 300,000–500,000 euros.
The cape is itself the largest creditor of the nest.
Kuukka says that the pattern is not exceptional in itself, but can arise if the owner finances his own business and thus becomes legally a creditor.
Kuukka estimates that the potential new owner would have the conditions for a profitable business.
He does not comment on the grounds for bankruptcy, but confirms that it was applied for in a straightforward manner in relation to the short duration of the ownership and the debts.
- The conditions for operation were still in place, because there were no recovery actions from any party or bankruptcy applications made by third parties.
"This looks so ugly"
Left-handed Solaris vacations have been in the public eye in the past.
It has received almost nine million euros in Veikkaus' support funds since 2017.
Last year, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health decided to recover ten per cent, € 254,000, of the 2017 grant amount due to incorrect tendering.
Talouselämä first reported on the matter.
Last December, part of the money to be recovered went into payment, weakening the association’s cash flow.
- How can Solaris Vacations just be sold as former employees of the hotel business and staff to someone who has no experience in the hotel business?
Anna-Maija Koskenlahti, the secretary of the village association that made the request for a preliminary investigation, wonders.
- This looks so ugly.
It feels like one can just come to such a rural place and file us in the lens, and leave without saying even the hippos.
Aino Majava, Executive Director of Solaris Vacations, emphasizes that raven spas like Summassaari are not particularly profitable and the locals know this too.
There was a strong desire on the part of the association, however, to believe that the new hands would continue to operate.
Customers of Solaris vacations were also to come to Summassaari to be opened by a new owner.
They had to look for other places with a couple of weeks' notice. Photo: Aino Majava
- Of course now we are disappointed with the situation, there were our old colleagues.
Majava says that there was so much repair debt that the renovation would have already been in the millions.
As it is a non-profit association, it could not receive investor money and the place was forced to be put up for sale.
Where was Niemi found then?
Solaris Vacations and Niemi were joined by an international real estate and acquisition broker.
Majava says that both the broker and the bank have also checked the buyer’s backgrounds.
With the transaction being handled by a well-known broker, an audit firm and a bank, the association believed in a good outcome.
No indications of illegality have been found in the background of the cape, but the way of operating and the rapid shutdown of the hotel have tended to give rise to rumors and suspicions.
Niemi says that he has been doing business in the “brokerage industry”.
Do you have Estonian and Russian partners, could you shed some light?
- Why should I shine?
I've done my whole life in international trade.
If someone considers me a mystery man, then you can just keep me calm.
I can’t do anything about it, I don’t want to talk about my things in public.
I am not involved in criminal activity.
Did you have your own or other financing for such a big business and renovations, which stalled precisely because of the corona?
However, these were talked about all summer?
- The financial system became more difficult because of the interest rate system, year two ahead.
Where the funding was coming from, Niemi does not tell because it is a trade secret.
Niemi points out that if a negative thing is desired, then he can do nothing about it.
But this is a serious matter when jobs from all people went here.
- I will not comment on staff systems, but you have not asked any positive questions about that negativity.
Well tell me something positive about this.
- Well, if the corona situation ends, then someone who comes to the hotel will probably get customers there sometimes.
Is there anything I saw afterwards on the streets?
- What should have been left undone?
Buy it at the hotel.
It was a mistake at the time to buy.