1st Jakob Fredrik Vuontisjärvi a.k.a. Reetrikki (1871-1952) & Anna Kreeta a.k.a. Reetu (1874-1964)
2nd Kalle Vuontisjärvi a.k.a. Vuontis-Kalle (1917-1995) & Maija (1924-2018)
3rd Matti Vuontisjärvi (1949-2002) & Tuula
4th Tiina Vuontisjärvi (1982- ) & Petri
Ladies of Majatalo – four generations
Anna Kreeta, Reetu, came to Vuontisjärvi family at the end of 1890’s when she married Jaakko Fredrik Vuontisjärvi (Reetrikki). Reetu was an accurate and thrifty hostess and knew the value of every dime. In the summer 1927 there was a lack of places to stay at the village, so Reetu cleaned up the cowshed and turned it into a nice summer hotel, with pools and everything. President Ståhlberg, the first president of Finland in 1919 -1925, accommodated in this “summer hotel” of Reetu with his son. Reetu and Reetrikki stepped aside at the end of 1940’s when their youngest son Kalle and his wife Maija decided to take the responsibility of Majatalo. Reetu taught everything to her daughter-in-law and guided her to be a good hostess. Reetu concentrated on enjoying the company of visitors and making coffee.
Maija (1924- )
Maija is today known as “the old hostess”. She is the wife of the legendary Vuontis-Kalle. Maija was the hostess of Majatalo from 1940’s. Maija has made Majatalo famous with her delicious food, her skills in serving the customers and her way of keeping everything clean and tidy. Good food and clean house were the two things she held on to. Maija took care that the house was washed from the roof to the floor, walls included, with a scrubbing-brush of course. If it took less than 15 minutes to wash the floors, it hadn’t been done properly and it had to be done again. Maija’s food was famous all over the country and her recipe of reindeer tongues were taken to the menu of Hotel Vaakuna in Helsinki. Maija has had a lot of recognitions of her cooking skills. She was the Finnish champion of making the fried pork gravy in the beginning of 1970’s. With Kalle they have had several acknowledgements for their life’s work in tourism. After reducing working in the beginning of 2000’s she enjoyed her well deserved days in retirement living right next to Majatalo and visiting the guests and old friends. Maija passed away in March 2018 when she was 94 years old.
Maija’s memory of the first meeting with Irwin Goodman, a famous Finnish folksinger: “I remember very well that cold day of January in the 1960’s. I had made sausages of reindeer blood all day, and the whole kitchen was full of steam and the windows were white with frost. A man came to the kitchen door and I recognized him, he was Irwin Goodman. He said that there should be a room reserved for them in Majatalo. I had read from the papers that Irwin lives a glorious life and accommodates only in fancy hotels. I told him that this is not a hotel. But he said that they had reserved a room, which was true, so I gave them rooms from upstairs. They were going to perform here in Hetta, it was their first time here. After this Irwin visited us many times. He always behaved very well, he liked to eat and they often talked with Kalle and went fishing. We became good friends and even when Irwin came to sing to Kittilä, 150 kms from Hetta, he wanted to stay the night at Majatalo. Last time he visited us was a few years before his death. Irwin was a very nice man and a good friend.“
Tuula – From accountant into tourism business
“At the 1st day of February in 1989 I moved to Hetta permanently to host Majatalo with Matti. Almost 30 years have passed now, and a lot has happened during this time. When we were building the hotel I worked for the municipality of Inari as an accountant, but during the holidays and weekends I helped Matti at the building project and paper work while Tiina spent time with her grandparents Maija and Kalle. When the hotel was ready a serious recession began in Finland and it affected heavily to the tourism business in Lapland. But we managed with hard work, and then we really discovered how important our regular customers are to us. The extension of the hotel was necessary when the needs of the customers changed and grew. Instead of rooms for four people wanted to have a room just for two. We built a great hotel for our business, but Matti died too soon and many of our plans never came true. Matti had good heart, he was funny and definitely in a right profession. We had wonderful moments together and when I think about them I think how important to Matti it for sure is that we continue the business of his family.
My mother-in-law Maija has taught me everything about how to handle the cooking and cleaning in this house. From my father-in-law Kalle I got some good advices for running the business and he told me a lot of stories of the Vuontisjärvi family, Enontekiö and tourism in Lapland. It is very well said that the work itself guides the one who is doing it. Now it is my turn to guide Tiina and my son-in-law Petri and I believe I’ve done well. I’m very happy that Tiina decided to walk in father’s foot steps and I gladly help her to do it. Tiina will step in charge some day when we feel completely ready although we make all the decisions together nowadays. I take the full responsibility of Majatalo, but I wouldn’t mind moving to grandmother’s duties. My life is full of Majatalo, but I enjoy it. A thousand thanks to all our guests of lovely memories from these past 30 years!”
Tiina – gratefully into the 4th generation
“I am very grateful to my parents, my grandparents and great- grandparents. I am proud to continue these traditions of previous generations. I used to say that I will never stay here at Majatalo, I wanted to be a doctor, a psychologist or a manager of an old-age home. I’ve been elsewhere a few times but I’ve always come back. Now I’m here for good, when I realized that I don’t want or even can’t do anything else. We have incredible chances to continue Majatalo because of the hotel that my father built up. Dad died too soon and suddenly, but I believe he would be proud of mum and me. I think we’ve done as well as it is possible under the circumstances.
I have grown up at Majatalo surrounded by our guests. I’ve had a safe childhood with many spare aunts, uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers. Maybe I’m a bit spoiled because of that. I remember how I used to have a sauna for hours with the guests. And before the sauna I had made some of the guests to go skiing with me, for the second time in that day. I also invited people to visit my room. The hotel rooms have gone through a lot every time I got a chance to have one all by myself. Enterprising and customer service I have in my blood as a heritage of my family. My mother Tuula and my fiance Petri have also adopted those during their years here in Hetta. I wish that some day my children will feel the same qualities as their own, and experience as wonderful moments as I have and we would see a 5th generation here in Majatalo.
But before that I have a lot of ideas for the future of Majatalo. What could be better. I think we have only nice guests. Not customers but guests. A lovely way of life! Sometimes very tough but it gives a lot, too. Thanks to all our guests, who have made and hopefully will make all this possible.”