Ruka, the most popular ski resort in Finland
Rukakeskus Corporation, owned by the Aho family, is a growing Finnish family business with over 50 years of history. It has been in charge of slope operations in Ruka ski resort since 1973 and Pyhä ski resort since 1987. Together with Pyhätunturi, Rukakeskus is the market leader in the ski resort industry, with an almost 20 % share of ski pass sales. As it comes to the number of downhill skiers, Ruka is the most popular ski resort in Finland and has preserved this title in seasons 2019–2020 and 2020–2021.
Ruka's story as a ski resort dates back to 1954, when the first slope opened. The first big step in Ruka's development was in 1971 when Juhani “Jussi” Aho, a doctor from Espoo known as great man of Ruka and entrepreneurial legend, became the main owner of Rukakeskus Oy. After the change of generation in 1999, Jussi's children Kari-Jussi Aho, Miia Porkkala, Annakaija Lappalainen, Antti Aho and Ville Aho are the company owners.
Rukakeskus has the turnover of approximately EUR 35 million and it employs about 170 people. In 2019, Ruka was chosen as the Ski Resort of the Year and Rukakeskus was awarded the National Entrepreneur Award.
At the heart of everything our company does is skiing. We are passionate about skiing, the owners included, and it can be noticed: We have excellent skiing conditions in Ruka. Our core competence is slope business, but we also operate accommodation, rental and store operations in Ruka and Pyhä. In addition to the ski resort, our services at Ruka include the rental shops of Piste, Vuosselinportti and Valley, and the RukaStore and Ruka Brand Village sports equipment stores. We are also responsible for the rental of Ski-Inn apartments and hotels.
Pioneer in sustainable ski resort operations
Responsible and long-term operations are the core values of our family business, that have guided Ruka's development since the time of Jussi Aho in the 1970s. We have been pioneers in responsible ski resort operations and tourism since 2008, when we introduced our environmental program. Today, Ruka and Pyhä ski resorts and Ski-Inn accommodations are carbon-neutral, and in addition to environmental issues, our responsibility program also covers social responsibility and financial responsibility. The official domicile of Rukakeskus is Kuusamo, and we pay our taxes to Finland.
Rukakeskus is part of the Aho Group
Aho Group is a Finnish family business operating in tourism and healthcare business. In addition to the Ruka and Pyhä ski resorts, the companies owned by Aho Group include Aava, Pikkujätti and the associated company Docrates, which all provide health services. Kari-Jussi Aho is the Chairman of the Board of Aho Group. The management and administration of the companies operate in Espoo.
Rukakeskus Oy and Pyhätunturi Oy form the ski resort corporation, whose managing director is Ville Aho. Aho Group also includes Ski-Inn Hotels & Apartments Oy, responsible for renting privately owned Ski-Inn apartments in Ruka and Pyhä, the central booking office Pyhä Booking Oy, acting as a central booking office for holiday homes in the Pyhä area, and Hotelli Pyhätunturi Oy, responsible for hotel businea in Pyhä aki resort.
The goal of the family is to continue the significant development of the companies on the path indicated by their father and to take the corporation to the third generation in the future, yet remaining a family business.
Sustainable development of the tourist area in accordance with Ruka MasterPlan
We are proud of our long-term development work which ensures that customers arriving in Ruka have a more diverse range of services to choose than ever before, and our facilities on the slopes are excellent due to large investments.
In 2000, we launched the Ruka MasterPlan, created by Ecosign Mountain Planners. Our goal is to develop Ruka as a year-round, international ski resort while considering the surrounding nature and sustainable development. At the heart of the plan were comfortable pedestrian villages, easy access to services without a car, and so-called hot ski-in / ski-out beds, which aimed to maximize the use of accommodation services instead of having empty holiday homes for most of the year.
According to the plan, Ruka has completed the Ruka pedestrian village, large investments in the lifts, major development projects on the slopes (Freestyle training center, FIS slope, Rosa & Rudolf Family Park, new Superpipe, and numerous other slope renovations), and most recently the RukaValley pedestrian village and construction of the Village-2-Valley scenic gondola. In addition, we have already realized more than 2,000 beds in Ruka with the Ski-Inn concept.
Winter will always be our most important season and will bring most part our profit. In addition, we will put a stronger emphasis to our year-round activities and develop our summer experiences. Summer season offers us great opportunities and its growth is particularly important to create all-year-round jobs. Our biggest renovation, is the development of Ruka Bike Park, a summer center for downhill and mountain biking. We have offered our rental companies a wide range of bikes and equipment suitable for downhill and mountain biking to suit the needs of whole family.
Our goal is to be the best ski resort for families
Our company's good economy ensures that we can boldly develop our services and offer jobs also in the future. Our most challenging goal is to be the world's best ski resort in the world for families. We also want to be the best place to try downhill skiing for the first time.
We want to be the most snow-safe resort in Europe. In Ruka, we can ski more than 200 days a year, more than any other ski resort outside the glacier areas in the world. We want to maintain this position - our strong snow-making expertise ensures that Ruka will be the place for Coordinates of Snow in the future, too.
Finland will always be our most important market, and Finnish families will be our most important customers. We want to be Finland's strongest ski resort brand, which always comes to mind when customers think of a ski resort holiday in Finland.
Ruka strategy plan
Ruka's strategy is in the form of a mountain map in 2015, and it has directed our development towards Finland's most popular ski resort. The strategy map was last updated in the summer of 2020 and it will be updated in the summer of 2022.
History in brief
The idea of utilizing Ruka for winter tourism had already arisen in the 1930's when a new hobby called “downhill curve skiing” was brought to Finland from Canada. Despite the name of the sports, the only curves on the unexcavated forest slopes were the natural obstacles that fell ahead when the skier tried to avoid them. After opening the first slope in 1954 and specifically after constructing the first lift in 1957, downhill skiing was already becoming a hobby on a larger scale. Gradually, as some cottages were built, a second lift saw daylight, the first guesthouse was built on the slopes,the development of Ruka really started. See the list below for the most important years in Ruka's development.