The spas and casino activities of Lappeenranta have been closely linked for well over a century now. In the early 1800s, the assistant vicar of Lappee, C. G Taulerus, found the province's first mineral spring, thereby giving a start to the area's brisk health and tourism business. Treatments that advance health require an appropriate spa building which was built, in imitation of the Estonian spa model, out of wood.
By the latter half of the 1800s, Lappeenranta had all the makings of a successful spa and holiday destination, when it saw the construction of both a railway and a port. Emperor Alexander III and his retinue arrived in the city with his own imperial train, and the port became a regular stop for cruise liners. Thanks to the good traffic connections, the city known for its wonderful beaches and refreshing springs became a favourite of particularly the Russian aristocracy, but also the Finnish gentry.
But well-being treatments alone were not enough to entertain the health tourists. In addition to treatments, they desired entertainment and a busy social life. The Kasino's high level of service with its interesting high society and walks in the well-tended garden area made people enjoy themselves and visit the city over and over again. The upright and imposing regiment of Finnish dragoons (Suomen Rakuunarykmentti) – established in the city by imperial decree as early as in the late 1800s – brought its own attraction to the city's social life. The dragoons' regal appearance and distinct uniforms had the young ladies swooning in the garden walkways in the shade of the lime trees and a chance encounter may even have led to a closer relationship. Although the boisterous parties of the dragoons have long since been replaced by today's atmospheric wedding, post-doctoral and family celebrations, you can still sense something of the unique atmosphere of days past in the gorgeous restaurant environment of Lappeenrannan Kasino.