When we Brits think of ski holidays, we think of the Alps. The picturesque mountain range sprawls across many European countries, offering a variety of experiences. However, the majority of Alpine ski resorts have one thing in common, people, and lots of them. Lift queues and too-busy-to-move après ski areas often feature in the Alpine ski and snowboard holiday.
As the lesser known Central European resorts gain in popularity, we are slowly seeing the same fate befall them too. Where then is left for a quiet, peaceful and picturesque ski getaway?
Scandinavian skiing is a unique experience. The combination of picturesque towns, wild landscapes, beautiful snow and modern lift systems make for an unforgettable escape. Couple this with the fact that many of Sweden’s resorts contain expansive combed routes serving fewer holidaymakers than most Alpine resorts, the appeal becomes evident.
Two of Sweden’s many resorts stand out to me; Åre and Vemdalen.
Åre is Scandinavia’s largest and most diverse ski and snowboard area, boasting a massive 110 runs and 42 lifts. There is a huge variety of pistes, from child only ski areas for the little learners to technical black runs and easily accessible off-piste skiing. With such an expanse of pistes and lifts holidaymakers can ski all day with barely a break and still not tire of the runs and scenery.
In 2008, luxury travel magazine, Condé Nast Traveller appointed Åre as one of their ten best ski resorts in the world. This can be seen from the first visit to the area, the range of skiable pistes, beautiful winter scenery, the nightlife and entertainment and other activities on offer make for an unforgettable experience like no Alpine holiday. Add to this list the possibility of catching the beauty of the Aurora Borealis, a sight on any travellers bucket list.
Vemdalen, on the other hand, is Sweden’s hidden gem. A charming little ski resort, Vemdalen has the variety and expanse of a far larger destination, resulting in hours of uninterrupted skiing in beautiful and tranquil landscapes.
When you ski Vemdalen, you are actually skiing three resorts; Vemdalsskalet, Björnrike and Klövsjö. One lift pass serves all three areas which together give host to 53 slopes, 30 lifts, a large variety of child friendly ski areas and fun parks as well as 52 kilometres of combed cross country skiing.
The resort is tremendously welcoming and family friendly and skiing couldn’t be easier with plenty of ski-in ski-out accommodation. The tourism board of Sweden has reported that 85 per cent of visitors to Vemdalen are regular guests.
The location of both resorts in the North of the Scandinavian country ensures good snowfall from early in the season to late spring. The proximity to Ostersund airport means transfers to the resorts are both roughly an hour’s drive through some of the most picturesque countryside Sweden has to offer. The Swedish are a very friendly people and the great majority speak fluent English making the country the perfect ski holiday destination.
While the Alps still attract winter sports enthusiasts in their droves, many British skiers are seeking a new destination to escape the hectic Alpine resorts. Sweden is emerging as the European answer to peaceful ski holidays, far cheaper than travelling to the USA, Canada or some of the worlds more exotic ski destinations and far quieter than its southern European cousins, it offers an unforgettable and unique ski experience.