Huge uncrowded slopes, snow guaranteed until Easter and world-class facilities… British families are about to be let in on Europe’s best kept skiing secret.
So close are the world-class destinations that one of them can be reached from the airport by dog sled. It is a world away from sitting on a coach transfer and meandering your way through winding Alps roads for hours to get to your lodgings. It also means that if you take an afternoon or evening flight home, you can ski on the morning of your departure, giving you a whole extra day on the slopes.
The ultra-modern Scandinavian Mountains Airport will serve Sälen in Sweden to its east, and Trysil in Norway to the west – destinations that have long been popular with savvy adventurers from northern Europe.
The resorts, which are both run by SkiStar, serve skiers of all skills, with plenty of green runs as well as some thrilling black runs that snake through stunning evergreen forests.
The instructors are top class – there is a reason Norway recently broke the record for the biggest ever haul of medals at the Winter Olympics. This was just as well as, when I travelled, it was the first time my family and I had ever skied.
The real secret about this destination is that in the UK, schools break for Easter for at least two weeks, while in Sweden and Norway they only get a week. So, if you time it right, you can have the slopes all to yourselves and never have to queue for a lift.
Our first destination was Trysil, which was an ideal place for beginners with its 68 runs across 48 miles. There were some lovely long green runs for beginners. But as we took our first shuffles along the piste, we could see the Norwegian national team practising on an adjacent slope – there is plenty here for the pros too.
We stayed at the Radisson Blu, which features family friendly après-ski with a pool, a spa, bowling alley and even a surf machine. Our suite was huge and had plenty of heated and ventilated spaces to dry off your ski equipment. A variety of restaurants serve good quality food with prices comparable to a London gastropub. Alcoholic drinks – like everywhere in Scandanavia – are expensive, with a pint of beer costing around £10.
We then headed over the border – blink and you’ll miss the roadside sign telling you you’re in Sweden – to Salen, just under an hour’s drive away. It is made up of four skiing areas – Lindvallen, Hogfjallet, Tandadalen and Hundfjallet – all connected by a free ski bus.
The Swedish resort is also very family orientated with a wide range of skiing from gentle green runs to a terrifying sheer drop ominously called The Wall. This slope is a right of passage among Swedish skiers, but after talking to a dazed snowboarder who tumbled down on his backside I decided to pass. Three fun runs, comprised of obstacles and jumps, keep things varied for the youngsters.
We stayed at the SkiStar Lodge Experium in Lindvallen, which sits at the bottom of the mountain and consists of apartments that sleep four, six or eight. The adjoining Experium leisure complex puts Center Parcs to shame – it has a waterpark with slides, cinema, arcade and a spa. There are live bands that play outdoors on the snow and fantastic range of food including a stunning mountain-top lodge serving superb steaks, to a ski-through McDonald’s.
Our children fell in love with SkiStar’s snowman mascot Valle, and the very flexible childcare facilities – where kids can be dropped in and out with little fuss – mean the little ones can take breaks whenever they need.
Thanks to the superb staff and facilities, we all ended the week with no injuries. The only real pain is that we have now picked up a very expensive new hobby.
Four nights self-catering at the SkiStar Lodge Experium in Sälen for two adults and three children starts from €776.50. Three nights at the Radisson Blu in Trysil for two adults and three children from €1,087.50. Flights from Heathrow to SCR from £155 return.