• Sweden edition
 
Skiing on a shoestring in Åre

Skiing on a shoestring in Åre

Published: 22 Jan 2009 14:47 GMT+01:00
Updated: 22 Jan 2009 14:47 GMT+01:00

Many Swedish winter sports fans are staying closer to home for their annual trip rather than venturing abroad, recent figures have shown.

SkiStar, which owns and operates alpine destinations in Sälen, Åre and Vemdalen in Sweden, as well as Hemsedal and Trysil in Norway, has reported a 10 per cent increase in sales so far this season, despite last year’s record numbers.

“The Swedish crown is low compared to other currencies, so we can see that Åre and Sweden is a good choice and alternative compared to many other countries, both for Swedish and international guests,” says Charlotte Jorlén, Project Manager International Sales & Marketing for Skistar.

The French Alps have long stood as the bastion for premier alpine skiing, boasting such famous destinations as Val d’Isere, Chamonix and Courchevel amongst many others.

But with home grown resorts proving an attractive alternative in such sparse times, can a ski holiday in Sweden really offer the same thrill, glamour and top class skiing as the French Alps?

The ski resort of Åre, found in Jämtland on the western side of the country, has long been billed as the only ski resort in Sweden akin to continental Alpine destinations.

According to Jorlén, what makes the resort so international is “Åre’s combination of a variety of pistes and skiing for all levels, accommodation for all tastes, good restaurants, and nightlife, in combination with other activities, such as dog sledging, snowmobile riding and Zipline. We have also had many international events such as the World Cup finals.”

Anna Zetterqvist, a native Stockholmer who has one winter season in Åre under her belt and is currently working her third season in Val d’Isere, also agrees that Åre gives the Alps a good run for its money:

“The skiing is very similar except for the obvious fact that Val has a lot bigger system and a lot more off-piste runs to do. But I think Åre is pretty good.”

Lying in the shadow of Åreskutan’s summit, which rises 1,420 m above sea level, the Åre ski area includes Åre itself along with Duved to the west and Åre Björnen to the east.

100 prepared runs create over 100 km of groomed pistes, serviced by over 40 lifts and drags, in turn able to transport over 48,000 people across the mountain per hour.

The pistes are well maintained, with snow machines producing fresh powder throughout the day. However, Sweden does have a tendency towards more ice than the sunnier French slopes, so super sharp edges are a must.

Although there are some excellent beginner slopes in Björnen, most of the pistes in the central areas of Åre are quite challenging, requiring a good red-run ability level.

Björnen and Duved are not easily connected to central Åre (the route to Björnen takes skiers down pistes which may be challeging for beginners, and to reach Duved you must take a bus), and although a bus service runs between the ski areas, a mixed ability group may find the challenge of the lower central Åre slopes a bit of a problem.

However, for those who are not complete novices, central Åre offers a fantastic range of skiing, from scenic fir studded tracks, to wide open runs and extensive, easily accessible off-piste.

For more laid back, picturesque skiing head for the cluster of blue and green runs just to the left of the Åre Dreampark, or Duved, which is good for intermediates. For breathtaking panoramic views fit to rival any other European resort take the Gondolen lift up to the Åreskutan summit.

One of the drawbacks of skiing in Northern Europe is the considerably lower light levels and shorter days from December through to early March.

Åre has set to challenge this disadvantage by fully floodlighting seven of their pistes. This boosts the light level on darker days as well as at the end of the day, but furthermore allows for the adventure of ‘night skiing’.

Every evening in Åre from 6 to 8pm at least one full piste is open to the public. The pistes are groomed especially for the evening session and the floodlights are so powerful the visibility is actually better than in natural light.

After a day on the slopes you’re going to be hungry and for those watching the pennies, there is a range of restaurants catering to budget holidaymakers.

Madonna di Campiglio restaurant in Fjällby serves a set three-course menu for 300kr, and in Åre centre there is a Max burger outlet for a quick bite or Broken restaurant for American diner style meals.

All in all you can expect to be able to get a good, hot lunch for under 80kr and an evening meal for under 200kr.

Even more cost effective is the presence of both a large ICA and Konsum supermarket right in the centre of town – a far cry from Val d’Isere where the nearest supermarket is a 40 minute drive down the mountain and the resort food stores are so prohibitively expensive you might as well just eat out.

The bars in Åre are much akin to any Swedish city price-wise, which basically translates as painfully expensive - albeit very pleasant. You could always try the typical seasonnaire trick and head to Åre’s own Systembolaget and have a couple or three before heading out for a big night.

Werséns is a popular spot as is Dahlboms, which serves a wide range of cocktails. For an excellent afterski party with live music check out Bygget, which then becomes one of Åre’s liveliest nightclub locations.

Although there is some beautiful traditional architecture in Åre town centre, including a 13th century Church, it’s relatively recent status as a premier ski resort has resulted in a construction boom over the past few years.

Whereas construction in the older towns of the French Alps is heavily curtailed by heritage protection laws and limited building space, Åre has been able to develop the resort, building large amounts of accommodation, in particular self-catered apartments.

Furthermore, the presence of SkiStar (which dominates the resort and owns the vast majority of all accommodation), means that there is a level of consistency not found in most French ski resorts.

While private residences for self-catered holidays can be somewhat hit-and-miss in Val d’Isere, the two-fold factor of newly built housing and one, single management body, means that you really do get what it says on the box.

Staying in a two person, self-contained apartment in the Fjällby area, we were impressively located just five minutes walk from Åre town centre and mere minutes from the slopes.

The apartment was functional but still featured some home comforts, including a flat screen TV, underfloor heating and a fully equipped kitchen – all decked out in typical Scandinavian style.

Arguably it is here that Åre really does win hands down - for an excellent level of clean, convenient, budget accommodation, it would take a lot to beat Åre.

With prices for a four person apartment (although realistically two is the capacity), starting from about 800kr for a short week, Sunday to Thursday, accommodation is an area in which some of the best Åre savings can be made.

So all in all, a ski trip to Åre can definitely offer a cheap alternative for budget skiers. It might not have the old style glamour of the Alps, but if you want an easy ski holiday with plenty of low cost options and practical bonuses such as large supermarkets, then Åre is a great choice.

Jennifer Heape (jennifer.heape@thelocal.se)

Today's headlines
Business & Money
American sales squeeze Ericsson profits
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg presents the third-quarter earnings report at the company's headquarters in Kista. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

American sales squeeze Ericsson profits

Swedish telecoms equipment maker Ericsson reported a decline in net profit in the third quarter despite an increase in sales, boosted by business in emerging markets. READ  

Interview
'Too many concerts feel the same'
Sofar hosts secret gigs in Swedish apartments. Photo: Sofar

'Too many concerts feel the same'

Kattis Bjork founded Stockholm's secret gig scene - Sofar - a year ago. The Local caught up with her as she prepared to celebrate the project's anniversary this weekend and revealed the concept will spread to other Swedish cities in 2015. READ  

Stockholm 'sub hunt'
Sweden calls off suspect submarine search
Ships are returning to shore in Sweden. Photo: TT

Sweden calls off suspect submarine search

The core search for a suspected foreign vessel in Swedish waters has been called off. The armed forces said they remained convinced foreign underwater activity had taken place but had not identified an intruder. READ  

Business & Money
US and Japan fuel surge for Volvo trucks
Ed Carbaugh prepares to install parts on a truck engine on an assembly line at Volvo Trucks' powertrain manufacturing facility in Hagerstown, Maryland, March 2014. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

US and Japan fuel surge for Volvo trucks

Sweden's Volvo, the world's second-largest maker of trucks, said Friday it saw a spike in profits in the third quarter, boosted by thriving sales in the US and Japanese markets. READ  

Inspectors attacked at rogue doc’s surgery
Cigarettes and beer photo: Shutterstock

Inspectors attacked at rogue doc’s surgery

Inspectors who were sent to shut down a doctor’s surgery in Gothenburg were physically attacked and fled the premises to get help from the police. READ  

Police turn Swede’s vodka into water
A Swede loads a car with alcohol in northern Germany. File photo: Drago Prvulovic/TT

Police turn Swede’s vodka into water

Swedish police say they will pay a man 16,000 kronor ($2,200) in damages after much of the alcohol they confiscated from him was stolen, while many of the bottles they returned were filled with water. READ  

Diplomacy
US to get first female ambassador in Sweden
File photo: Athena Center for Leadership Studies

US to get first female ambassador in Sweden

The United States Embassy in Stockholm is set to get its first female ambassador after the White House announced it was nominating the Iranian-American ex-investment banker Azita Raji to take over from Mark Brzezinski. READ  

Neo-Nazi attacks
Neo-Nazis cleared of knife attack on Nigerian
Police intervene after neo-Nazis attack an anti-Nazi rally in Kärrtorp, December 2013. Photo: Hampus Andersson/TT

Neo-Nazis cleared of knife attack on Nigerian

A Stockholm court has cleared three neo-Nazis of stabbing a Nigerian man in an unprovoked attack. But two of the men will face jail after they were convicted of racial agitation at a riot. READ  

Julian Assange
Assange court ruling expected on Monday
Julian Assange at Ecuador's embassy in the UK. Photo: Anthony Devlin

Assange court ruling expected on Monday

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can expect the next court ruling on his case to take place on Monday October 27th in Stockholm. READ  

Politics
Sweden to get EU 'Christmas present'
Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at an EU summit in Brussels this week. Photo: TT

Sweden to get EU 'Christmas present'

Sweden is set to get 1.2 billion kronor ($168 million) back from the EU on December 1st, according to leaked EU documents which suggest that other European countries will have to make large top-up payments this year. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: October 24th - 31st
Gallery
People-watching: October 22nd
Gallery
In Pictures: Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist
Lifestyle
Eight things to love about renting a Swedish apartment
National
Vasa ship cannon blasted in Sweden
Blog updates

24 October

Editor’s blog, October 24th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Get ready to read our weekly digest of Swedish news in less than 60 seconds. The..." READ »

 

24 October

Is darkness weather? (Blogweiser) »

"I try very hard not to talk about the weather. This has come after a decade..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Sub hunt: Day-by-day
National
Sub hunt: Stockholm islanders share their fears with The Local
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
National
Get 20% off unique Swedish homeware
National
Dentist gives free care to Roma beggars
Business & Money
Get your own office in Gothenburg or Stockholm - free for a day
Gallery
Property of the week: Malmö
Gallery
PHOTOS: 'Foreign activity' in Swedish waters
Gallery
People-watching: October 19th
TT
Society
QUIZ: How good is your Swedish?
Lifestyle
What's on in Sweden: October 17th - 24th
Society
The nudity... and nine other things expat men notice in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 15th
Gallery
Your views: Should outdoor smoking be banned in Sweden?
Business & Money
Sweden has 'large hole' in finances
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Finding a job in Stockholm
Society
Monster salmon caught in northern Sweden
Gallery
Property of the week: Lorensberg
National
Scandinavia's child bride
National
Ebola crisis: How is Sweden preparing?
Business & Money
How Sweden is becoming a cashless society
Gallery
Stockholm Burlesque Festival 2014
National
How a little red horse became a symbol for Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: October 12th
Business & Money
The hottest start-ups from southern Sweden
National
What's on in Sweden: October 10th - 17th
National
Stockholm is 'best' region for well-being
Gallery
People-watching: October 8th
National
Five facts to know about Patrick Modiano
Society
My Swedish Career: A French fashionista in Sweden
Society
Swede's anti-bully Facebook tale goes viral
Society
Have you seen Sweden's viral subway cancer campaign?
National
Isis: Swedes linked to Turkish prisoner swap
National
Should Swedes be banned from buying sex abroad?
Gallery
Fredrik Reinfeldt's leaving presents
National
Five Swedish TV shows you shouldn't miss
Gallery
A tool belt, a casserole, and a book. Fredrik Reinfeldt's parliament gifts
TT
Lifestyle
Top five winter festivals in Sweden
TT
National
Sami reindeer herders win mine reprieve
Gallery
Property of the Week: Gamla Enskede
Sponsored Article
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Team SCA
Sponsored Article
All-female SCA team takes off on Volvo Ocean Race
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

979
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN