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Visit Sweden 2 November 2009
Sweden's premier ski resort, Åre, and nearby Vemdalen are becoming increasingly popular with Brits looking for a European ski alternative to the traditional Alpine resorts. With its new direct flight route and increased capacity, new chalet accommodation, new pistes and investment throughout the resorts, Sweden is becoming a firm favourite of Brits in the know.
Getting there from the UK - new flights from Manchester
Tour operator Neilson (www.neilson.co.uk) is introducing new charter flights from Manchester to Östersund on 19th December. The weekly Sunday service, which will run until 27th February 2011, is being introduced following the success of Neilson's London Heathrow to Östersund charter flight. The transfer from Östersund airport to Åre only takes an hour and Vemdalen is approximately two hours' transfer, making either a stress-free choice, especially for families.
New Samí spa at Copperhill Mountain Lodge in Åre
In December 2010, a new spa will open at the five-star Design Hotel Copperhill Mountain Lodge. It is set to be bigger and better than its predecessor, which won the European Hotel Design Awards in 2009. Influenced by Samí culture and heritage, the mountain spa will have nature's four elements at its heart. For earth, the spa has been built in rustic and genuine natural materials, and the colour scheme is dominated by locally sourced wood and rock; for water, the spa will have hot springs with still water, both indoors and outdoors; for fire there will be an open fireplace and for sun natural light and sunshine have been maximized with panoramic windows. With the new spa it is also possible to step straight from the sauna outside to have a roll in the snow, much more fun than the usual cold shower or plunge pool! The design throughout the rest of the hotel has been inspired by the area's copper mining history, and this exclusive five-star hotel offers ski-in ski-out facilities, bars, restaurants, a helipad and its own ski lift. Double rooms start from 13,990 SEK (approximately £1,276) for a week on a b&b basis throughout winter 2010.
It has long been a top resort for Swedes but since Åre injected £23 million into the World Championships in 2007, the resort has been going from strength to strength. This year sees yet more investment to cater for increasing demand including a series of new blue and red slopes in the Björnen area, bringing the total number of pistes in Åre up to 105. A new 1,000 metre long T-bar is also due to open this November that will transport up to 1,200 people per hour between Högǻsen and Björnen. As part of the ongoing Björnen face-lift, a new snow-making system has been built that can pump out 400 cubic metres of snow per hour and ensure a strengthened snow system for central Åre.
Neilson (www.neilson.co.uk) is the U.K market leader for ski holidays to Sweden and has been investing steadily in new chalet accommodation in Åre over the last few years. This year sees another brand new addition, the Årebo chalet. Originally built as a small hunting lodge in 1910, the wood-clad chalet sleeps up to 12 people and has a traditional Swedish, paired-down yet cosy feel. After a long day on the slopes, guests can relax in the chalet's private sauna and enjoy a gourmet dinner served by the lodge's live-in staff. The chalet is located just 400 m from the centre of the village and opposite the famous Åre Bergbana funicular railway, which links directly to the main ski area and the village square. Package prices start from £459 per person including return flights from London Heathrow, resort transfers and seven nights' accommodation on a chalet board basis. This includes daily breakfast, afternoon tea and three course-evening meal with wine served by live-in staff
Neilson has also added new accommodation to its portfolio in nearby Vemdalen - chalet Backengarden. This modern two-storey chalet oozes Scandinavian charm and comes with six en-suite bedrooms with balconies, a basement sauna, open fire and wi-fi. Package prices are available from £475 per person including flights, seven nights' accommodation on a chalet board basis, and resort transfers.
Vemdalen is one of the leading ski areas in Europe for families thanks to its network of gentle, uncrowded slopes that all lead back to the ski base and a dedicated ski and play area for children. The accommodation, at the base of the ski area, is located within metres of the slopes so there is no need for a ski bus here at all. Resort facilities, also situated around the ski base, include three restaurants, a piano bar, ski hire shop, ski school, coffee shop and a good-sized supermarket.
This winter a brand new ski area is due to open on 26 December 2010, offering more than two kilometers of descents with "challenging" upper sections turning into blue/red slopes on the way down as well as green/blue slopes suitable for the whole family.
In addition to this, Sweden's biggest express lift, the Grizzly Express, is currently being built in the Björnrike ski area and is also due to open 26 December 2010. The completely new six-chair express lift will be the biggest in the country with a length of 2,043 m and drop of 470 m. With lifts travelling at six metres per second it will also be Scandinavia's fastest. What's more Björnrike will also be equipped with a new 500-metre long T-bar lift, making a nice addition to Björnrike's beginner and low-zone skiing and family-friendly approach.
This season, Björnrike has also made significant ecological advances with a new eco-friendly snowmaking system planned for the upcoming winter. Unique to Sweden, the new powerful system will draw water from a reservoir at the top of the ski area to energy efficient and noise-reducing snow cannons, which will have the ability to cover the entire Björnrike ski area with snow in less than 100 hours.
More facilities for families in Åre
There is only so much actual skiing young kids can do before getting tired. The new Family Hangout areas spread across Åre - at Duved, Tege Rödkullen and Björnen - give children the chance to play away from their skis and parents the chance to relax. Kids can chat to Appe the moose and other friendly characters, bombard the snowball wall with their best shots, play on the ‘gladiator track' or simply watch one of the season's shows. Young dare-devils can also check out a series of small jumps and rails and hone their skiing skills.
SkiStar Åre has also introduced a new, money-saving ski pass scheme for families with young children. The Button Lift Card gives access to all button lifts in the Åre area and to the Åre Bergbana cabin car, which together give ample access to those slopes suitable for younger children. The pass costs a fraction of the price of an ordinary Ski Pass and can be bought not only for use by children but also those parents who ski with their children and do not need to move around the rest of the resort.
Skistar Åre offers a great range of off-piste activities, such as husky sledging, snowmobile safaris, a sledge ride into the forest to see Santa or a trip to frozen waterfalls and dinner in an ice-igloo. For the first time this season, Neilson has introduced these to their programme as pre-bookable activities. In addition, Åre offers visitors a lively nightlife, a plethora of gourmet dining options and fantastic shopping.
New for this year is the ‘Search for Santa' activity in Vemdalen, taking families on a horse-drawn sleigh to a secret place where Santa rests in between delivering presents. As well as meeting Santa and his elves families will also have the chance to write Christmas lists and make some gifts whilst Santa tells festive stories. This package is bookable through Neilson and is available all season from £23pp and is suitable for children aged two and up.
For more information on skiing in Åre and Vemdalen visit www.skistar.com.
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For more press information contact:
Ruth Haffenden/Susie Porsz/Angela Maini - bgb communications
T: 020 7902 2990 / E: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Philippa Sutton - Visit Sweden
T: 020 7870 5604 / E: Philippa.Sutton@visitsweden.com
for Visit Sweden Winter 2010
The cities of Stockholm and Gothenburg hosted a Swedish Design Doctor pop-up at Westfield and bgb was tasked with raising awareness online of the pop-up, driving traffic to the Swedish Cities website and creating buzz around designated keywords.