Words by Paul Wojnicki, pictures by Alena Chalmovska
Despite its reputation as one of Sweden’s favourite and snow-sure ski destinations, Vemdalen is pretty much unknown outside of Scandinavia. But that might be about to change with Crystal Ski offering holidays there this year and the worldwide publicity that the resort received when a rare sun halo was filmed at the top of the slopes in December 2017.
Here are four reasons to visit Vemdalen before the inevitable rush now that Crystal Ski and the world’s media have let the cat out of the bag.
1. Wide, uncrowded slopes, with short queues for the lifts
Skiing nirvana can be pretty much summed up in one sentence “wide, uncrowded slopes with no queues for lifts” and Vemdalen is about as close as it gets to this. Even on a weekend in peak season the queues are only a couple of minutes long – shorter for the runs at the top of the mountain – and the slopes only really begin to fill up once they all converge at the foot of the mountain. This makes Vemdalen the ideal place to learn to ski or snowboard, though there are plenty of challenging runs and obstacles (including miles of pristine off piste runs with no danger of avalanches).
2. It’s like Lapland, only closer, slightly warmer and without Santa
When you’re in Vemdalen you’re still in a picture perfect winter wonderland that is for all intents and purposes just like Lapland. But while Lapland is around four hours away by plane, Vemdalen is only around 2hrs 30. And crucially it’s several degrees warmer (or should I say less cold), with an average temperature of -8 in February compared to -12 in Lapland.
Another advantage over Lapland is that the season lasts longer. Lapland ski trips tend to run from December to February – which may have something to do with the whole Santa thing – but Crystal Ski run trips to Vemdalen from December until mid-April, which means a four month season in which bucket loads of snow is virtually guaranteed.
3. There are plenty of other activities besides skiing
With the slopes being so close to the accommodation you’re going to spend a LOT of your time skiing in Vemdalen but there is no shortage of other activities in town. One of the closest options – literally opposite the resort of Vemdalenskallet – is a tractor-cum-tank designed for climbing up mountainous slopes. This “vesseltur” is pretty much the coolest ski lift in Europe and will tow you to a remote waffle cottage at the summit of a local mountain where you can enjoy lunch before skiing down to your hotel again. It’s a magical and surreal experience through stunning scenery and only costs around £8. Another favourite way to get to the summit of this mountain is by snow scooter. These can be rented from Vemdalen Experience or aventyrokonferens.se, for around £100 a day. Both companies also offer a variety of other adventurous activities such as ice climbing, ice fishing, ice karting and dog safaris.
4. It isn’t as expensive as you’d expect
There’s no getting around the fact that eating and drinking out in Nordic countries can be expensive, but most of the accommodation in Vemdalen is self-catering and there’s a decent sized supermarket within a five minute walk of the apartments. There are plenty of decently priced cafes and fast food restaurants too. We paid around £10 per head in Vemdalen’s most popular pizzeria restaurant and meal deals in the local Sibylla were probably better value than most international fast food chains and also includes more traditional fare, such as Swedish meatballs with mash and lingonberries. It’s a great spot for a coffee too, with good quality coffee costing much less than a Costa machine in the UK.
Lift passes are cheaper than most alpine resorts and at the time of writing two for one ski passes were being offered for adults. Even private lessons only start at around £60 and are a lot cheaper than private lessons at indoor slopes in the UK.
Getting to Vemdalen
We booked with Crystal Ski who are part of the TUI Group and who just won Best Ski & Winter Sports Holiday Company at the British Travel Awards for the ninth time. At the time of writing Crystal were offering trips from London Gatwick with two for one lift passes.