Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What’s new in Åre and Vemdalen, Sweden, for the 2011/2012 ski season? (October 2011)

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 direct flight route, £12.5 million accommodation investment, new night skiing options and world class events, Sweden is starting to make its presence felt on the international ski scene.

Åre 2011 / 2012 developments

World’s first illuminated story-telling slopes

This season, SkiStar Åre has come up with a world first by creating an illuminated fairytale world on the slopes around the hybrid ‘VM-8’ lift top station. While the rest of the surroundings are in darkness, the ski slope is illuminated in different ways to tell a unique story about Swedish legendary creatures and ancient fables. From a distance, it looks like the mountain is shimmering in hundreds of different colours. Whilst night skiing used to only attract experienced skiers, this project aims to entice families and beginners to Åre’s slopes to try it out. The illuminations have been created in partnership with Swedish lighting architects, Ljusarkitektur AB, headed by creative director Kai Piippo.

With these new illuminations, the ‘VM-8’ lift will stay open longer throughout this season. Thanks to the new lighting system, the lift can remain open between 8am and 4.30pm daily so that guests can use all the slopes that can be accessed from the top of the VM-8 lift. In addition, additional night skiing will be possible every day during Christmas, New Year and Easter holidays, between 6pm and 8pm.

World Class Events

Floodlights are also being added to the new National Alpine Arena, which was completed last season, making it the perfect spot for upcoming evening events like the Jon Olsson Invitational, Vattenfall Alpine Challenge and the Alpine World Cup, which will take place in Åre in March 2012.

The Red Bull Crashed Ice World Cup is also coming to Åre in February 2012. This event is an atmospheric combination of ice hockey, downhill skating and boardercross featuring some of the world’s biggest and bravest ice hockey players, an incredible lightshow, great music, tons of steel and thousands of square kilometres of carved ice.

A World Cup Festival is being held in Jämtland to mark the World Cup Freestyle Moguls and the Alpine World Cup being held there over the same weekend – 9 and 10 March 2012. Åre will also play host to the Swedish Championships on its slopes at the end of March next year, where champions will be crowned in several freestyle and Alpine skiing events.

New Skistar Experiences for 2011 / 2012: Snowkites and personal trainers

SkiStar Experience, which already includes great options such as off-piste alpine ski touring and sauna skiing, is expanding its range of activities by adding ‘snowkiting’. This increasingly popular high-speed activity is fuelled by the wind and offers the chance to fly over the snow on either skis or a snow board behind a kite.

Åre’s ski school also has new developments, having employed its very own personal trainer who makes sure guests get the very most out of their skiing. The personal trainer offers skiers the chance to really improve on the slopes, whether they are experienced skiers who want to hone their skills or beginners who want to get started quickly.

MySkiStar – social media hits the slopes

MySkiStar is a new social media development for this season meaning that all SkiPass holders get access to lots of extra services that make skiing more fun, social and interesting. With MySkiStar, the SkiPass can be linked to a website or mobile phone through which guests to Åre or Vemdalen can compare their skiing performance to that of their friends, challenge each other, and share their experiences on Facebook and Twitter.

The service has a useful feature that makes it possible for users to see where friends and family members are in the ski system. Ski statistics like ‘vertical drops’ and ‘calories used’ make skiing more fun and, since skiers can constantly monitor results, help with training. Skiers can visit and download SkiStar’s app to access MySkiStar.

Vemdalen 2011 / 2012 developments

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.

Family friendly developments

This season, Vemdalen is adding a new six-seat chairlift to Vemdalen’s children’s and beginners’ area. The new lift, Skalet Express, will replace the current Sörliften and will, at 590m and a vertical drop of 96 m, be Sweden’s shortest six-seat chairlift when it opens on 15 November 2011. The child-safe lift offers a more comfortable, safer and quicker trip up to the top and is designed to make it easier for children and beginners to get on and off, by moving extra slowly at this time. The area connected by the lift is being restructured and given better lighting and snowmaking facilities. SkiStar is also offering some family-friendly deals.

From 18–25 December 2011 and 8 Jan–10 Feb 2012, all children aged 7 and under are SkiStar’s VIP guests or, as they like to say, VISP (Very Important Small Person) at Åre and Vemdalen. This gives children a free SkiPass, free ski rental, and free group ski school. Bookings must be made by 1 November on and must include at least one five-day adult SkiPass.

New accommodation in Vemdalen’s three ski areas

New living accommodation and restaurants are being built in Vemdalen’s three ski areas in preparation for the 2011/2012 ski season. The development marks a total investment of £12.5 million and is the largest seasonal accommodation expansion so far this century! Eight of these apartments will be built in the area of Björnrike, in direct proximity to last season’s new six-seat express chairlift, the Grizzly Express.

Also opening is a new restaurant that seats 130 people and will serve skiers lunch, coffee and snacks. 20 other apartments will be added in Nedre Nallehusen, from where a conveyor belt will run up to the parking lot near Grizzly Express. Also new this season in Björnrike is the Ski Cross course in the lower section of Snobben, which has been built so that the entire family can have fun skiing together, and the launch of a new eco-friendly snowmaking system. 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.

In Klövsjö, stage two of the Solviken development is being completed next to the slope, beside the Hotell Klövsjöfjäll. Four houses offering 14 beds will be ready for this winter season and the area will continue to grow in stages. A fun new slope and another button lift will also be added, which will give Klövsjö’s children’s area three lifts. Snow cannons and floodlights will also be installed. The first building in the new centre of Vemdalsskalet will be ready to receive its first guests during the Christmas holiday, and two more will be completed during the winter season.

One of the buildings has a new reception, offices and four apartments, one will have apartments with two stores on the bottom floor and another building will have apartments and a coffee shop on the ground floor. When the construction project is finished, Vemdalsskalet will have a brand new centre with eight buildings made of wood and stone, each one unique, with ski in-ski out locations to apartments, shops and coffee shops.

For more information on skiing in Åre and Vemdalen visit

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