Travel journalist Jan Henderson is impressed with Norway’s largest ski resort.
I wish I’d known about Trysil 15 or 20 years ago – and so, I suspect, do my children. All three of my kids were taken on ski holidays to the French Alps at a tender age and heartlessly thrust into ski school while their selfish parents went off skiing – and while they undoubtedly learned the basics of skiing, for which they are now grateful, I don’t recall there being a lot of fun involved. Things have changed a lot in France since then, but being the only English child in a large group of French kids with an instructor whose English was limited and whose interest in the stray foreign interloper equally slight can’t have been a bundle of laughs.
Well, I’m sorry, kids – but if I’d known about Trysil we’d have gone there instead and you would have learned to ski and had a lot of fun at the same time. I’m not alone in my ignorance of Trysil, I suspect, so it’s my pleasure to enlighten you about the delights of Norway’s largest ski resort…
Like many people bitten by the ski bug, my experiences over the years have been predominantly in the Alps – be they the French, Swiss, Austrian or Italian versions – and “lesser” areas such as Norway and Sweden have struggled to register. On the basis of my mid-March trip to Trysil last season, that’s been my loss. The snow is great, the pistes are ideal for beginners and intermediates, the hotels and restaurants are welcoming… and it’s a wonderful place for your children to get a first taste of skiing.
Trysil is close to the Swedish border, some 170 kilometres and two hours by transfer coach from Oslo, and this year celebrated 50 years as a ski resort, although it still remains relatively unknown internationally – making the slopes generally quiet and uncrowded.
With 71 kilometres of piste and 29 lifts there’s a good mix of slopes across essentially four ski areas. Høyfjellsenter is good for beginners, with gentle green runs and a large kids’ area; Turistsenter also has excellent nursery slopes as well as attractive tree-lined blue and red runs for intermediates; Skihytta has a mix of beginner and intermediate pistes, great for groups; while more advanced skiers and boarders will head for Høgegga, with seven blacks and a new high-speed chairlift, although it has to be said that there’s little here to challenge the real experts. The whole mountain is very well connected, and easy and more challenging slopes can often be found side-by-side, so mixed ability groups can ski together.
The whole area is compact, with most of the slopes within the tree line, but with some good sweeping runs from the top of the Trysilfjellt mountain – and the snow itself is likely to be some of the best you will ever experience. Despite the summit being a mere 1132 metres and the lower slopes just 415 metres above sea level, the snow from top to bottom is uniformly excellent, thanks to Trysil’s northerly position – you are a lot closer to the Arctic Circle here than you would be anywhere in the Alps! With the general uncertainty over snow conditions elsewhere in Europe in the last few years, the reliability of the snow in Trysil is good news – and their lengthy ski season from October to May is testament to this.
The emphasis in Trysil is on family skiing, and is excellent for introducing beginners, especially children, to the joys of skiing and snowboarding. The nursery areas are better than most traditional Alpine resorts, and the ski instructors are friendly and speak perfect English. Trysil Turissenter has a large area serviced by three tows and a magic carpet, there is a practice roundabout tow, tracks through the trees to explore as well as wide open learning slopes, and if the kids get tired they can always make tracks to the nearby Lego shop....
Of course skiing is hard work – and the good news is there are a number of good places for lunch either on the mountain or at the foot of the slopes. Our little group stopped for lunch at the Skihytta restaurant high on the slopes, offering a variety of traditional Norwegian dishes – I can recommend their speciality Suppegjøk, a delicious and filling goulash soup served in a hollowed-out loaf of bread, providing plenty of fuel for the afternoon’s skiing!
If you are going with Crystal you’ll likely be staying in one of the two Radisson Blu hotels that bookend the resort – we stayed in the Radisson Blu Mountain Resort, a large, modern but welcoming hotel that’s right on the slopes, so you’ve got ski-in, ski-out access, and the ski bus stops right outside to take you to the ski school. It has two restaurants and an impressive spa area with an indoor pool, indoor and outdoor whirlpools, saunas, steam room and relaxation room. Bedrooms are large and comfortable, and the hotel as a whole provides a welcoming place to relax and unwind after a day on the slopes - or indeed before a day on the slopes, as we discovered with an hour’s yoga class before breakfast!
The Radisson Blu Resort hotel, at the other end of Trysil and also conveniently at the foot of the slopes, offers similar comforts but is squarely aimed at families - the indoor adventure pool has separate sections for toddlers and kids, as well as a climbing wall over the deep pool, and even Norway’s only wave pool. There’s also a bowling alley, complete with retro American diner, three other restaurants, three bars and a spa area with sauna, steam room, laconium and hot pool.
Downtown Trysil also has a variety of bars and restaurants – we ate out at one serving delicious traditional Norwegian dishes, each one accompanied by a different locally-produced craft beer and most welcome after a lengthy tour of the town’s interesting ski museum nearby. And if you tire of skiing there’s plenty of other activities on offer, including horse-drawn carriage rides, dog sledding, ice fishing, snowkiting, cross-country skiing and snowshoe walking, plus tenpin bowling and a cinema if the weather closes in.
Trysil may not have the big miles or extreme runs of some of the major Alpine resorts, but more than makes up for that with its brilliant snow on quiet and well-groomed runs, great facilities for kids and stylish, welcoming hotels. It is well worth looking at as an alternative to the Alps – especially if you have a young family. I wish I did 20 years ago…
Jan Henderson travelled to Trysil with Crystal Ski Holidays (www.crystalski.co.uk; 020 8610 3123), who offer a week’s bed & breakfast at the four-star Radisson Blu Mountain Hotel from £546 per person (based on two sharing) including flights from Gatwick to Oslo and transfers (price given is for departure on 4 February 2018).