by: Tom Destry - 20th February 2008

  • 4
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Expert
  • 4All-Mtn. Terrain
  • 4Family Friendly
  • 4Nightlife
  • 3Terrain Park
  • Value

Full review

I went to Are two years ago with my family, aged 7 to 13. We had a fabulous apartment, vast by Alpine standards, not expensive, and with its own sauna. The weather had been appalling just before we arrived, with a disastrous thaw followed by a deep freeze, which completely nixed the main cable car up to the top - they were hacking ice off it all week. Not being able to get to the highest pistes was a blow. However, there is a lot of skiing in Are, and we had snow before we arrived so conditions had improved. There are plenty of testing runs, including some good steep blacks (not difficult blacks by Alpine standards, but exciting anyway). For intermediates and beginners, there are lots of good runs, some served by drags that take you right up into vast snow-covered plateaus which are very picturesque and made my children - on their second skiing holiday - feel very adventurous! There is lots of gorgeous skiing between trees, and lots of places to be tempted into off-piste runs through the woods - bend your knees and go with the flow, but be warned that the tracks are mostly made by local teenagers who like to return to the piste whilest airborne! Very few queues, and a very easygoing atmosphere generally. Ski school was excellent - the Scandinavians really put a lot of effort into this, and it shows. Seek out the out-of-the-way mountain bars and restaurants, and have lunch one day at the hotel at the top of the funicular - or even stay there if you can afford it, it's a brilliant place! My only critcism of the ski domain is that it covers a huge area and it can take a long time to get around - long, slow linking trails that get very skiied out and T-bars that seem to take forever. Are is a lovely town to spend an evening in - plenty of good restaurants and bars. It isn't especially glamorous, but everyone is friendly and there is a good balance of locals and tourists. As usual in Scandinavian resorts, there is a huge cross-country terrain, and if you want to learn Telemark skiing, this is the place to be. A great place, then, and very different from the sometimes manic atmosphere of a big Alpine resorts. I just wish that cable car had been open as I'm sure it would have made a big difference to the skiing - both in terms of range and of getting around quickly. If you have time, the ski train from Stockholm is a wonderful way to get there and see some of the Swedish countryside from the comfort of a beech-panelled carriage.
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