Sweden is known to the rest of the world as a North Pole neighbour with polar bears and eskimos. It’s not entirely true, but it is located rather high up north in Europe. There are plenty of ski resorts in the north with lots of snow and majestic mountains under the green shining northern lights. One of the most famous resorts is Åre. Åre has become the party hub for skiers and snowboarders. There are tons of stores and commercial buzz on the streets of Åre and it’s perfect if you’re looking for just that. However, if you are like us and sometimes crave silent, genuine nature, no billboards or fancy stores but just simply an intimate experience with nature, we have good news for you. Trillevallen is located only a 20 minute drive from Åre and it has all of that. Or none of that, depending on how you see it. Trillevallen is a small, quaint ski resort where you sleep in completely quiet nights with only the wind howling outside your window.
The main hotel Trillevallens Högfjällshotell was built in 1938 and was used frequently as a writers camp and resort the first years. Swedish former prime minister Olof Palme amongst other prominent figures have spent some creative days in this winter paradise. The first thing that struck us, was the genuine retro vibe. We could hear the 70-someting years of snowy foot steps stomping around in the house. We could hear interesting and slightly confidential conversations through the old wooden walls. The smell was a mix of history and gourmet from the high class kitchen, where they direct much focus on local produce and organic supplies. As we enjoyed our first meal in the restaurant, we realised that one of Sweden’s most famous and successful chef, Melker Andersson, was having his dinner at the table next to ours. Whatever brought him there is still unknown to us, but I’m sure he enjoyed his well cooked meals in the restaurant just as much as we did.
The rooms are pretty small at Trillevallens Högfjällshotell and if you’re looking for pure luxury, this option is not for you. If you are looking for a genuine experience, close to nature and with a personable experience, this is a great fit. Honestly, you don’t spend much time in your room here. The bar at the ground floor is open from early afternoon and always keeps the fireplace going. Many board games and cards pile up on the shelves and it’s easy to entertain yourself in between the skiing adventures. Honestly, I have to say that my favourite thing to do in these places is nothing. To learn to enjoy the nothingness. I sit down in a big, comfy armchair with a glass of full bodied red and just gaze into the fireplace. There not many places in the world where I find the peace of mind to do so, but Trillevallen was surely one of them. I’m confident I’m speaking for both Lauren and I.
Here comes an important one; activities. There are not many things in life that I love more than horses, cats and singing. Well, maybe Lauren would qualify onto that list as well. In, and around Trillevallen there are plenty of fun activities to do. We had the ultimate pleasure of horseback riding in the mountains on Icelandic horses at Huså Fjällridning our first day. If you haven’t seen the video – check it NOW. I mean it. I was highly impressed by Lauren’s skills with the horse. She has not done as much horse riding as I have but she managed to stay on and keep somewhat of a control even during the fastest galloping through the woods. Note fellow traveler, you do not have to be good at horse back riding. Hanna who is the owner and instructor of the stables is amazing with first timers. She helps you the whole way through in feeling safe and comfortable. If you want a magical experience while you’re in the Åre region, get in touch with her! Second day we had a cross country skiing instructor who absolutely fell in love with Laurens’ form. I swear that I have not seen a more impressed guy in a long time. Lauren is a college athlete and she is great in learning new physical activities. The fact that she is a beach girl from Southern California did not seem to be a problem for her when adapting to the Nordic cross country skiing techniques. The third and fourth day, we did some downhill skiing and snowboarding. The slopes are fun and vary in levels. If you need kind baby slopes to start with, you have some good options here. If you feel like going a little wilder, you can get higher up in the lift system and take some steeper slopes or even off pist your way down. We stayed on baby to medium levelled slopes and were quite happy with that. After 5 kilometers of cross country and 3 hours of bareback horseback riding, you’re not so tough. The last day we hopped on a snow mobile and went out to a rain deer farm to feed them. They were so cute and small, only 8-9 months old and a little to scared to eat off of our hands. Here is some cool fact for you: Only a “Same” which is a folk kind of the North are allowed to own rain deers. That means, even if you have money to buy one, you’re not allowed. It’s a tradition that is owned solely by the Sames. Personally, I think it’s important to preserve that tradition as many other things, such as land, have been taken from the Same culture. There are many more things to do in Trillevallen, but our time was limited and we pretty much maxed out the activity schedule!
The resort is open to private people between December – April but all year around for larger groups. We chose to go and spend our New Years Eve in Trillevallen. Lauren and I have a tradition to spend every New Year’s Eve in a different place and this year it fitted perfectly with a trip to the north west of Sweden. New Year’s Eve was a pretty busy time at the resort since a lot of families go while their kids are on holiday break from school. Lauren loves kids and I like kids so it’s nothing wrong to go when the hotel is quite a playhouse. I do have to sat though, that if you don’t have kids and can take your vacation whenever, go in between the school breaks or the main holidays. Lauren and I are very into couple’s travel, as you probably have figured out, and unless you have kids, you’ll get a much more relaxing and romantic atmosphere when it’s less crowded. Just a pro tip. Check out their calendar and get in touch with reservations to book your romantic and simply silent winter paradise getaway.
EATING LOCAL – TRILLEVALLEN
Since about a year back, Lauren and I have gain a pretty extensive interest in what we eat and how we eat it. Lauren is hooked on gardening and is dreaming about establishing a kitchen garden by our future house in Southern California, where she can grow the majority of all the vegetables and plants we would need for cooking. I come from a family of highly respected chefs and have always been taught that quality food is one of life’s essentials. I agree. Good, nutritious food enables you a happy life with endurance and energy. I have been a vegetarian in periods but I have always missed the fresh fish we catch at my family’s summer house or the elk meatballs my mom brings home when she’s been out hunting in the woods. With time, I have realized that we can still eat meat, but consciously and not often. We’re selective and we make sure to check where the meat is from and under what conditions they were brought up. Trillevallen is a great culinary experience from this perspective!
The vast areas of land in the state of Jämtland, enables farmers to keep kettle in wide, open spaces to ensure a happy life for them. There are many farms in the area that are delivering to local restaurants and resorts but also down to higher end, conscious restaurants in Stockholm. At the restaurant in Trillevallens Högfjällshotell, they work with as many local and organic products as possible. There is always a tricky balance between costs and quality. Real, good, organic food is expensive and not every customer is willing to pay that extra money because they don’t realise the importance of it. If you can afford a skiing trip with your family, I’m sure you could order one less beer and spend that money toward good, conscious eating instead. It’s a question of awareness.
Not everything is organic in the kitchen of Trillevallens Högfjällshotell but they are conscious and constantly working towards improvements. Were are very happy happy about that and it makes the whole culinary experience so much better! The CEO of the hotel told us that she is getting her meet for the family from their neighbour’s cows. They specifically had one cow that always sneaked onto their property to eat their grass! Speaking of local eating!
We’re optimists and hope that people with the resources to travel like this, will little by little understand the importance of it. You know how it goes. We can’t change everything, but we can try and do our part to begin with. And we’re all in need of a brighter future for the food industry and the world as a whole.