A last minute change of plans meant instead of heading to South of Sweden to visit friends, we were heading north. When our friends called to say they’d all come down with the flu, I scurried to find an alternative to fill the winter half-term. Little did I know that just a couple of days later I’d be standing at the edge of a piste in the small Swedish resort of Hassela Ski watching my 6 year old, who’s never skied 24 hours earlier, hurtling down the slope, arms in the air, shouting at the top of his voice:
“I can feel the wiiiiiiiiiiiind!”
He seemed totally out of control as he headed to the ski lift at the bottom, yet gave the soft ski school obstacle a high five at the bottom and came to a prompt stop at the back of the few people waiting to take the lift.
How did we get to Hassela, this small resort in mid- Sweden?
I blame Instagram! As if listening to my woe of being at loose ends Instagram offered up an advert for a super cheap last minute 4 day ski bungalow hire. (To be fair, I had been looking at lots of skiing and snowboarding grams, so it wasn’t utterly spooky.)
Check out the Hassela Ski site
On Saturday we booked the bungalow for 995 SEK/ €100 and on Sunday lunchtime we were driving up the motorway on our way to Hassela Ski resort.
Getting to Hassela Ski Resort
IKEA Gävle is a convenient stop just over an hour into the journey, perfect for a reliable lunch, then another 2.5 hours and we were in Hassela, just around sunset. The motorway sort of stops being a motorway after Gävle, but alternates between single lane and double lane, so you aren’t stuck behind any slower vehicles for long. Hassela is 45 minutes off the E4, along beautiful, varied landscape.
On arrival we checked in at the hotel and were given a map and details of our bungalow – no 80 in the Bear collection of bungalows (there’s also the Beaver bungalows, which look newer). We wandered through the little hotel, checked out where the restaurant was and the price; the swimming pool, hot tubs and saunas and then drove down to our bungalow.
Our Ski Bungalow
Stuck in the late 70s the ski bungalow was totally functional with 2 small bunk bed room and an open plan living, dining, kitchen area. The day bed sofa opened up to a double bed.
The bathroom was large, very clean and totally stank of sewage…this was remedied by filling the shower drain with water and some air freshener, which I popped up to reception for. (The smell did return once during our stay, but went quickly again, so we didn’t call maintenance.) The bathroom also had a drying cabinet for wet gear.
The kitchen small, but very well equipped. We had everything we needed to whip up a family meal, plus some nice extras like a cheese slicer, vegetable peeler and decent knives.
Getting our ski and snowboard legs back
On our first day, we were keen to test our gear set up and used the little button transport lift and slope from our area to practice with the kids. We spent the morning going up and down the gentle slope, teaching the kids: Angelina on her new snowboard, Hugo on his new skis and Max on his new snowboard. The slope was narrow, a little icy in patches, but no one else was using it, so it was perfect.
We realised Max’s snowboard was too big for him and we had to hire a smaller one for him.
No cooking for this mamma… our buffet lunch
For lunch, instead of heading back to our little house, we went up to check out the buffet lunch. We were not disappointed: 500 SEK/ €50 for 5 of us, with coffees, tea and soft drinks. It was good food at good value- a choice of 2 mains, a couple of sides and 8 salads.
Good service with some Fawlty Towers moments
After lunch we wanted to play on the learner button lift with the kids, but it turned out that the half day pass of 120 SEK was only available on long ski days and not for short ski days. The receptionist tried to sell me a 225 SEK half day pass for the remaining hour and a bit, which was slightly disappointing and left us with a little bit of a sour feeling. (She did apologise and blame it on her English not being so good, but all the same, it’s bizarre that you can buy these tickets for 3 hours, but not for an hour.)
Instead we went to the ski hire shop, to get 2 snowboards- an adult one for Antoine and a smaller one for Max) and walked out with a set of skis and an adult board. In the shop we asked Max, who’d spent the morning learning snowboarding, whether he wanted a snowboard like Pappa or skis like his brother. He opted for skis.
Out of the shop, he donned the skis and went up and down the bunny hill and the magic carpet again and again; with his brother teaching him the moves and us catching him at the top and the bottom. We realised Max needed ski classes.
After enquiring, all classes had started that day already, but staff said they’d pass on our details to the ski instructor to call. Later that evening Mikael did call and although they don’t usually accept total beginners on day 2 of ski school, he agreed that we could trial it the following morning and if Max was keeping up he could do the 2nd and 3rd day of the 3 day ski school. We really appreciated this flexibility.
Had we planned in advance (and not made the booking last minute), we could’ve booked the ski school already and could’ve had lift passes with swimming pool and gym passes booked in advance at much better rate. In principle these could’ve been offered when I was making the booking over the phone, but I suspect, that even though staff speak excellent English, they aren’t as confident and some things just slip. (The online booking system is cumbersome and doesn’t really work on a mobile, and definitely doesn’t work with translation activated on your browser!)
Hassela village with a decent village shop if nearby
As the sun set on the resort we drove to the nearby village of Hassela to the local Coop to pick up food for breakfasts and light dinners. The lunch was too good to make it worth bothering with cooking, but dinners at the hotel were triple the cost of lunch.
We stocked up on cereals, yoghurts, coffee, milk, bread, toppings and spreads, and some snacks. The prices were a little dearer than usual supermarkets, but quite normal for small village stores. We spent about 450 SEK/ €45… which covered us for all lunch and breakfast for a week. (Oops, shouldn’t go food shopping at dinner time.)
Back in our warm bungalow we settled in for a quick dinner and watched a movie on our laptop. (There was an “olden style” TV, as the kids call it, but to be honest we didn’t even try to turn it on.)
We slept well after an active day.
Hassela Ski is an easy and safe family ski resort to actively relax
Next morning, bright sunshine and the promise of balmy spring temps awaited us… And a ski school for Max at 9 am. We were up and out early.
After 15 minutes in ski school, as the little group headed to their first try on the button lift, the instructor indicated to me that I didn’t need to hang around, Max’s level was perfect for the class. I watched as my little monkey mounted the button lift like a pro and went inside to the bar area sofa to watch from the warmth.
The rest of the family were up snowboarding and skiing on the slopes, enjoying this beautiful day and surprisingly good snow conditions. I saw them come down the main blue slope leading to the hotel every once in a while, sometimes together, sometimes on their own. Angelina was doing amazingly well considering she’d only had a couple of snowboarding classes 2 years ago and has been skiing since instead of boarding. Hugo seems to have a natural talent. He’s spent the last 2 seasons on a snowboard. This as his 3rd day on skis and he was totally in control, perfecting his parellel turns. I was in awe!
We agreed to meet in the restaurant at noon and everyone had their phones on them.
At the end of the ski school the teacher debriefed us to let us know what to practice- snowploughs and button lifts. Until lunch Max and I practiced the snowploughs going up and down the magic carpet. My mini skier was ready for lunch by noon.
Lunch was a great time to come together, fuel up on food and drink, relax and plan the afternoon: Angelina and Hugo were going to do the slopes together, sticking mostly to the long button lift leading up from the hotel. Max was off with his father on the same lift, but taking it easy.
After a couple of hours my skier was ready for a hot chocolate and resting on the sofa in the bar and his siblings joined their dad to go a little higher and perfect their skills.
As the slopes closed at 7 that evening, Max decided to join his big brother on the slopes by the button lift for a couple of runs, while father and daughter practiced snowboarding moves. I was on foot, little bit up the slope, keeping and eye on the boys, taking pictures, cautioning them, applauding their achievements and cheering them in their brotherly love.
At one point, Hugo suggested he wants to come down the other slope, so I walked across. While I was battling through the snow in the narrow strip of woods between the two slopes, the boys decided to take the button lift all the way up and come down on the main slope. Unbeknown to me I waited at the edge of the slope, only to hear whooping and look across, through the trees, to the my little monkey going at frightening pace, arms in the air and shouting the phrase:
“ I can feel the wiiiiiiiiiiiind!“. My heart stopped and then started up incredibly fast. I hurried down to the lift to tell the boys off for racing down the slope, but secretly I was both proud and admiring of their skills and fast learning.
We lasted on the slopes, which were floodlit, till 6:30 pm, when we slid back down to our little chalet. We had a cup of soup, ate sandwiches, played and snuggled in for a film again (while the Littlest sauntered off to bed at his usual 8 pm. He was knackered!)
Breakfast, Day 2 (and final day) of ski school – learning turns-, practicing snowboarding, perfecting skiing, dad taking turns with the kids, me with a knackered knee working on the sofa in the bar… We had a little routine here.
Regrouping for a delicious lunch the family decided to head all the way up, using the anchor lift.
This was the challenge that I’d set Max on the very first day, when he was still on the snowboard: make it to the top of the hill and down safely and you can get Zelda on the Nintendo Switch. I thought it was a big ask to achieve that by the end of days. Well, a couple hours after lunch, on day 3 of our mini ski break, I had a very enthusiastic little skier joining me on the sofa and telling me all about his achievement: he’d made it to the top and skied all the way down, following his dad and siblings. He was so proud of himself! What an achievement!
Family-friendly slopes and resort layout of Hassela Ski
I mean the elevation at Hassela isn’t huge, 310 m, with 20 slopes (all of which were open at the time) served by 8 lifts (7 working, but there’s still a fair bit to challenge even more skiers and snowboarders. My lot had a ball! They learnt so much on the varied slopes: there’s a good mix between wide gentle slopes, narrower forest-lined runs, a couple of slalom courses- advanced and kids’- and snowparks.
The pistes are well-maintained. We had 18 C temperature difference (+6C to – 12C) during our 4 days and Hassela still managed to achieve good piste conditions under those circumstances
The beauty of Hassela Ski Resort is that every slope leads back to the bottom restaurant or, a little higher up, the hotel. Therefore, for the less helicopter-parenting types, the kids can have quite a bit of independence in skiing. They will be back at base every 15 minutes or so.
In the case of our kids- the 11 year old learner snowboarder could stick to wide pistes and the 10 year old adrenaline-junkie ski eagle could hit the forest trails and the mini jumps.
As I already mentioned the accomodation and the buffet lunch were incredibly good value, we felt.
The ski passes are reasonably priced too, at 1500SEK / €150 for a 6-8 day pass for an adult, kids 7 and under ski for free. This means there isn’t the pressure to make the most of an expensive ski pass either. It’s more about having fun, having a laugh and a good time on and off the piste. There is more left in the kitty for family fun.
Importantly too, if the sh*t hits the fan, the ski patrol is on hand with free rescue from the hill. (Thankfully, not a service we needed.)
As a reward for the achievement, we headed to the pool, sauna and the hot tub with the kids that evening. The outdooor jacuzzis were a little busy and cold, but we still managed to spend some time in them under the cold, full moon filled sky. My crazy kids even tested the outdoor- 5C- pool, not once but a fair few times!
Our final day and checking out of the ski bungalow
On our last day, we’d book check out inspection for 12:30.
I let the family head off and hit the slopes, from 9 am, while I took my time to pack, load the car and do a clean. Hugo popped back at some point to help with loading the car and stripping the beds. In return I drove him the long way around, up the mountain to drop him off by the top hut at the top of the lifts.
Check out went very quickly. The ladies changed the dish clothes we’d used, the vacuum bag and the wet mop head.
We had a real treat for lunch on our last day: unlimited pancakes with strawberry jam and cream (in addition to soup, crayfish pasta and salads).
Then the family just enjoyed the final hours of skiing and snowboarding till the lifts closed at 4 pm, I chilled a bit in the bar watching cross country ski championship with some other puntes over a coffee.
As the sky turned beautiful shades of pink and orange, with the car packed we were ready to drive away, but not really ready to say good bye to Hassela Ski resort.
See you again, Hassela Ski
It was a lovely ski holiday! Sweden has so much to offer families in terms of an affordable, easy-going ski holiday and Hassela is one of those resorts that is like a little secret gem- affordable, safe, easy-going. It’s just 3.5 hours drive from Stockholm’s main airport and 30 minutes from Sundsvall airport it’s so accessible too.
Find out about other Swedish resorts that are incredibly family-friendly:
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