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A WINNING ALTITUDE Geilo, Norway


THE SEVEN-HOUR train journey from Oslo to Bergen is one of the most beautiful – and highest – rail journeys in the world. It offers unparalleled views of the wild, unspoiled Norwegian landscape, with its rivers and valleys, forests, mountains and snowy plateaus. At its halfway point, at the edge of the


Hardangervidda National Park, lies the village and exclusive ski resort of Geilo. It’s a place that has long been the home of skiing (the word “ski” actually derives from the Norwegian for “piece of wood”), and has been the destination of choice for the discerning traveller – among them the British aristocracy and Norwegian royalty – for more than a hundred years. “Unlike many other European ski resorts, Geilo


is a real, living mountain village with an old soul to it,” says Trevor De Villiers, the CEO of Norway Home of Skiing. “There is nothing artificial about it. It has a community of 2,500 people, which swells to 12,000 in winter, and a fine heritage. At an altitude of 800 m, snow is guaranteed for the whole winter season, and the skiing areas and slopes are close to the town centre, with its fine hotels, spas, restaurants and boutiques.” Geilo has many fine hotels, including the


renowned Dr Holms, which has been frequented by English gentry since the early 1900s. Steeped in history, the hotel started life as a health retreat – the eponymous Dr Holms was a respiratory doctor – and fell under German control during the Second World War, until the Norwegian resistance retook it in 1945.


The hotel is home to a historical art collection


(guests can borrow a catalogue from reception) and features Norway’s highest-altitude bowling


198 A LEGACY OF LUXURY


alley. With 125 rooms, ranging from the traditional, romantic English style, to more modern and minimalist designs, the hotel also contains a luxury spa, several restaurants, a library, a ski bar, a pub and a wine cellar. In the heart of Geilo stands the charming and


award-wining Hallingstuene restaurant, named one of the Best Restaurants in the Nordics by White Guide. Owned by renowned Norwegian chef Frode Aga, Hallingstuene is furnished like a traditional Halling cottage, with rose-paintings and two open fireplaces, and specialises in classic Norwegian fare from local producers, such as game in cream sauces, smoked sausage, rack of lamb, reindeer and trout. Guests who wish to dine in privacy can book a separate room for their party, and there is also a cognac wagon and cellar wine-bar. “Geilo offers a world-class standard of facilities


and service,” says Trevor. “Everyone speaks perfect English too. The Norwegian term ‘Janteloven’, which places society ahead of the individual and means that nobody should be jealous of anyone else, makes Geilo the ideal holiday destination for those who enjoy privacy and discretion. I once had a very pleasant chat with a woman in a local bar, only to discover later that she was the Princess of Norway.” With daily flights out of Gatwick to both Oslo


and Bergen, and packages arranged by British Airways Holidays, the resort of Geilo achieves the rare combination of being both accessible and exclusive. “Every time I take the train from Oslo to Geilo, I am blown away by the Norwegian landscape,” says Trevor. It’s like New Zealand on steroids. The sheer beauty of it is breathtaking.” — www.norwayhomeofskiing.comwww.geilo.no


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