If you are fascinated by the far reaches of the earth and majestic landscapes where nature still triumphs in the battle with man, free-roaming reindeer herds dot the horizon, and geomagnetic storms send shimmers of red and green light in waves across the night sky, then Fjallnas in northern Sweden beckons. Once the retreat of Swedish royalty and the country’s oldest mountain hotel, circa 1882, the resort sits below Polaris, surrounded by emerald glacial lakes and expansive panoramic landscapes carved by ice over 9000 years ago. At the edge of the Polar Circle, this land of contrasts with its eternal sun in summer and never-ending dark nights in winter, is home to the Sami, reindeer herders, hunters, and fishermen who have lived in “Sampi” for the last 10,000 years. 70,000 Sami exist today in four nations with the majority in Norway (40,000), another 20,000 inhabit northern Sweden, 7500 in Finland and 2500 in Russia. In the 17th century, reindeer herding became their main livelihood—fire, skis, and reindeer allowed them to prevail and survive the tribulations of their harsh environment.
At Fjallnas, in southern Lapland, you can explore the mystical terrain where some of these majestic pastoral nomadic people and their protected herd live and travel.
Fjallnas, a newly restored resort bearing the same name of the high mountain chain that runs north to south, has opened its doors to adventurists. In homage to the indigenous people, Fjallnas honors the Sami’s eight seasons as four seasons fails to differentiate the subtle changes and nuances of nature needed for survival. During Pakkstaliv (icy mid-winter) the aurora borealis dances across the jet black night skies; in Hanikikanto (snow-covered spring) light finally kisses the icy hinterland; Jäidenihtökevät (breaking ice) heralds the rebirth of spring and the return of the reindeers; Keskiyönauringon Aika (eternal sun) is when the landscape bursts with life and the sun never sets; during Sadonkorjuunaik (harvest time) the hills bestow gifts of food like berries and mushrooms; Ruska (crackling autumn) spreads a patchwork of red, yellow and orange across the hills as passing storms fortell winter. Mustalum (black new snow) means a battle between autumn and winter; and finally Joulukaamos (Yule time) tells a tale of dark wintery nights, blankets of snow, holiday merriment, and more northern lights and mystical moon haloes.
This action sports playground boasts 300 kilometers of trails for endless play. Guests can cross country ski a new track daily, hike up the nearby mountains for telemark or alpine skiing, snowmobile across the icy plateaus, dogsled with Fjallnas’ personal Alaskan Husky team, ice climb a frozen waterfall, or experience the wintry sights on a horse and sleigh ride. Summer calls for fishing, hiking, mountain biking and even heli-biking where a chopper takes you to remote locations for epic rides. Once-in-a-lifetime experiences lie in wait in this bewitching terrain. A late night ski tour sans headlights across a frozen lake calls for the moon, encircled with giant glowing haloes, to serve as your guide. One never tires of winter’s pyrotechnic display, as a laserium of color entertains the eye as you float in the hot tub. The Japanese believe that a child conceived under the Northern Lights will have special powers.
Fjallnas has 20 Scandinavian-style suites with modern flare, clean lines and burst of color. A guest house can sleep another 20 with a more hostel-type feel. Their spa, dubbed Mii Gullo, which means “How are you?” in Sami, expresses the friendly sentiment of the culture and incorporates local herbs and traditions into the therapies. An awe-inspiring experience arrives with the soak in the hot tub overlooking the icy glacial lake as you sink into the warm cradle of water surrounded by this other-worldly topography, as if poised in a perfect snow globe. Their Oaivi treatment combines a back, scalp and face massage with a nourishing mask applied to the scalp, or the Giege uses local hot stones so their heat can penetrate tired muscles and open energy meridians. Aula Capella, a non-denominational chapel, inspires inner reflection and meditation. In the dining room—Nordic cuisine goes gourmet with Norwegian cod spruced up with Jerusalem artichokes, fillet of reindeer served with pumpkin and cranberries, and local cloudberries suspended in a parfait with a warm chocolate blini.
Fjallnas is a seven-hour drive from Stockholm or you can fly into Roros, Norway directly or via Oslo. The resort picks up guests from Roros; then it’s an easy 40-minute drive to the hotel. Double occupancy in double room is $175 per person; double occupancy in a suite $295 per person. Both include breakfast, lunch pack, spa entry, guided outdoor trip, and transfer from airport to hotel. Book three nights, get one extra night for free. Book five nights, get two extra nights for free.
[Editor’s note: This feature was originally posted last year, but since the Northern Hemisphere’s winter months are an excellent time to see the Northern Lights and visit this mystical landscape, we thought we would bring you more–because you really can’t have too much of a good thing.]
[simpleflickr set=”72157615831553762″ /]