by Paul Wojnicki

FROM the moment we step off the plane Harrison and Ella are in heaven - there’s snow everywhere.

I’m astonished how much snow there is, and how everything still functions despite the amounts. But Sweden is no stranger to snow and the 100km transfer from Åre Östersund airport to Vemdalen goes as smoothly as a trip along the M1, only with more attractive scenery. Driving past frozen lakes and snow-covered pine forests is an experience in itself. I’m almost disappointed the transfer has to come to an end.

I needn’t have worried though because Vemdalen is a picture perfect winter destination. A snowy mountain with the pretty little village of Vemdalenskallet perched underneath, complete with Christmas trees every 10 metres.

“This is amazing!” Harrison screams as we alight the minibus and drag our cases through the snow to the Sörgårdarna Apartments.

“This is amazing!” my wife, Alena yells as we fling the door open to find a huge apartment complete with ultra-modern kitchen, four bedrooms and its own private sauna.

“Yes it is amazing!” I agree looking from the living-room window at the 1,000m high mountain 100 or so metres from our room with miles of wide, uncrowded slopes covered in fresh powdery snow. Three-year-old Ella smiles and agrees: “Amazing.”

We’re eager to get in the snow so we quickly don our snow suits and head to the hire shop to pick up our skis, passes and a sledge. We then spend the whole of our first day sledging on the slopes right outside our apartment- with just a quick trip to town for dinner interrupting the fun.

With the excitement of the trip and the exertion of climbing hills all afternoon the kids are delirious with exhaustion and we’re all tucked up in bed for 8pm, which is a shame because it’s New Year’s Eve and there has been a geomagnetic storm predicted, which could have resulted in the Northern Lights making an appearance. Still we have been lucky enough to see the lights before and I’ve had more than my fair share of New Year hangovers so it’s not too disappointing that we miss out on both.

The following day we begin our ski lessons, which are competitively priced despite Sweden’s reputation as an expensive country. A private one-hour lesson for two costs £90, which is about the same as a one-hour lesson for one person in a UK indoor slope. I’m also amazed how quickly the instructors get Harrison and Ella skiing. Five-year-old Harrison graduates from the baby slope to the drag lifts in less than 20 minutes and by the time the lesson has ended he’s taking the chair lift to the top of the mountain and skiing all the way down hand in hand with Anna, his instructor.

The great thing about Vemdalen is the slopes are wide, quiet and have a gentle green run from the summit to the bottom of the mountain. It’s the ideal place to learn, especially for young children.

Meanwhile, Ella is content with sticking to the baby slopes. A covered magic carpet lift eases her to the top of a gentle hill from where she propels herself down again slowly.

The great thing about Vemdalen is it’s very much like Lapland but several degrees warmer and the flight time is around two-and-a-half hours as opposed to Lapland’s four hours. It also has a longer season, with Crystal Ski running snow sure holidays there all the way until the end of the Easter holidays.

There’s little else to choose between the two, scenery wise, and the activities have a similar theme. The only noticeable difference is that there’s no Santa. There is, however Valle, a skiing snowman who's something of a celebrity in these parts and who is frequently seen having selfies with kids and skiing down slopes!

Our ski pass allows free travel on local ski buses and other resorts but we only use it to visit Vemdalen Experience’s base, where Harrison rides a snow scooter on a dedicated track for just £10. We also ride something called a Vesseltur to a remote waffle cottage at the top of a mountain. The scenery is straight out of Narnia and the waffles are pretty good too!But the real highlight for us is the skiing. Kids under seven ski for free while lift passes with Crystal Ski are two for the price of one.

For the most part we ate in our apartment, a two-minute walk to the slopes, and ate out a couple of times in the evening. On our last day we treated ourselves to a husky sled with Klövsjö Äventyr & Konferens, a magical experience for the children and one they talked about all the way back to the ski slopes.

* Paul booked with Crystal Ski, part of the TUI Group which won Best Ski & Winter Sports Holiday Company at the British Travel Awards for the ninth time. One of the reasons Crystal Ski consistently win this and other awards is the support and information for families.

* Detailed information and advice on family ski holidays can be found online at