A spectacular fjord
TEXT: LISA MARIA BERG | PHOTO: RICHARD NÆRØ
Whether you are looking for the ultimate climb, off-piste slopes, a late night fishing trip or just want to enjoy a good meal and a quiet place to gather your thoughts, Sagafjord Hotel is the place to go. This pearl of a location — situated between the deep fjords and the high mountains on the west coast of Norway — will leave you simultaneously mind-blown and mindful.
“Even Norwegians find this place exotic. It is like a place they have never seen before, so dramatic in its very being,” says Hotel manager Wenke Gjørtz. She is passionate about Hjørundfjorden, the 33 kilometre-long fjord that stretches out from Storfjorden (the great fjord), south of the city of Ålesund, on the stunning west cost of Norway. It is not hard to understand what Gjørtz means. When someone says picture postcard, this is what they mean. It is a landscape like no other, from the deep fjord to the soaring, knife-edge mountains above. Safagjord Hotel’s ambition is to put Hjørundfjorden on the map as the new hub for events and activities in the region. And with their branding as not just a hotel but activity centre too, they are doing a very good job of just that.
A place for every season
With its harsh winters, and summers with an almost-never-setting sun, Norway is not just one place, but many, in its ever-changing cycle. “The immense changes between seasons make it possible for someone to visit in winter and have one experience, and then to return during summer and have a completely different one,” Gjørtz notes. And she is right. Whilst you can pack a bikini and a pair of shorts for August, you will have to equip yourself properly if you are climbing the Alps of Sunnmøre during winter. It is truly a place for every taste, whether seeking the thrill of a nearby summit or enjoying a relaxing swim in the Hotel’s own marina.
If the thought of kayaking across, cycling around or — if you are of the very adventurous type — swimming across the fjord seems far away from your idea of a holiday, fear not. Sagafjord Hotel also happens to be the ultimate place to relax, reconnect and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. “It is a peaceful place,” Gjørtz assures. “A place where one can come and just drop the shoulders a little bit.” The fjords of the west coast are often sparsely populated, with little hamlets found in between fields of apple trees and linked by picturesque, winding lanes. If you are looking for that place where you can soak yourself in beauty and atmosphere, then Hjørundfjorden is waiting for you.
Many also use Sagafjord Hotel as a base for experiencing what the rest of the region has to offer. “We have guests that stay with us and day trip to nearby attractions, cities and fjords,” Gjørtz says. The city of Ålesund is worth a visit, with its distinctive art nouveau architecture and Geirangerfjorden, which features on the UNESCO World Heritage List. But a road trip in any direction is a feast for the eyes. “We have all sorts of guests here — including families or friends travelling together, while a lot of businesses choose us for their team events, conferences and courses.”
The food also deserves a few words. “We have a renowned kitchen, serving traditional Norwegian food, based on local produce,” Gjørtz says, who stocks her fridge with her neighbours in mind. Cheese, eggs, fish and meat from the area are the foundation for this traditional Norwegian menu. “Our neighbouring businesses, others working in the tourist industry and we ourselves share the belief that the most important resource between us is the fjord. We need to take care of her and we can only do that by working together,” Gjørtz explains. “We support each other, make each one of us better and build up each other’s businesses, with the philosophy that together we treat the nature around us with care and in a sustainable way.” It is hard to disagree. To be a guest at Sagafjord Hotel is to be reminded that we are guests of nature. And whether you are trekking in its mountains, kayaking across its fjords or simply admiring it from a terrace, you will love it, care for it and leave it as perfect as you found it.
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