A-Z of resorts: Geilo

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The Independent Travel

This is a fact: the more you ski, the fatter you get. I'm not talking about Olympic downhillers training six hours a day; I mean holiday skiers. You eat those imaginative Alpine dishes consisting of bacon and cheese or cheese and bacon, or American delicacies such as sloppy joes; you swill back beer upon beer, chased by shots of the local hard stuff; and every year your technique improves and makes skiing less effort.

This is a fact: the more you ski, the fatter you get. I'm not talking about Olympic downhillers training six hours a day; I mean holiday skiers. You eat those imaginative Alpine dishes consisting of bacon and cheese or cheese and bacon, or American delicacies such as sloppy joes; you swill back beer upon beer, chased by shots of the local hard stuff; and every year your technique improves and makes skiing less effort.

This is where the Norwegian resort of Geilo comes in with a three-point plan for weight loss on your ski holiday. The food, which is excellent in hotels including Dr Holms and the Bardola, is almost unerringly (but not unherringly) healthy, concentrating on fish dishes and salads. But even reindeer casserole contains significantly less fat than its beef, lamb or pork counterparts.

Next, your alcohol intake will be seriously reduced, unless you have unlimited funds or managed to smuggle more than a litre of vodka through customs. A small beer costs around £3. And don't even look at the wine list in restaurants, because if you thought your local convenience store marks up shoddy vintages, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Geilo is about three hours from both Oslo and Bergen; and best reached by train. It's a pretty little town on a plateau, with two gently rounded fjells (mountains). The Norwegian influence on East Coast America can be seen in its gleaming white clapboard houses and barns. And as in New England, latitude compensates for altitude to protect the snow.

The downhill skiing is not extensive – the two hills combine to provide 28km of pistes – and those looking for tough skiing need to head into the birch trees. However, the ski school here is excellent – especially since Norwegians could teach us better English. And this is where the third part of the Geilo health plan comes in. With lift pass and lesson prices comparing favourably to the Alps and Rockies, it is a great place to learn new skills, be it snowboarding, cross-country skiing, or the testing and elegant telemark style – a cross between downhill and free-heel langlaufing. After a day (and a night if you want, since there are floodlit slopes) of telemark you'll be developing muscles lost in the mists of time, believe me.

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