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Our holiday: Mainly a family holiday, with a couple of Hubbies work colleagues along for the ride too.
Website : www.ruka.fi
Basics : Finnish Lapland, 20kms from the Russian Border
Lift system : Mostly chair lifts, with some poma's and t-bars thrown in for good measure. The main 'bubble' chair lift seems almost brand new, but all the lifts are well maintained. High winds meant some of the higher lifts were closed on some days, but on the whole, the system worked well, with pretty good links to other areas of the mountain.
The terrain : Quite a small resort so the different ski areas were fairly close together. A lot of the runs cross over each other, so once on a run you could easily change your mind and head in a different direction, although the piste markings were not brilliant (very small, and covered in snow and ice!) so at times it was difficult to see where you were headed!
The snow : Quite a firm base, but it stayed nice and powdery on top despite the lack of snowfall while we were there. There were snow cannons on the main runs daily, and the piste basher could be seen regularly. On the whole the snow was excellent, although it was a little to hard in places on some of the harder runs for my liking (but I'm only a novice-my Hubby had no problems with the hard stuff at all). For beginners, or nervous skiers, then the blue runs are kept in what I think is perfect condition. Nice and soft on top, with a reassuringly firm base.
Off-piste : Lots of opportunities to nip off the main runs and through the trees or down below the lifts. It's only a small area so not really anything in the way of true off piste, but I would say that there is enough to keep even the most adventurous skier amused for a few days.
The resort : Ruka is a tiny resort about 20 minutes drive from Kuusamo airport. There is a reasonably choice of good accommodation, from Hotels to Log Cabins, and although the choices for shopping are minimal, you can get everything you need. There is a Spar shop for general groceries, and Alko shop for alcohol, a couple of nice little gift shops, a ski hardware store, a few restaurants (including a kebab and pizza place) and a couple of nightclubs. If you want Ibiza with snow then don't go to Ruka, but if you want a relaxing weeks skiing with the chance to blow off steam at the end of the day, then you should be fine. Lots of photo opportunities as the place is absolutely beautiful, and has quite a lot of character.
Food : We were half board so breakfast and our evening meal was provided for us in the Hotel, but we stopped each day at the Hillside Grill on the Vuoselli side of the mountain for lunch-where they served a gorgeous cheeseburger and chips! We didn't try the pizza place, but it looked clean, and smelled very good! The small restaurant near the hire sop did good food, but was also quite pricey. Much better value for money if you eat at one of the on piste bistros.
Accommodation : We stayed at the Rantasipi Rukahovi Hotel, which is right at the foot of the main slopes. Lovely room with the best beds ever, and all rooms have a shower room and also a drying room which came in very useful for drying out soggy gloves! The food was excellent, although the choices did get a little mundane after a week (buffet breakfast which was excellent, then a hot buffet in the evening, which only gave 2 or 3 choices-if you didnt like any of them it was frankfurters and french fries all week!)
Costs: Can't really remember specifics, but on the whole not much more than UK prices-although bar prices were a little steep for spirits, but happy hour gives good value for money. Didn't do grocery shopping as we were half board, but crisps/sweets etc were fairly cheap.
Conclusion: Lovely resort with some excellent skiing, but could be a little 'mundane' for very experienced skiers, or if you are there for more than a week at a time, as it is only a small resort. Black 23 looks like an awesome run on the piste map, but sadly it didn't want to be found-Hubby spent almost all week looking for it, but couldn't find it!
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