Grønolen Fjellgard lies in the very heart of southern Norway, a few minutes from popular ski resort Beitostølen, on the threshold of the mighty Jotunheimen mountains.
Text: Edda Espeland / Translation: Linda Vikaune / Photo: Aud Eva Bergo
The mountain farm lies 800 metres above sea level, surrounded by majestic mountains – 26 of Norway’s highest peaks are found in this area – and vast plains, a paradise for nature lovers and hikers enjoying a long walk in the mountains. Near Grønolen Fjellgard there are other natural gems like Besseggen, Gjende and Bygdin.
Grønolen Fjellgard was originally a farm, the name comes from the old Norse grænnholl, meaning the green or pine covered hill. The same family has lived at the farm since 1784, when Knut Knutsen Tørstad took over and also took the name of the farm, as was common practice.
Today’s owners and hosts, Øyvind and Tor Erik Grønolen, formally took over in 1990 but have taken part in the running of the farm more or less all their lives. When their parents took over they built a new main house, which was so big they could rent out rooms at Easter to supplement the relatively meagre income from mountain farming. In 1955 the house was ready to welcome 18 guests with room and board. The first guests were picked up on the main road by today’s hosts’ grandfather and Red, a big chestnut horse with a sled. The road wasn’t ploughed in the winter until several years later. For years the same guests came back again and again, and the rooms were named after them: the Thoresen room, Syversen room and Rød room etc.
The Easter guests gradually started coming up to the summer farm at Vinstervann lake when the family stayed there in the summer. They decided to build some spare rooms at the summer farm to offer room and board there too. As demand increased, the family had to make an important decision and choose between farming and tourism. They liked having people around and chose tourism.
Gradually they added on to the farm, building new rooms and a new kitchen, and then also private houses for the family. In 1997 they opened eight new apartments, then in 2007 another four, so today Grønolen can offer guests a total of 22 rooms and 12 cosy apartments decorated and furnished in the style of the mountain farm. During renovation they have chosen to use old painting and decoration techniques to create a distinctive look. They have also built a 220 square metre well-being centre with sauna and steam room, gym and counter-current pool and massage room.
Food is an important part of the experience at Grønolen, for nothing whets the appetite like nature and fresh mountain air. The hosts want to give their guests a taste sensation they won’t forget, whether it’s gourmet meals or simple traditional fare – all based on fresh and good quality produce. The panoramic view from the dinner table inspires the chef to create a delicious and varied menu. Guests really enjoy the cosy atmosphere at the farm, and looking out over the beautiful Øyangen lake, taking in the magic atmosphere and the magnificent mountain vistas, meals sometimes last into the small hours …