He lost his camera, and his life was changed for ever. Today Graham Austick, Austrian mountain guide and skiing instructor, owns and manages the small luxury destination Lyngen Lodge in the northern county of Troms.
Text: Edda Espeland / Translation: Linda Vikaune / Photo: The Hotell
Graham had a company in Austria offering off-piste skiing all over the world, and Lyngen in Troms county was one of the places where he guided skiers. On one of his travels he went north by boat to visit the Kåfjord area by Lyngenfjord, and he was on his way through the forest when he suddenly saw an open plateau straight ahead. A thought struck him, suddenly and without warning: He would build a lodge here and create a permanent base for skiers who wanted to explore this fantastic area. He got his camera out and took a snapshot of the place. That day he happened to have two cameras with him, and as he took a photo with one, he lost the other. He didn’t notice it, just carried on walking through the forest, completely engrossed in the strong visual impressions. In the afternoon they went back to the boat and left, and it was only the next morning he discovered that his camera was gone.
A week later, when he was back in Austria, he got an email from the Norwegian skipper who told him that someone had found the camera and wanted to return it. Graham hadn’t forgotten about his vision of a lodge, and decided to go back. He met with the man who had found his camera with his mother and Elisabeth Braathen, who co-owns the lodge today. They were warmly welcomed, and it turns out that the man, John Johanssen, was the municipality property manager and knew the land and who owned it very well. After a few meetings with the land owner, they agreed on a price and closed the deal.
The plot lay on a plateau 30 metres above the fjord and had magnificent views over the grassy hills tumbling towards the water and the spectacular mountains on the horizon.
“The land chose me – not the other way around,” says Graham.
All in one place
Lyngen Lodge was built, and today it offers tourists the ultimate combination of relaxation and wonderful views and terrain. It gives you everything in one place: full room and board with a world class kitchen, and a choice of Arctic adventures and activities with experienced mountain and activity guides.
The Lodge can accommodate 16 guests in eight rooms, all en suite. Both bedrooms and bathrooms are about 15 square metres, intimate and inviting, but made small on purpose to encourage people to go out and socialise in the communal spaces. It seems to have worked, for the lounge with the large open fireplace is a magnet for all the guests who stay here.
Everything is built from pine wood, and the architecture is designed to fit in with the surrounding landscape. Geothermal heating gives a good and even temperature throughout, and the thick turf roof insulates well. The soft pastel interior and the furniture is in keeping with the Arctic outside. The Lodge also has a fully stocked bar, a library and seminar room, a sauna and an outside jacuzzi.
The kitchen is the heart of every home, and this is also true at Lyngen Lodge, where the kitchen is an open and inclusive space. The chef plans, prepares and serves world class food, for the aim is that the look and taste of the food should be as amazing as the fantastic view from the dinner table. After a full day outside in the fresh Arctic air, guests can’t wait to bite into the culinary delights in front of them – based on local produce like reindeer, fresh fish from the fjord, local lamb and many other surprises. The well stocked cellar provides carefully selected wines to complement the chef’s creations.
Just sit back and enjoy the view of the northern lights are dancing in the sky – or the midnight sun lighten up the mountains to make your Arctic adventure complete.