No place like Norway

Briony Key turns polar pioneer for a trip 70 degrees north of the Arctic Circle

Anyone who’s spent more than five minutes in the events industry knows that FAM stands for ‘familiarisation’. But on this trip those attending might say it was an acronym for Fab, Amazing, Magic.

We started in Tromsø  – gateway to the Arctic, and what an adventure!

Whisking from the airport to a waiting rib boat we swapped our arrival flight for sea spray, zipping across the sound from Stakkevollveien to Risvika.

The Tromsø Friluftsenter rib tours are run by Trine and Alf Risvik, who offer small groups a great way to see nature. Eagles, sea birds, whales and seals can all be seen on their trips.

Landing on the family’s land, Risvik, we were invited into a Lavvo (Sami tents used when reindeer herding) and treated to some local meats and cheeses.

Sommarøy’s Arctic Hotel

It was then back in the air, by helicopter, to power over stunning mountaintops to Sommarøy’s Arctic Hotel. It might be remote, but has the latest 21st century technology, and offers midnight swimming then a hot tub … under Arctic sunshine! The property has 73 rooms (150 beds), and 13 meeting rooms, with a capacity for 300.

Our host, Kjell Ove Hveding ensured our group’s comfort with beach drinks and a tasty locally sourced dinner…some of which we’d caught ourselves.

Our fishing trip to Taafjorden Fjord had been a success with fresh cod. Some got their first taste of reindeer (which we didn’t catch).

Sail away

The next day found us back on the water for a Sailyak tour to Little Sommarøy Island and drinks on Sandholmen Beach.A Sailyak is a hybrid sailing kayak, so you pedal if there’s no wind, and cruise the breeze. It’s fun and ideal for a team challenge as both experienced and inexperienced sailors can crew.

Our barbecue lunch must have felt like a last supper for those in the group brave enough to zip wire in Sommarøy Activity Park. But there was chance for calm on the transfer back to Tromsø, until most of us went totally ‘Agggh’ over Polaria’s penguins.

Polaria is the world’s most northerly aquarium and educational centre, and is also used for events. It has a cinema and plenty of creative MICE options.

Clarion Hotel, The Edge

Tromsø boasts Norway’s highest density of eateries, and we’d definitely had plenty to digest even ahead of our lovely dinner at Clarion Hotel, The Edge – our base for the next two nights.

The 290-room hotel has 11 rooms for smaller groups, and six for larger, and caters for up 1,000 delegates seated. Demand for meeting rooms for 20-120 has led to plans to convert the ground floor of the neighbouring building to create up to a further five rooms for this market.

The new meeting rooms will be linked to the hotel’s wireless connection and AV systems so that information can be shared across all conference rooms.

Tromsø Challenge and Arctic Drive

We took on the Tromsø Challenge, which first saw us head to the town’s oldest watering hole to try some Mack Brewery beer. The brewery has three areas that can be used as venues – Cellar 5 catering for 100, the late-Victorian-styled apartment (up to 30), and the Beer Hall up to 200.

The next day we took on the Arctic Drive Tour at Telegrafbukta which involved speed racing in self-drive buggies on a specially designed course

DMC The Arctic Drive is owned and run by Kjetil Hansen, who can also set up jet skiing, Northern Lights/scenic tours, fishing, photography…and wolf kissing (yes, you read that correctly). We also tried flyboarding with Kjetil which is not for the faint-hearted, but is incredible fun.

The goal is that the pressurised water forced to your jet-nozzled boots thrusts you up into the air….you have to try it.

Tromsø Villmarkssenter

After all the adventure what better way to end the day than with dinner at Tromsø Villmarkssenter – the largest local husky camp, where we enjoyed helping to train some puppies and a lovely dinner in another cosy Lavvo.

The camp also has a conference centre, for up to 113, and lots of incentive options, from dog and reindeer sledging to snowshoeing and northern light trips.

Booker’s view

Archie, Black Tomato Agency:

“I’d be looking at Norway as an inventive opportunity. I see it as a direct competitor to Iceland, offering adventure-style activities and similar Scandi culture.”

Leah, First Event:

“The beautiful landscapes leave a lasting impression. There is a relaxed atmosphere everywhere you go. Tromsø would best suit our smaller incentive groups, and our larger, international clients would also be drawn to the once in a lifetime experiences; which I think Sommarøy, in particular, can offer.”

Louise, Eventscape:

“Having done events throughout this country for 15 years, I’ve never failed to be impressed. Local suppliers’ friendliness and attention to detail is superb. Norway has always excelled in winter, but this trip proved it can compete with the best in terms of summer incentives.

“Cost is an issue and food and wine is expensive. Balanced against this, Tromsø and Sommarøy have amazing programmes.”

Rebecca, In connection

“I had no expectations of Norway but it blew my mind. Itineraries were exhausting but so much fun.

“Organisers excelled with their amazing summer activities that would cater well for any group seeking the ‘wow’ factor.

Cheryl, Assured Events

“There has been a trend in recent years of people visiting Reykjavik, and I see Tromsø getting some of this market. I am sure I would have no trouble selling it. The only issue may be the lack of direct flights.”


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