GREAT-VALUE SKIING, HOTELS AND APRÈS IN THE PEAKS OF THE PYRENEES.
For the past 18 months, we have been waiting to get back to the mountains. We have filled our days reading about skiing, dreaming about skiing, planning our next trips, crossing off the days on the calendar until winter hits, and stomping around the house in our ski boots (go on, admit it, you’ve done it too). But folks, the wait is up. Winter is here. The ski lifts are turning. It’s time to grab your goggles and go skiing.
If you are planning a family ski trip this winter, let us tell you about a place that may not be on your radar (if you are a seasoned Alps-goer, at least). It’s Andorra. Long known as a cheap and cheerful skiing destination thanks to its duty free status, the tiny principality, located in the Pyrenees between France and Spain, has spent much of the last decade rebranding itself as a more upmarket ski destination. The result? It’s a thriving ski area that remains great value but now has style and substance to match.
A mega £112 million has been spent on improving facilities and accommodation across Andorra’s resorts, with the linked ski areas of Soldeu, El Tarter and Pas de la Casa – marketed as Grandvalira – the centrepiece of the project.
There has been a huge investment in new lifts and pistes; Andorra now offers over 300km of hugely varied pistes, served by 99 lifts across two large domains, Grandvalira and Vallnord. Add in excellent snowmaking across much of the area and it is a legitimate rival to the leviathans of the Alps.
Despite its vast network of pistes, Andorra is compact in size, meaning that no matter whether you have chosen to stay in Grandvalira or Vallnord, you can easily travel to the other for a day of exploring new terrain.
Andorra has another ace up its sleeve: because it faces the Mediterranean, the region is one of Europe’s sunniest ski destinations.
A compact resort, with a vast array of slopes for all levels, a record number of sunny days, and great-value high-quality accommodation – no wonder Andorra is rated as one of the best ski destinations in Europe for families. So, where to ski?
SPAS AND SNOWPARKS
Soldeu, which lies just over the pass from the resort of Pas de la Casa, is a great base from which to explore some of the Pyrenees’ finest terrain; the resort offers direct access to the entire Grandvalira ski area, which is perfect for beginners and intermediates with its long, wide runs. Soldeu also boasts some excellent 4-5* hotels – complete with kids’ clubs, pools and spas – which are close to the lifts, some even ski-in/ski-out.
Arinsal is another great option for families, with numerous beginner slopes and free lift passes for kids. The ski school is easy to get to and there’s plenty to do off the slopes, from bowling and arcade games, to tubing and snowmobile rides at El Planell.
Or you could opt for El Tarter. Located just down the road from Soldeu, it is one of the more laid-back villages, popular for its gentle beginner slopes and intermediate-friendly cruisey reds. For kids who love spending more time in the air than on the snow, the Snowpark El Tarter is one of the pioneering terrain parks in Europe with different levels of jumps, rails and boxes, all excellently maintained.
Need some tuition? Its English- speaking, BASI-approved instructors make Andorra one of the best places in Europe to learn to ski or snowboard.
BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE
Soldeu or Arinsal. Piste-bashing, tubing or snowpark sessions. The choice is yours. In fact, with over 100 resorts on offer across Europe and North America, accessible from more than 15 UK airports, Crystal is all about choice. And with three ways to book (online, via phone or in one of Crystal’s hubs), getting your dream trip nailed down is easy.
Crystal is all about value, too. All holiday packages include flights, transfers and accommodation, so you don’t need to spend hours trawling the internet looking for deals – which leaves you more time to plan the fun stuff, like which swimsuit you are going to pack for that hotel spa…
For those of you who might be feeling apprehensive about travelling in these uncertain times, Crystal has rolled out its Crystal Holiday Promise, so you can book and travel with confidence. If your holiday can’t go ahead for reasons related to Covid-19, like changes to the FCDO advice, you’ll be able to change your booking to another date fee-free or receive a full refund. You’ll also be able to change your booking to another date fee-free if someone in your party is diagnosed with Covid-19 or is officially required to self-isolate at the time of your trip.
If you book a package holiday, you’re protected under the package holiday refund guarantee, too. This means that if Crystal needs to cancel your holiday, for whatever reason, you’ll be able to change your booking to another Crystal holiday fee-free, or you can opt for a full refund. And of course, your holiday will be protected by ABTA and ATOL, too.
You’ll get expert service every step of the way and, so you know what to expect when you arrive, Crystal’s free Ski Explorer app has snow reports, resort info and more. The wait is up, folks. Winter is here. The ski lifts are turning. It’s time to grab your goggles.