Two members of the Crystal Ski team, Janet and Gemma, recently returned from a whistle stop tour of Andorra and the three resorts of Pas de la Casa, Soldeu and Arinsal.
This is their blog in which you can discover what each resort has to offer, their snow buggies experience as well as a photo guide of how to look cool on the slopes (yes yellow and blue really can go together!)
Highlights of each resort
The Famous Five headed the Pyrenean Principality of Andorra wedged between France and Spain in early March. We started in Pas de la Casa where it snowed solidly for the two days we were there – the soft powder and minus 10 degrees at the top of the mountain made for perfect skiing conditions on the slopes. The fantastic experts (ski guides) from Grandvalira took us competent skiers, and token snowboarder, from Pas to Soldeu via Grau Roig on a tour of the best bits of the 193km of piste.
Aussie Pat took great care of us as we stuffed our faces with hearty lasagne, chips, garlic bread and home made apple crumble at the Hotel Llac Negre. Got to get a tactical feed in! Then we headed off for the infamous bar crawl, as you do in Pas, and the rest falls under the ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour’ category…lets just say a good night was had by all – and for much less than we expected.
Although part of the expansive Grandvalira ski area, and just a 10 minute drive away, Soldeu feels worlds apart from Pas. The stone clad buildings and wooden facades are typical of the Catalan region offering a more picturesque resort. The gondola station is located within the Sport Village Hotel complex – so you don’t have any excuses for missing the first lift! A quieter alternative to the hustle and bustle of Pas, there’s still plenty to entertain in Soldeu – the spas and kids clubs at both the Sport Hotels and the Piolets Park and Spa are simply fab.
We spent our last day (and night) in the fantastic Princesa Parc Hotel in Arinsal – the short 2 minute walk to the gondola was greatly appreciated when in ski boots! Famllies are well looked after here with a ten pin bowling alley and games room downstairs. Our beginner (bless her) found Arinsal the most user friendly – the magic carpet is really close to the top of the gondola, so no navigating tricky button lifts.
The ski school took fantastic care of her – impressively she was parallel skiing on her third day. The resort is well set out for those newer to skiing or snowboarding with a good variety of blue and red runs. So you can perfect your technique whilst gaining confidence as you progress from the nursery slopes to the top of the mountain. Make sure you check out Mike Jones performing live at Quo Vadis – Arinsal’s après ski hot spot.
Looking stylish as ever, with our salopettes over our jeans, we headed up the gondola in El Tarter to try our hand at snow buggy driving. The guy in charge took one look at us 4 girls and decided it wouldn’t be a good idea to let us race around the track at the same time. Not too sure why! The embarrassingly high pitched girly squeals that ensued might have reinforced that decision for him…especially when we nearly took him out. Whoopsie!
You feel somewhat like a rally driver on a snow course, safely buckled into your oversized go-kart tearing around the course. And driving is as simple as one pedal to go and one to stop. The difficult part is trying not to crush the cones marking out the figure of eight course or doing 360’s as you attempt to turn a corner. Thankfully the passenger side is equipped with a hand rail – perfect for those white knuckle moments of sheer joy and exhilaration!
Our antics have yet to hit the news, so you see, racing isn’t just for boys!
By Gemma Brown and Janet Bond