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Review: Grandvalira Ski Area, Andorra

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  • Review: Grandvalira Ski Area, Andorra

    Resort: Grandvalira, Andorra

    Date visited: January Ď07

    Cost (from UK): £600 with First Choice inc flights, transfer to resort, 6day area lift pass, 7 nights HB accommodation

    Slopes & Parks: The Grandvalira area is pretty big (193km of pistes, 63 lifts) and includes a good variety of terrain, though maybe lacking a little if steep blacks are your thing. There are two main areas: Pas De La Casa/Grau Roig and Soldeu/El Tarter, all have runs suitable for all abilities. The two main areas are linked by lifts and slopes when conditions allow. This was not the case when we were there but there is a bus between areas (free when you show your lift pass) that runs at least every hour. Snow making covers about 40% of resort, though didnít seem to be utilised enough. Pistes could get a little busy at times but not too much of a problem. Thereís a small rail park in Pas De La Casa, another small park in Grau Roig and conditions permitting (not when we were there) a much larger park and pipe in El Tarter. There seemed to be a local scene of freestyle riders.

    Lifts: Lifts seemed fast enough and well located. No queues longer than a few minutes when we were there. Only encountered one drag lift, most were quads, six-packs or bubbles.

    Snow conditions: Snow cover has been thin the past two seasons (06-07 and 07-08) and afternoon temperatures warm even in January, therefore slopes were icy in the morning and a tad slushy in the afternoon. Better conditions are found in Pas De La Casa at higher altitude.

    Accommodation: Stayed in Hotel Del Clos in El Tarter. The room was pretty big for a ski resort hotel with balcony overlooking the slopes. Short 5 minute walk to lifts not a problem. Breakfast and evening meal included were hot buffet, a bit hit and miss in quality, get there early to get it hot. El Tarter itself is very quiet at night, get the 5 minute bus ride to Soldeu for more bars (live bands common) and restaurants. Mostly sympathetically built B&B/HB hotels in Soldeu/El Tarter. For apartment block accommodation and more of a party scene stay in Pas De La Casa (but you may have a longer walk to the slope from your accommodation and to your accommodation from bus drop off point as its a traffic free zone, oh and its very ugly!!) If you want it really quiet Grau Roig has one (very comfortable so Iím told) hotel just at the bottom of the slopes.

    Tour operator: First Choice had good reps, not pushy and pretty knowledgeable. Flight experience was fine except for a delay on the flight out but we were given free meal vouchers for airport restaurants, so not too bad. No other complaints.

    Pros: Large area, varied terrain. Good parks for all abilities when conditions allow. Reasonably priced for Europe. Good parks when conditions allow. Good choice of accommodation.

    Cons: Poor snow record recently. Fairly long transfer (3-4hrs) from airports in Barcelona or Toulouse. Fewer hard slopes for experts.
    Revel8 BWP - Spruce Pro Prime
    SnowJam 90 - Extreme II

  • #2
    An additional note, in the past 5 years, the government of Andorra has spent mad money into their ski mountains, and to improve their bus system to the mountains. They realize that winter sports is their future for their economy, and is doing as much as possible to make it an attractive destination for everyone. Almost all the large hotels have packages where you can purchase both your lift tickets and insurance at the front desk instead of waiting on line at the mountain to purchase your lift ticket.

    Highly recommend getting insurance (through the hotel) because it's super cheap and it covers all medical expenses, including medical helicopter.
    Edward in NYC


    • #3

      I think that is an excellent point - insurance. Here in Japan there are no Good Samaritan laws which means no one is under any obligation to do anything for you period. I've been told that HeliDoc actually verifies your ability to pay (in other words that you have a credit card on you) before they'll even turn a rotor. I think the rules change if the report is "life and death" but insurance can without be the difference. As an example, last season at Shiga a snowboarder collided with a skier on an intermediate slope and the skier died. The reports on the news later that day said it was a heart attack. Regardless, HeliDoc showed up, examined the dude, determined he was not salvageable and left. The skier was still just laying on the slope and ski patrol had call an ambulance. It was one of the most sickening things I've ever seen in my life. They truly did not care that a human being was left behind. But again, here they carry no legal responsibility whatsoever.
      "It's no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society" Jiddu Krisnamurti

      Spruce Sherpa - RVL8 KTP - RVL8 Blunt XL