Resort Guides

Ski Resorts Guide – Grandvalira, Andorra

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Grandvalira was formed in 2003 as the amalgamation of the separate lift companies that ran the resorts of Pas de la Casa, Grau Roig and Soldeu-el Tarter. Bigger was deemed better, and the fully linked area now covers a very respectable 210km of pistes.

  • Highest Point: 2,640m
  • Descent: 930m
  • No. lifts: 67

The resort has tried hard to shed its image as a tacky ‘bargain basement’ winter destination, and has generally succeeded. However, its duty free status still means plenty of good cheap booze flows, and you’ll return with a bigger hole in your liver than your pocket.

The Parks – 4/5

All of the village bases have a terrain park close by, so you’ll never have to commute far for your hits.

The El Tarter Snowpark is easily the best freestyle set-up in Andorra and probably in the whole of the Pyrenees. It is served by the Tossa Espiolets chairlift and is home to some mighty cheese wedges. The park extends almost the entire length of the face and is divided into a number of lines for different abilities; everyone is well catered for, whether you’re taking your first foray or are a seasoned pro.The park now has five earth-shaped mounds in a row for serious kicker action once covered in snow.

The El Tarter Snowpark is easily the best freestyle set-up in Andorra and probably in the whole of the Pyrenees

Not too far from Soldeu village is the Sunset Park. As the name suggests, this park opens in the afternoon and closes around 10pm. It is located next to the friendly Peretol Hotel in the small village of Bordes d’Envalira. The park is served by a T-bar but it currently isn’t yet lift-linked to the rest of the area. However, if you eat at the hotel or are a guest they will happily give you a lift back to Soldeu. The park is set up to have features for all abilities, and the locals say it has the best jibs. They usually have an airbag as well. Every Friday and Saturday they run a video competition on their website giving you a chance to win some goodies.

If you need any kit, head to Slidewayz in Soldeu which is located on the main street. It was founded by the UK’s very own Tyler Chorlton and English-born Spanish snowboard legend Merlin Balfour.

Pas’ main park, the ‘Isards’, is unlikely to open this season, but over the back of Pas in the Grau Roig sector near the village of Piolet is the Snowpark Xavi. This one is heavily jib-focused, featuring picnic tables and plenty of easy rails and boxes.

The Powder – 3/5

In Pas, there is a dedicated freeride zone served by the Pic Blanc chairlift, while in Grau Roig there are some more reasonable off-piste areas. From the summit, take the main run down the hill and across the top of the black, from where you can access a few tempting powder fields. If you hunt around, you’ll find many small- to medium sized- cliff drops, gullies and rocks – just don’t expect anything on an Alaskan scale!

The terrain in Soldeu is the most fun in Andorra, especially off-piste. There are two dedicated freeride zones which are well worth shredding. From the summit of Pic D’Encampadana, (Encampadana area is Tarter) grab the 4-Els Clots chair and drop in off the top; from here you can ride down into Riba Escorxada and back to the lifts.

Further routes start off in fast, open terrain before dropping through a thick tree-lined area. The freeride trails from the top of the Portella peak drop into a large area between two pistes and back towards the chairlift. Off the top of the Tossa chair you can drop into Ski School bowl and find drops and hits everywhere.

Tyler Chorlton’s been shredding in Grandvalira’s zones for donkey’s. Here’s a good un from the APO years. Photo: Matt Georges

The Pistes – 3/5

The whole area has an impressive 210km of pistes, but as with the off-piste, advanced riders looking for something really steep and testing will be disappointed.

  • Opens: 2nd December 2017
  • Closes: 8th April 2018
  • 1 Day: €49
  • 6 Days: €260

In Soldeu there are more sedate, pisted red and blue trails off the Tossa Espiolets chair, and the runs that get you to the bottom of Soldeu and El Tarter are also pretty mellow. Beginners have a great mountain to explore, with lots of green slopes to find your feet on. There’s even a green that goes from the highest part of the resort right to the very lowest called the Gail de Bosc – or as the locals call it: the Chicken Run.

For speed freaks there’s the Avet and Aliga slopes, which regularly host FIS European and World Cup events. The excellent modern lifts ensure you don’t have to get used to drags or long queues. The pistes down through trees and back to Soldeu are also great for newbies, but super fun for more advanced riders, too, as they have hits all over the place.

The Parties – 3/5

Pas de la Casa has tried hard to shake of its image as a tacky, kiss-me-quick kind of place with little character. It has more of a French vibe to it than some spots in Andorra, and attracts a young crowd, but it is still the place to head for if you’re after a boozy time. You’ll have no trouble getting to know where the best bars are, but two of the best known are KYU and Billboard. Start there and follow your drunken instincts!

“The Harp is a favourite with local snowboarders and holidaymakers alike”

Soldeu is generally a prettier village than nearby Pas de la Casa, and has a certain charm that the other town lacks. Good places to eat include Cort de Popaire, La Caleta and La Taverna de Iaia, while for cheap and cheerful accommodation try the English-run hotel Roc de Sant Miquel. At the other end of the scale, check out the Hotel Sport Village and Hermitage Hotel, an amazing complex with its own majestic spa.

Soldeu also offers a less cheesy approach to nightlife, with some great live bands and excellent DJ’s; the Harp is a favourite with local snowboarders and holidaymakers alike. Also, try BarCode, AspenFat Albert’s for its great atmosphere, or the Pussycat Club for busting some shapes later in the night.

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