6 Reasons Why Andorra Should Be Your Next Ski Destination
Andorra. The teeny-tiny principality's name probably rings a bell, BUT, we'll go out on a limb here and bet it's probably not currently top of your Travel Bucket List.
In the immortal words of the Spice Girls, STOP RIGHT THERE (thank you very much), and please allow us to change your mind.
Nestled cosily between France and Spain, mountainous Andorra has a distinctly European feel to it, without actually being part of the EU (much like us - sobs forever).
It's those mountains which are a huge part of its touristic allure, specifically with skiers of all abilities not wanting to haemorrhage their hard-earned cash monies in the same way you would in say, Courcheval or Zermatt.
So whether you're a Bambi-on-ice novice or a die-hard black run veteran, here's why you should make Andorra your next ski destination.
1. You don't have to be an amazing skiier
Take it from someone who has achieved oxidation levels of rustiness, this is a huge tick in the 'pro' column.
The Grandvalira resort is the largest ski area in southern Europe and has 400 instructors at its disposal, helping beginners and intermediates to get slope-confident again.
We joined a lower-intermediate class run by Nina, who had the patience of an actual angel. Being in a small group with skiiers of similar abilities really takes the pressure off when you inevitably and spectacularly stack it.
2. But if you are an amazing skiier, you won't be bored
Equally, if you've been skiing since you were basically a zygote, you can leave your neophyte mates on the nursery slopes and enjoy the resort's 32 red pistes and 22 black pistes.
Neilson, who we travelled and stayed with, also offer Mountain Experts sessions to their guests. These are top-notch ski and snowboard instructors who guide you around the slopes and help you to improve further.
The Mountain Experts are specifically targeted at confident blue and red run skiiers, so arrange to meet your beginner mates at après–ski, where you can lord it over them.
3. It's Insta-worthy
As a rule ski resorts aren't exactly abrasive to the eye, and, no, your motivation to go skiing isn't just so you can rub it in everyone's faces back home, but get a load of this:
You will elicit some serious envy from your family and friends who are stuck in over-heated offices with unflattering lighting, with nothing to look forward to.
Should you be feeling flush, Neilson also offer First Trax, a unique scheme where guests can ski for an hour on weekdays before the slopes open, with a couple of instructors in attendance.
Neck a coffee and croissant before taking the lift to the top of the mountain to enjoy fresh snow and the sort of sunrise which will make even those of you who are dead inside feel emotional.
4. Husky mushing
Skiing is fun and games but sometimes the urge to be in the presence of something cute and cuddly is too strong.
Dog-lovers will rejoice knowing they can go Husky mushing in El Tarter.
Once you've met the dogs and humble-bragged on all your social accounts, you can either drive the sled like a boss, or bundle yourself in blankets and be driven by a handsome Argentinian man called Julio. Totally your call.
5. Treat yo'self
Skiing: Excellent for buns of steel and killer calves, but also quite knackering.
After a day carving up the pistes or falling repeatedly on your tuccus, a massage and spa session can help soothe those aches and bruised egos.
Neilson offer massages and spa treatments at the Hotel del Clos, where we were duly pummelled and kneaded back into shape.
We went to the super-swanky Sport Hermitage Hotel on our second day. With it's five floors of spa loveliness and incredible mountain view, it will suddenly become crystal-clear to you that this is the sort of life you were meant to live.
6. You won't have to sell an organ to visit
Ski holidays are notorious for being financially prohibitive. Andorra offers some of the cheapest commercialised skiing on the planet.
Neilson's package rates reflect this with a week's board costing well under £500 and which includes flights, transfers, breakfast, evening meals AND the Mountain Experts sessions.
So we'll be seeing you there.
MTV Travelled With... A week at the Neilson Hotel Del Clos in El Tarter (Andorra) costs from £455pp, The price includes return flights from Gatwick, resort transfers, 7 nights at the Neilson Hotel Del Clos on a club board basis (daily breakfast and afternoon tea plus 6 evening meals) plus the FREE Neilson Mountain Experts guiding and coaching service. Visit www.neilson.co.uk or call 0333 014 3350. Husky sledding - €36.50 per person, First Trax - €15 per person, Entry to the Hermitage Spa - €49 (for 3 hours, with a drink (cava) included, Price for a massage at Del Clos – from €35.
Written By Zahra Mulroy.