Arinsal, Andorra Ski Resort Guide

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When you travel to Andorra, you'll find the linked resorts of this part of Andorra are astonishingly different from one another: Arinsal bears all the hotels, restaurants, bars and a rich nightlife, while Pal does not have any accommodation and is just a ski station. The ski terrain is very different too. While Arinsal is high, treeless and generally windy, Pal is lower down, sheltered and has lots of trees. The cable-car connecting the two areas is pretty high up and usually closed because of high winds, so the resorts remain clearly separate despite the marketing zest selling them as one.

The steep village of Arinsal has prospered speedily in recent years. Not long ago, the chairlift, hotels and bars on top of the narrow valley were the resort-village in 1998: development has exploded and the place now extends all the way down the valley. Hotel location is therefore crucial if you don't like to spend half an hour each morning going up the hill to the gondola together with all your ski gear.

A cable-car connects La Massana, the adjacent town down the valley, to Pal. This makes La Massana a great base for families and those seeking a quieter alternative, while Arinsal's lively apres ski pulses through the night.

The slopes immediately above Arinsal are inside a narrow, east-facing bowl. Besides the good red and black runs down from La Capa and the small bumps portion, this is a rather limited, predominantly beginners' region. From the primary (and rather slow) Les Fonts chairlift, you are able to view most of the Arinsal area.

Savoring a high perspective, the nursery slopes here regularly have good snow conditions, but they can get very busy. When the crowds do scrape away the snow, the area is thoroughly backed by snow cannons. The blue runs on the mountain on top offer excellent opportunities for progression, although they can likewise get quite busy at peak times.

For more competent skiers and boarders demanding longer runs and more wide-ranging terrain, it's ideal to get to the six-minute cable-car ride from Port Negre going to the Seturia and Pal sections. You'll discover less crowded slopes, a free ride area and plenty of great off-piste tree runs you can choose yourself, plus an FIS slalom and carving area.

© 2012 Athena Goodlight

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