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Luxury ski and snowboard holidays in Andorra.

Fully catered ski chalet holidays in the lively resort village of Arinsal.

The skiing is 'absolutely fabulous' to plagiarise a BBC comedy phrase and all the more rewarding given the affordability and sheer pleasure of the slopes that greet winter holidaymakers. With a superior range of green, red and black slopes in quality resorts without any of the showiness and pretentiousness of some Swiss and Austrian ski resorts, Andorra is a holiday you will enjoy and still have money left over to buy those branded goods you always wanted but VAT had prevented you from affording.

Click to visit "Chalet Balco d' Arinsal"
Set in the heart of this popular resort.

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Pal/Arinsal, the best resorts (my opinion) with good fun skiing and even better Apres ski.

Pal has escaped much of the development that other resorts in Andorra have succumbed to. Pal is a quiet and picturesque mountain village over the ridge from Arinsal (about 5km by road), with a small, reasonably varied, wooded ski area a couple of kilometers further up the hill. It is remarkably different from its nearby neighbour, and the link between the ski areas is a great enhancement for both resorts. Arinsal is a little village of Catalan slate and gray stone, near the head of a narrow valley north of Andorra La Vella. It has seen rapid development in recent years. The gondola, from the village center to the mid-station, installed in 1999 put an end to the trek to the inconveniently situated chair-lift and the new link via a 50 person tram from Coll de la Botella in Pal's Seturia sector to Port Negre at the top of the Arinsal slopes finally linked the separate resorts of Pal and Arinsal in 2000. The new link has increased the area's appeal hugely. Snow making was also extended and now covers 17km/11miles of slopes.Pal has a small area of local slopes which are the most wooded of the Andorran resorts, and the ample car parking space makes it popular with the locals at the weekend. It is surprisingly different from Arinsal, which is tall and narrow with no trees; Pal is short and wide, and covered with greenery. The only thing to attract experts will be fresh snowfall, when access to off-piste through well-spaced trees is best. Tree cover is so sparse in other Andorran resorts that Pal is the only option for this. Intermediates should go high, where well-bashed reds come down from the summit to the mid-station area. There are a couple of quite steep reds leading off to the Col de la Botella, one of which can grow moguls. Beginners start off on the very gentle slopes just in front of the base lodge, and progress to the short blues that are accessed by longer lifts starting from the same spot. Liftlines are not generally a problem, and mid-week the slopes are often deserted. By midseason, the weekenders really do make their presence felt. By the end of the season the Spanish are already making for the seaside! Arinsal's small local area is a narrow, east-facing bowl of mainly open slopes, suitable for beginners, children and unadventurous intermediates. Almost all the runs lead straight back towards the mid-station area, ideal for parents to keep a watchful eye on children. With most runs above 1950m and a fair number of guns, snow reliability is relatively assured. Most lifts above the mid-station are drags, keeping the mountain open when it's windy. Although it claims to have the steepest black runs in Andorra, experts won't find much of interest. But some runs are not entirely easy and are suitable for intermediates who don't mind a limited area. Piste maintenance is good. Arinsal is well-suited to near-beginners or early intermediates. The beginner slopes are gentle, away from the main area and well covered by snow-guns. But they can get very crowded at peak times. Arinsal's ski school is its pride and joy. It offers good technical tuition and patient instruction. English is widely spoken; prices are low; and lessons are fun. Class sizes can, however, be large in peak season. There is a ski kindergarten and a non-skiing crèche for younger children.

"Shopping in Andorra"

Those under the impression that Andorra is a sleepy statelet nestling quietly in the gentle parental arms of France and Spain, free from all the capitalistic excesses of the western world, should book elsewhere. Andorra is capitalism pure - microcosmed into one tiny country. If you were to take Brown Thomas, Tiffany's and Harrods, transport them, their product range and their style to a small English village, you get the idea of what will greet visitors arriving in Andorra. 90% dependent on either its tax-free retail sales or revenue from affordable skiing, you don't have to wonder why Andorra's red-shirted, whistle-toting traffic police gleefully guide you to the allotted parking spaces upon your arrival into Andorra la Vella - the capital of this constitutional democracy, which hither to had been controlled by the local diocesan bishop. The currency is the Euro and the language is Catalan, though I am sure that any hard currency earning visitor could make themselves understood quite well in Andorra. The labels are plentiful and the prices are worth a double-take e.g. chart CDs cost 9 Euros, a bottle of Jameson whisky a mere 10 Euros. Genuine labels including: Lacoste, Hugo Boss and Breitling are up to 33% cheaper than our high street's finest. Indeed I could not resist the charms of a pair of Giorgio Armani's prescription glasses and shades for a mere 130 Euros.
Click to visit "Chalet Balco d' Arinsal", book your vacation online now!

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