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Our ski expert Vicki Cheal discovers the spectacular Sierra Nevada!

20 August 2019

Sierra Nevada – I didn’t know you could ski in Spain!? 


Sierra Nevada – Where? I didn’t know you could ski in Spain…. with a 75 mins drive to the beach! – yes, I am talking about skiing still! Only a 45-minute transfer from Granada or 2 hours from Malaga, Sierra Nevada is a very high ski area. Resort height is 2100m and top height 3300m – why wouldn’t you want to ski here! Europe’s Southernmost ski resort. Open from end of November through to April. A colleague and I went in early December on a work educational for 3 nights. The morning flight from Gatwick meant we had the rest of the day ahead of us. Yes, it did seem strange flying in into Malaga – a beach resort, with all our ski gear with us, but we were soon whisked off to Granada (our first stop where we had a guided Tour of the amazing Alhambra Palace). There are buses which run from Sierra Nevada to Granada or you hire a car from the airport and self-drive. This is well worth a visit during your stay if you can squeeze it in in-between skiing!

Skiing in early December in Spain sounds unbelievable but I have photographic evidence!  



 

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The village itself is in a ‘square’ and is pedestrianised. All the shops (including ski hire shops, which are in abundance), bars, and restaurants are within this square.

Accommodation - 

We stayed in the Hotel Melia Sol y Nieve (Sun & Snow). If you walk out of the back door (near the bar area) and walk diagonally across the square, there is a short walk to the main gondola that takes you up to the skiing. The lift is only 100m from the hotel. The Spa in this hotel is the best I have ever seen, very clean, and very large, with 7 treatment booths, and an extensive hydrothermal circuit and relaxation area. The spa is payable locally – and well worth a visit. The staff in the hotel are extremely friendly, the buffet breakfast in the morning was great with plenty of choice, and there was always a table available to sit at. The hotel does offer half board, which you can pre-book with SkiWeekends at an additional cost, if you would prefer that option.


  


Hotel Melia Sierra Nevada (the sister hotel) is just across the road from Melia Sol y Nieve, this hotel is very spacious and, in my opinion, more of a family hotel. The hotel has a large bar/restaurant area with giant TV screens showing sports and a great children’s play area. This hotel is also great if you are going to use the spa as it is included in the price of the holiday (so excellent value). This hotel has a more traditional feel but is still modern, with a wooden look to it, whereas Sol y Nieve has the feel of city hotel.

   

GHM Hotel Monachil – Ski in out (snow depending) this fantastic hotel is located higher up in the village. You can access this area via the Parador 1 chairlift which links to the main resort centre. This part of the village does also have its own handful of shops. The hotel has a great bar which you can ski back to for après. Again, this hotel feels very spacious, the rooms are large, as are the corridors, and the main social areas.

The skiing - 

Being Spain, everything is “manana” so get up early to make the most of the quiet slopes as the Spanish eat late. Get up later = ski late! Win for us Brits that need to be on the first lift of the day!


So, to go skiing, from the main village, take the main gondola up to the slopes. Here you will find the main ski area and meeting point for Ski Schools. There is a great area here for beginners and children with magic carpets (tunnels). There are wide open slopes (no narrow pathways to worry about here), and a really large green slope area. The funniest thing is skiing around and not only being able to see the sea from some of the slopes, but the coast of Africa too (on a clear day) and the good thing about Sierra Nevada is the sun! Sit at the bar terraces at the arrival point of the gondola and soak up the rays whilst watching the skiers come down. If you take the Valetta 2 lift and then the Zayas to the top, there are lots of red runs coming halfway down the mountain if you are intermediate level or above. It’s also a great area for boarders and there are no flat runs, being so high this is not a treeline run resort. The Aguila red run is 6km long, right from the top point (Veleta 3398m) to the resort centre! A must for those wanting a leg burner challenge! La Pista del Mar is a great kids area with a big whale and palm tree for them to take pictures by to remind them how close to the sea they are! (This is in the beginners green area). The resort also offers night skiing. For a completely different view and for that great photograph, head over to the Borreguiles area and take another lift higher up to the huge satellite dish on the mountain and ski down.



  

  • The Russian Sledge (payable) is also great fun. It is kind of a roller-sled on rails and has a drop of 550 meters and lasts about 5 minutes. You get pulled up first and then go down the course like a roller coaster.
  • A sled can accommodate 2 people. The 'driver' can regulate the speed and the sled can reach up to 40 km/hour.

  • Children younger than four years old are not allowed and children of eight years can use the sled without an accompanying adult.

Eating out - 

There are plenty of choices of food in Sierra Nevada, with the tapas bars and restaurants (including hotel restaurants). If you want a bit of luxury on the slopes, there is a champagne bar on the main slope as you are coming back down into the village, and one of the main bars in the square which usually has a pool table outside is run by the same owners. This has a very friendly and great atmosphere.

On the slopes, you can get an al a carte skiers’ lunch, for about 25 euros, and there is also a lovely mountain hut which serves snacks such as paninis and hot chocolates. The restaurant at the arrival point of the gondola is also a great place to stop for lunch and sit out in the sun – it’s a great meeting point too if some of your group are skiing different runs.



Ski School:

We skied with the Directors of the British Ski Center, both are Brits and moved out to Sierra Nevada and set up their own company about 30 years ago, a small but very friendly ski school. I would highly recommend checking them out.

Ski lockers:

It’s not difficult to walk around the village (square) with your skis. You can always pop them back to your accommodation; however, my suggestion would be to use the ski lockers which are opposite the ski hire shop we used and underneath the gondola that takes you up to the skiing. The lockers are large so you can fit a few pairs in there, leave your walking shoes in there while you go skiing, and just pop back after skiing and change to walk around the village. They are inexpensive and a great benefit.

All in all, my 3 days were filled with sun, sangria (would be rude not to), skiing, beautiful scenery, and all in all a great time.



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