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Ski Trip - without much Skiing!

funExcited by reports of blue skies and powder we set off for Andorra. Despite skiing many times over the years we have rarely experienced perfect conditions. We've had everything from solid ice to blind blizzard runs - but not this time!

The children had decided they wanted to give snowboarding a go - much cooler than that old fashioned thing, skiing, of course! It was a bit of a drag for us dealing with the ski school again after all these years of getting them to ski to a good level. We were back to hovering not far from the lower slopes with the beginners once again. This did thwart our attempts to get far from Soldeu in the first couple of days and of course the kids could only handle so much time falling on their butts in a day so we went down the mountain mid-afternoon rather reluctantly.

Day 3 and we were off - We had a good stretch of time to explore and zipped up and down reds leaving a trail of fluffy light snow in our trail. We got to Grau Roig and Pas de la Casa areas and stopped in at the Igloo Hotel for a cava in the sunshine. It was all working out well afterall, we thought smugly.

The Igloo Hotel has 6 rooms built from snow and ice at 2350m between ski runs at Gran Roig. Rooms sleep up to 6 people, unless you select the Romantic Iglu option - the Suite for 2 even has a private jacuzzi. The romantic options are artistically decorated with ice carvings on the wall. The Igloo Hotel also offers a terrace, bar and restaurant. Some activities can be added like a massage (in a warmed room!) and a spin on a motor snow sledge.

I'm not sure if it's my idea of romantic though as you will need to be prepared to wrap-up after the sun goes down, but it would certainly be an adventure to remember. Fur rugs and fat sleeping bags are provided. Temperatures can go to -30 degrees C. Rooms from €109 per person with reduced prices for children. Book out the whole place - 30 people maximum - for from €3750.


We were just getting the feel for the Grandvalira ski resort - the area is vast now it is connected from Encamp to Pas de la Casa. The pistes, were varied and fun. As we were visiting in March (when our children were off school because of the Fallas in the Valencia region, but it didn't seem to coincide with other countries or regions holidays!) we had long beautiful runs virtually to ourselves at times.

Pas de la Casa is on the French side and a big town with shops and nightlife, attracting a young crowd. If you want something a little more upmarket and relaxed Soldeu is a good option. One evening we had a delicious authentic tapas meal there at La Caleta. We stayed at Sports Hotel Village, right next to the ski lifts and had the most impressive buffet breakfast you can hope for, plus the Duplex rooms work well with a family. But the rooms could do with a refurb - and it would be well worth asking for a mountain view. They should sort out internet access throughout the hotel too. If you have a high budget go for the Hotel Sport Hermitage & Spa.

snowboardersBack at the ski school the children were still keen but a bit sore. They were using their heals and toes and turning well. Now they even had wrist supports and we had shoved our hats down the back of their salopetes to protect from more bum-slamming falls. But after a picnic lunch and another practise my son was complaining of pain ALL OVER and again we came down the mountain early.

Our last day - gorgous clear skies and powdery snow, but Ruben couldn't make it. My husband and daughter went up the mountain and she keenly joined her class once more. They were ready to go off the nursery slopes. But within minutes, luckily with my husband still at hand, she had a minor fall and she knew that her time was up. There was no big drama but she couldn't go on. As they approached the cable car to return my husbands goggles fell and a scavanging skiier scooped them up with his pole and skiied off. Luckily a passing Russian insisted on stepping in and took chase, coming back soon after with them in hand! What a hero!

We took my girl to the medical centre - which is very unnerving actually! There was a constant stream of stretchers and hobbling individuals and others clutching loose arms - its enough to put anyone off booting it down a mountain if you sit there for half an hour! We actually felt quite fortunate when Asha came out with just a minor wrist fracture and she was rather pleased with her blue cast. As we had taken the resort insurance with our ski pass there would be no paper work to deal with either. Not exactly a successful day but it could have been a lot worse.

The children bickered for the whole drive home (7 hours!), perhaps due to their frustration at not having completed the snowboarding course. I used the excuse to say, That's It! No more snowboarding (I do think it is far too dangerous!) or ski trips! As the memories fade I may relent....We did have some fun too of course - there was the night that we laughed so hard that I almost choked and Dom and I did have a relaxing couple of hours in the hotel's huge spa area too. When you are up there with the wind in your hair and the swish of metal on snow it can feel like you haven't got a care in the world I admit. Perhaps I will return to enjoying skiing in future ... once the kids have left home!!

village Hotel Sport Village lobby with a collection of decorations from Christmas to Easter!


bootsCheck my vintage Hilfiger ski books. Can't stop skiing or I'll never be able to wear them again.