Spain Guide

 

Baqueira Beret Ski Resort

The ski resort of Baqueira Beret is located in the Spanish region of Catalonia in the Pyrenean Mountains. It's the biggest of Spain's Pyrenean resorts and the country's most exclusive winter sports centre, favoured by King Juan Carlos and his family. It attracts a largely Spanish clientele, mainly because of its inaccessibility in the stunningly beautiful Valle de Aran where the mountains and gorges forbid the passage of planes and trains.

The nearest major international airport is Barcelona, 200 kilometres to the south east. Some visitors from northern Europe fly into Toulouse, 160 kilometres north across the French border. However you get to Spain you'll end your journey with a hair raising drive along narrow mountain roads amid spectacular scenery which will take your breath away. Shaggy Dartmoor style ponies and cattle which look like they belong in the Scottish Highlands graze by the roadsides and you'll pass through fairytale villages where time seems to have stood still for centuries.

Resort Services and Skiing

The resort, which takes its name from the neighbouring villages of Baqueira and Beret, offers good ski ing for all abilities though intermediate skiers will find themselves most at home here. There are 86 kilometres of marked pistes consisting of four greens, 25 blues, 20 reds and four blacks. If you're only just off the nursery slopes you may find some of the blues more challenging than usual. For experts, there's the infamous Escornacrabes run from the top of Cap Baqueira a steep and narrow downhill plunge with a name which translates somewhat ominously as "the place where the goats die"!

Several ski schools offer group and private lessons for skiers of all levels with more than 200 instructors (but only a handful speak English so check this before you book your tuition). The resort has four child care centres catering for youngsters from three months to eight years old. Children can either take ski lessons or simply be entertained and fed during the day while you're on the pistes.

Other activities within the resort include helicopter ski ing, dog sled excursions, para ski ing, cross country trails and snow racket walking. In the nearest major town of Vielha, about 15 kilometres down the mountain, there's the Palau de Gel sports centre with two indoor heated swimming pools and an ice rink.

More About Baqueira

There are three hotels in Baqueira at the base of the runs and lifts and many more in the surrounding villages. The presence of two Government owned Paradors in the valley (at Vielha and the nearby village of Arties) is an indication of the sheer beauty of this region which attracts many non ski ing visitors from all over Catalonia and beyond.

The Valle de Aran (or Vall d'Aran as it's known locally) is renowned for the excellence of its cuisine, which combines French and Spanish influences to mouthwatering effect. You can dine at some of the finest restaurants in Spain without having to pay the sort of exorbitant prices you find in the exclusive Alpine resorts. One of the most famous restaurants in the area is Casa Irene in Arties, a favourite dining spot of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.

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