Spain Guide

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La Molina Ski Resort

The ski resort of La Molina is located in the Spanish region of Catalonia in the Pyrenean Mountains. It's the oldest ski resort in Spain but boasts thoroughly modern facilities which are continually being developed and improved. Skiers have been coming here for nearly a century, attracted by the stunning scenery and ideal ski ing conditions provided by the pine covered slopes of the Vall de Nuria. The scenery is just as beautiful today but much has changed since 1909 when the men skied in jackets and ties and female skiers struggled valiantly in long skirts!

The resort is immediately to the south east of the independent state of Andorra, 175 kilometres from Barcelona's international airport. The larger resort of Masella is nearby and the two ski centres between them provide more than 100 kilometres of marked runs. There's a train service from Barcelona (travelling time is around three and a half hours) and a regular bus service between the station at La Molina and the resort.

The first hotel for skiers opened here in 1925 and in 1943 La Molina was the first ski resort in Spain to install a drag lift. Today the resort's 13 lifts a telecabin, six chairlifts and six drag lifts are capable of transporting nearly 16,000 skiers an hour. The 40 pistes cover 50 kilometres and consist of seven green runs, 12 blue runs, 15 red runs and six black runs. Artificial snow, pumped out by no less than 326 cannons, guarantees ski ing on 20 kilometres of the marked runs.

There's a permanent competition track and four ski jumps to challenge more advanced skiers and snowboarders are catered for with a half pipe, ramps and jumps. There are also three kilometres of cross country trails through the forests.

Facilities within the resort include a ski school with 200 instructors, several snack bars and cafes, a kindergarten for infants and a snow garden for older children. As an alternative to ski ing, you can explore the mountains on a snow shoe hike or take a sled ride with a team of huskies. At the nearby town of Alp, eight kilometres from the resort, you can take to the skies in a hot air balloon, microlight or light aircraft to enjoy breathtaking views of the Pyrenees.

There are several hotels and self catering apartments in the resort which can accommodate more than 2,000 guests. You'll find a wider choice of hotels and cheaper hostals in the surrounding villages such as Alp, Puigcerda and Berga.

If you feel like spoiling yourself (and you can afford to!) head for the luxurious Hotel Torre del Remei at Bolvir, near Puigcerda a short drive north of the resort. This former summer palace is set in an eight acre forest and provides 11 sumptuous guest rooms, including seven suites, with magnificent mountain views.