Reed Travel Features
Sierra Nevadas, Spain-- When contemplating a winter vacation in
Spain, most clients think of the sunny Costa del Sol for a round of
golf or a walk on the beach.
What rarely comes to mind -- and agents often neglect to mention
-- is skiing, and world-class skiing at that.
"Most people don't know it is even possible to ski in Spain,"
said Bob McErlean, president of Holidaze Ski Tours here.
But although the Alps get most of the attention, there are more
than 25 ski resorts located in Spain, predominantly in the Pyrenees
and the Sierra Nevada mountains plus a few north of Madrid and in
the Cantabrian mountains.
The two best-known ski areas -- the Pyrenees and the Sierra
Nevada -- are located at opposite ends of the country.
"I think what you have in Spain is a completely different
experience than in Switzerland, France or Austria," McErlean
Holidaze books customized group ski vacations to Sierra Nevada
and Baqueira-Beret, which is located in the Pyrenees.
"The atmosphere is more mellow and not as crowded, and both
resorts offer ski-in/ski-out accommodations at a more reasonable
price than you would find in the Alps," he said.
The Sierra Nevada garnered some international notice recently by
hosting the 1996 Alpine Ski Championships.
McErlean touted the improvements in facilities and
accommodations brought about because of the championships.
Located in southern Spain, the Sierra Nevada ski area is known
for its sunny climate.
The resort comprises slopes that reach more than 11,000 feet on
the Pico de Veleta.
The terrain includes 34 skiable mountains, 19 lifts and five
In addition, high-powered snowmaking systems ensure consistently
Perhaps best of all is that the area offers an entire vacation
experience that goes beyond a day on the slopes.
Visitors easily can take in such noted attractions as the
Alhambra in Granada or the Costa del Sol for beach, tennis or golf,
all located nearby.
At the opposite end of the country, in the northern valley of
the Catalan Pyrenees, is Baqueira-Beret in the Valle de Aran.
Skiers will appreciate the 50-plus miles of trails and a
vertical drop of more than 3,000 feet.
Holidaze ski vacations typically include flights to Barcelona,
transfers to the resort, seven nights' accommodations and return
flights to the U.S.
The price, which is usually about $1,100 to $1,200 at either
resort, includes ski lift tickets.
Groups must comprise 20 or more people, although smaller groups
can be accommodated at an additional cost using rental cars rather
than motorcoach transportation.
Once at the resort, McErlean stressed that skiers will find
challenging runs, modern facilities and comfortable
And judging from the size of one of Holidaze's upcoming groups
-- 1,200 members of a U.S. ski club -- the secret about skiing in
Spain might be out.
For information about Holidaze, call (800) 526-2827 or (908)
For additional information about ski resorts, call the Tourist
Office of Spain in New York at (212) 265-8822; in California at
(213) 658-7188; in Chicago at (312) 642-1992, and in Miami at (305)
There also is a Web site at http://www.here-i.com/spain.