The tiny Principality of Andorra, in the heart of the Pyrénées hides one of the best ski areas in Europe. The hugely impressive Grandvalira offers up 210km of varied terrain that will glue smiles onto the faces of each member of your family.
Of the six resorts and villages within the ski area, El Tarter sits in the middle making it easy to fully explore the area. It’s also probably the best choice for families, and here’s why…
1. Baba Boom Circus route
At the top of the TC10 El Tarter gondola is an interactive skiing wonderland for kids. It’s a specifically designed route that takes little ones through the Baba Boom Circus. The gentle slope winds its way through the trees and has balls that make animal noises when hit with ski poles, gates to ski through and plenty of colourful signs to keep them enthused whilst they unknowingly practice their skiing skills.
With lots of twists and turns, this is a guaranteed favourite for younger kids. Once their skiing has improved, they can head to Canillo for the Mont Magic trail that’s along the same lines, but even bigger.
Parents can get involved too. Ski or board with your kids to see how much they’ve improved whilst they’ve been in lessons.
2. A ski school like no other
The ski school in El Tarter is British-run so everyone is taught by British instructors who will give them the best tips in a fun-packed lesson. At the end of the week there’s the opportunity for the kids to enter a ski race. It takes place on a blue run called Paniqueira over in Soldeu.
The winner gets a cup to take home and everyone who enters will get a certificate and a medal. It makes a great ‘show-and-tell’ item back at school. Parents can even take part in their own race at the end of the week.
There’s even a presentation in the evening to present the prizes as well as the chance to see the action pics taken by the race photographer.
3. Husky dog sledding
This is a great family event and something you really need to do together – when else can you drive your own team of huskies!
Kids love it as they’ll get the chance to lead their own dog sled, as long as they’re 12 or over. For the younger ones, they’ll race around in a sled driven by an instructor as they sit in the front covered by a warm woolly blanket.
You’ll also have the chance to get close to these magnificent dogs in their natural environment. They love to be petted, and if you’re lucky, you may even see the husky puppies! Possibly one of the cutest puppies of all! Once you’ve completed your ‘training’, you’ll be issued with a husky mushing licence!
4. Close to everything you could want
Being a small country with very good infrastructure means it doesn’t take very long to get anywhere. This really cuts down on the ‘are we nearly there yet?’ question! From El Tarter, it’s just a short bus ride to the nearby village of Canillo where you can take the kids swimming or ice skating – ideal for an afternoon off the slopes.
Alternatively, head to the capital of Andorra, Andorra la Vella which is only 30 minutes away by bus. There’s around 2,000 shops to browse as well as the Caldea Spa which is one of Europe’s largest thermal spas. Unfortunately, it’s not suitable for under 5s, but slightly older kids will love the various warm pools and water jets, just don’t forget your swimmers!
5. Value for money
Ok, so this one is more for the parents than the kids as it’s about amazing value for money.
Being virtually tax-free means that everything is that bit cheaper. You’ll get four-star hotels for the price of three, your ski extras work out to be better value as do things like drinks and snacks on the mountain.
Families benefit particularly well when it comes to lift passes. For each adult that pre-books a lift pass through Neilson, a child aged 11 or under gets a free lift pass! That’s quite a hefty saving if you have two or three kids.
Couple all of this with our superb family-friendly Neilson Hotel Del Clos which is just 350m from the lifts and El Tarter is definitely one resort to put on your family ski holiday short list.