It has been a long time since we were travelling to do some snowboard or kitesurf but we had a good reason - our little daughter was born 6 months ago :-) But now it is time to start travelling again…
We wanted to go snowboarding ,mainly because we didn´t wanted to fly too far away and this time of the year normally there are good conditions already for snowboarding in Europe. But unfortunately this winter has started very strange way - no snow anywhere in the Europe! Not in the Alps, not even in the north...
We were waiting until the last moment to make any arrangements so that we could find the best place. But unfortunately winter didn´t want to arrive… And at the end it seemed that our only hopes were Cervinia, Italy or some glaciers and Obergurgl in Austria, which had already quite many slopes open even it´s not a glacier. The situation we were checking mainly through the webpages of the resorts and there are also many webpages with some information (for example skiclub.co.uk or igluski.com and onthesnow.com - which had also nice article that gave us information about the glaciers... http://www.onthesnow.com/news/15/a/58503/where-to-ski-in-october
We had already booked a hotel in Obergurgl (hotel Chrystal, which was very expensive but looked really, really nice with a spa and excellent location next to the slopes) but at the last moment we decided to change our plans and head to Sierra Nevada, Spain. We heard from some friends that there should be quite good conditions and they are preparing to open already at the end of November. Also nevasport.com was writing that Sierra Nevada is ready to be open and they had very nice photos from there. http://www.nevasport.com/noticias/art/33963/Sierra-Nevada-abre-temporada-con-27-kms-esquiables/tag/Sierra%20Nevada/
Yes, sounds really strange to travel to the south of Spain to do snowboarding especially if there is no snow even in Finland.. But for some reason this year the weather has been very strange and has been raining a lot in Spain. And as Sierra Nevada is the highest mountain of Spain (3400m) , there has been cold enough for snowing. It was little bit risky but we decided to take that risk and just few days before our trip, we got information from the Sierra Nevada webpage (http://sierranevada.es/) , that they are going to open almost 50km of pistes. So, we were happy to start our trip J
We decided to start our trip already in the end of November so that we could avoid the busy week of "puente de Deciembre" which is normally very busy in the spanish resorts as many people are enjoying the few extra freedays. So, we book our accommodation from 28.11 until 2.12. We didn´t had any problems to book the hotel because most of the hotels were half empty. There was very good offers (3 nights with 100 € or similar...) but most of the cheepest hotels / apartments are up on the hill and quite a long way from the center and lifts. And we wanted to be as close as possible to the lifts, so that we could change "shifts" as quick as possible because one of us had to be with our little girl while other was snowboarding (we still didn´t want to leave her with daycare for a longer time).
So, for us the location was one of the most important things when we were choosing the hotel. Also we wanted to have little bit more quality as this was a first trip for a long time. So, spa was another important thing.. At the end we decided to stay in Sol Melia y nieve, which is very well located (just two minutes walk from the lift) and they have also a very good spa (also a small pool for children, which our 6 months old girl was enjoying a lot). http://www.solmelia.com/hotels/spain/sierra-nevada/melia-sol-y-nieve/en/index.html
This hotel is definitely one of the most expensive ones (basic double room 150 € / room/ night with HB, superior room 190 € / room / night with HB) but is worth of the money. We had halfboard as we didn´t want to move around in the evening. And it was a good decision because it was very comfortable to go for a hotels dinner, while our girl was already sleeping in her baby trolley. And the food in the hotel was also very good so worth of the money.
Spa is not included in the room price but definitely worth of visit. We were sharing our time - first one with Kia in the pool of children while other in the adults area. And then changing. That way everybody enjoyed!
We rented a car from Malaga airport and this time we used Goldcar. They are one of the cheapest company and we paid about 40 € of 5 days rental. But be careful – they always charge the full tank of petrol when you take the car and you have to return it empty ( they don´t return any money back even if the tank is full).
Our drive from Malaga to Sierra Nevada took about 1h 45 min. The road until Granada is very good but from there up to Sierra Nevada is more narrow and curvy. Luckily there was no snow yet so we didn´t need any chains for the tires.
Sierra Nevada resort is closed from traffic so you have to leave your car in parking. There is one parking in the hotel Melia Sol y nieve and price is about 18 € / day (low season price). But there are also cheaper places to park. But this is very comfortable as you can access directly to the hotel and it´s covered parking.
We bought our skilift tickets from the ticket office, located in the main square of Sierra Nevada. As it was low season, there was no queues at all but on a busy days, it´s better to be ready for some waiting… Ticket for the 3 days was 103 € or 4 days 133 € (season opening price). You have to pay also the deposit of the card which you will get back when returning the card.
There are plenty of rental shops with good variety of skies and boards, you can even rent clothes… We used a small place called Veleta Ski, which is located next to the Melia hotel. Service was good and prices ok so we didn´t even checked other places. Snowboard equipment rental was 28 € / 3 days or 35 € / 4 days in the Veleta ski shop. This was more focused in the skiing than snowboarding so maybe better boards and boots are available in the other shops. Plenty of them around the main square.
We had perfect trip and we were enjoying of the very good conditions during the whole stay. It was no crowded, snow and slopes in very good condition, enough kilometers to ski and perfect, sunny weather.
As it was low season, there was not many people so no queues for the lifts and all the slopes were half empty. But during the high season, the weekends and public holidays should be avoided, as it is very crowded.
Skiing area Sierra Nevada
Resort Base Level
3300m (Veleta peak 3398m)
NW & W
102.89 kilometres (inc. Snowboard Park) over 115 runs
"El Aguila" - 6.18 kms
Number of Lifts
29 (2 Gondolas; 16 Chairlifts (6 Detachable); 2 T-bar drag lift; 8 Conveyer Belt, 1 rope drag)
Lift Opening Times
09.00 to 17.00 (Last lift up 16.45)
Total Lift Capacity
47,141 skiers per hour
No. of Ski Areas
6 (Veleta; Laguna De Las Yeguas; Borreguiles; Lomar de Dilar; Rio Monachil; Parador)
350 canons & 725 hydrants over 33 kms of piste on 32 runs.
2 options: 1 - The "Snow Garden" in Borreguiles main ski area, 2 - The crèche at the base of Al-Andalus Gondola)
Saturdays from 19.00 to 21.30hrs (subject to weather /snow conditions)
1 with half-pipe, full range of jumps & rails plus a small lift. 1 Mini-Park with a small selection of ramps and rails.
There are two main lifts from the Pradollano (resort center) up to the skiing area. Both lifts are located next to the main square, Plaza Andalucia. There are 6 skiing areas (Veleta, Laguna, Borreguiles, Loma Dilar, Rio and Parador) and everything is quite well connected. All together there are 22 runs, about 120 km. But in the beginning of the season there was 50 km open but even that was enough for 3 days. When all the runs are open, there is plenty of skiing for many days.For beginners there are many green and blue runs but the resort is probably best suited for intermediates. For example all the runs in the Laguna area are just red and black. For snowboarders there is well kept halfpipe and boardpark.
Sierra Nevada has also very modern snow making system and the humidity + low temperatures are ideal for the cannons to work. So, the snow conditions were perfect during our whole stay - from the first moment of the morning until the end.. Also weather was great the whole time - sunny, sunny, sunny. This is actually one of the best things in Sierra Nevada – almost guaranteed sunshine during the whole season.
Sierra Nevada is also a good family destination as it offers quality hotel accommodation and children´s facilities, like the Mirlo Blanco recreation zone with different kind of activities (ski bike, ice skating, roller sledge). There is also the crèche and snow garden with trained staff (our 6months old baby spent some ours in the centro Ludico infantil, which is located directly next to Al-Andalus lift station. Price for ½ day was 30 € + there is 10 € extra for the babies under 12 months. Places are limited so it´s good to book place in advance, especially during the high season (tel. 958 481 081). It´s also good to know that all the babies (less than 18months) has to show their vaccination card before entering to the daycare.
This time Kia didn´t go there so we were sharing our time on the slopes - in the morning I was in the hotel with Kia and afternoon Jesus was taking care of her and I was enjoying of the snow. Of course would be nice to go together but you cannot always get everything.. Mission completed - we managed to combine snowboarding and family life.