Baqueira/Beret review

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Baqueira/Beret review

Started by Coop in Spain - 11 Replies

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Coop posted Feb-2012

Finally got around to writing up my report/review on my recent trip to Baqueira. We went week commencing 6 Feb 2012.

It's a wonderful little resort, relatively unknown to us Brits, nestled in the Spanish Pyrenees. It has an almost alpine feel, with some great local, traditional architecture and only a few ugly eye-sore concrete blocks. I don't think it's a 'working village' but it does have a thriving summer hiking and mountain biking industry so it'd be safe to assume that it doesn't close down after the winter season.

I was really impressed by the quality of the local restaurants and tapas bars. The food was excellent and the prices (food and drink) are comparative to what you'd pay in the UK. Although we stayed in a catered chalet, we did go out to dinner one night and had post-ski beers and tapas every day. Dinner for the 4 of us came to €70, for a two course meal and a couple of bottles of decent wine. Beer costs about €4 & coffees €2 and what's refreshing is that the prices are pretty much the same on the mountain.

Local amenities are a bit limited, only one supermarket, one pharmacy and a 3 ski hire shops. There is a ban on selling cigarettes in Baqueira (surprising considering that most Spaniards are smokers) which I found odd and if you are a smoker, you can only buy them out of a vending machine in the 5* hotel or else take a trip to the next nearest town.

We went with SkiMiquel (our first experience with them) and I can't say we were disappointed. The Chalet Salana is a nice, basic but comfortable hotel/chalet. It has a heated boot room/ski storage, a rather poor hot tub and a nice lounge, with an open fire and cheap bar! The chalet staff are fantastic, friendly and attentive. Nothing is too much bother. There is also ski hosting everyone morning (bar their day off) and they do take you all over the resort. My only gripe was that breakfast was very basic (muesli, bread/toast, cold meat and cheese) and afternoon teas didn't deliver on the promise of 'freshly baked cakes everyday'. Dinner was good though, 3 tasty courses and unlimited wine!

The ski area is split into three different areas. The lifts are fairly modern and for the most part, pretty quick. They still have some older, slower lifts in use but, thankfully, very few drag lifts. I was bemused that they still require lift passes to be scanned manually (at the main lifts) rather than the automatic/electronic systems everywhere else I've been to.

The main area is, obviously, Baqueira. This is primarily aimed at the beginners/intermediates, with wide open blues and reds. There is nothing much of huge interest from the top of Baqueira to the bottom but the red which runs home under the gondola is excellent. Narrow, fast and icy! It is possible to ski from 2500m (Cap de Baqueira) to the gondola base station (1500m) in one go, albeit tiring on the legs.

Either side of Baqueira is Beret and Bonaigua. Again, it much of the same in that the vast majority of the runs are wide, fast, cruisy reds and blues. The few black runs they have are fairly short but they are steep and icy.

Of the three, my favourite area was Bonaigua and I'd find myself heading back over there time and again. This is where the best runs are, IMO, and also where the best off piste is to be found.

Although I talk of there being three separate areas, the reality is that anything in between a piste is open game if you have the skill and the balls. It's possible to ski from Beret to Bonaigua without venturing onto bashed pistes and from what I saw, the majority of the people who ski Baqueira only stick to off piste. The stats indicate that there is only 110km of pisted skiing but the reality is that you could quadruple that if you take into account the off piste. I'm not clued up on this but the distinction they draw with other European resorts is that Baqueira is modelled on the North American ski resorts. Anything within the boundaries of the three areas is skiable. So, from what I understand, you don't need special insurance for off piste skiing because, technically, you are skiing within the territory. I still don't understand it now so don't ask!

There are some great little restaurants dotted all over the mountain, and with the exception of the Moet bar, all are reasonably priced. The quality of the food is excellent and there is plenty of variety. The Spaniards love their food and wine and there are no shortcuts in the mountain restaurants. A plate of spare ribs, chips and chargrilled vegetables is only €20, a large pizza (cooked in a pizza oven) is €10. Compare that to France! My favourite places were the Moet bar and the San Miguel bar. Both attract the wealthy skiers and it's always nice to have some eye candy when one has stopped for a beer. And you've got to try the hot chocolate. None of this thin, watery stuff we normally get. This stuff is thick like wet mud and definitely gives you a chocolate hit.

I could say plenty more but I'm pretty crap at writing up reviews after then event. I'd definitely go back to Baqueira as I really enjoyed the whole package. Great skiing, great weather and a much slower paced atmosphere than the Alps. Although the snow wasn't great the week before I went, they had had a huge dump just before we arrived and it's still snowing now. I guess their claims of having better snow than the Alps isn't unfounded. Much much better than Andorra, which is strange when you consider they aren't that far away.

The major drawback is that English isn't widely spoken so you'll have to engage in the universal language of gesticulation. I'd also definitely go SkiMiquel again, as value for money goes, it can't be beat.

Tony H, you'll love it son!



The hot chocolate!


My attempt at off-pisting!
















There's loads more pics but I'm wary of uploading too many!

Ian Wickham
reply to 'Baqueira/Beret review'
posted Feb-2012

It has been on my radar for quite a while,as for the prices they seem to be about the same as what I would normally pay in the french resorts that I ski in.
Thanks for the reveiw and great pic's

Tony_H
reply to 'Baqueira/Beret review'
posted Feb-2012

Coop, well done mate. Good review, lovely pics.
I am liking what I read and see, a lot.
I've heard nothing but good reviews for Ski Miquel, and Baqueira is somewhere that I think may well be under rated for the amount of skiable terrain it has, as you have pointed out.
The snow looks superb, you struck gold with the weather.

I'll be taking a long hard look about heading out there next winter, as the prices are good for the package holiday and the food and drink out there. PLUS its Spain so a nice change of atmosphere, beer and food styles. I used to visit Spain a lot in the summer, quiet little place on the Costa Brava, so I'll probably appreciate this kind of place.

Out of interest, where did you fly from, LGW or MAN? And which airline do Ski Miquel use, and which airport over there? Can you also advise re transfer times.

Any more details about the chalet hotel would also be useful, ie room size, facilities, balconys, views, distance to slopes on foot/by bus etc.

Nice one, its a serious contender for next season.


www  New and improved me

Smartski
reply to 'Baqueira/Beret review'
posted Feb-2012

Tony_H wrote:
Out of interest, where did you fly from, LGW or MAN? And which airline do Ski Miquel use, and which airport over there? Can you also advise re transfer times.

Any more details about the chalet hotel would also be useful, ie room size, facilities, balconys, views, distance to slopes on foot/by bus etc.


ehh? is that coop or "co-op travel".

Nice to hear about some different places, pics look good too.
if I'm not skiing then I'm kayaking.
Edited 1 time. Last update at 23-Feb-2012

Dids1
reply to 'Baqueira/Beret review'
posted Feb-2012

It sounds amazing.
Skied in Panticosa in spanish pyrenees a few years ago.
We flew to Barcelona and the transfer time was a horrendous 5 hours!

We were wishing we'd done a little more research.

The language was quite an issue and the most bizarre thing was the place where we ate had a seperate room for the british people, so when we went in we were directed to the English room.

It was an interesting experience which we did enjoy, but not as good as yours by the sounds of it.

Coop
reply to 'Baqueira/Beret review'
posted Feb-2012

Tony, snow was fantastic mate, they'd had over 9 foot between the 3rd and the 7th. First day of skiing for us was the 6th, with visibility limited to about 50 foot. And with the boundary between piste and off piste nothing more than a visual thing, I was getting caught out by deep powder and spent most of the morning digging myself out! Thankfully, the rest of the week was blue skies and sun with temps around -18C.

It is most definitely under rated as I guess a lot of people are put off by the quoted pisted km. Nearly everyone who was at the Chalet with us that week had skied Baqueira on numerous occasions before. They return year after year because the skiing is 'unlimited', the weather is generally good, the food is great and the prices are manageable. And another huge bonus is that the slopes, during the week, are empty. It only gets busy at the weekends when the Spaniards and the French do their weekend thing. I'd definitely go back, not year after year as I also fancy skiing other resorts but it'd be on the short list.

I love the way the Spaniards do skiing. They hit the slopes around 10 or 11am, ski 2 hours and then have a decent lunch with a couple of glasses of wine until about 3pm and then ski till lifts shut. Unlike everywhere else I've been to, which seems hectic in comparison. It even converted me from being a 9 to 5 skier to someone who now stops and enjoys a decent lunch and some conversation.

We flew out of LGW at 6.50am Sunday morning. I know SkiMiquel also do flights out of MAN. They use Thompson. Flights are into Toulouse, which is a fairly efficient airport. Transfer times are about 2 hours on a good day and about 3 if there's snow on the roads. It's a dull journey, as are all transfers, and it's a good excuse to get some sleep!

The Chalet Salana is a 5 minute walk from the gondola. It's a downhill walk to the lift station and the ski storage is directly under the gondola. It's about €14 per week and the great thing is that the boot storage is fan dried/heated rather than those horrid heated tubes. The walk back is uphill and a bit of a challenge after post-ski beers/wines! There is a local bus service which can run you over to Beret or Bonaigua, or even down to the major town (Vielha). We didn't use this so can't comment.

The room sizes vary but the ones we had were mid-sized double bedrooms, a bit on the small side but adequate. Under-floor heating but nowhere to dry your socks! The lounge has comfy sofas, a few books, a sound system and an open log fire. They also have free wi-fi which allows surfing the web or picking up emails but not very good if you wanted to stream BBC iplayer. There's no TV in the chalet either, which I think is a stroke of genius. There's a very small balcony off the lounge, none of the bedrooms have balconies. The views from the balcony are great, especially at night when you can see the constellations. The chalet isn't plush and it is basic but it is very comfy and the chalet staff make it a great place to spend the week.

Let me know if you want to know anything else and I'll try and remember!

Here are more photos





View of walk back up to the chalet



View out of chalet





Me and the kids at the top of Baqueira, there's a great viewing platform which juts out over the peak!





When the sun isn't out!





The chalet



Typical off piste - everything you see there is open and skiable, if you have the balls!









Ian Wickham
reply to 'Baqueira/Beret review'
posted Feb-2012

Cracking snow

Tony_H
reply to 'Baqueira/Beret review'
posted Feb-2012

Mate, it looks awesome. You've sold it to me.

Right. TH's January 2013 trip is Baqueira-Beret. Who's in?
www  New and improved me

Topic last updated on 11-March-2012 at 06:40

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