When you’re a snowboarding student like my 19-year-old son William, your money has to stretch a long way. That’s why he and a few mates booked a cheap break to the resort of Pas de la Casa in Andorra, known as a great value European destination for ski-ing and snowboarding. Here’s what the lads got up to on their week’s snowboarding in Pas de la Casa.
Getting to Pas del la Casa
We flew from Gatwick to Lleida, a very new airport in the middle of nowhere somewhere in Spain. It was very small and obviously purpose built recently for Andorra – when we were there there were only two flights, one to Gatwick and another to Dublin.
The company we went with was Irish owned and because of this there were a large number of Irish people in the resort – I’d estimate around 75%. We got picked up as part of a transfer on a package deal so we were on a big bus of people that dropped us off and picked us up – the transfer took about three hours with a rest stop in the middle.
I don’t know how else you would transfer because there wasn’t a car rental place at the airport and only cars there were buses for the package companies. You don’t need a car in the resort, it’s small enough to walk around and has everything you need within walking distance.
About the resort of Pas de la Casa
The resort was very big and the ski pass covered a larger ski area of different valleys so we didn’t even get to complete every run by the end of the week. Click here for an interactive piste map The highest you can get on a chairlift is about 2400 ft and there were lots of chair lifts and no button lifts which was good because button lifts are a nightmare on a snowboard.
The resort had bars and cafes at the bottom of each valley at regular intervals and they were very reasonably priced for a ski resort – 3 Euros for chips or soup and a beer was about 4 Euros. They had some bars that were like ice caves dug into a mound of snow which were pretty cool and they had carvings inside but were a bit more expensive than the other bars.
There were a few different snowparks which were good but weren’t open all week due to snow conditions. The snow conditions (in January) were quite icy at the start of the week but on the fourth and fifth day we had a really good snowfall so snow conditions were perfect for the last few days although it was a bit foggy on one of the afternoon.
Our apartment at Aparthotel Olimpiades in Pas del la Casa
We booked through Neilson and stayed in Aparthotel Olimpiades where my mate had stayed before. The building was 5 storeys with the ground floor being a bar/restaurant. There was an area with lockers for your snowboard/ski stuff and it also had a patio with direct access to the slopes. It was on the side of the main slope about 30 metres higher than the main bottom lift but you could ski in/ ski out. The main shops and supermarket area of the resort were right behind the main lift so to walk there took no more than 2 minutes downhill from where we were staying.
The apartment was really modern, new and nice, it was obviously recently refurbished. We had one large bedroom with a double bed, a large bathroom with a power shower and then another kitchen/dining room area which also had 3 single beds in. The kitchenette had a fridge, sink, two or three hobs like we have at home, a kettle and a microwave but no oven. It was very clean and modern and in a great location for the slopes however the wifi was very slow and the cleaners were often on our case – I think it is more of a family hotel rather than for five students.
Nights out with the lads in Pas de la Casa
The nightlife in Pas de la Casa was really good for a ski resort, there were loads of bars and because we went on a package we had a rep and they organised loads of pubquiz’s, a steaknight, drinking competitions, a free bar night, and this hypnotist that made people get naked and pretend to be chickens which was funny. The main place was Milwaukee, and then later on we went to a club called Bilbord which was open late.
It was definitely a young person’s resort and has the nickname “Magaluf on snow”. Drinks were quite expensive but not that bad for a ski resort – 4 euros for a pint, but they didn’t have any cider. There were loads of restaurants which weren’t actually that badly priced for a ski resort – we ate out about 3 or 4 times for about 12 euros a night for basic things like pasta and pizza and chips.
How we spent our day in Pas de la Casa
We arrived at the resort late and checked in and got our rooms sorted and then went to get some food and have a few drinks and get a feel for the resort. The next day we got on the slopes, nursery slopes first to start to get a feel for it, then we stopped and came back for lunch. The rest of the weeks the pattern was out the apartment and on to the slopes at about 10ish, usually a snack somewhere early in to cure hangovers, back to the flat at lunch for sandwiches and then back on the slopes till 5ish.
When we got back we usually had a nap and a shower and just chilled, then a cook up and a few drinks before we went out to save money. Then we’d go out on one of the nights the package company had organised. For food we did a mix of eating out and cooking up things like pasta but we had no oven, just a hob and microwave.
One of my friends who had never boarded wasn’t very well and did one run all week and couldn’t really do it so just came out with us in the night. On the snowboarding front there was me and one other who were good and 2 beginners who were alright by the end of the week, so we split our time half and half with them and going off on our own and then meeting back up for lunch.
In the resort there were loads of supermarkets and shops with designer stuff, alcohol and cigarettes because Andorra is tax free and there were a load of huge supermarkets just after the border.
I hope you enjoyed William’s account of his student snowboarding week in Pas de la Casa in Andorra. Apparently it’s known as the Party Capital of the slopes – can’t think why!
Photo Credits: All photos by William Cowper for Heatheronhertravels.com