5 reasons to ski the Sierra Nevada this Winter

A ski holiday is not the first thing people usually think of when considering a visit to Andalucia; however, the Sierra Nevada ski resort is for many reasons a terrific alternative to the Alps and other European ski destinations. With world class slopes and facilities, this site overlooking the Mediterranean sea and the culture rich city of Granada played host to the FIS Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Cup Superfinals in March of this year and is already slated to host the World Championships in 2017. With the top station sitting 3300 metres high and a skiable vertical drop of 1200 metres, this resort is no joke.

Sierra Nevada Spain

Consider five reasons to book your ski holiday in the Sierra Nevada this season:

The sun

This is still sunny Andalucia after all, and the Sierra Nevada ski resort is in fact the southernmost ski resort in Europe. It’s also the sunniest ski resort in Europe with more than 80% sunny days during the ski season. You can see the Mediterranean from the slopes on a clear day, and as the beach at Motril is within about 45 minutes drive from the resort, you can even ski and take in the sun on the beach all in the same day.

The Sulayr Snow Park

In preparation for hosting the freestyle ski and snowboard World Cup in March, 2013, the Sierra Nevada resort expanded the already impressive Sulayr Snow Park with nine brand new features to bring the number of jumps, rails, half-pipes and various other obstacles up to 70. Forty-six of these can be done consecutively in what is now Europe’s longest such run. There is a dedicated “Kidspark” within the zone and practice areas for intermediates to provide a safe as well as fun environment for freestylers of all ages and skill levels.

Fewer crowds and virtually endless off-piste slopes

The resort still seems to cater more to local patrons than for weeklong holiday makers, which means that on weekdays the crowds are often very thin, and even on weekends long queues for the lifts are rare. The Spanish habit of siesta still plays a factor as well, so the midday slopes are even more luxuriously unoccupied.

But for those who really want to get away from the crowds, the entirety of the Sierra Nevada resort sits above the tree line so with a good snow it is possible to ski virtually the entire mountain. However, such off-piste excursions are not advisable for any but the most knowledgeable and expert skiers. Avalanche prevention measures off-piste are minimal, but with a bit of information and advice there are vast areas of skiable, natural mountainscapes.

Proximity to diverse attractions

It is often the case that the best ski resorts are so remote that it’s not possible to explore the region beyond the slopes. Again the Sierra Nevada resort offers a stark contrast. The resort itself is known for a livelier-than-most nightlife, but with such proximity to the historic city of Granada and the World Heritage site of the Alhambra at only about 20 kilometres away, it’s not so much of a possibility as a must. Malaga, at about 160km is also workable on a day trip and half of that is coastline for any desired beach stops. Cordoba and the Mezquita are also about a two hour drive from Granada (a train also runs) offering further World Heritage sites and deep cultural explorations.

Length of the season

The Sierra Nevada ski resort is usually open from late November to early May, making it one of the longest non-glacial ski seasons in Europe. There are fewer than 50 ski resorts in the world open in May for late season skiing and the Sierra Nevada is one of them. The slopes are now already open for 2013, with the first skiers and snowboarders carving up the fresh snow from 23 November. That gives you a full six months to plan and schedule your visit this season!

Alan Hazel is Owner and Director of Cortijo El Carligto.

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