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“Great blues” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Formigal Ski Resort

Formigal Ski Resort
Formigal, Sallent de Gallego, Spain
974 490 000
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Ranked #1 of 3 Attractions in Formigal
Type: Ski/ Snowboard Areas, Sports
Attraction details
Vilanova i la Geltru
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
12 attraction reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
68 helpful votes 68 helpful votes
“Great blues”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 4, 2012

Following our skiing in Baqueira Beret we drove into France for a few days and back via Formigal, a lovely ski resort just over the border in Aragon in the Pyrenees. The drive over the pass via Portalet was a bit difficult and we had stop to put chains on our wheels.

The drop down the other side into Formigal was lovely with views of all the mountain range and pistes. The village itself is set on the hillside opposite the ski stations and is a traditional chalet type town.

Local transport is provided by a small motorised train and regular ski bus which not only stops at the main ski lift stations but also in specific spots on route for off pisters and telemark skiers. The slopes were well groomed and we skied on some of the most lovely cruising blues that I have experienced. The only let downs were, a number of the ski cafes were closed and some of the lifts and pistes were shut at inconvenient places. It was a Tuesday and I feel that there was no reason for shutting the pistes other than conserving them for weekenders (I may be wrong). We had a whiteout by lunchtime and it became too cold and wet to ski after 1500. Hence we had to hole up in one of the apres ski bars.

Overall a nice resort

Visited January 2012
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89 reviews from our community

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English first
Borehamwood, United Kingdom
17 reviews 17 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
“Great value for money - but not easy to get there”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 22, 2012

Just come back from a week of skiing in Formigal. Great fun, and terrific value for money. The problem, shared by all ski resorts in the Pyrenees, is the lack of snow. Still, nearly all the blue and red runs were open.

But Tripadvisor does not exist for weather reports. So what was the resort like?

The overall impression is that it is extremely well organised by Aramon (http://www.aramon.co.uk/). The Aragon regional government in Spain has poured serious money into making Formigal into a very attractive place to ski. The resort is purpose-built, and very compact. Scenic it is not, but it does the business.

The resort is linked to the pistes by the A-136, the road that runs from Pau to Zaragoza over the Pyrenees. The road acts a spine, linking the four valleys that make up the ski area with Formigal. The valleys are widely spaced, with the furthest about 4km from Formigal. Free transport is provided by a frequent bus service.

The pistes and lifts are well laid out, with all four valleys linked. The only point to make is that the pistes are all above the treeline, so the runs may lack a certain charm that you find in wooded pistes.

During our week of skiing, the resort was eerily quiet. It really was next to being completely deserted. It was spooky. The reason is that the resort is almost exclusively used by the Spanish, and they only appear at weekends and school holidays. Even so, the gigantic (1000+) car parks in each valley were barely quarter-full on the Saturday we were there.

One last point: the resort is geared to the Spanish, so almost everything is written in Spanish. Take a dictionary!

The only real drawback is getting there. The nearest airport is Huesca, but that appears to be not in use for civilan flights at the moment. Transfer times from Toulouse (the airport our tour operator used) and Zaragoza can be lengthy.

Visited January 2012
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2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Wonderful place, go there every year.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 26, 2011 via mobile

Formigal is an amazing place it's defiantly worth a visit! There's lots of sights, cafes, restaurants and slopes. The place is so big we skied for 5 miles and hadn't covered the whole place! I would defiantly go again and again!

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Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“Very Modern and very friendly”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 24, 2011

I was very impressed with Formigal. We flew to Zaragoza with Ryanair and hired a car through Europcar. It is a very easy and beautiful 90 minute drive straight there with clear signposting all the way.

The resort itself has been rapidly built over the past five years and is great to look at with a very unique vibe. What is so unique compared to anywhere I have been in the Alps is the friendliness, complete lack of arrogance, the cheap dining/drinking around the resort and the very laid back vibe around the place.

At 170km of piste, this is now a large resort and I believe it is Spain's biggest. The Spanish like to get the day going around 11am, so if you take the 9am lift, you can cover a lot of ground before you have any queuing to do. If it has snowed the day before (and the Pyrenees gets a lot of snow due to the proximity of the Atlantic), you will get an hour or so to make fresh tracks in what is a haven for snowboarders with some dedicated black runs for Snowboarders. If the lack of altitude bothers you, take heart in the fact that a huge number of runs have artificial snow capability with night skiing another attractive proposition too.
Because of the modernity of the resort, every chair lift is fast and takes 6 or 8 people (there are only a couple of exceptions). It is much quicker to get up the mountain than almost anywehere else I've been. This is also probably the best place I have ever seen for beginners. They step onto a moving carpet/travelator that takes them up the piste and this makes it the least intimidating learning experience that I have seen.

For those that know Spain - in particular Seville, Madrid, or more famously Ibiza, you should know that the bar and nightclub, Keeper, has moved to Formigal. Keeper is an amazing addition to Formigal and sits at the forefront of the resort, about 60 seconds down the hill from the centre of town. It sits in the old cable car house and has an amazing view. The bar upstairs is beautiful and is ideal for apres-ski, but the real treasure is the nightclub, which is worldclass and gets going from about midnight (actually, it gets really busy at around 3.30am and closes at 7am!).

There is a creche within Formigal where we left our one year old for two days and that was excellent. She absolutely loved it. They also have a snow village for kids and they have a snow creche that starts at 2.5yrs old. Spain is unrivalled for its great attitude to children.

There is a lot more to see around the area. Experienced skiers may want to try somewhere new after 4 days or so and you can visit other resorts such as Panticosa in the 'Aramon' area. We also visited a nearby safari/trek park which we enjoyed very much.

All in all, this is a much more relaxed place to go with a superb vibe to it. Great apres ski (if you go to Keeper) and great on piste with super facilities for kids.

Visited March 2011
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Southampton, United Kingdom
1 review
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“The Biggest Pain in Skiing?”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 17, 2010

The Biggest Pain in Skiing?
Is in your.........WALLET!!
Formigal Review:
A large part of that pain is the lift-pass price.
The Aragon independent company ARAMON (Aragon Montanas),in conjunction with Urbanization de Formigal, is re-introducing this Resort to the UK market. Their latest promotion is to offer FREE lift passes. This money-saver follows the 300 Million Euro investment in the latest Doppelmayr lifts and resort facilities. Passes are obtainable when booking via J2.com, Crystal, Thomson, Iglu, Neilson and others. (www.aramon.co.uk)

I’ve just returned from assessing the facilities, benefits and short-comings on offer.

For a large skier-group the Organisers and Leader must get the basics right. It’s the only way that the members of the group can get value for money. In the current financial misery everyone is counting the costs and cutting-back.

My group has become tired of long transfer times and difficult access to slopes. The group is multi-level ability, consisting of babies/ children and young-to-old adults. Transfers, slope access, pistes spread ‘miles’ apart and clean toilets are ‘Hi-Key’ issues. Other items in any resort choice are ratings for experts, lower-upper intermediates and novices, as well as ‘first-timer’ pack offers. Crèches, qualified supervision, hours open and collections, kindergartens, ski schools, lockers, snow reliability, geographical slope aspects and skills needed to reach and enjoy them are critical to satisfying individuals and client-families. Not to mention restaurants/cafes and adequate seating, (including some for that packed lunch) and of course hot ‘chocolatiers’ or vin chaud, in abundance.

We travelled with Crystal AND got an e-mail in advance from the excellent Rep there. We flew into the new airport Huesca from Gatwick, 2nd week of February, on a Monarch Airbus 1410hrs flight. No 0400hrs starts or over-nighting at Gatwick there, then! Monarch has been contracted for the season by Pyrenair, a new airline based at the new airport, Huesca. The transfer is just 1hr and 20mins sedate coach travel. No 4hrs from Toulouse, anymore?

We found a good snow-base laid down pre-Christmas and again in January. Mid-week we received a 23 hour ‘dump’ of 40 cms on top of 180 cms existing, and skied throughout the day it snowed. Great for trying some basic ’bouncy’ off-piste skiing technique, while still on a firm piste under-base. Can’t see? “....when you lose your sense of sight......develop your sense of feel......through the soles of your feet and soft knees...."!

That huge dump gave the pisteurs/avalanche control one heck of a problem. They worked all-night through. Delaying lift opening time (0900 hrs) did cause queues, but with a 4 of 5 avalanche risk, as in most of Europe, no one could expect anything else. Two sets of 4-piste bashers, echelon-fashion, plus single machines soon cleared the way to safe skiing and we were off!

The resort lay-out comprises 3 base Stations: Sextas, Anayet and Portalet. These effectively access 4-valleys. Then, 8, 6 and 4-man lifts spread-out like a fan to mid-mountain elevation.

Sextas Zone appears the more difficult. Particularly up towards Tres Hombres-Huegas. 20 blacks and reds and not a blue in sight. Closed during our visit due to avalanche precautions. There are several good blues linking all 4-valleys at mid mountain level, prior to these lifts gaining height. The full spread is interspersed with the higher lifts providing extra height to drop blues (some), reds and blacks (single & double diamond) into the valleys and public facilities. This means novice/ lower intermediates are not ‘shangheied’. For example, when trying to meet-up with the group at lunch-times.

Anayet Zone; is reached by the “Anayet” run, a great wide blue ‘motorway’. Plus a couple of reds and moderate blacks striking off parallel with some easy mid-mountain runs. This provides good skiers/boarders with off-piste opportunities where they can ‘see’, well in front of them, what they are getting into! Boarders were killing the blacks in great powder.

The Spanish love their food! There are 17 eateries on the mountain. They love taking a couple of hours socialising as well. This means the one-week a year, skiing-starved Brits can ski right through lunch on un-crowded pistes. Don’t even THINK about lunch before 1400hrs!! Eat a good breakfast. Then, hit the extensive Anayet Lodge. This consists of two cafes, two chocolatiers, two self-services, a burger-bar, an ice cream point, and two more formal restaurants both reasonable: 10-15 Euros for a 2- course ‘Plato’ of the day and small bottle of wine/beer ..(hic!). Other options if you want them. The second ski-school, ski hire/lockers and immaculate toilets are also here. As is a massive sun-terrace with huge seating including some picnic tables (I kid you not!).

Take the kids (and yourself) for the longest moving carpet ride I’ve ever seen. There’s another at Sextas for the kids, by the way, great while you slope-off to the short 'Furco' 4-man chair run, to warm-up at the start of the day. Then it’s the 8-man up from Sextas and head for Anayet. Or, a good lunch can be had at Sextas at c.9.50 Euros, anyway.

After taking the 'rays' at Anayet, have a poke at the off-piste mound in front of you. Never mind all those watching and laughing. AND, if your 'hard (good) enuf', remember where to branch-off that blue-motorway, next time down. Then cross-over the black (flat bit) and zoom up and over the mound down towards the Lodge, again. That ought to stop’em laughing?

Do NOT arrive in a heap, until the next time you do it, having arranged for someone to wait down there to photograph you! Seriously, there are loads of places just off the mid mountain reds/blacks to ‘
"get some mileage in", off-piste. Only if fully insured, of course.

Portalet Zone: The piste map shows this is a difficult part. Only one red, the rest blacks, single and double diamonds. We couldn’t test all of it due to avalanche precautions. I am assured reasonably competent intermediate skiers, in good conditions, can get-down ok?

Apart from the Panorama viewing point at the top towards France THE Portalet attraction is the chance to go ‘Ratrack’ skiing! Up the 6-man to be pulled along a gentle red, behind the Ratrack with c.40 skiers. This is the ONLY way to reach to the Fine-Dining restaurant Cabana Glera for lunch. Reservations essential at night and you are then collected by cabin-Ratrack, no skis needed. From the menu I sighted it’s expensive. Have at least 50 Ackers to spare (evening) methinks. But, it’s a one-off apparently and it’s only money!

From there you can ski down black or red (into blue) back into the Anayet Zone. I suspect that last bit of the red may be ‘interesting’. The whole concept of skiing 4-valleys needs close attention to abilities, if the group is to get the most out of it. We know the route-march it seems to flog across wide expanses of valleys to justify the higher lift pass expenditure? Hopeless for kids. The 137 kms of Formigal allows skiing all 4-valleys in a day together with sampling some of the facilities en-route, at a steady skiing/drinking pace.

Further access by car is open to the Sarrios Zone at mid mountan level, between Sextas and Anayet. There is a sizeable car park and an excellent restaurant there, the ‘Gemsbock’. Also, this opens out to the free-ride areas, snow park, huskies, skidoos, timed slalom and the Collado 4-man to either Anayet, again, or down the great fast red ‘Collado’. This is my favourite run as the black there proved just too much snow for me.

Best run for ‘cruisers’? Hang on! ‘Blue’, up the Sarrios 2-man, on up the Lanuza then down the blue through to Izas, drink some 'shampoo' in El-Iglu' then on to the husky-sleds (drive one of those!). Up the 6-man ‘Cantel’, then down the blue Rio (river) as fast as conditions and safety allow i.e. “Quindío en Roma!” Then down Furco (also night skiing) onto Sextas. Have a large Carlos Uno Brandy.....go for a Heli-trip...... see/photo where you’ve been skiing....and tell the Brits when you get home!

Overall, there’s a free 10 minute bus-service between the village and the Base Stations (5 minutes or an easy walk down, minus skis). Additionally, the village-run is serviced by two 'Thomas-the-Tank- Engine’ trains, by road, great fun for kids (or adults). Downside? Well, one day soon the Elders will have to make the village traffic-free. The ski school will no doubt increase English speaking Instructors as the critical mass (no pun intended!) of Brits is achieved. We could do with a weather-shield on the 8-man, I think.

Well done “Formidable” Formigal. Masterly skiing, with ‘Distinction’!

As the Aussie girl said in their Tourist Office advert.
”....come on you Brits....where the b....y hell are you?...”

Stay safe,

Dave Williams

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