One of our recent customers wrote to us and asked if he could post a review on our blog. We said yes, of course, so here is Dave Moisley's take on the Spanish resort of Formigal and our very own Boyd.
Fancy skiing away from the crowds with no lift queues and polite and cheerful piste staff? Then forget the Alps and America and head for the Pyrenees, and no it’s not Andorra, but Formigal in the Spanish Pyrenees!
We have skied here three times in last six years and every time it has been a great skiing experience. This little known resort has had huge amounts of investment over the last few years and boasts modern facilities and a good snow record, spread over four linked valleys. It has over 130km of pistes, mostly blue and red runs, with a good smattering of blacks, the latter being mainly off piste.
It’s not a pretty alpine resort but a functional ski village with a backdrop of the Pyrenees. You can walk around the entire village in less than an hour. There are plenty of bars and a couple of restaurants, but most of the bars do food as well. The nearest airport, Huesca, is about an hour away and Zaragoza is two hours away.
The main area, Sextas, is a sub five minute ride from the village and all hotels provide their own minibuses to and from this area, as well as the free resort buses from the village centre. Nearly all of the eight and four man chairlifts have magic carpet pick up systems, so are efficient and the staff are friendly. On one day when a member of our party decided that they didn’t like the very windy and cold conditions, the staff calmly and cheerfully stopped the chair and placed them on it for the return trip!
Skiing is generally on wide open pistes, which are well groomed every night. There are blue runs from the top of every chair along with reds, so all levels are catered for. Many of the pistes are marked as family areas, with warnings against speed.
Aramon is the local ski company who manage the resort including the lifts and mountain café’s, the latter all have the same price and menus so you don’t get surprised by higher prices higher up the mountain! Prices are generally around €5-6 for a tasty bacon or cheese baguettes and €2 for a Coke or bottle of water.
We also hired our ski gear from Aramon, who have an excellent purpose built ski hire facility at Sextas lift station. which is very efficient with good well maintained equipment. The shop is adjacent to the chairlift, meaning that you don’t need to return to the village in the unlikely event of an equipment problem. You can rent small lockers here for your shoes on the first day if required, we rented one for the entire week and used it to stash nibbles and drinks for the post ski school break.
The ski school staff are excellent, this year we had private lessons which are pricey but they work you hard. The young, tanned Spanish instructor with basic English was a particular hit with our daughter! We had a number of lessons at 9am and really enjoyed the peace and quiet of the pistes and lifts as the Spanish generally don’t start early!
We have only ever stayed in the Hotel Formigal, which is warm and comfortable. The hotel has a top notch buffet breakfast, including as many chocolate and normal doughnuts as you can eat... got that kids? The evening meal is a little late, at 8pm, but is always three courses of Spanish food — which means it is heavily biased towards protein rather than veg... you have been warned! The hotel also sorted out, with no fuss or charge, our return transport to the airport which had arrived a day early... serves us right for booking an extra day and confusing everyone!
We would also recommend the Soul Café which does tapas and a Guinness if that takes your fancy!
Other facilities on offer are tobogganing, husky sledging and flood lit night time skiing.
Formigal is a small, friendly resort with plenty of skiing and a good range of bars, but if you are looking for more lively nightlife then stick with the big alpine resorts. The holiday was made easier by the expert services of Iglu, especially Boyd who had the patience of a saint in dealing with us and the Spanish! Yes this last bit is a well deserved plug for Iglu!