Soldeu is probably Andorra's best all-round ski resort: its local Soldeu-El Tarter ski area has long boasted the most extensive linked slopes in Andorra and it's home to a ski school rated as one of the best in the world; the village offers high-quality accommodation, excellent facilities, and a lively apres ski scene.
Soldeu has worked hard to reinvent itself over the past few seasons in order to move on from its early years as a budget ski package-holiday destination targeted at the 'young and lively' end of the market, and has now successfully established itself as Andorra's most upmarket resort.
That said, the appearance of the village still lacks charm and is mostly just a strip of hotels, apartment blocks, shops and bars, stretched out along the sides of a busy through-road. Nevertheless, this is an outstanding resort for beginners and intermediates.
Soldeu is a key gateway into the vast Grandvalira ski domain which covers the linked ski sectors of Soldeu, El Tarter, and Canillo, combined with those of Grau Roig and Pas de la Casa which stretch across to the eastern Andorran-French border; this huge domain ranks amongst the world's leading ski areas in respect of uplift capacity and extent of pistes.
Soldeu's local and nearest neighbouring ski sectors are focused around spacious mid-altitude service areas and beginners' zones high above the villages, served by principal access-point gondolas. Confident novices can venture out around all the sectors, whilst intermediates and more advanced-ability visitors can revel in the big mileage and will find plenty of terrain to keep themselves entertained.
The Soldeu slopes are located on the far side of a deep ravine which runs parallel to the village, with two blue-graded and two black-graded pistes providing home-runs to the foot of the village via a wide pisted suspension bridge above the river. Direct access to the ski area is provided by a gondola which departs from a large base-terminal complex in the upper end of the village.
The extent of the area is impressive and there's a great range of slopes to cater for all except the most demanding expert-ability visitors: the centrally located beginners' zone covers a spacious plateau directly in front of the upper terminal of the gondola; there are lots of long cruising blues and fast reds; a few modest black runs; plus acres of easily accessible ungroomed inter-piste terrain.
The network of ski lifts and pistes interlinks smoothly with the neighbouring El Tarter sector, home to one of the biggest and best snowparks in the Pyrenees, and the links north-east in the direction of Grau Roig for the Pas de la Casa sectors are also quite straightforward.
Off the slopes and apres ski
The fabulous Sport Wellness Spa has secured Soldeu's position as Andorra's classiest resort: facilities include a large leisure pool, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzi, saunas, steam rooms, and a well-equipped gymnasium; plus a lush range of beauty and massage treatments are available in the spa's therapies suite.
The establishment is part of the Sport Hotels complex, but is open to non-residents; a number of the other leading hotels in the village also have their own swimming pools, spa and fitness suites.
A limited yet adequate selection of shops are dotted around the village, but Andorra's cosmopolitan capital is only 20km away and is easily reachable by bus or taxi for anyone craving more intense retail therapy.
A lively apres-ski scene has always been integral to the Soldeu experience, and although the resort has mellowed over the past decade or so, it still rocks. Live music and sports screenings are regular features at end-of-day gatherings in the Villager and Aspen bars, two of the resort's most animated apres-ski venues, with plenty of the same later on in the evenings, along with theme events and dancing in late-night disco-bar venues such as the Popaire and Fat Albert's.