In the central Aragon Pyrenees Formigal offers skiers four different valleys and Spain's largest ski area. For a complete experience on and off the slopes, the ultra-modern ski station and stylish purpose-built resort of Formigal has replaced many lifts with smooth, modern detachable chairlifts and the introduction of Spain’s first ever eight-seater chairlift. Ideal for the beginner and the expert skier alike, the modern ski facilities provide some of the best skiing in the Pyrenees. The immaculately groomed pistes are equipped with a high-capacity lift system and the comfortable hands-free lift passes incorporate a system which prevents inadvertent access to slopes beyond the abilities of the skier.
Formigal's skiing is on largely north and north west facing slopes, all above the tree line and based on grassy meadows, free from rocks. The ski area's location is in a natural snow pocket and in recent seasons, thanks in part to its extensive snow making, it has been the first in the area to open and has been able to offer skiing through to the start of May. The ski area is accessed by a drag lift just across the small river from the town, reached by a foot bridge (Or by road via a longer route round) and the more commonly used gondola, about 800m (half mile) from the village centre. A ski bus operates which is free for some lift pass holders. Almost all of the runs are wide cruising trails, with most of those directly above the resort categorised red. However, the ski area extends eastwards to a snowbowl which incorporates the main nursery area of 500m long blues. This area can be reached by ski bus to the altitude car park at the base of these drags, or from above by skiing down from the gondola top station. Experts will prefer to go higher up from the top of the eight seater chair then take one of the three kilometre long blacks that run above the beginner area. Above the bowl the Lanuza drag has been extended higher up the mountain to access new terrain. Across the bowl a high speed detachable quad chair accesses the Anayet valley, a new extension to the ski area. Wonderful long (2 - 3km) blues, reds and blacks run down parallel in to this valley and there are extensive off-piste opportunities with a guide. At the base there's another high altitude car parking area and a couple of short drags serving another beginners' area with very easy short runs. Experts may also be able to try snowcat and heli-skiing; check with the ski school. Night skiing is offered on Friday and Saturday evenings. You can test yourself on a timed slalom track which not only gives you a speed read-out but also video records your descent, so that you can analyse your performance at home on the television for the next eleven and a half months and, of course, repeatedly impress your neighbours!
The flexible Naturaleza Y Aventura resort crèche accepts children aged from 4 months old up to 5 years and is open from 8am to 7pm. Supervision is available from a minimum of one hour up to a full week. The facility is unable to supply lunches but there is a dining room which children can eat packed lunches they bring in with them. Older children aged five and up can join ski school and there are good discounts on lift tickets and rentals for kids. Formigal's friendly atmosphere and high value by international standards are its two other big assets for visiting families.
Basque, Catalan and Spanish cuisine is available in the resort's eight cafés and restaurants with most of the bars offering tapas. There's also a pizzeria for Italian food. Another option is to enjoy a typical Alpine supper in the Gemsbock Restaurant, before night-skiing back down to the resort.
Although there are only about a dozen bars and restaurants in Formigal, there's still a lively atmosphere, thanks to the reasonable prices and predominantly young clientele. There are several disco bars, but the main late night option is the nightclub in the Hotel Nieve Sol, close to the centre of the resort..
For 'boarders the main attractions of Formigal skiing are the wide open pistes and the chair and gondola access to most of the key areas. However, although you can access all points by chair, three quarters of the lifts serving the individual runs are drags. 'Boarders generally regard Formigal as an ideal place to learn or progress with a particularly highly regarded school and lots of space to master early technique, especially in the week, when it's especially uncrowded. More advanced 'boarders will find wide open powder fields after the snow falls although there are few natural terrain features on these sunny meadows above the tree line. TheAnayet detachable quad accesses blue, red and black runs. The budget prices in resort help make the place still more appealing.