Related Regions: Andorra, Europe

Vallnord / Arcalís Resort Reviews

by: Giles - 30th January 2013

  • 4
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Expert
  • 5All-Mtn. Terrain
  • 2Family Friendly
  • 1Aprés Ski
  • 2Terrain Park
  • Overall Value
off-piste, views, terrain, contiguous vertical
lift closures, poor service, access

Full review

This is my second review of Ordino-Arcalís(as I can't edit the first) and I felt driven to write a follow-up to express some reservations and disappointments. First off, the good and great: Arcalís is a snow sure spot, as far as the Pyrenees go, with one of the highest skiable summits and highest base levels. It's snow at Arcalís when it's raining at competitors, and the locals know it. This means a longer season, better snow quality and fewer yahoos(being harder to reach limits crowds). In fact, waiting in line at Arcalís is almost a lost concept. You've driven an extra hour past Grandvalira and the result is you won't be queuing, period. In addition, the lift-served Cruessans area is a freeride dream that will leave you salivating. The bad: I'm growing increasingly frustrated with Vallnord for the frequent closure of the Arcalís sector. With nearly any amount of wind blowing or snow falling, the station closes. Boom. Done. And if not the entire sector, then all upper lifts, meaning very, very limited choices. Plus, by comparison to other access roads, that of Arcalís is rather poorly maintained. Now, at first I considered this the price of skiing a hardcore mountain - but whilst skiing other resorts, of the same elevation, in the same storms/conditions - I find THEIR lifts open, and their roads clear. The frustration of paying for lodging near Arcalís, holding two day passes, and then being forced to ski the totally inferior Pal/Arinsal sectors is not justifiable in my view and entirely unacceptable. Furthermore, the service at Arcalís is terrible. Surly, understaffed employees either ignore you or run from place to place trying to keep up. Again, I put up with this bad service for the excellent terrain - but what if the terrain is constantly closing? That is when the "pros" of Arcalís begin to dwindle. At 3hrs from Barcelona, Arcalís-Ordino is a haul. Pas de la Casa can be accessed in 2hr 15min. Now, add in border crossing delays of over an hour on busy weekends, and you're talking at least 4hrs. And, at 4 hrs you can be in Boí Taull or even Baqueira-Beret. I've always been a huge Arcalís fan - it is(or was) the only place I would ski. But the poor management of the station has me looking at other options - and often.

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