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Arinsal, Andorra, Easter, Nielson - questions!

(13 Posts)
haltingtheclock Wed 21-Jan-15 22:40:20

We're just looking to book our first skiing holiday with 10yo and 8yo boys, and I'm navigating the options on a Neilson package to Arinsal in Andorra over Easter. I have a lot of (naive) questions though: ...

1. Is snow reasonably guaranteed at Easter, and if there's a warm spell do they make the snow artificially to compensate?
2. We're thinking of paying £6.50 each for the 'meal' on the plane, but is that a hot meal or just a sandwich?
3. Is it worth paying extra to choose our seats for the plane in advance, and if we don't is there a chance the kids will have to sit on their own?
4. Is it worth going for the ski-pass deal that includes "lunch", and does that mean a voucher, a packed lunch, or something different? (Can't believe there's no detail on the website about what it means!)
5. The lesson packages are for 5*4hours. Does that mean a 4 hour solid session, or is it split into morning and afternoon sessions with time for lunch in between? Or something else? (ditto)
6. Our kids are beginners, so will definitely need lessons. DH and I have skied a couple of times before at beginner-ish level, a few years ago, so we're thinking of doing the improver lessons. Is that a good choice, or will we feel a bit tied down - 5 * 4hours seems a lot, but if they take us on different runs as we progress through the week, then it might work ok.
7. Assuming we go for the improver lessons, would they be coordinated in time and location with the beginner lessons so we could easily meet up with our boys afterwards.
8. (Anxious mother alert) If we put our boys in lessons, and they're injured, or need to speak to us for some reason, how would they contact us up on the mountain - do they have some sort of system in place for that? Do mobile phone signals work up there?

Trickydecision Fri 23-Jan-15 06:22:32

As no one has replied yet, I will have a go, but it won't be a comprehensive answer.
1 Snow can never be guaranteed, whenever you go. However I would be wary about going to Andorra at Easter. It is quite far south and probably sunny then. i know many people love skiing at Easter, but often you get 'spring conditions', which means an overnight freeze, an afternoon slushy thaw with a 'window' of good conditions in the middle.
Artificial snow only works when the temperature is 4 degrees or lower and usually only the most popular runs are covered anyway.
We have spent two excellent holidays in Andorra, albeit many years ago. The ski schools have an excellent reputation. Looking the the piste map of Arinsal, it seems a bit disjointed. We stayed at Pas de La Casa, which is now joined to Soldeu. Maybe have a look at that.
2 Guessing here, but most likely to be some sort of warmed up snack.
3 They usually try to sit kids near parents but no guarantee.
4 Try ringing Neilson Customer relations.
5 Unlikely to be four solid hours, probably 2 x2. Again, try asking or check ski school website.
6 Definitely do lessons yourselves. Good ski school, largely staffed by English speakers. We have fond memories of the 'advanced' class in Pas. "Today you ski like tourists, I will turn you into racers".
7 Probably running at the sane time. Again, try googling the ski school website.
7 Yes, they will contact you phones work.

Trickydecision Fri 23-Jan-15 06:31:23

Have a look here. It looks as if you do three hours in the morning and one in the afternoon, or three after lunch then an hour off and then another hour.
Seems an odd arrangement.

www.arinsal.co.uk/ski-school.php

haltingtheclock Fri 23-Jan-15 15:58:50

Thanks Tricky.

Dumdidum Fri 23-Jan-15 16:15:11

We went to Arinsal 2 years ago in late feb. It snowed lots, but apparently the following week it was warm. Generally speaking ski companies try not to keep resorts open too late in case the snow goes, its just not worth the hassle. I would really suggest looking at Livignio, snow there is great until late in the season. Nice small resort and tax free.

Get to the check in desk early and you'll be fine to sit together. Its illegal not to put you with your children but you could find 2 of you one end of the plane and 2 the other. Or 3 and 1. Food on the plane will be hot and will keep the kids quiet for a bit. Usually Neilson use a Thomas Cook flight and their plane food is one of the better ones.

Dumdidum Fri 23-Jan-15 16:16:52

Oh and in Arinsal the beginner slope is near the main lifts so its likely you'll go past the kids regularly

LIZS Fri 23-Jan-15 16:20:48

Snow isn't guaranteed at Easter except well above 2000m. We've had extremes (in the Alps) from white outs to green and summery . Avoid after lunch lessons as the snow will be very heavy going and you are more injury prone by 3.30 onwards. If you fly with easy jet you will be able to select seats when checkin opens.

Trickydecision Fri 23-Jan-15 16:45:16

Exactly, Lizs. Arinsal is only 1500 metres at resort level. Even if the holiday seems cheap, if you can't ski because of a lack of snow it becomes expensive. Have a look at higher resorts, like Dumdi suggests, Val Thorens for example.

zebrapig Fri 23-Jan-15 21:08:23

We went to Arinsal at Easter last year for the second time so can answer most of your questions. The skiing conditions tended to be good in the morning but by around 2pm the show was very heavy and difficult to ski through. We did ski most afternoons until 4pm though. The snow cover was fine and all the runs were open except the one down into the top of the village - there was no snow at village level. They use the snow canons where needed. It's a good resort for beginners/improvers as it's quite small, but you also get access to Pal and Arcalis as well, although you need to get a bus to Arcalis.

Adult and child lessons run concurrently and start and end in the same place to make it easy for you to meet up afterwards. If you've skied before then it's probably worth getting the improver lessons. On the first day they make everyone go down the nursery slope anyway and then group according to ability. From what I remember (we didn't have lessons last time) the first day is a morning and afternoon session. Then the other days are just morning sessions, usually with a pit stop in the middle for a drink/snack.

We didn't take the meal voucher option, but I think it's a voucher to use in the mountain restaurants. They aren't particularly cheap so it might be worth doing.

Hope that helps - if you want to know anything else just shout. Which hotel are you looking at?

haltingtheclock Sat 24-Jan-15 09:08:03

Thanks zebrapig. We were looking at Hotel Montane, which seemed to tick a lot of boxes. Then we started looking at Princesa Parc, which was more expensive but had more facilities - though I was a bit put off by the fact that the kids could only use the pool in the afternoon.

Where did you stay, and are there enough facilities/activities in town to warrant staying somewhere relatively basic?

We've been looking at half-board, because I'm assuming the supermarkets will be limited and expensive, and that the local restaurants will also be priced for a captive market. Is that justified?

Have also been investigating some of the high altitude locations suggested above, though they work out about 1k more expensive overall.

Dumdidum Sat 24-Jan-15 16:57:54

Princes aparc has great food but the pool does cost extra, in case you didnt know :-)

haltingtheclock Sat 24-Jan-15 18:10:32

Yes, I did spot that too Dumdidum - another reason to be put off!

zebrapig Mon 02-Feb-15 15:55:11

Only just remembered this sorry!

The Montane is pretty good from what I've heard and well located in the centre of the village. Princessa Parc is supposed to be nice and seems to have good facilities for kids. We stayed in the Palarine both times which is in Erts at the bottom of the hill. It's more out the way so you need to get the free ski bus up to the lift each day and it's a trek uphill if you want to go to the village in the evening, although sometimes the hotel staff will give you a lift in the minibus. There's not much there for kids as it's only small but we love the camaraderie and the food is really good - it's run by an English couple, Graeme & Maria. I'm gutted we can't go back again this year as the staff are all so lovely.

The shopping in the village is pretty limited if you want to self cater, although you can get the bus into Andorra itself where there are bigger supermarkets. There's loads of choice for eating out, there can be some good deals on if you're happy to eat as soon as you come off the mountain, but I think it can get a bit expensive later on. We always ate in the Palarine so have limited knowledge!

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