First of all- Arinsal is a great place! This was my first trip to Andorra and my first experience of skiing. What can I say? I'm a convert!
We booked with Neillson, with both myself and the Fella booking full ski packages -he's quite an experienced skier and I am (was!) a rank amateur. The Neillson staff were pleasant and promised to be omnipresent and helpful. They weren't perhaps quite that, but we had no major crisis to deal with so our contact with them was minimal.
The staff I was most impressed with were the Vallnord ski instructors- they were so patient and helpful. I believe I was in the "numpty" beginners group, but by the end of the week even the most uncoordinated of us were flying down the mountain and coping with the chair lifts. Andorra is a great place to learn. There are some lovely gentle runs to boost confidence and I managed to ski all the way from the top of the mountain.
As the the St Gothard- this was a pleasant, efficient and engaging place to stay, if a little dated. The staff were polite and helpful and the bar was welcoming and well priced. The exchange rate is killing the "cheap ski" getaway charm of Andorra. However, with the Half Board option at St Gothard, we filled up at breakfast and dinner and managed to keep our spend to a minimum. The Ares Ski treats, such as toasties at the El Cau or nachos at Cisqos go down great when your tummy is rumbling...
The St Gothard is quite a walk out of town and we did not often make it back up the hill in the evenings, choosing instead to have a beer to two on the way down the hill at tea time and retire early. I know this may sound sad but I had no energy left t party by the end of a hard day's skiing.
The Food in the St Gothard is reasonably good, the breakfasts being well ranged and filling to keep you going on the slopes. The eveing meals had some "interesting" choices- veal curry anyone?- but even the Fella (notoriously diffcult to please food wise) gave it a grudging "ok" and managed to feed well every day. In short, the food may not have been glamorous or exciting but it was filling, fresh and plentiful, which is what you need when you are working hard on parallel turns! A surprising pleasure, however was the house Rioja in the restaurant which was very drinkable- but DO NOT assume this is the same house red in the bar. It isn't and the vin de maison in the bar is despicable, so be warned!
I do heartily recommend the "Steak Night" arranged by Neillson, which was at Surf restaurant by the gondola. For £22 a piece, including a drink, I have never seen so much tasty, barbequed steaky lovliness. Nom nom nom. The Fella was like a dog with two tails and was only disappointed that I had worked up enough of an appetite to eat my share, rather than leaving it to him.
The other bars we liked were El Cau for a bit of toastie goodness and Quo Vadis which had a kicking atmosphere for the end of term friday celebrations, when everyone takes stock of their acheivements in ski school.
I would definitely return to Arinsal, most likely to St Gothard (it was good value) although I would consider something a bit closer to the Gondola and bars.
Happy skiing, fellow trippers.
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel St Gothard
- St Gothard Erts
- St Gothard Hotel Andorra/Erts