Ski resorts in the Catalan Pyrenees expected to receive high visitor numbers over Easter

The good quality of the snow, because of significant falls in the last number of weeks, has made ski resort managers believe that Easter might attract many skiers to the slopes, after a poor season. La Molina ski resort, in Cerdanya County, expects to host 10,000 skiers between Thursday April 5th and Monday April 9th.

CNA / T. Tàpia / M. Lluvich / L. Busquets / M. Martí

April 4, 2012 08:04 PM

Alp (ACN).- The snow that has fallen in the last few weeks has permitted Catalan ski resorts to offer a wide variety of slopes with high quality snow. In fact, the managers of the Catalan Pyrenees’ ski resorts are optimistic about the number of visitors who will visit  their facilities over Easter. Furthermore the latest weather forecasts indicate the significant probability of rain along Catalonia’s coast, which might inspire some people to change their initial plans and go to the mountains instead. This is welcome news for the Pyrenees resorts because of an exceptionally poor season due to the drought. Among all Catalan ski resorts, the one with the expectations of receiving the highest number of visitors is La Molina, located in the Central Catalan Pyrenees, in Cerdanya County. More than 10,000 skiers are expected to visit to La Molina between Thursday April 4th and Monday April 9th. All Catalan ski resorts will be open on those days, except Boí Taüll, which closed its facilities for the season on Sunday.

The 4 ski resorts located in the Girona Pyrenees (the Eastern side of the range) are very optimistic about the coming days. The four resorts are La Molina, La Masella, Vallter 2000 and Vall de Núria.

La Masella, 60 kilometres of piste

The Commercial head of La Masella told ACN that last minute bookings are increasing the occupancy rate beyond 80% in hotels and hostels located next to the slopes. The weather forecasts indicate a high possibility of rain along the coast, which “is pushing skiers to go the slopes for the last time this season”. Last weekend, 6,870 skiers visited La Masella. The expectation is to host more visitors over the next few days, which coincide with a peak in the Easter holidays. La Masella currently has 42 slopes open out of 64, which represents 60 kilometres to ski, of the total number of 72 kilometres the resort counts with. Snow is at a depth of between 50 and 110 centimetres.

La Molina, expecting 2,000 per day

La Molina ski resort is offering 23 kilometres of open slopes to ski, of a total number of 61 kilometres. 22 of the 53 slopes are open. The snowboard park is also open, as well as the connection with the neighbouring ski resort of La Masella. La Molina also offers all the regular activities. Marta Viver, in charge of La Molina’s marketing, told ACN that last weekend they received more than 4,000 skiers. Furthermore they expect more than 2,000 visitors per day between April 5thand April 9th.

Vall de Núria, expecting 9,300 visitors

Vallter 2000 and Vall de Núria ski resorts, in Ripollés County, said that they are looking at the weather forecast, since it might snow again and therefore could have more slopes open. Vall de Núria expects 9.300 visitors coming over the Easter break. Ruth Bober, from Vall de Núria’s communications department, told ACN, that the ski resort will open all 11 slopes, with a snow depth ranging from 50 to 90 centimetres. Hotels are expected to have occupancy rates of beyond 80%.

Vallter 2000, 80% of slopes open

The Director of Vallter 2000, Enric Serra, explained that the ski resort he manages will have 80% of its slopes open, with snow depths ranging from 40 to 100 centimetres. Furthermore, he stressed that the weather forecast indicates further snowfall that “will help us to have the resort at its best”. Hotel occupancy is expected to reach 90%.

Ski Pallars with special promotions

In the Lleida Pyrenees (the Western part of the Catalan Pyrenees), some ski resorts have launched special promotions to attract the greatest number of visitors over the last number of days in the ski season. Ski Pallars, which involves Port Ainé and Espot, offers a rafting experience for every three ski passes bought. Ski Pallars has also dropped the ski pass price to €33 instead of €35, which is the price paid in the season’s peak. Ricard Palou, member of Ski Pallars commercial department, told ACN that “the ski resorts are in a very good condition since it is still snowing on the top of the mountains”. The resort’s hotels already have an occupancy rate beyond 70%, a similar percentage to hotels and hostels located in the rest of the Pallars Sobirà County. However, they are still waiting to increase these numbers with very last minute bookings.

Baquèira Beret, at full capacity

The largest ski resort in the Catalan Pyrenees, Baqueira Beret, located in Val d’Aran County (in the most north-western part of Catalonia), has all its slopes open and all facilities functioning. It also offers good quality of snow, with depths ranging from 40 to 180 cm.

Boí Taüll, already closed

The only ski resort that has already closed for the season is Boí Taüll. Its season ended last Sunday April 1st, with 35% fewer ski passes sold than in the previous season, when 155,000 passes were sold. One of the causes is a poor snow season due to the drought, which obliged many ski resorts to only open part of their slopes and use snow production canyons. On Monday, Boí Taüll presented a mass lay off affecting 90 of its workers, 70% of which were working at the resort’s hotels and restaurants.

Port del Compte might close earlier

Finally, the ski resort of Port del Compte, also in Lleida, but located on the Catalan Pre-Pyrenees mountain chain, will only have 7 slopes open out of 37. Its Manager, Ricard Ustrell, told ACN, that it is difficult for them to forecast how many visitors they will have this Easter because “everything depends on the weather conditions”. “If it continues raining, and rain doesn’t turn into snow, we might even have to close before the end of Easter”.