Formigal Spanish ski resort

THE Spanish ski resort of Formigal has its sights set on welcoming back British visitors as work gets underway on a €68 million expansion.

Just over an hour’s drive from the modern French airport of Pau, Formigal was, until a few years ago, a popular destination with British skiers. Between 250 and 300 tourists from the UK descended on the resort in the central Pyrenees each week during the season until they were tempted by the cheaper alternative of Andorra.

The price of holidays to the Pyrenean principality were dramatically cut when the Andorran government intervened, by paying the cost of transfers from Barcelona airport to the mountains. The knock-on effect was that Formigal lost most of its UK business.

With the expansion underway the resort is aiming to regain trade from the British market during the next few years.

The main thrust of their campaign will be that they provide a quality service, better than would be found in resorts in the Alps, and at much lower prices.

Situated in the Spanish province of Huesca, Formigal is part of Aramón a group of five ski resorts in the Aragon region of Spain. The other resorts are Javalambre, Panticosa, Valdelinares and  Cerler. Aramón is jointly owned by the Aragonese government and the regional bank Ibercaja.

The €68 million investment by Aramón will pay for increasing Formigal’s 56km of pistes to 80km during the next four years. It will also provide 500 ski cannons to ensure there is enough snow from when the resort opens in the last week of November until the end of April when it closes.

Accommodation in the resort includes three four-star hotels, with another three under construction.

The Hotel Formigal, with its spectacular views down the Tena Valley, is one of the four star hotels. Built in 1965, it was recently refurbished with stylish antique furniture.

The feel is comfortable and welcoming, with its collection of odds and ends, like an old wooden crib and a gigantic pair of bellows used as a coffee table, there is a great combination of old and modern.

There are plenty of games for children in the games cupboard as well as a games room with internet access.

On every corner there are gloriously comfortable sofas which just cry out ‘sit on me!’.

The hotel has its own restaurant which seats 330 people.

And for those who find they haven’t exerted themselves enough with a day on the slopes, there is a complete gym and a swimming pool as well as a sauna, Turkish steam room and Jacuzzi.

Marketing director at Formigal, Jose Luis del Valle said: “It’s not usual to see four star hotels in the French ski resorts.

“The quality here is better. For us the principle is quality, quality, quality. The standard of the hotels, restaurants and cafes is as important as the quality of the pistes.

“It is very different to the Alps. In France a lot of ski areas are bigger than Formigal but their towns are smaller and they have a different concept.”

While it caters for all levels of skier Formigal is quieter during the week but at weekends, with Spaniards from Zaragoza and Madrid, there are between 7,000 and 8,000 skiers.

In the town there are pubs and boutiques as well as two discos and a 15thcentury church. Stone houses and chalets cling to the hillside as land is scarce in the valley. As a guide to prices, plots of building land for chalets go for about €60,000.

The resort has outdoor tennis courts and a swimming pool, which I am assured is adapted for winter use, and Jose Luis says he is surprised there are no takers. 

Formigal is one of only a handful of resorts in Spain using electronic ski passes.

No need to stop and fish out your ski pass. Just keep it in your pocket, forget about it and as you pass through the machine scans your card automatically.

Skiers can buy a pass for between one and seven days or a complete season. The more you buy the cheaper it becomes and it can be used whenever the skier wants during the next two seasons and the pass is valid throughout all the Aramón resorts.

Formigal has had the electronic passes for three years. Apart from the Aramón resorts the only other place in Spain with them is the Sierra Nevada.

Prices are €28 for one day and €485 for the whole season.


Formigal has three ‘guarderias’, or creches where parents can leave their children to play while they ski.

Formigal will appeal to British skiers, being cheaper than resorts in the Alps. For example chicken, chips, salad and two eggs costs €8.30, sandwiches are all €3.50 with tea costing €1.50 and cake €2. Cakes are brought daily from the best bakery in Huesca.

As all the resort’s cafes and restaurants are owned by Aramón, prices and standards are the same throughout.

In February people dress up for carnival week and there are lots of parties and competitions in the resort.

In the summer the region is also busy with an array of outdoor activities, including ‘puenting’, (bungee jumping off bridges), rafting and walking.

Pirineos Sur is a month-long music festival in Sallent de Gallego, a town just below Formigal. This takes place in the last two weeks of July and the first two weeks of August.

For more information on the resort visit

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