The Pyrenees: The principality's oldest resort, Soldeu, has had a facelift over the past decade. It's raised its game, says Margareta Pagano
Eighteen months ago, Mathew Prior made a prediction. Launching the annual report on the ski business published by Crystal, one of the companies he runs as the boss of Tui UK's ski division, he announced that Andorra would increase its share of the market in the 2009/10 season. This was a bold statement, given that Andorra's market share had declined sharply in each of the four previous seasons. But he was correct: Andorra did have a better season.
Almost every country in Europe – even Croatia, Cyprus and Portugal – has at least one ski area. And as well as the "big four" Alpine nations, UK tour operators offer holidays at dozens of resorts in eastern Europe, the Pyrenees and Scandinavia.
Don't stop at the city limits. Our new winter series enables you to combine a great city break with easy access to superb ski resorts.
There was a time when budget ski destinations were easy to identify, even without looking at the prices. Location in a country in the former Eastern bloc was a key indicator; an outdated lift system consisting of a network of drag-lifts and a few slow-moving, two-seater chairlifts was another giveaway. A resort clearly revealed its place in the market when the hotels lacked architectural distinction (or even anything that could fairly be termed architecture), served buffet-only meals and covered their lobby walls with information on the movements of the local reps of mass-market tour operators. A main street lined with thickset men trying to lure passers-by into the bars told the same story.
The groups have largely taken shape but there's plenty still to be decided in Europe
A festive start, to be sure. A flourish of fireworks (Stravinsky's, I hasten to add), an unfamiliar ode to music, two piano concertos fielding three pianists, and, of course, the obligatory psalm of praise. Let no one suggest that Roger Wright's three-tier first nights don't reflect the comprehensive, inclusive, spirit of the Proms. But in terms of musical satisfaction, does the fragmented form, with its interminable intervals, really add up? No. Best to focus on the parts rather than the sum of them.
Wembley turned into a shooting gallery this week as England put six past the part-timers of Andorra.
England 6 Andorra 0
That 70,000 people will tonight attempt to reach Wembley, despite the Tube strike, is an astonishing testament to the combined pulling power of Fabio Capello's revived team, and the aura of the new stadium. Because very few spectators will be there to watch England's opponents, and no one will turn up expecting to see a contest.
Kazakhstan 0 England 4
Winger Shaun Wright-Phillips has been ruled out of England's World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Andorra next month by a knee injury.
Belarus 1 England 3: Gerrard and Rooney on target as Fabio Capello's side achieve best opening to a qualifying campaign
The unseen goal that changed a 19-year-old's world.
Defender Rio Ferdinand has been declared fit and is available for England's crucial World Cup qualifier with Croatia in Zagreb tomorrow evening.
There is a theory that if Joe Cole had grown up in Cadiz instead of Camden and was called Jose Carbonero or something similar, we would all appreciate his beguiling – occasionally frustrating – talent as a footballer all the more. Cole is stuck with being English, however, and England's match-winner against Andorra appealed yesterday to Fabio Capello to be the first manager to show real faith in him when he picks his team to face Croatia in the World Cup qualifier tomorrow night.