The Best Ski Resort For: Non-Skiers

Sierra Nevada, Spain

By Stephen Wood
Saturday 30 November 2002 01:00

Ask skiers to recommend resorts suitable for their non-skiing brethren and they'll usually trot out a list of resorts with add-ons: Aspen (for its shops), Bad Gastein (spa), Whistler (cookery classes) and so on. True, St Moritz is about to freshen up the list, its new Kempinski hotel promising to offer minor cosmetic surgery on the side; nevertheless, that "little-something-for-the-ladies" approach just won't do. It's a bit like inviting an abstainer to a Saturday-night piss-up on the grounds that the pub serves crinkle-cut crisps.

No, skiers have to be a bit more understanding than that. So skier/non-skier couples should spend their nights in genuinely interesting places, with the skier commuting to the slopes. Vancouver would be ideal, were it not for the fact that its suburban Grouse Mountain ski area is so overshadowed by Whistler/ Blackcomb, an impractical two hours' away (unless you are affluent enough to commute on the new helicopter shuttle-service from Vancouver airport). Beirut is ideal, thanks to its history, vibrant street-life, astonishing cuisine – and the perfectly adequate Faraya M'zar ski area a 40-minute drive away, where you ski within sight of the Mediterranean. But Beirut might not be seen as a suitable destination right now.

There's Denver, of course, although the rail service to nearby Winter Park doesn't always run to time (the train's journey starts in Chicago and ends on the west coast); and the Bulgarian capital of Sofia is said to have a tram direct from the centre to a ski area. But the best bet is Granada. Only 124km from Malaga on the coast, it is one of Spain's great tourist attractions, thanks to the Moors, Federico Garcia Lorca and the Alhambra. And only 38km away is the country's major ski resort, Sierra Nevada, from whose 3,470m peak Morocco is visible on a clear day.

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