Feature – Join the pros with property in Andorra
Property in Andorra is not just a way to indulge a passion for skiing; it also provides the opportunity to purchase a home surrounded by stunning mountain scenery all year round.
Lengthy ski seasons and snow cover that, in places, remains throughout the 12 months of the year are further arguments in favour of Andorran property for skiers and snowboarders alike.
Meanwhile, a milder summer climate and long hours of sunshine mean that the warmer months make Andorra an ideal home for hiking enthusiasts or even for people who prefer wheels to skis, as the mountain trails welcome cyclists keen to make the most of the dry and bright weather.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, these persuasive factors have resulted in a number of winter sports professionals making Andorra’s ski resorts their home.
In some cases, they have also opened equipment shops and training schools – meaning visiting or relocating to Andorra is the ideal opportunity to gain some first-hand knowledge of the best ski techniques, on some pro-approved ski runs.
The Ski Regions
There are a number of major skiing regions in which enthusiasts of the sport can buy property in Andorra; these include Canillo, La Massana and Arinsal.
Canillo is ideal for intermediate to expert skiers, with many of its slopes aimed at the middle to upper end of the ability scale.
A season that runs from late November until mid-April means almost five months of potential piste action.
The practicalities of living in property in Andorra are also catered for in Canillo – quite literally – with a variety of local restaurants putting good-quality produce on local residents’ plates.
In La Massana, there is a prospect that is likely to please hardcore skiers and snowboarders alike.
The hard-to-miss Coma Pedrosa is Andorra’s highest mountain, reaching almost 3,000 m (9,650 ft) into the surrounding skyline.
During the peak ski season, gondola lifts ensure that residents and visitors alike can reach the best of the snow and indulge in some downhill action.
The villages of Arinsal and Pal, which stand about 5 km apart, prove particularly popular with visitors to Andorra – and not just those on skis.
During the summer months, the warmer weather means that biking and hiking can both become common pastimes.
People who choose to buy property in Andorra’s ski regions will not be alone, as amateurs and professionals alike already live in the country.
One more experienced example is Briton Tyler Chorlton, who is based in Soldeu in the Canillo region and is one of the rising stars on the international snowboarding circuit.
Chorlton is making a name for himself due to his mad snowboarding skills, with the triple front flip one of his signature moves.
However, he is not the only famous resident of Soldeu, as professional skier Pete Kaplansky also lives there.
And while skiers and snowboarders traditionally have a certain amount of rivalry, no such competition exists between Chorlton and Kaplansky.
The two are business partners and operate Loaded, a skiing equipment supply shop that serves the needs of tourists and those who live year-round in Andorran property.
Canillo also has its own famous face in the form of ski mountaineer Xavier Capdevila Romero.
Born in Canillo in 1976, Romero took to ski mountaineering in 1998 and, in 2005, achieved a double win of first places in both Snow Top Andorra and the Circuit Catala Pro-Olimpic.
He has also competed each year since 2004 in either the World Championship or European Championship relay race, each presenting a four-man challenge lasting around an hour.
Aside from the scenery, ski conditions and celebrity endorsements, Andorra offers the charm of a village on a national scale.
Its 181 square miles (468 sq km) contain fewer than 84,000 permanent residents who speak languages including Portuguese, Spanish and French.
Despite the winter skiing conditions, in summer the climate is relatively mild, averaging a maximum of 24 degrees C.
While this may not sound particularly hot, Andorra is also generally quite dry and very sunny, making walking an enjoyable alternative to skiing throughout the summer months.
However, the exact temperature and weather conditions can vary depending on altitude and location – which may make it useful to seek expert assistance if buying Andorran property.
Of course, skiing is not the only Andorran pastime – there is also a nation full of culture to experience.
Among the ways to do this is to go on the rural life trail suggested by the Andorran tourist board, visiting three areas of historic property in Andorra’s valleys.
Country house museum Casa d’Areny-Plandolit, family home Casa Rull in Sispony and Casa Cristo, an example of a 19th-century poorer Andorran household all provide snapshots from previous ages of how Andorran property used to be inhabited.
For those heading to the region in the 21st century, the insight into previous generations’ lifestyles could be a real eye-opener – as well as an indication of how far the country has progressed in the years since.
Younger visitors, whether on an Andorran holiday or relocating to the area, could find Pas de la Casa in the Grandvalira ski region meets their needs with its youth-oriented nightlife and prevalence of ski routes well suited to intermediate skiers.