More ski lifts, new hotels and even a ‘glamping’ site: What Spain’s Sierra Nevada has in store for the future

FANS OF skiing, snowboarding and all things Alpine are in for a treat over the coming years, as Sierra Nevada in Spain’s Granada province will make changes aimed at turning it into one of the best resorts in the whole of Europe.

The 20/30 strategic plan for the next 10 years was presented in Madrid on Monday, and includes new ski lifts and a huge increase in hotel rooms. This will be accompanied by better options for big spenders, such as more luxury accommodation, as well as an improved range of restaurants and other eateries. 

The plan is also to turn the resort into a year-round attraction, and not just one for when the snow falls. 

One of the factors that will help with this plan is the sunshine: Sierra Nevada enjoys 122 sunny days a year. ‘You ski here in the sun,’ explained Jesus Ibañez Peña, the CEO of Cetursa, the company that owns and manages Sierra Nevada. ‘And if there’s no sun today, there will be tomorrow.’

The resort already attracts the highest number of skiers in Spain, who come for its 110 kilometres of runs and the highest vertical descent in the country too: 1,200 metres.

In Cetursa’s bid to attract even more visitors, new lifts are being planned to ease congestion. ‘We don’t want people in the queues, we want them on the slopes,’ Ibañez said.

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Cetursa Sierra Nevada CEO Jesus Ibañez Peña at the presentation in Madrid on Monday.

The Emile Allais and Alhambra lifts have already been refurbished and are in operation this season, while other older lifts will also be replaced with four new systems with chairs that carry six people at a time. These are Veleta, Monachil, Jara and Laguna.

Work to update the snow cannons will also be completed, with the last 20 older machines due to be replaced and new pipes installed. 

‘Cold beds’

According to consultancy Deloitte, which has been involved in the creation of the strategic plan, of the 17,900 beds in the resort, 62% are known as ‘cold beds’, i.e residential, while just 38% are warm beds, i.e. belonging to hotels or other rentable accommodation.  

To address this problem, the area of Los Peñones where a car park is located, will be developed. Hotels, hostels and apartment-hotels will be built, offering a total of 2,450 new beds. An underground car park with capacity for 2,500 vehicles is included in the plan. 

And in the Fuente Alta forest, a ‘glamping’ site will be installed, allowing visitors to enjoy the camping experience of being in nature as well as all of the comforts of a regular hotel room.

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