The Costa del Sol reveals just how glamorous it can be when it offers the chance to be on the ski slopes in the morning and on the beach in the afternoon – or vice versa. Just about two hours from Marbella’s palm-fringed beaches and luxury resort hotels lies the Sierra Nevada, home to mainland Spain’s tallest peaks and Europe’s southernmost ski resorts.
The most prominent of these is located on the northern slopes of the Veleta, one of the highest mountains not just in the Sierra Nevada but in all of Spain. Situated less than 30 kilometres from Granada and about 100 kilometres from the Mediterranean Sea at Nerja (a little east of Málaga), this is a region of quaint mountain villages set in deep valleys and topped by a natural wonderland of snowy peaks. Here the season can last from November to April, with over 100 kilometres of runs in conditions that attract large numbers of Spanish and international winter sports enthusiasts as well as international competitions. The growing popularity of skiing and snowboarding in this region has led to the creation of true alpine-style ski resorts, complete with ski schools, children’s facilities, professional instructors, fine dining, shops, nightlife and, of course, luxurious hotels and spa facilities. Some see this as an extension of the Costa del Sol’s expertise in luxury tourism and hostelry, and while Marbella institutions such as the Marbella Club Hotel do operate exclusive boutique hotels in the ski resorts they have an ambience and appeal all of their own. This being Spain, however, the Sierra Nevada experience is as much about nightlife, good food and socialising as it is about winter sports, so if you go, look out for the fine restaurants, the luxurious spa hotels and the trendy night spots. The popularity of skiing in the Sierra Nevada has made getting there remarkably easy too, with motorways running most of the way and bringing the ski slopes to within an easy run from the golf courses, beaches and country clubs of Marbella.