The first thing most people mention about Pas de la Casa is its duty-free status. Quite simply, it's a great place to buy cheap alcohol - and tobacco, perfumes, electrical goods and anything else that normally has VAT or some other tax loaded onto its price. And inexpensive alcohol is a proven way to kick-start a party, and that's the other thing Pas de la Casa is famous for. And whilst the apres-ski scene is neither pretty nor classy, it can be fun if you enjoy free vodka shots. And if you're too old and sensible for this kind of holiday, try neighbouring Grau Roig or Soldeu instead which are much less boisterous.
Then there is the skiing - and slightly to some people's surprise, that's quite impressive too. Grandvalira is the name of the large lift-linked ski area that Pas de la Casa is just one part of, and it lives up to the Grand part of its name, stretching over to Grau Roig, Soldeu, El Tarter and finally onto the El Forn sector above the small resort of Canillo, with an optional extra leg via lift (but not piste) to Encamp. In total there are over 60 lifts, 120 runs and 200km of piste, more than enough to keep most skiers busy for at least a week, even if they don't over-indulge on Pas de la Casa's nightlife. Beginners and intermediates are spoilt for choice, and there are plenty of ski schools for those who want to learn or improve. Advanced skiers have a couple of challenges on-piste (the Avet piste down to Soldeu is seriously steep) and rather more off-piste, particularly around Grau Roig and Pic d'Encampadana above El Tartar. There is also the opportunity for a day trip to Andorra's other ski area, Vallnord, which has a small sector around Arcalis with good freeriding.
But for most skiers Grandvalira has all the skiing they need: as well as being a large ski area, it's also a high one, especially around Pas de la Casa, which is situated at 2100m above sea level, and that's high by both Alpine and Pyrenean standards. The Grandvalira slopes also mostly face North and there are plenty of snowguns, so the pistes are pretty much snowsure.
The accommodation in Pas de la Casa is mostly slope-side. There is not much charm to the large hotels and apartment complexes but they are very convenient. Be warned however that the road running through the centre of the resort is a busy one, but if you've come here hoping for a good night's sleep, you've probably come to the wrong place anyway.
Ski & Board Hire in Pas de la Casa
Thee are plenty of equipment rental shops near the lifts and along the main drag, but they tend not to compete on price if you simply walk into them when you arrive. To get a bargain, you have to book online in advance. SKISET has a number of outlets in Pas de la Casa and will give discounts of up to 50% on ski hire if you book online in advance here.
ALPINRESORTS.com also works with a number of rental shops in Pas de la Casa and throughout Andorra and it also can secure significant discounts - check here for latest special offers and shop locations.