Mar 21, 2022 / SKIING

Sustainable skiing - Andorra leads the way

One of the positive things about 2020 (yes there were some!) was the declaration of Ordino as one of twenty five new additions to the UNESCO world network of biospheres. The recognition of this value of this part of Andorra has huge benefits both for the planet, and for the development of a more sustainable economy. In many ways, it can be seen as offering a path towards more sustainable skiing that the ski industry seeks, as well as paving the way for year round, environmentally responsible tourism. In this article we’ll look at what this means for the ski industry, and why sustainability is such an important consideration when looking for a property in a ski centered environment. 

What is the world network of Biospheres? 

The UNESCO world network of biospheres are places that combine natural beauty with sustainable use.A region undergoes a rigorous application process, where all aspects of land use and sustainability are examined. They lead the way in showing how human and nature can exist in congruence, rather than conflict. 

What is the Ordino Biosphere?

Ordino sits at the north of the principality of Andorra. It was declared as a biosphere towards the end of 2020, and is home to several endemic species, including the Pallars lizard, Pyrennean Desman and the bearded vulture. The landscape swoops from snow covered mountain tops, through dense and diverse pine forests all the way down to abundant flower meadows. 

As well as the breathtaking beauty, and important wildlife, Ordino offers a unique insight into the socio-economic culture of the region. Centuries old subsistence living only really began to change in the 1960s and many buildings and features of the old ways of life are still very much in evidence. 

What is Ordino doing to be more sustainable? 

The key to sustainability is the creation of a circular economy. Ordino is taking familiar steps, like banning disposable plastics and reducing food waste. They seek to harness and enhance the wonder of the landscape, rather than simply absorb the benefits offered by the unique surroundings. Andorra as a whole, and Ordino in particular recognise the value of their unique surroundings, and relatively recent development. This recognition has translated into a very real determination to enhance and preserve the region. 

Why is the Ordino Biosphere good news for ski property hunters? 

Skiing and sustainability have always been uneasy bedfellows - something that the ski industry as a whole is very aware of, and many areas are taking steps to reduce their impact and operate in an environmentally responsible way. Centuries of subsistence living means Ordino has something of a head start, and a forward thinking attitude means they intend to retain this advantage. Ordino is creating a ski resort that offers year round opportunity for tourism, and the environmentally responsible credentials that modern skiers crave. 

Ordino as a ski resort

As well as outstanding environmental goals, Ordino and the rest of Andorra offer some pretty outstanding ski credentials.

  • 442 skiable hectares
  • 30.5km of slopes
  • 14 lifts that can transport 16,500 people each hour
  • Altitude of between 1,940m and 2,650m
  • 130 routes of varying levels

Add in the fact that this area is part of the Grandvalira family, with some 247 km of slopes to enjoy across it’s resorts as well as its role in hosting the World Freeride Tour and Ordino shows itself as an attractive prospect for home hunters and investors alike. 

Ordino in Summer

Part of the sustainability aspect of the resort is the development of summer season activities. The area has some exceptional hiking trails, including the WHS Madriu to Perafita-Claror valley. As well as wonderful views, this trail leads to the Engolasters Valley - a 12 kilometre river basin and major draw for visitors. The area is dotted with shepherd huts that offer opportunities for overnight stays and a step back in time. 

Ordino has plenty to offer summer adrenaline seekers to - there’s a host of MTB trails including the challenge of the Anyos loop from La Massana. Peak baggers can take on the challenge of Estripages, 6 marked peaks with a max altitude of 2,700m and there are numerous opportunities to explore the area by quad, jeep on on horseback. 

Ordino away from the slopes

One of the features highlighted by UNESCO is the unique socio-economic heritage of Ordino. Visitors come to explore the rural homes of early twentieth century Andorrans, or step into eighteenth century high society at Casa Areny Plandolit. There are numerous Romanesque churches to discover and a number of museums that are a real draw for visitors who want to learn about the history of the Pyrenees. 

Gastronomy is a big draw too, and food producers are heavily invested in the goals set out by the biosphere status. Visitors can enjoy traditional soups and stews in one of the Bordes - traditional mountain homes, reimagined as authentic restaurants - as well as cheese from the Assaf sheep, Briguera sausage and numerous wine tours. This is an area that is proud of it’s unique produce, and warmly enthusiastic about showing off off to guests. 

Finally, the area is home to the Caldea Spa. This is the largest spa complex in southern Europe, and uses natural hot springs to offer various ways to relax and rejuvenate after a day skiing, or just to retreat from the rigours of twenty-first century life. 

Properties in Ordino 

Buying a property in Ordino means buying a property somewhere that takes its responsibility to the planet seriously. It’s a way of enjoying everything you love, embracing the beauty of the mountains while supporting initiatives that seek to create an economy that works in harmony with the environment. It’s a philosophy that supports long term viability of mountain resorts, and hold increasing appeal for longer term residents as well as those seeking an investment opportunity. 

There is a good choice of homes in Ordino, and several that would lend themselves to long term living, as well as the traditional holiday home. 

This superb three bedroom four bathroom apartment is carefully designed to highlight the magnificent views of landscape that contributes to Ordino’s biosphere status. Designed by Rafael De La-Hoz Arquitecto, it has three double bedrooms complete with luxuriously appointed ensuite bathrooms as well as a cleverly designed living area, all wrapped up in a perfect blend of traditional Andorran style and modern convenience. 

3 Bedroom and 4 Bathroom Apartment in Ordino, Andorra

You can see all of our current properties in Andorra on SnowOnly - a property portal that gives access to property from agents and private sellers so you can see what’s available without the stress of trawling countless sites. 

Find out more about property in Andorra on our podcast

To discover more property in Ordino and the rest of Andorra, listen to our podcast to hear from Angel Belanche from Sotheby’s Realty, and join our property alert service to be sure of staying up to date with the latest additions to the Andorran property market.