A young crowd makes Formigal's base village relatively lively in the ski season, particularly at weekends.
The place to kick-off après-ski in Formigal is La Terraza de Sarrios, near the main terrain park. It has a large terrace with music and is a good place to wind down and discuss the day's thrills with other skiers. Those looking for a more relaxed evening should head up to the San Miguel Bar at the top of the Garmet and Batalladero lifts, where they can enjoy a few quieter beers, accompanied by the beautiful views.
Later on, Marchica (tel: +34 974 490 000; www.facebook.com/MarchicaFormigal) at the main Sextas base is a lively slopeside après-ski pub with a sheltered outdoor terrace, live DJs and even the occasional fiesta.
There are about a dozen places to eat in Formigal, mostly confined to within the resort's numerous hotels. But there are also some on-slope eateries that serve hungry skiers during, and at the end of, the ski day.
The local cuisine blends four regional influences: Basque, Catalan, French and Spanish. Seeking to highlight its regional identity, Formigal revamped its main mountain restaurant, Gemsbok (which used to have an Alpine theme with an evening meal followed by a torchlit ski back down to the resort). This is now an authentic Spanish sidrería (cider bar) that serves dishes featuring locally sourced produce.
It's not all Spanish fare, however. La Yurta on the Rinconada slope is a traditional Mongolian yurt and serves up warming soup and cold meat dishes in a unique atmosphere, while Westfalia by the Garmet lift has a Bavarian theme and sells German appetizers such as würstchen (sausage).
Beyond the slopes
Most of the activities in Formigal when not skiing or boarding are still related to being on the snow. For example, you can rent a snow bike to slide around the slopes, try snowshoeing on one of two local marked walking circuits, or go dog sledding in the Valle de Izas on a specially designed route. There’s also a 2km-long (1.2 miles) permanent snowmobiling circuit at the base of the slopes in Anayet.
For the ultimate in relaxation after a day on the slopes, head to one of the resort’s spas to ease any aches and pains. Facilities generally include hydro-massage pools, saunas, steam rooms and a range of massages and beauty treatments. These options and more are available to residents and non-residents of the Hotel and Spa Aragon Hills (tel: +34 974 490 292; www.aragonhills.es).
Formigal’s modernisation process in recent years has been heavily focused on its attractiveness to families, placing an emphasis on providing quality facilities and fun activities for children off the slopes as well as on them.
Ski school lessons are available to children aged five, while younger children wishing to take their first safe turns on the slopes can head to the Skitty learners’ area in Portalet.
The resort’s non-ski crèche (tel: +34 974 490 000) has two slopeside bases (at Sextas and Anayet) and can accept children aged from as young as four months old up to five years.
There’s limited shopping in Formigal itself, with a handful of mini-markets and ski shops including international chains SkiSet and Intersport, but neighbouring villages feature shops selling locally made crafts and souvenirs. There is a limited duty-free shopping experience on the French border, 6km (4 miles) away, with a few shops retailing consumer products at below average prices.
Heli-skiing is a rare treat for experienced skiers in Europe, but there is often the requirement to sign-up for a full heli-skiing holiday. In Formigal, however, it’s possible to purchase ascents from the Sextas base area near to the resort for just a few hundred Euros – still quite a lot for a ski run, but much less than those full holidays. Vertical descents of up to 1,700m (5,580ft) are possible – more than double the lift-served vertical.
At least five people need to book to make this activity viable for the operators, and packages include training in how to use avalanche rescue equipment, hire of special off-piste wide freeriding skis and the services of a mountain guide.
Formigal has a selection of apartment and hotel accommodation ranging from 1- to 4-stars. If you'd rather stay away from the resort centre and have your own transport, it's also possible to stay in a traditional bed and breakfast or small family-run hotel in one of the small villages nearby.
Hotel and Spa Aragon Hills
Among the better quality hotels in the resort, this 4-star option comes complete with a spa featuring a hydrothermal pool and a good quality restaurant. A shuttle service is available to the nearest lift, which is just 400m (1,312ft) away.Address: Sallent de Gállego, Calle San Sebastián, Huesca, 22640
Telephone: +34 974 490 292
This friendly 4-star, situated relatively near the lifts, boasts excellent facilities, including a spa and free Wi-Fi internet access. Rooms are available for up to four people, making it a good choice for families.Address: Sallent de Gallego, Urbanizacion Formigal, Formigal, 22640
Telephone: +34 974 490 030
This family-run, 3-star is conveniently located in the heart of the resort village, just 500m (1,640ft) from the slopes and two minutes from the ski bus stop for the free resort shuttle service. Facilities here include a restaurant and a small games room.Address: Formigal, , Huesca, 22640
Telephone: +34 974 490 112
Hotel Valle de Izas
A small but very popular 3-star, Hotel Valle de Izas has a long-standing reputation for good service and quality food. The hotel is approximately 3km (2 miles) from the ski slopes, but a bus service is available.Address: Sallent de Gállego, Calle Francia 26, Formigal, 22640
Telephone: +34 974 488 508.
This basic but cosy 2-star is a short walk from the base of the ski slopes and is also close to the main resort amenities. Facilities here include a bar, restaurant and free Wi-Fi internet access.Address: Formigal, Calle San Jorge 2, Huesca, 22640
Telephone: +34 974 490 377
This friendly hotel is ideal for those on a budget. Rooms here are relatively small, but it’s home to a popular locals’ bar, has friendly owners and is conveniently located in the resort centre.Address: Formigal, Calle de Francia 18, Huesca, 22640
Telephone: +34 974 488 059