HE had been a visitor to the slopes for many decades when he decided to make a go at working in the Sierra Nevada.
Now dynamo Rafael Vigo, 38, is in charge of one of the resort’s key restaurants, a wine bar next door, as well as a new shop.
With nearly two dozen staff, thousands of clients each week and a number of big celebrities, including bullfighters Fran and Cayetano Rivera, he is understandably a busy man.
“We are probably the biggest restaurant in the Sierra Nevada,” Rafa explains.
“At 400m2, we have a lot of space and we can serve over 200 people at once between the two restaurants in high season.”
Based in the resort for eight years – and a weekend visitor for many decades – Rafa has owned and revived several restaurants in Pradollano.
Having been ‘brought up on the beach’ in Almunecar, he applied the relaxed mentality to all his successful establishments, combining style with top quality food.
Overlooking the hustle and bustle of Pradollano’s main square, it is little surprise that many of the resort’s most famous après skiers make a beeline for this bar/restaurant double act.
Like yin and yang, both offer a fabulous range of dishes and wines, with the fun part thrown in for free.
La Bodeguita alpine bar, with its beer barrel tables and magnificent pizza oven, is usually buzzing late into the night, while upmarket La Tinaja has one of the most sophisticated menu and wine lists in the resort.
The terrace at La Bodeguita is the perfect spot to luxuriate with a beer or glass of wine at lunchtime or at sunset.
Its outdoor braziers and attentive staff do a great job at making you comfortable and the excellent dishes include baked goat’s cheese with caramelized apples and the amazing acorn-fed jamon and scrambled eggs with eels, prawns and potatoes.
La Tinaja has a more chic, formal vibe and a stunning mezzanine level with breathtaking views across the resort through floor-to-ceiling windows.
The most-ordered dish is charcoal grilled steak, served with green peppers and chunky chips.
The pizzas are also a hit, with Rafa’s favourite a tomato, mozzarella, ham and egg concoction.
For the sweet toothed, the mango and custard apple mousse is a refreshing alternative to the decadent turron cheesecake on a brownie base.
“We keep an incredibly high standard, with uninterrupted service from 1pm until 1am, at least 120 wines, so we can cater for everyone.” Rafa continues.
He’s right… even on a quiet day, this is the place to be seen and attracts people from all walks of life.
As well as welcoming celebs like the Rivera brothers, Rafa has even played host to Franco’s millionaire descendents, the Bordiu family, not to mention the bosses of the Melia hotel chain.
“We’re like a family here, and there’s always a great atmosphere,” he says.
It is the latest new ski shop to open on the slopes, but Snow Dream focusses very much on fasion.
The new venture of Rafa Vigo features a big range of stylish outfits from many brands, including Volcom and Head.
In the heart of the Melia hotel it is also stocking top of the range skis.
“I saw a great opportunity here, in such a good location,” explains Rafa, who conveniently runs two restaurants right next door.