Slide away: Discover the super-luxury hotel at the heart of Granada’s Sierra Nevada ski resort

WE arrive outside El Lodge in just over two hours and before we can blink, the car is ushered away and our bags are in the room.

Some five minutes later we’re in the hotel skiing shop being fitted for boots, top-of-the-range Salomons with brand new Swiss-made Stockli skis at the ready!

In the corridor is a ticket machine recently installed by the Sierra Nevada resort, where Apple Pay secures us two-day passes with a decent discount for my son.Bish, bash, bosh! By 11.30am we’re on the slopes, sliding down the red run Aguila, which goes right past the hotel terrace.

There couldn’t be a simpler, quicker, more fluid introduction to Europe’s most remarkable skiing resort.

A station that often stays open well into May, by the end of February this year, the place was finally blanketed with snow, creating a wonderful white world of fun for winter sports lovers.

A regular visitor to the Sierra Nevada, some 30 minutes outside Granada city, I normally get a two night deal at one of the many good value hotels in the resort.

This time, we were here to do it in style. And by that, I mean, as the Royals might do (which is fitting with the Spanish king having once allegedly stayed in the Lodge).

El Lodge, as they prefer to call it, is a front row seat to the cream of the Sierra Nevada. And not just the creamy, white powdery stuff that’s just arrived in a deluge.

This is where the beautiful people head to and on a bright sunny day in March or April (and statistically the weather is far better than any other resort in Europe) the terrace is fun with a capital F.

The scenic spot is impossible to beat; the Aguila run sloping in from stage left while the legendary Rio run faces you with the white-tipped peaks above it.

Scenic spot is impossible to beat. Photo: Olive Press

Music is provided by a DJ, jazzy and soulful through lunch, then picking up to some heavier house and R&B classics with the occasional banger as the sun starts to set.

Perfect spot to chill with a glass of champagne, bite to eat, and the sun and snow. Photo: Olive Press

A real smorgasbord of languages, at least half the guests are here to simply chill out and enjoy the food, with skiing very much off the agenda.

The cool retro menu with its black and white pics of days gone by has a great mix of light bites, healthy options and classics, such as burgers and steaks and, of course, the obligatory Swiss fondue or raclette.

There are lots of sharing plates, such as assorted tacos and a bruschetta Caprese with organic cherry tomatoes.

I went a bit off-piste with the Rock Fish soup – a kind of bouillabaisse – which was a real winner, coming with plenty of surprises below the surface – chunks of sea bass, clams and prawns, perfectly braised and adding flavour to the rich broth.

I also tried the truffled burrata mozzarella salad with original pistachio pesto, a real joy.

Next up was the delicious Wagyu ‘Pepito’ sandwich that came out looking like a hot cross bun – perfect for Easter – but included a glorious slice of tender steak with cheese and spicy Chipotle sauce oozing out the side.

The Wagyu pepito sandwich looked a bit like a hotcross bun. Photo: Olive Press

Given the exercise levels I was more than happy to get stuck into a joyous semi-cold peanut cake pudding with mixed berries and even edible flowers.

It was time for some more skiing and after three more hours of pushing myself up black runs and across into the amazing Laguna valley, where they recently filmed award-winning film, Society of the Snow, I needed some pampering.

And that’s what makes El Lodge and its new sister hotel, Maribel next door, so great… they both count on impressive spas to rejuvenate yourself.

Jon Clarke relaxing on the terrace before heading back to the slopes. Photo: Olive Press

Both have heated outdoor pools, plus hot tubs, steam rooms and jacuzzis. And there’s a team of masseurs on hand to soothe away your aches and pains.

My son Alfie and his pals loved jumping in and out of the hot tub and ice bath, posing like vikings, between spells in the steam room and sauna.

In the evening, we ate in the intimate dining room inside, a cosy space with seductive lighting, gas fireplaces, low ceilings and beams, the antler lamps particularly eye-catching.

The intimate dining room is warm and comfy.

The menu is a sophisticated mix of modern European but particularly focusing on good quality meats, with a dozen to choose from, including slow-cooked Wagyu ribs, suckling lamb shoulder as well as dry aged 35-day beef entrecote.

We went for the recently introduced Rossini tournedo, an extremely tender cut of French steak, a fillet mignon, served with warm foie on top. A true winner.

All put together by executive chef Juan Martín, who’s been in the group for 30 years and has been heading up to the slopes to cook for 15 years now.

The Antequera-born chef knows the ‘best dishes to suit the mountains’ he tells us and explains how he often spends the summer cooking in the Balearics for the group.

The proof was in the pudding, of course, and his amuse bouche, an ox croquette, was the most stunning melt-in-the-mouth creation.

Next up was his beef tartare, which, despite being oddly served in a shin of beef, had a wonderful spicy kick and a lot of black truffle to boot.

A kale salad accompaniment with goats cheese and peanut sauce screamed out with goodness, while a side order of grilled leeks were delicious.

I went off piste again with my main, trying out the Lobster thermidor, which comes with Boletus mushrooms and a Hollandaise sauce. It is the first time I have had lobster cooked this way and was surprisingly tender and delicious. Not something I’d expected to find in the mountains.

Finally, on the subject of food it would be remiss not to mention the amazing food truck outside, perfect for lunch, care of the Cheat burger bar in Marbella.

The amazing food truck is ever popular. Photo: Olive Press

This was one which got my son and his pals salivating over and was near enough to the snow to not feel they were getting held up for lunch.

For me, if for any reason I was never able to ski again, I would happily spend my days sitting here or on the terrace next door watching the world go by.

www.ellodge.com

Jon Clarke (Publisher & Editor)

Jon Clarke is a Londoner who worked at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday as an investigative journalist before moving permanently to Spain in 2003 where he helped set up the Olive Press. He is the author of three books; Costa Killer, Dining Secrets of Andalucia and My Search for Madeleine.

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