Stag & Hen Destination
Those of you planning to get married in the autumn or winter may well be looking for a stag or hen venue at its best in those seasons. And even if your wedding is in the warmer months that doesn’t mean your last-nights-of-freedom break has to be – next to nobody these days holds their do right before the big day (never a great idea). Andorra could be the wintry wonderland you’re looking for.
In case your knowledge of Andorra is limited, here are a few factoids about the place. It is a sovereign country and a democracy, with two heads of state as co-princes, the President of France and the Bishop of Urgell in Spain. The official language is Catalan, and though it is not a member of the Euro it uses that currency (previously having used the French Franc and the Spanish peseta). In terms of geography it is landlocked in the Pyrenean Mountains between France and Spain with an area of about 180 square miles, most of it generally covered with snow in the winter.
Andorra offers plenty of advantages to stag and hen parties. For a start it is duty free, which means that if you happen to be considering having a drink or two on your trip, and it seems quite a few do, your small glass of sherry won’t break the bank. That same tax status also means shopping is big here, in fact there is one shop for every 40 residents, their market being tourists and booze (etc) cruisers. And as tourism one way or another accounts for the vast majority of Andorra’s income, it’s in their interest to make you feel welcome.
Apart from shopping, the big thing in Andorra is the snow. You are near as dammit guaranteed snow in the principal resorts, with snow-making machines a crafty back-up system. So it’s likely that your stag or hen do will be built around daytime (and some night-time) activities on the slopes. For experienced skiers and snowboarders there are some great pistes to explore; for beginners and the run-rusty you can arrange lessons, hire gear, and give it a go. As ever we’d recommend using an organising company to sort the details out for you, and make things as smooth as you’d wish them to be. And check your travel insurance covers any activities you are planning!
Skis and boards are not of course the only way of getting around on the white stuff. At the low-tech end of things your organiser can sort you out with, for example, a husky ride. Mush. Or further up the evolutionary ladder a snow-mobile ride could be the thrill you are looking for, with night as well as day trips possible, or a snow-buggy if you feel more comfortable on wheels. And over the snow rather than on it, a helicopter ride is another option to make the most of the mountain views.
Should all that sound way too energetic, Andorra also has some state-of-the-art spa facilities for hens and stags alike. All the massages, treatments, baths, de-toxing and therapies you could shake a scented candle at. Given the point above about the price of drinks, de-tox may be a sensible option at some point.
And for stags who have read this far and are thinking that something is missing, worry not, you can do paintballing – in the snow.
The off-piste activities are suitably catered for too: all that skiing makes you thirsty. As does being a stag or hen apparently. The highest of Andorra’s resorts, Pas de la Casa, has been nicknamed Ibiza on Ice, which gives a good idea of what to expect – bars, clubs, restaurants... again, a local organiser can help you choose the best ones, and maybe arrange VIP passes and queue-jumping.
It’s the resorts you want to head for, Andorra la Vella the capital being great for shopping but not the most scenic spot in this micro-state: so Pas de la Casa, Arinsal, Pal, and Soldeu are more likely destinations, or maybe Ordino lower down the slopes. Again, an organiser can help you find accommodation that is keen on parties – remember that not all hotels are!
You will probably have to book your own flights, but there are loads from the UK to Barcelona from which transfers can be arranged, with Girona, Perpignan and Toulouse other airports within striking distance of Andorra, and some forward thinking could secure early-bird bargain seats.
If you choose this tiny country as your venue, we’re sure you’ll have a (snow)ball. The best man should keep a dutiful eye on the groom, and the maid of honour on the bride, however, if they start to get a bit too enthusiastic on the slopes, especially if the wedding is not too many weeks away – a plaster cast is not a good look at the altar. Enjoy!