Want to ski and sunbathe? Visit Spain's Sierra Nevada resort for winter sun

I’m half Austrian. I like picture-postcard skiing: runs lined with fir trees, timber chalets serving glühwein, the sound of cow bells…

The barren slopes of Spain’s Sierra Nevada are not a natural choice. But remove the trees and guess what? You have wider, emptier slopes and no branches to filter the sun. Glorious!

Plus luxurious boutique hotel El Lodge in the Granada mountains, Andalucia, where I’m staying, is just two and a half hours from Marbella – you can go from ski to sea in a day.

El Lodge is at around 6,889ft. Its best feature, apart from the 37C outdoor pool overlooking the piste, is that you can ski in and out.

With just 20 luxury rooms, it feels homely.

A sun deck facing the slopes, with comfy sofas and a DJ, give a party vibe.

Our ski instructor, Borzja Valdecasas, has skied all over Europe and shocks me by saying: ‘I prefer Sierra Nevada to the Alps. The piste is much wider, it’s not as cold or as crowded.’

I have to agree. The atmosphere’s lighter, lift queues less aggressive and runs perfectly bashed, with all levels from green to black.

Having not skied for a while, I stick with blue and enjoy every minute, taking time to practise my turns, then returning to El Lodge for a hot chocolate, raclette and cava.

Next morning I don’t hesitate to dive into the chocolate fountain at El Lodge’s breakfast buffet.

It’s probably not a place to come if you’re vegan or vegetarian, with its cow-hide rugs and antler chandeliers, but the food is outstanding, with dishes like rockfish and seafood soup, and tomahawk steak with bourbon butter for two.

Then it’s down to the coast, to Puente Romano in Marbella, El Lodge’s sister hotel on the Costa del Sol. The region earned a bad reputation in the ’80s and ’90s with tasteless displays of ill-gotten wealth and government corruption but this stylish resort is a long way from that.

With its villa-style accommodation, 14 restaurants — including Nobu — three pools, a Six Senses Spa, a beach, a nightclub and tennis courts, they can arrange over 100 different experiences if you don’t fancy skiing, both on and off site, from wine tasting to horse riding.

Off site, I put my body to a different kind of test, tackling a four-hour, 4.5mile hike up nearby La Concha mountain, rising to 4,078ft.

My guide, José Martos Bohorquez, takes me on a heady trek through pine forest, wild sage, rosemary and gorse bushes.

In just four days, I’ve packed in skiing, yoga, sunbathing, sherry tasting and mountain climbing. Spain really offers the best of all worlds.

Fights from Gatwick to Malaga from £22.99 one way, easyjet.com. Rooms at El Lodge from £324pn, ellodge.com. Rooms at Puente Romano from £443pn, puenteromano.com

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