Baqueira/Beret, the largest of Spain's ski resorts lies at the head of the beautiful Val d'Aran, near Viella, on the northern side of the Pyrenees. The village, tastefully purpose-built in wood and stone rather than concrete, is on the main road leading up to the high Bonaigua Pass. Developed by Luis Arias, a Spanish National Ski Champion, Baqueira first opened in 1964 and is a favourite with the Spanish Royal family who regularly holiday here. Its location provides a unique atlantic climate guaranteeing high quality snow, just the right amount of sunshine and, due to its southerly latitude, an hour's more daylight than the Alps. Baqueira Beret is well laid out, has a modern lift infrastructure and a lively and varied apres ski scene with international visitors especially appreciating the relatively reasonable Spanish prices. The skiing is spread over 3 main areas, Baqueira, Beret and Argulls and there is a fourth area at La Bonaigua which is now being developed. Baqueira's claim of 'Alpine Scale' is further strengthened with the of three new lifts on the Cap de Baqueria. This huge new area, the Argulls, has always had snow at Christmas, so the opening of this new basin strengthens Baqueira's reputation for pre-Christmas to post-Easter skiing with the height of the new runs ensuring the snow will always be in peak condition. Baquiera - Beret is planning a major expansion over the next three years, subject to receiving the required land use permission from the various authorities. The Baquiera plan envisages the creation of a new base resort out of the existing town of Sorpe. The plan - one of the most ambitious in the modern skiing world - initially envisages the lift linking of Vaquèira, adding 12 new lifts with a combined uplift of 27,000 skiers per hour. The new terrain will add 154 hectares (380 acres) and 35 kilometers (21 miles) of runs over 17 trails. This part of the project will cost around 10,000 million pesetas (£40 / $64 million). A snowmaking system would initially cover the key 20km (13 miles) of trails. Sorpe itself will be linked by a six-seater chair from the town but there will reputedly be no ski run back. Most of the terrain will be between 2600m (8530 feet) and 1250m (4100 feet). Many of the dozen new lifts will also be detachable six seaters, raising the possibility that Baqueira, which already operates a six seater, will jump straight into the world number one slot for the number of that type of lift at a single ski area. Regardless, the resort would boast around 40 lifts, most of high triple, quad or six-pack chairs and combined uplift of around 70,000 sph. Four-fifths of the proposed extension area falls within a Spanish Site of National Interest, however ski area development on this type of land has been permitted because winter sports are seen as acceptable activities on the land. Environmental campaigners have not wholly rejected development however and have suggested an alternative plan with a still longer lift link out of Sorpe which they believe would risk less environmental damage.