Generally regarded as Spain's top ski resort, Sierra Nevada stands alone in the Penibetic mountain range in Andalucia, far from the country's other 30 or so ski areas, the majority of which are located 'up' in the Pyrenées. Once known as 'Sol-y-Nieve' or 'Sun and snow', the resort endeavours to offer the best of both worlds - sunshine and snow - the combination of latitude, altitude and a state-of-the-art snow making system usually allow it to pull this seemingly impossible trick off successfully. It is Europe´s southernmost ski resort, wonderfully close to Spain's famous Mediterranean beach resorts but located by the Iberian peninsula´s highest summits. Sierra Nevada's 'resort´ village', Pradollano is one of Europe's highest, at an altitude of 2,100 meters. The resort is famous for staging the World Alpine Skiing Championships in 1996 after the event had to be cancelled when it was due to be staged there a year before because of lack of snow. Since then the resort has invested still further in its snow-making system, considered Spain´s largest and one of Europe's best such facilities. Even in the case of a complete lack of snowfall, Sierra Nevada can now guarantee the opening of the resort thanks to its excellent snow-making system. The number of guns have doubled, to 200 cannons, 13 low pressure and 187 high pressure units producing nearly 2000 cubic meters of snow per hour on 14 runs. The village area has been greatly upgraded with new alpine-style buildings and environmental improvement scheme. This is good news as the resort was a rather characterless mix of concrete rectangular blocks during its first decades of operation. One of the best assets of the resort is a remarkable underground parking complex with a capacity of 2,880 vehicles. Another is the excellent indoor sports facility providing high altitude athletic training. The resort's Pradollano village offers a variety of services including quality hotels in a range of categories which include jacuzzi, squash, workout areas, sauna, indoor swimming pools, convention and meeting rooms, ski lodges, restaurants featuring local Andalusian and international cuisine, sundecks, night clubs, pubs and bars, discotheques etc. There is also a new medical centre, child day-care centre, banks with ATM´s, supermarkets, sports and fashion boutiques. The resort works closely with Spain's Environmental Agency and the University of Granada has designed a complete programme to protect and preserve Sierra Nevada´s extraordinary wealth, including its geomorphology, landscape, flora and fauna. The area was declared a Biospherical Reserve by UNESCO in 1986. More than two thousand trees of different sizes have been introduced or transplanted throughout the village area. Sierra Nevada was the first European ski resort to introduce the 'green ski pass' to its environmental programme. Three per cent of income received from the sale of ski passes goes towards ecological matters.