If you want a secluded, sentimental ski experience, then Portillo, Chile’s oldest ski resort, is for you. The iconic yellow hotel is nestled in the high peaks of the Andes. Without a surrounding town and only a two-hour drive from Santiago, Portillo is private, yet accessible. With lifts spanning from 10,860 to 2,548 ft, Portillo offers a variety of ski experiences, all of which pair well with an evening swim in the outdoor heated pool followed by dinner at the family-friendly resort. And as far as records go, Portillo has a history of breaking them. French skier Jean-Claude Killy earned his first gold medal in 1966 and American speed skier Steve McKinney became the first to exceed 200 kph. Whether you’re interested in toasty cocoa and the hot tub or setting the next world record, Portillo is the place to be.
The largest ski resort in Chile, Valle Nevado, is located 30 miles east of Santiago and is close to other resorts of El Colorado and La Parva, which are collectively known as “Los Tres Valles de los Andes” (The three valleys of the Andes). With more than 22 miles of trails, eight French-inspired hotels, three restaurants and the efficient Andes Express ski lift, Valle Nevado offers visitors a modern and memorable ski experience.
Neighboring Valle Nevado is El Colorado. With its central location – just 22 miles from Santiago, 22 trails spanning 1,110 acres, full-ski equipment rental and lessons for every level, Colorado accommodates all – especially families with children. Parents can enroll their children in ski classes and then hit the harder slopes with peace of mind.
Last but not least of the three valleys of the Andes, La Parva is nestled in the Barnechea mountain range, just 30-ish miles from Santiago. Along with El Colorado and Valle Nevado, it boasts the largest ski area in South America. If international food and a view are what you are after, La Parva is for you. Great cuisine can be found in La Marmita de Pericles and La Berra and complements the resort’s panoramic view of the capital. With quaint surrounding towns, all of your needs will be met.
Nevados de Chillan
In the Bíobio region both the endurance athletes and hot spring enthusiasts will be appeased. Nevados de Chillan, located 120 miles east of Concepción, the region’s capital, sits at 5,413 feet and contains 21 miles of ski-able terrain. Nevados de Chillán is most known for having the longest ski trail in South America, Las Tres Marías, which is slightly more than eight miles. Heli-skiing, is optional for experienced skiers, but the hot springs are open to all – there’s no better way to end a grueling day on the slopes.
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In the Lake District, Ski Pucon offers a destination for the adventurous, as the slopes run down the northwestern side of Volcán Pucón and consist of natural half pipes and gullies – ideal for snowboarders. The ski center is run by the Gran Hotel Pucon Resort and Club, so be on the lookout for promotions, discounted tickets and accommodation, and be sure to take advantage of all the amenities: ski boutique, international ski rentals, mini club, bars and cafes and restaurants to refuel after a long day on the slopes.
Another volcano venture, but this time farther south in the Lakes district, Antillanca winter resort is tucked away on the Casablanca Volcano. Antillanca, which means “jewel of the sun” in the native Mapuche language, is a treasure of the south, especially for snowboarders. Mounts Haique, Mirador and the steep descents on the Casablanca and Taza are esteemed by Chile’s most adventurous snowboarders. But, you don’t have to be Evil Knievel to enjoy Antillanca; with five lifts and 14 trails, the resort offers slopes for all skill levels, ranging from beginner to expert. Amenities include: restaurants, ski school, playroom, micro-cinema, sauna, heated pool and, wait for it… disco. In the south of Chile, there’s an abundance of opportunity to get your grove on.
Antillanca, Bernardo O’Higgins 1073, Osorno, X Región, +56 6 4261 2070