Portillo

Chile

Surrounded by the towering peaks of the Chilean Andes and perched on the edge of an emerald mountain lake, Portillo is one South America’s most renowned and historic ski resorts. Pristine mountain valleys with larger-than-life skiing, teamed up with old-world traditions and hospitality makes for an unforgettable South American ski vacation.

Scout Loves

  • Old-world vibe of the entire resort
  • Excellent service
  • Enjoy a Pisco Sour, Chile’s national drink of choice
  • Incredible mountain views (just, wow!)
  • Everything is so easy. From meals to skiing. Valets hand you your boots and skis and you literally step out onto the snow and push off.

Scout Tips

  • Portillo mostly works on set weeks (Saturday to Saturday)
  • The resort terrain is great for beginners and intermediates. Advanced skiers will want to get a guide and do some exploring or book a day on a heli.
  • Kids Ski Free and Family Weeks are great value for families
  • Be wary of the high lift-serviced elevation (up to 3,700 metres)
  • Apres is often late in the day, and dinner is even later (but enjoy a siesta along the way!)
  • Lack of trees means some lifts may be on wind-hold in inclement weather
  • Book your heli-ski as soon as you arrive as spots are limited (and unable to be pre-booked).

Scout Review

Situated only two hours from Santiago, nestled in the heart of the spectacular Andes, is a ski resort unlike any other in Chile – or for that matter in the world. Portillo ski resort boasts the legendary skiing and terrain we yearn for, whilst honoring the true heart and soul of skiing than many other world-class ski resorts seem to have lost. You won’t find any large condo complexes or shopping malls at this resort; long-time family owners have stood steadfast and preserved Portillo’s traditions, creating an intimate and welcoming vibe that makes guests feel like they are skiing at their own private Andean resort.

What makes Portillo one of the ultimate South American ski vacation hotspots is this combo of fantastic skiing and the fabulous Latin cultural experience all in the one easily-accessible location. The all-inclusive resort boasts a 1:1 guest to employee ratio and an unsurpassed level of service only seen at a few high-end ski resorts worldwide. With a maximum of 450 guests at the resort at any given time, visitors can expect no crowds or lift lines, no fighting for the fresh powder, but plenty of opportunities to mingle with like-minded skiers (Pisco Sour in hand). The tradition of dining and relaxing together (especially at the Tio Bob restaurant on mountain) is kept well alive in Portillo, creating a fun, intimate, and social atmosphere and an ideal spot for that perfect relaxed ski-week – the South American way.

Portillo Skiing

Portillo’s pristine mountain valleys create high altitude skiing that is both intoxicating and dizzying. When compared to North American or European resorts Portillo comes in fairly small at just 500 hectares. Perfect for families and beginners, the slopes are wide and uncrowded, and plenty of terrain for all ability levels, particularly lower intermediate. Advanced skiers will want to head off-piste to some of the famous terrain that is so often photographed in magazines or featured in ski movies. Treeless terrain provides the opportunity to explore the wide-open bowls, rocky chutes, and incredible off-piste skiing on offer at Portillo. If you’re a strong intermediate skier or an advanced skier that doesn’t want to go off-piste a week here will involve plenty of late morning starts, long lunches at Tio Bobs and early hot tub sessions, since the in-bounds skiing may get a bit repetitive (but hey, who’s complaining about a relaxing ski week!).

The snow at Portillo is consistent and reliable, with on average 450 inches of snowfall annually, but one can expect an abundant sunshine and bluebird days. The ski school is world-class, and known for its first-timer and beginner lessons and highly trained instructors – many of whom are year-round instructors and have been teaching here for over 20 years.

The resort is serviced by 14 lifts, including several of the infamous Va et Vient; a high speed poma able to transport 5 skiers at a time, sling-shotting them up steep short slopes. It’s also famous for having a lift that goes above a 4 lane switch-back highway busy with trucks and cars heading to the Argentine border just 1km away.

Advanced and expert skiers and snowboarders flock to Portillo thanks to its easily accessible backcountry terrain and areas of challenging steeps, including the Roca Jack. Hiking is all part of the experience for advanced skiers, with memorable big mountain free-skiing served up on a backdrop of stunning views of the emerald Lagune del Inca. If you’re feeling strong and fit a week at Portillo would not be complete without a hike to the famous Super C Couloir.

For those wanting to ski even closer to heaven, Portillo heli-skiing will surely go down as a once-in-a-lifetime experience you’ll never forget. The flight alone through the Andes is worth the trip, let alone the fantastic powder conditions found across the untouched peaks. Compared to other operations in Chile, Portillo is less impact on your wallet, and provides plenty of options to suit most budgets.

Portillo For Families

Portillo is an excellent choice for families that want a super easy and upmarket ski vacation. It’s for families that have a high level of expectation of service and who want the opportunity for their kids to mix and mingle with other kids in lessons and apres activities. Apart from the chalets there is no self-catered accommodation in Portillo.

Portillo Accommodation

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With a vibe that’s a cross between Kellermans (Dirty Dancing) and a Club Med,  Portillo is perhaps one of the easiest, relaxing, upmarket ski vacations you can have. There are three main lodging options with most people staying at the main (and iconic) yellow hotel, while the Octogan and Inca Lodges offer a little better value. There are also a few self-contained chalets for exclusive use. Hotel Portillo is where all the action is and it’s ski-in ski-out. All the lodging in Portillo operates on a Saturday-to-Saturday basis for most of the season with shorter mini-weeks available at the beginning and tail end of the ski season. All-inclusive packages include lodging, four meals daily and lift tickets.

Easy is an understatement for a week here. All meals (including a sit-down afternoon tea) are served in the traditional dining room with table service by the same server at every meal. The main hotel is right on the slopes so after being handed your boots and skis by the friendly valets it’s a matter of clicking into your skis and pushing off to the lift. Entertainment is provided including live music on most evenings in the hotel’s lively bar. So at the end of an evening, after some delicious Chilean wine and a few (or a lot of) pisco sours all you have to worry about is remembering your room number.

Getting There and Around

Portillo is located just over a 2 hour drive from downtown Santiago or Santiago International airport. The road from Los Andes is busy – it’s a major transport route between Santiago and Argentina and can be a little hairy.  It becomes a major switchback 4-lane highway just as it approaches Portillo.

There is no need to rent a car to come to Portillo. Transfers can be arranged between the airport or downtown Santiago as well as Val Paraiso or Valle Nevado ski resort.

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