If you’ve been musing over making your first South America ski trip happen this summer, it’s high time you brush up on your ski resort knowledge on one of Chile’s most popular destinations: Portillo.
1. It’s called “the cruise ship in the mountains”
While Portillo may not be the easiest place to get to, once you’re there you can relax and only worry about what time you’re going to wake up and get yourself on the lift. Lodging, lift tickets and meals are included, and apres-ski entertainment and relaxation is aplenty, so there’s really no need to ever leave the main base area hotel.
2. It’s family friendly
With a dedicated learner’s area with magic carpet, childcare facilities and a hot of children’s activities, like a climbing wall, snow tubing, a gaming room, pool and more, kids love Portillo. Plus, with a maximum of 450 people at the resort, parents don’t need to worry about their children being on crowded slopes.
3. It has “slingshot lifts”
For expert to advanced skiers and snowboarders, at least one ride on Portillo’s famous slingshot lifts is a must-do experience while there. These lifts not only access awesome terrain and provide incredible views, but they’re an interesting engineering feat.
Learn more about Portillo’s slingshot lifts>>>
4. It has awesome sidecountry skiing
The Super C Couloir (featured above) is one of Portillo’s most challenging and well known sidecountry stashes. There’s plenty more to explore and a guide is always recommended for optimum safety and enjoyment.
Learn more about what it’s like to ski the Super C>>>
5. It has wine festival weeks
CHILEAN WINE WEEK | JULY 28–AUG. 4
In celebration of Chile’s world-class wines, the annual Top Wines of Chile Week will be held in Portillo. This free event will provide guests with the luxury of sampling wines from some of the best Chilean vineyards while attending informational sessions from the winemakers themselves.
WINE FESTIVAL WEEK | PORTILLO, AUG. 18–25
The Wine Festival provides a second opportunity this summer for guests to learn more about the world of wine, and to—of course—sample from the best vineyards. Each afternoon guests will be able to wind down while enjoying different Chilean wines while chatting with the winemakers
6. It offers heli skiing
Former U.S. Ski Team alpine racer Julia Mancuso experiences the Andes from a bird’s eye perspective.
From July to September, depending on snow and weather conditions, Portillo guests can enjoy a day or two “in the bird” aka heli-skiing. Eurocopter AS350 B3 helicopters take groups of four into the surrounding Andean mountains for unrivaled views and pristine powder turns. At the end of the day, you can even arrange to have the helicopter drop you off at Tio Bobs for a celebratory Pisco Sour—a popular local libation.
7. It boasts some incredible food (and a lot of it)
In the main dining room, hotel guests are treated to the locally sourced, wholesome menu of Chef Rafael Figueroa for three meals a day, plus tea-time snacks. In addition, on-mountain dining at the famed Tio Bob’s Chilean barbecue restaurant is not to be missed.
8. It’s lake is haunted
It’s said, that on some nights you can hear eerie, mournful cries over Inca Lake. The origin of these cries is fabled to come from the spirit of an ancient Incan prince who lost his beloved bride.
Learn more about the legend of Portillo’s Inca Lake>>>
9. It has the cutest guest ambassadors
Since it’s inception, more than 65 years ago, Portillo has employed St. Bernard dogs as guest greeters. Guests that return year after year always rave about the time they get to spend with these big lovable dogs. Not only do these furry ambassadors love winter in the Andes, but they also love belly rubs and pets from guests. Portillo’s current canine in residence is Petra [pictured above].
10. It’s affiliated with an Atacama Desert accommodation (so you can save big)
Chile is a beautiful, diverse country. If you love exploring the outdoors, you’re going to want to add a couple nights’ stay at Portillo’s sister property, Tierra Atacama, located in the stark, otherworldly Atacama Desert.
The hotel’s charming design takes hints from the natural environment and provides comfortable, inviting commonplaces. Guests will especially enjoy loafing by the boutique-inspired pool and on the many patios, which provide incredible center stage views of the majestic Licancabur Volcano. This season, you can save 20% on a Portillo and Tierra Atacama package.
Learn more about an Atacama Desert tack-on trip>>>
11. It’s hot tub is radical
Not only does Hotel Portillo’s hot tub enhance that feeling that you’re on a “cruise ship in the mountains,” but it’s also the perfect spot to take in the stunning Andean sunset.
12. It has a long history
Ski racing champions Egon Zimmermann, Pepi Stigler, Emile Viollat and Guy Perillat | Photo: Portillo
Skiing began in Portillo in 1949, making it a much older ski area than many North American ski resorts. In fact, Portillo hosted the Alpine World Ski Championships in August 1966.
Learn more about the history of skiing in Portillo>>>
13. It offers world-class services and amenities
The hotel offers one employee to every guest, so you can expect an incredibly attentive level of service on a Portillo ski vacation. And, since off-mountain activities and services are centered on the hotel, which include yoga, a fitness room, a spa, a salon [which Radska likes to frequent] and fun apres-ski bar, Portillo offers an intimate, relaxing atmosphere. Everyone is friends after a week or two in Portillo.
Originally from the icy trails of New Jersey, I moved West to pursue powder and a career in writing and editing. Now in Aspen, Colo. and working for Ski.com managing the website and blog content, I couldn't be happier. You'll find me skiing at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands in the winter and mountain biking at Snowmass in the summer.