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Chile Ski Resorts
The Hotel Portillo is elegantly rustic but still manages to exude higher end appeal. Economical options include the rustic Octagon Lodge offering bunk rooms, rustic private Chalets, and the Inca Lodge, a backpacker’s hostel with shared bathrooms.
Family Friendly: 4
Great Instruction quality & class size to Instruction ratio, nice beginner terrain, ski-in/ski-out accommodations that make it convenient for beginners to get to lessons, lots of kids activities available on site, an intimate family environment with 450 guests max in the resort at one time, and all meals inclusive all contribute to a very family friendly environment.
Portillo offers 1235 skiable acres. 15% Beginner, 35% Intermediate, 55% Advanced/Expert.
Advanced Terrain: 5
55% Advanced and expert with lots of off piste opportunities and hike-to access for some legendary steeps, cliffs, and chutes offer plenty to keep expert skiers entertained.
Ease of Access: 3.5
Getting to Ski Portillo requires a flight into Santiago and 2.5-3 hour ground transfer each way to the resort. Sometime the pass up to the resort can close due to inclement weather/snow delaying access to the resort.
14 Lifts including several quads and triples plus the remarkable Va et Vient Poma Lifts (only to be found in Portillo).
For a small base area Portillo provides lots of amenities including a fitness center, spa, gymnasium, outdoor pool and hot tubs, on site restaurant and tavern, casual game room, wellness center (massage, yoga), cinema, internet area, daycare center, and store.
Valle Nevado really brings it with a large cross section of lodging options including 3 hotels, The Hotel Valle Nevado (the nicest one), Puerta Del Sol (middle of the line option), and the Tres Puntas (most economical option). 4 apartment buildings located in close proximity to the slopes round out the base area.
Family Friendly: 3.5
Great overall atmosphere, but the only detractor here is a relatively bustling environment that lacks a bit of the intimacy when compared to Ski Portillo in terms of family friendliness for younger kids. Kid’s ski instruction is solid, but there are fewer amenities on site geared specifically towards younger kids post or instead of skiing. The Hotel Puerta Del Sol offers nice accommodations specific to accommodating families.
Valle Nevado offers a robust 2,200 skiable acres with skiable access to a whopping additional 5,000 plus skiable acres when considering interconnected El Colorado and La Parva Ski Centers. In bounds terrain has a nice split in terms of ability level with 10 % Beginner, 36% Intermediate, 33% Advanced, and 21% Expert. The resort is an Intermediate’s paradise.
Advanced Terrain: 3.5
51% Advanced and expert terrain with some inbounds off piste opportunities, but hard core off piste thrill seekers will need to hike or venture into the back country to really get their ya yas out. Luckily back country access is abundant and world class.
Ease of Access: 4
Getting to Valle Nevado requires a flight into Santiago and a 1.5 to 2 hour ground transfer each way to the resort. There is a winding pass up to the resort that gains 6,200 feet in elevation with many switchbacks, but the road is paved and well maintained. You can see Valle Nevado from Santiago and vice versa.
18 lifts including the Andes Express high speed detachable quad and the first gondola in South America makes Valle Nevado’s the most modern lift infrastructure in Chile.
6 restaurants and 4 bars allows for acceptable variety in the resort base area. Valle Nevado offers an outdoor heated pool, a cinema, kid’s zone and daycare center, and fitness center.
La Parva Ski Center offers an assortment of apartment buildings and private rentals, but lacks full service hotel accommodations or much in the way of a commercial lodging offering managed by the resort. Most international clients choose to stay in Valle Nevado and experience La Parva via interconnected ski runs (La Parva lift ticket required).
Family Friendly: 3
Good for a family ski vacation if skiing is your primary focus and you are looking for a more authentic Chilean experience without a lot of bells and whistles. The resort offers a solid instruction school and is a training center for local youth ski clubs, but does not offer a lot of kid friendly amenities for after the lifts close.
La Parva offers a respectable 2,100 skiable acres with an equitable terrain split consisting of 20% beginner, 20% intermediate, 42% advanced, and 18% expert.
Advanced Terrain: 3
Nice inbounds and lift accessible steeps and chutes as well as additional hikable off piste terrain and good access to world class back country opportunities.
Ease of Access: 4
Similar to Valle Nevado, getting to La Parva requires a flight into Santiago and a 1.5 to 2 hour ground transfer each way to the resort including a winding pass with lots of switchbacks and steep elevation gains.
15 lifts including two quads and a triple make La Parva legitimate in this category.
La Parva’s base area is pretty sleepy with very little going on once the ski lifts close. There are several restaurants and a couple of souvenir shops, but most visitors retire to their apartments at night to do their own cooking.
El Colorado Ski Center offers a small lodging infrastructure for short term rentals which mainly consist of privately owned apartments with a few commercial options including the El Colorado Apartments and El Colorado Cabins. Additional lodging can be found in the nearby village and resort base area of Farellones which for all intensive purposes is an extension of El Colorado (both base areas can be reached from one another on skis and are accessed by the same lift ticket).
Family Friendly: 4
El Colorado is a popular day and overnight resort catering mainly to beginners and families where Santiago locals come to relax and teach their kids to ski. Full ski school services are available for young ages, and a very popular large lift serviced snow tubing hill located adjacent to the mountain in the Farellones base area lend this resort some family friendly credibility.
Terrain split is 15% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 35% Advanced, and 10% Expert. There is a very respectable 3,576 vertical drop with 112 trails and 1100 skiable acres. El Colorado is considered a beginner and intermediate resort with some bonus advanced terrain.
Advanced Terrain: 3
Some lift accessible steeps and chutes as well as additional back country access to some world class non lift served off piste terrain provides experts with some solid opportunities.
Ease of Access: 4
Similar to Valle Nevado and La Parva, getting to El Colorado requires a flight into Santiago and a 1.5 to 2 hour ground transfer each way to the resort including a winding pass with steep elevation gains.
El Colorado offers a very respectable 20 lifts including 4 chair lifts (no high speed) and 15 surface lifts.
Amenities: 3 .5
The El Colorado Base Area is a sleepy bedroom community with several on mountain restaurants for lunch and few eateries that stay open after then mountain closes. The Village of Farellones, a secondary base area for the resort, offers a world class snow tubing park, a livelier après scene, and a more robust dining scene with a local Chilean feel.
Argentina Ski Resorts
Las Lenas has a substantial cross section of hotels ranging from economical to full service as well as several apartment options. Hotel packages include half board breakfast and dinner meal plans and lift tickets and have set arrival patterns from Saturday to Saturday. Shorter mini weeks are also available depending on the season. The Pisces and The Virgo are your highest hotel options in the base area. The Acuario and Aries are mid level boutique hotels, and The Escorpio is your most economical hotel option. In general most of these hotels offer smaller room sizes than North American hotels, and even the nicest hotel would fall short of being considered luxury by North American standards.
Family Friendly: 3
Kids are well covered in terms of skiing at Las Lenas. There are comprehensive kid’s lesson programs with grand finales that include a race and light parade at night if your child is participating on a Friday. Las Lenas is the only South American Resort to currently offer night skiing, and there is also an on mountain fun park just for kids. Most of the other base area activities are not specifically geared towards children.
The inbounds terrain distribution is 15% Beginner, 45% Intermediate, 35% Advanced, and 5% Expert with 3,900 vertical feet and 29 marked trails. The resort lists its skiable acreage at 40,000 plus, but the majority is off piste or back country terrain accessible only by 1 chairlift, the legendary Marte when it’s open and snow conditions allow. Lengthy wide open intermediate cruisers and a solid beginner’s learning terrain help to round out the resort as a destination for all ability levels.
Advanced Terrain: 5
Accessible only from a single chairlift, the famous Marte Chair, is some of the best lift serviced and patrolled steeps, chutes, and off piste terrain available anywhere in the world. The local unpatrolled back country opportunities accessible from this chair are endless. The catch is that closures of the Marte Chair can be frequent, lengthy, and frustrating based on snow and wind conditions.
Ease of Access: 2.5
Getting to Las Lenas is unfortunately not always a straight forward proposition. Domestic charter flights depart from Buenos Aires every Saturday for Mallargue, the closest airport to the valley (45 minutes from the resort). Ground transfers are available from Mallargue to Las Lenas. Because Charter flights can be cost prohibitive many international clients will choose to fly into Mendoza or San Rafael from Santiago, Chile or Buenos Aires and hire private transfers from either one of these cities, a 2 to 3 hour transfer to the resort. Public buses also run from these two cities to Mallargue. Additionally A “Super Cama” option from Buenos Aires to Las Lenas involves a 14 hour overnight trip in a sleeper bus. Because of the perceived complications of getting to Las Lenas many prospective South America ski clients opt for Chilean resorts for their first excursion to the Southern Hemisphere to ski.
The resort has 14 lifts including one quad and 6 doubles. 7 Poma lifts serve the lower elevations of the resort. There is also a Magic Carpet for beginners. Lifts other than Poma lifts will often close when it’s snowing limiting access to more advanced terrain.
Las Lenas, although 2 hours from the nearest major city, is a well contained resort that offers a shopping plaza, museum, some 20 eating options, several bars, multiple night clubs, and even a casino. Further amenities will be accommodation specific.
Catedral Alta Patagonia has a quaint modern base village with some great lodging options at the resort, but it’s the charming Swiss style town of San Carlos de Bariloche overlooking scenic Nahuel Huapi Lake located only 12.5 miles away that is a large attraction for tourists and a popular lodging base.
Family Friendly: 4.5
Aside from stunning natural beauty of Nahuel Huapi National Park, chocolate shops, scenic cable car rides, ice skating, and museums are all major attraction for kids in the Swiss themed town of Bariloche. Cerro Catedral Resort offers full “Kids Club” daycare services, comprehensive kids ski school services with a special kids “Play Park” learning area, “Fun Slope” beginners terrain park, and a base area playground with inflatable attractions just for kids.
Catedral Alta Patagonia Resort is large with 1,480 lift served skiable acres and over a 3,700 vertical drop. Terrain is nicely distributed for all ability levels at 17% Beginner, 35% intermediate, 26% advanced, and 26% expert.
Advanced Terrain: 4.5
Along with the steeps and cliffs of The Nubes area and the rare South American tree skiing opportunities amongst the Lenga (native deciduous Beech) trees, the addition of the new La Laguna lift that accesses formerly hike to only steeps, chutes, and open bowl skiing has established Cerro Catedral is a legitimate playground for expert thrill seekers.
Ease of Access: 4
An additional domestic flight is necessary from either Buenos Aires or Santiago, but Bariloche has its own modern airport making the trip relatively low maintenance to get to this fantastic destination. Ground transfers into Bariloche from the airport take 25 minutes and getting to the resort requires an additional 20 minutes. Getting around the town of Bariloche on foot, public transportation, or by taxi is low maintenance.
37 Lifts that include a gondola, and a pedestrian cable car for sightseeing, a high speed 6 pack chair, and a high speed quad make Cerro Catedral’s the most modern lift infrastructure in South America.
The abundance of shopping, dining, and nightlife opportunities available in the Swiss themed village of Bariloche combined with modern base village at Catedral Alta Patagonia Resort easily qualify this destination as one of the most complete tourist destinations in South America. Many additional available activities are understandably focused on the area’s stunning natural beauty.
... Just wanted to give you a big THANK YOU for such a superb job of reserving and arranging everything for our vacation!
Anna: You are a genius! Our vacation to The Canyons could not have been better and we owe it all to you! Thank you so much for all your wonderful recommendations. This was a great introduction to skiing for our family and we are truly grateful for all you did for us. We will definitely be going skiing again and we would love to use your services. Thank you again!
Lisa, Thanks so much for the follow up, as a fellow sales professional it is always noticed and appreciated! The trip was amazing and everything went off without a hitch, heck, it even snowed the whole time we were there! You will have a tough bar to get over for next year as a follow up to this homerun!
Next time we plan a ski trip, I will call you as you provided the best service I could have ever asked for! I will write a review on trip adviser, and where ever else I can locate a review opportunity. Beaver Run was the perfect location and all check-in/out was smooth and hassle free. Thank you for your help - we all had a great time and appreciate your attentiveness and help.
Jinger, We had a FABULOUS time. It was great! I want to thank you for all your help in planning this trip. You have been a pleasure to work with. You have gone over and above to answer all of my questions and provide additional information when necessary. Thank you again for all that you have done for my family and myself.
Dan, Our trip to Vail was awesome!! I really appreciated your help in putting things together for us. Everything went so smoothly – I appreciated you taking to time to send our lift tickets to the hotel – it was great having things all together when we checked in and were eager to hit the slopes. I’ll definitely consider your services in the future.
I have to tell you David, I own a real estate sales company with over 55 sales people and my company was # 1 in NJ for all of REMAXs 170 offices for commissions. I tell you that because I have some great sales people and I just wanted to say, you are a great salesperson. You have a great, calm friendly demeanor and your follow up over the years has been impeccable. I have given your name and info to quite a few people over the years and will continue to do so. Kudos on a job well done from one sales professional to another.
Dan, The trip was outstanding - the entire family has been talking about the Keystone ski trip nonstop and everyone is looking forward to the next one. We are truly grateful for all of your help, you did an awesome job. The next time we head to the snow, we will be giving you a call and I will definitely pass on your contact info to anyone looking for help with a ski trip.
... what a trip! I can’t thank you enough! We set out to create memories for our son, and us, and through all your hard work, we clearly achieved that! I have already, and will continue, to mention Rocky Mountain Getaways and specifically you (Kasey)! Please keep in touch.
Had an absolute blast! Fantastic setting up by you, Brian ... amazing job!!!! All went perfecto. If the USD / CAD exchange is as good next year, might do the exact same trip again ... seriously!
THANKS SO MUCH for getting us a great deal on a super fantastic trip!!!
"From the get go, Jinger had our plans dialed right down to the smallest of details. We arrived, checked-in hit the slopeside hot tub and THEN we knew we could relax and enjoy our annual ski vacation. Thanks for all the help!"