The U.S. experienced one of the mildest winters in recent history this year, leaving snow sport enthusiasts unfulfilled with lackluster conditions in the northern hemisphere. However, skiers and snowboarders have a second chance on the slopes by heading to Chile during their ski season which runs from June to September.
The Andes are a short trip away from Chile’s capital of Santiago and offer a wide range of ski resorts catering to every level of skier and snowboarder. Whether a novice is looking for a budget-friendly experience, or an advanced skier is looking for an ultimate challenge by attempting heli-skiing, Chile offers something for every visitor this ski season. With reports of ample snow and continuing storms on both sides of the Andes, Turismo Chile has outlined a few of the upcoming season’s best packages and tours for U.S. travelers.
Resorts & Packages
Valle Nevado ski resort, located in the heart of the Andes Mountains and just one hour outside of Santiago, offers access to the largest skiable terrain in South America. Among their upgrades for the 2012 season is the first ski resort gondola in Chile. Holding six passengers each in its 70 cabins, the gondola provides riders with a convenient way to reach the Bajo Zero restaurant. Other updates include a new gymnasium and entertainment center for hotel guests featuring a climbing wall, skate ramp and other activities. All-inclusive packages for the 2012 season include three nights at the Valle Nevado Hotel and lift tickets. Package rates start at $858 per person, based on double occupancy from June to September.
Hotel Portillo has been a name associated with Chilean skiing for the past 60 years. Its designated ski weeks are designed to give guests the ultimate winter getaway experience with spacious slopes and a guarantee of minimal wait time at the lifts. Their family programs and diverse terrain make it an ideal destination for all experience levels. Ski week packages begin at $1,790 and include accommodations for seven nights, four meals a day and lift tickets from June to September. The resort’s Wine Festival, taking place August 25-September 1 offers guests the chance to experience a different vineyard each night with a sampling of wines beginning at 6:30 p.m. Portillo is also offering a night at the Santiago Ritz Carlton with transfers to Portillo.
For the more experienced, thrill-seeking skier, guests can be lifted in a helicopter and flown into exclusive locations in the Andes range. Sample Heli-Ski packages include ground transportation from Santiago, three nights at The Puma Lodge, South America’s first heli-ski resort, three meals, a Chilean “Tea Time”, practice sessions prior to skiing and ski rental. The package is valid from July 1 through September 30, and rates begin at $7,609 per person.
La Parva, located just an hour outside of the city, is known for its panoramic view of the central valley. The resort’s new chairlift in Fabres Valley allows guests to enjoy 30 percent more skiable terrain. La Parva offers a wide range of classes for all levels, accommodations and a number of restaurants ranging from French cuisine to traditional Patagonian mountain fare. Day lift tickets for the 2012 season begin at $50.
Expert skiers and beginners alike can take advantage of skiing down a volcano, one of the exclusive opportunities that Chile’s diverse terrain offers. Sample volcano skiing packages include 12 nights of all-inclusive accommodations with lift tickets at six different properties as well as the chance to ski in four or seven different Chilean volcanoes, depending on skill level. Prices for beginner packages start at $5,100 or $9,500 for experts from July to September.
An alternative to heli-skiing, cat skiing can also get adventure-seekers to the challenging terrain they crave. Day rates begin at $245 for four runs during low season. Ski Arpa also offers a number of hotel packages including:
· Hosteria Rucahue – package rates include accommodations for two nights, breakfast daily, two days of cat skiing and transportation. Rates begin at $1,015 based on double occupancy.
· Casa San Regis – package rates include accommodations for two nights, breakfast and lunch daily, two days of cat skiing and transportation. Rates begin at $1,213 based on double occupancy.
· Termas Jahuel – package rates include accommodations for two nights, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, two days of cat skiing and transportation. Rates begin at $1,345 based on double occupancy.