Places to stay during ski vacation in Chile

Q&a

December 31, 2006|By San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News

My son and his girlfriend are planning a ski vacation to Chile next year but have time for only a three-night stay in Portillo. Are there alternatives to the seven-night lodging requirement?

Portillo is a ski mountain, with nothing else nearby. You can find alternative lodging in Los Andes, an hour's drive away. Try the Plaza Hotel (chile-hotels.com) or the Termas Jahuel Hotel & Spa (jahuel.cl) in San Felipe. Daily shuttles also travel to locations in Santiago, although the drive is more than two hours each way. Find them at gochile.cl; click on "Ski," then "Portillo," and scroll down to "Transportation." Do keep in mind, though, that the Pan American Highway's downhill descent is noted for its treacherous hairpin curves and the highway is often closed in bad weather. Also, skiers should be alerted that Portillo - summer training grounds for the U.S. Olympic ski team - is famous for its vertical terrain. Beginners will pale at the sight of the steep slopes, and even advanced intermediates will think twice before trying a downhill run.

Daily lift tickets at Portillo are sold only in optimal conditions; if snow quality is poor, you could get shut out. Otherwise, expect to pay $43 on weekends and holidays from July 10 to Aug. 11. In low season, you'll pay $34. Typically, about 100-200 tickets are available for sale on weekends. Ski season runs from mid-June to early October. Details: www.skiportillo.com.

San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News

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