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Skiing in Chile: Spotlight on Portillo

Portillo, Chile is one of South America's most famous ski resorts, with its reputation as a training ground for the world's elite skiers; as well as it's steep slopes, fantastic views, and iconic yellow hotel at 10,000 feet. Here is our spotlight on Portillo: 'The Spirit of the Andes'.

Portillo Ski

As the European and North American ski seasons come to a close, the Southern hemisphere is counting down to their ski season. For most, Portillo is a standout destination for skiing in South America, as it is so often associated with world class skiing. Portillo was made famous in 1966 when it hosted the World Skiing Championships, and it's steep slopes are a favourite for European international level ski teams training in the off-season. Portillo's fame is perhaps somewhat misleading however, as the resort itself is not the bustling metropolis that some might expect...

Portillo Skiing

Situated approximately 100 miles from the nearest airport (in the Chilean capital Santiago), Portillo itself is not a town, but is chiefly served by a single hotel, the famous yellow Portillo hotel. This means the resort itself boasts just 450 beds across three tiers of accommodation. The hotel, however, is something of an icon, with its yellow exterior making it visible from miles away. The Portillo hotel was made famous in a Warren Miller movie, and is very highly regarded by all who visit the Portillo ski area. While the limited amount of accommodation can make it difficult to book at peak times of the season, it does add a feel of exclusivity, and ensures that queues at any of the resort's 15 lifts very rarely exist.

The terrain at Portillo is treeless, and provides plenty of long runs, some of which are world renowned for their steepness. Portillo's terrain is largely best suited to skiers at intermediate to advanced levels, though it does have approximately 15% beginner level terrain. Portillo's high percentage of runs that are best suited for advanced and expert skiers (c. 55%) goes some way to explaining why it is such a favourite of the pro's... visitors can usually expect to to see one professional ski team or another training there during the European and North American  off-season.

Portillo, Chile: Key Figures

Aside from world class skiing terrain and accommodation, Portillo is famous for offering some of the most breathtaking views in South American skiing. The Andes, the nearby Laguna del Inca, and the snow covered ski slopes combine to create scenery that matches any that you will find at ski resort resorts in Europe or North America

Spanish and English are widely spoken at Portillo, with the resort receiving many visitors annually from English speaking countries. International visitors should expect to embrace aspects of South American culture though, such as Chilean cuisine and evening meals served at 9pm. As the resort is some distance from it's nearest airport in Santiago, visitors generally need to visit for a minimum of 7 days, though traveling onward to different ski areas in the region is possible, or even to Argentina, as Portillo lies very close to the border.

If all this sounds good to you, check out the resort's winter teaser video to see just how great it looks...

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