Guests generally stay for week-long stints, although there are a few weeks in late June, early August and again in September, where they allow 3 to 4 night mini-week reservations, in one of the three exclusive hotels on the mountain; Hotel Portillo, Octagon Lodge, and budget focused Inca Lodge. The main Portillo hotel refurnished most of their rooms in 2015. There is no ski town; just private hotels in the middle of the high Andes surrounded by great snow. To get a real idea of the level of luxury, it is enough to know that there are 450 beds and just as many staff members.
Owned by The Purcells, a family of American-Chileans, Portillo is an environment where generations of guests have returned each year. The resort is family-friendly with a great layout of beginner to expert slopes and a wide variety of activities for adults and kids. The Hotel Portillo boasts there are no TVs in the rooms, with plenty of other attractions for skiers and non-skiers each week.
Portillo lodging guests are left in bliss with endless untracked powder, often for days, and also has some of the best bluebird spring conditions we have seen in Chile. The respected ski and snowboard school offers skiing or snowboarding lessons daily, or feel free to explore the open slopes, via the 14 chair lifts. If you book a ski vacation in July, you also get free access to snowboard and ski rentals and lessons from their international ski school instructors.
Here are some insider tips and ideas from our ski guides and locals that know the terrain and resorts like no other.
Important: Many of the areas described involve riding in non controlled avalanche terrain. Know your stuff, carry the right equipment and be smart. If you have any doubts, or even if you don’t, come join us on a PowderQuest guided tour. We will take you to the best skiing available with nothing for you to do but to enjoy what we have spent the last 2 decades figuring out!
Mo Rasiah: The Super C is a South American classic if you have the legs for it…and the guts. A very exposed boot pack will lead you to a 3,000 ft couloir down to the bottom of the resort. For those who aren’t up for it, the Roca Jack lift will give you more than enough enjoyment. Not many rides up are more memorable than the ride down!
Phil Gautier: Don’t miss lunch a Tio Bobs. This place is a great resort for boot packing steep couloirs. If the Inca Lake is frozen, take your skins and head up the valley to explore new lines.
Terrain – freestyle
Portillo ski area does not have a terrain park, but does have some fun natural features to hit throughout the resort. If you are looking for a destination with more of a freestyle focus, we suggest checking out El Colorado Ski Resort located a few hours away near Santiago.
Terrain – experts
Advanced and expert ski runs are legendary. Skiers and snowboarders can traverse to unbelievable terrain such as the steep, powdery Primavera Run. The run known as Kilometro Lanzado is where the 200km speed barrier was first broken. From the hotel you can see the traverse lines above the rocks, especially after a storm (see the current Portillo snow forecast).
Portillo Resort is renowned for its powder; and the patrol leaves some of its most popular runs, including Garganta, Condor and Roca Jack, ungroomed for some great freeriding and powder ski conditions.
Off-piste and challenging backcountry areas include hiking the “Super C” and other steep chutes above the Inca Lake.
Suggested trip for advanced to experts Summer Snow Escape Off Piste
Note for snowboarders: For those snowboarding Portillo, it is important to note the exposure over the rocks and the difficulty of making these traverses unless you are extremely experienced and careful. While it is of course a risk for skiers too, they tend to manage much better than snowboarders in this terrain. Snowboarders can also expect to have to skate or hike back to the resort when the Inca Lake is frozen and the runs down to the frozen lagoon open up mid winter. When the lake is not frozen, there is a narrow exposed trail back to the resort, once again difficult to manage on a snowboard. The good news is that the resort has plenty of other steep terrain with little or no exposure, and easier access.
Terrain – Intermediates
There are plenty of well-groomed and uncrowded runs for skiers and snowboarders at the intermediate level; including El Conejo, Las Lomas, Canarios, Bajada del Tren and a new run (piste) as of 2018, called El Gaucho.
Suggested trip for intermediate skiers Ski Progression Adventure in Chile
Beginners and non-skiers
As you would expect, the exclusive service extends to its snowboard and ski school, with close to 40 instructors from 10 different countries and classes covering alpine and telemark skiing, snowboarding and adaptive skiing.
Non-skiers can soak up the experiences in the resort including cinema, cybercafe, library, spa, swimming pool, and fabulous food and events.
South America’s oldest ski resort, Ski Portillo Chile is all about providing an exclusive resort experience. When skiers ask friends about where to ski in August, Portillo is generally the first response. The bar and living room are more than 60 years old and hold a lot of history. The world’s top pros, Kennedy kids, Argentinean polo players, Scotsmen in kilts and supermodels in furs have all passed through these halls.
The gastronomy at the restaurants is world-class and the resort is always packed with events. Some of its most renowned are the Portillo wine week and wine fests, where Chilean wineries share their prize winning products with guests.
Hotel guests arrive and depart on a Saturday. On the slopes, the pistes are well maintained and there are no crowds. Day trippers are restricted and in times of lower snow cover, no day tickets are sold at all.
Value and ticket prices
Day tickets are comparable to other Santiago resorts. A week staying on the mountain is a luxury in the main hotel, and the price reflects the experience, but for many well worth it. For budget travelers consider the Inca Lodge or Octagon.
Location: Near city of Los Andes, 102 miles from Santiago. How to get to Portillo
Elevation: 2,510m (8,240ft) to 3,350m (10,985ft)
Vertical Drop: 835m (2,745ft)
Inbound Terrain: 36 Runs
15% Beginner, 30% Intermediate, 30% Advanced, 25% Expert
Ski Lifts: 14
Hotels and Lodging: Hotel Portillo, Octagon Lodge, and Inca Lodge Get a free quote
Off-Piste and Backcountry Access: Very Good See our guided adventures
Heli-ski: Yes, Bell B3 Helicopter
Annual Snowfall: 265 inches (673 cms)
Weather: : 80% sunny days and dry powder due to elevation
Ski Season: June to October
Ski and Snowboard Park: No
Night Life: 2 bars and a discotec open nightly