Nestled in the Andes Mountains, Portillo is The Iconic Chilean Ski Resort. Famous for its epic ski runs and the fabulous poolside vista overlooking the Lake of the Incas, Portillo is Chile’s most well-known ski resort. Die-hard ski fans and Olympic/World Championship skiers flock here during the North American summer to catch some sun and ski Portillo’s world-famous terrain.
Nicknamed the “Yellow Cruise ship”, this iconic hotel is the heart of the resort and offers something for everyone. For kids, there is everything from bowling to indoor football (soccer)—they even have a movie theater. For adults, there are drinks by the pool or a nice meal by candlelight. Visit during one of the wine or culinary festivals and you’ll be in for a real treat. For parents/families, they offer ski school and daycare. Portillo really caters to everyone with plenty of apres-ski activities for all ages. However, all this is just icing on the cake because the real attraction in Portillo is the skiing.
Portillo favors intermediate to expert level skiers/snowboarders. Although there are plenty of runs for beginners, the va-et-vient (slingshot) lifts may make it difficult for them to access more challenging runs at higher elevations. The big draw is their off-piste chutes, powder-filled bowls, and untracked snowfields that are accessible from the top of the mountain. Nothing beats fresh tracks down an open 2500+ ft vertical drop in snow that rivals anything in Colorado or Utah. Portillo is awesome!
What We Love about Portillo
The view from the top of the mountain or from the hotel pool is, “magic”. Pictures just don’t do it justice but we’re going to include a few anyway.
What can we say? We love this place for its view and BBQ. The wine isn’t bad either. By the end of your last run—when your legs turn to rubber—there is no better spot on the mountain to meet up with the rest of your group.
The Super-C Couloir is probably the most famous line at Portillo. You’ll have to earn these turns with a good bit of hiking but the experience is totally worth it. Starting at the top of the mountain, skiers drop down a narrow chute at a 50% grade. About a third of the way down the Super-C opens up into a field of powder that goes all the way down (5,000 ft) to the road in and out of the resort.
The pool and jacuzzi are a great place to melt away all the aches and pains of the day while still taking in the view. On a sunny day, there is no better way to end your day. Note: Portillo boasts an 80% chance of Sun so, bring the sunblock.
Portillo is a small resort by today’s standard. With only 450 beds available at any given time, there is a great sense of community at the resort. Everyone there is a skier/snowboarder with a love for mountains. The staff at the resort is great. Everyone is friendly and open. It’s like a little community of like-minded folks all out to have the time of their lives. The vibes here are all good!
There is a reason why Waren Miller put Portillo on his top 10 resorts in the world and it’s not just the skiing.
No Lift Lines
Due to its size and location, Portillo is never crowded even when it is totally booked. You’ll never have to wait for a lift.
Best time to go: July -September
Best time to book: November-May
Travel time: 10hrs from NYC/14hrs from Seattle (plus 2.5 hrs for transfer from Santiago)
Elevation: over 10,000 ft
Annual Snowfall: 300 in