Located high in the Andes, exclusive and grand Portillo ski resort has been a favorite haunt of royalty, supermodels and movie stars ever since it opened its heavy, oak doors almost seven decades ago. Classy, elegant and chic, Portillo doesn’t go in for gimmicks; it lets its world-class slopes, plentiful, powdery snow and jaw-dropping natural beauty do the talking. This ‘boutique’ ski resort has no ski town, no chain restaurants and limited hotel capacity, so demand is always sky-high and its slopes are never crowded.
Portillo’s reputation as one of the best Southern Hemisphere ski resorts makes it a key summer training base for the U.S., Canadian, Norwegian and Italian National Ski Teams, so you may end up rubbing shoulders with some serious pros during your stay!
Portillo is famous for its fast and steep advanced slopes (it’s Kilometro Lanzado run is where the 200km speed barrier was broken for the first time) but it is also a family-friendly resort with a range of slopes for beginners and intermediates, so a stay in this dashing old resort will be a great experience whether you are an Olympic hopeful or simply hopeful of staying upright for at least a few seconds!
To make your trip to the Andes as perfect as possible, here is our list of the best that Portillo has to offer. Don’t forget to record any recommendations that jump out at you in your BUCKiTDREAM planner!
Break Some Records (but hopefully no bones!) On the Advanced Slopes Portillo is most famous for its steep and fast expert ski runs. Test your skills to the max on legendary slopes like Primavera Run and Kilometro Lanzado (and maybe even get some tips from a real-life Olympic champ!).
Learn the Ropes on the Beginner and Intermediate Slopes Portillo has lots of uncrowded and nicely groomed slopes that are perfect for beginner and intermediate snowboarders and skiers. El Conejo, Las Lomas, Canarios and Bajada del Tren are some of the resorts best slopes for the less experienced visitor.
Experience Portillo’s Famous Powder Many of Portillo’s most popular runs are left ungroomed and are excellent for freeriding on a snowboard or powder-skiing. Due to its remote location and limited hotel space, the skier-load is wonderfully low, so the powder lasts for days and days after a storm.
Go Off-piste and Explore the Epic Andean Terrain The landscape at Portillo is breathtaking. You really feel like you are on top of the world. It is too high for trees, and its wide open skies are bluer than blue. Its glorious granite peaks and peaceful, navy-blue Laguna del Inca lake make it a spectacular area to investigate at your leisure with some off-piste skiing or snowboarding.
Feel the Thrill of Heli-Skiing Get up to those hard to reach areas with the help of Portillo’s resident chopper. Depending on weather conditions, the runs vary from 700 to 1,200 meters. The untouched, virgin snow at these altitudes is heaven to ski or snowboard and the view from the helicopter is simply stunning. This could very well be the highlight of your time in Portillo but remember that heli-skiing is very popular and places are limited, so sign up as soon as you arrive at the resort.
Learn from the Best Portillo Ski and Snowboard School has around forty instructors from all over the world, speaking all major languages. Classes cover Alpine, Telemark and Adaptive skiing techniques and snowboarding. Whether you are an expert or a beginner, these highly experienced teachers will bring the best out of you. There is also a Kids Camp for children aged 4-6, which operates twice daily. Children ages 7 and above can take part in the regular group and private lessons.
And When You Are Not on the Slopes…. Portillo has lots of great leisure activities that don’t involve snow or skis. The outdoor heated pool and jacuzzi are very popular for soothing sore muscles after a day of vigorous exercise. For those who haven’t exerted enough energy skiing, there is a fitness center, gym and climbing wall as well as aerobics and yoga classes. The sauna and spa are a great place to unwind and there are lots of activities for children including a cinema, games-room and creche.
Portillo offers all-inclusive 7-night packages (Sat to Sat), 4-night mini-week packages (Sat to Wed) and 3-night mini-week packages (Wed to Sat). These are the only options for staying at the resort. There are three accommodations options on-site at Portillo, ranging from the most expensive Hotel Portillo to the least expensive Inca Lodge.
High-end Hotel Portillo is the main Portillo resort hotel. The rooms are classy and elegant with beautiful views out across the surrounding cliffs and valleys. This hotel affords guests direct access to the pool, sauna, gym, bar and restaurant.
Medium For those looking for a comfortable, economy option, look no further than Octagon Lodge. Rooms have two bunk beds and a private bath and you’ll have direct access to Hotel Portillo and all of its facilities.
Budget Inca Lodge is a basic budget hostel, ideal for younger travellers and those who want to experience Portillo without breaking the bank. Small rooms come with with two bunk beds and a communal bath.
The all-inclusive packages provide four meals per day for guests staying at Portillo Hotel and Octagon Lodge, eaten together in the formal dining room in the main hotel. Take in the spectacular view from the elegant old dining room whilst chatting to new friends about your day’s activities. Lunch and dinner are three courses each with daily-changing menus and the food is robust and tasty international fare, perfect for fueling your internal engines to get you speeding down those slopes.
Inca Lodge guests have four meals a day in the self-service cafeteria area. The food is simpler but also hearty and delicious.
The Posada Restaurant is a few minutes walk from the hotel and is popular with daytrippers.
Tio Bob’s Restaurant sits high up in the ski area near the Plateau Lift. Relaxing over a tasty lunch on its deck while taking in the gorgeous panorama of the surrounding Andes is a glorious way to rest, rejuvenate and refuel.
Drinks and Nightlife
The liveliness of the nightlife during your stay at Portillo will depend on the mood of the crowd that happens to be there on the particular week you are staying. If you want to party all night, either follow a leader or become that leader yourself by toasting everyone with a round of belly-warming pisco shots.
The Portillo Hotel bar tends to be quiet during the day, but it really starts to heat up at around 7.30pm when pre-dinner drinks are served. The bar has a good range of beers and wines and the local Pisco Sour cocktail is a must-taste. There is live music here every night of the week.
There is a disco in the basement of the hotel that kicks off at about 11.30pm and can go on until pretty late.
The resort often plays host to wine weeks and wine festivals, where Chilean wineries share their award-winning wines with guests.
The Posada Restaurant also doubles as a bar at night and can be the liveliest spot in the resort due to the young backpacker crowd that tends to stay at Inca Lodge.
There is an ATM next to reception at Portillo Hotel. You won’t need much cash though, as drinks, equipment and shopping can all be charged to your room and paid by credit card.
The Portillo Hotel has WiFi throughout.
The equipment rental shop at Portillo is state-of-the-art and has excellent skiing and snowboarding equipment available.
The resort has a shop that sells souvenirs such as caps, t-shirts, hoodies, teddies and jewelry, sundries, ski equipment and clothes such as ski jackets, shell jackets and ski pants.
Food or alcohol shopping is not available at Portillo.
Let the Snowcat Take You into Uncharted Territory There is no Snowcat skiing at Portillo but you can extend your visit by one night and on your way back to Santiago airport take a detour to El Arpa for Cat Skiing. In the shadow of Cerro Aconcagua (the tallest peak outside the Himalayas) the ski hill grooming vehicle will take you high into untouched territory where you can ski 10,000 to 15,000 feet of vertical, untouched powdery slopes. This add-on to the standard one-week package includes transfer from Portillo and on to Santiago Airport as well as accommodation and food. Book this must-see add-on here.
Portillo is a world-class ski resort and definitely one for the bucket list of any ski or snowboard enthusiast. So while you are relaxing with a Pisco Sour and stroking the resident St. Bernard, soaking in the outdoor jacuzzi or skiing the legendary powdery slopes why not inspire your friends by sharing you dream Portillo experiences on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?