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  • Deby Beard

Oasis on the Heights

It all began in 1961, when Henry Purcell arrived in Chile with a Bachelor Degree in hospitality from Cornell University in New York. His uncle, Bob Purcell, along with his partner Dick Aldrich, had just bought Portillo at a Chilean government auction and looked for someone to look after the hotel.

In that great adventure of his life, Henry moved to South America with the whole family, determined to transform that corner of the Andes into one of the most renowned ski resorts in the world. A high-tech team then began teaching at the school, cable cars were installed, runs were opened and as early as 1966, Portillo hosted an international ski championship. In the years that followed, Henry bought the resort and passed the administration to his son Miguel, but the mission never changed: to offer a unique experience in the midst of the Chilean mountains. It is in this spirit that Portillo follows its story now with more than 65 years of life.

Families and skiers avid for perfect vacations in the snow come back every year. The most famous and beloved resort in the Southern Hemisphere lists a thousand reasons to be visited and revisited. In the different months of winter, the pro le of visitors changes, but there is always an ideal Portillo to each one. Families with children come to the hotel in the months of July; skiers from the United States,Canada and Europe appear in August during holidays in the Northern Hemisphere; and youth groups set the tone for the fun après-skis in September.

Blessed by nature with a more than privileged location, Portillo sits amidst the highest peaks of the Chilean Andes. Its iconic yellow hotel overlooks the crystal clear Laguna del Inca, surrounded by snow- laden mountains that become pink when the day falls.

The warmth and feeling of being at home dominates the mood in the hotel. The facility welcomes 450 guests, serviced by an average of one employee per guest, receiving ultra-personal attention. Barely nished the check-in, and everyone already calls you by name. Do not be surprised if your favorite breakfast is already waiting for you at the table, if the maître already know which wine you like most, if your kids walk in pajamas around the hotel or if the neighbors table become your best friend childhood. At every moment you will feel more and more at ease. This is Portillo.

There’s no denying it: Valle Nevado is one of the most beloved ski resorts in the Southern Hemisphere. And there are plenty of reasons for Valle, as he is affectionately called by the regular guests, to gain this recognition. Just 43 miles from Santiago (or 49 miles from the Capital’s airport), the resort has one of the most practical accesses in the entire continent, making it easy to spend time in the snow. Not to mention the fun. After a day on the mountain, guests of its three hotels and condominiums can participate in a lively après-ski in their pubs, and meals can be varied in one of the six local restaurants: Chilean, Italian, French ... There are still shops and a leisure area that includes an inviting heated outdoor pool, spa, yoga class and even a movie theater. Nothing around here is monotonous.

In addition to these advantages, the resort has excellent facilities to all level skiers, ranging from the beginners to the more experienced. In common, all skiers have a chance to slide down the slopes of the Andes, toasted with the beautiful view of the snowy peaks. In recent years, an investment of 150 million dollars has been transforming the region into an increasingly modern ski resort: wi- in the snow; Heated lockers, equipment upgrades ... There is also a new closed gondola that has already become the local postcard. With 70 cabins capable of carrying six passengers each, the lift travels a mile and leaves the skiers directly in Bajo Zero, the point in the middle of the slopes.

Valle is getting even better: experienced skiers count on a premium line of equipment available, in addition to all the gears for the practice of freeride and heliski. There is also a full time staff dedicated to repairs and maintenance. First time guests fall in love; And the habitués always have a reason to return.

Largest ski resort in South America, Valle Nevado has a skiable surface of 900 hectares. More: its runs connect to the neighboring resorts of La Parva and El Colorado, which further increases the offer and variety of descents. The skiing in Valle Nevado appeals to all.

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