One of the things that makes Portillo, Chile so darn special is it’s cruise ship like feel. The resort is so remote that it is it’s own entity, far from any town, or city, excluding the Chilean army barracks just down the highway. The resort has no “ski town” associated with it. There is an absence of winding suburb-like streets lined with condos and falsified old town shops an boutiques (which is quite a relief I must say).
The most prominent feature in the valley is Portillo’s Hotel–or what many people might call the mothership. This giant architectural work of art is striking in nature. It’s “hull” is painted bright yellow, in fact, most everything that can be yellow in Portillo is yellow; towels, napkins, buildings, advertizements, ropes, skis, lounge chairs, rugs, you name it. It’s almost like there was a discount for yellow things in Chile at one point and the resort capitalized on it.
The point here is that the giant yellow hotel, and a few other hostel like alternatives, are the only lodging options available anywhere near the slopes (that is unless you want to join the Chilean Army). This severely limits the amount of people able to visit Portillo on any day. At any given time roughly 95% or more of all resort attendees are on vacation living in the lodging provided by Ski Portillo. In addition to this, the lodging options are for a mandatory of at least 1 week, meaning no dilly dalliers, stragglers, or clueless tourists can stumble in one night and find a room.
If you’re there you’ve planned accordingly, and you’re stoked to schralp steep Chilean slopes by day and party South American style by night. Occasionally you might meet a skier from Santiago up for the day, or a snowboarder from Argentina looking for the goods, but the vast majority of people are up for the week.
The BEST thing about this is that it limits the amount of people on powder days, or really, everyday. Thus, crowding is kept to an absolute minimum. There are only as many people as the hotel can hold, and the acres of skiable terrain greatly outweigh the hotel’s capacity. Get a reservation, a plane ticket, and pray for snow. Enjoy.
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