Portillo

Ski Resort in Chile

Introduction

Portillo is a ski resort in South America, located in the Andes mountains of Chile. In the Valparaíso Region, it is near the city of Los Andes, and 160 km (100 mi) by vehicle from Santiago. Portillo is South America's oldest and most well-known ski resort. Located on the edge of Inca Lake, Portillo is 100 percent above treeline and revered by advanced/expert skiers for its steep, off-piste terrain, good hiking and powder that can last for days. With just one hotel and no town, the ambiance lends itself to a lot of skier camaraderie, and the focus is as much on skiing and snowboarding as life off the slopes.

Portillo Chile was put on the map in 1966 when it became the first South American resort to host the World Skiing Championships. The notoriety further increased when the 200km per hour speed barrier was broken in 1978 at Portillo, and the ski resort continues to be famous amongst expert skiers who visit Portillo for the amazingly steep slopes.

For 60 years, Portillo has given the ski and snowboard enthusiasts a unique experience. With an extraordinary skiable terrain, natural beauty and numerous facilities and apres ski activities, Portillo is a tourist destination for all ages. It has ski slopes for all levels, 14 lifts, certified instructors are committed to help guests enjoy the ski and snowboard, people feel like home. To make it even more pleasant experience, passengers in Portillo should not wait to get on the lifts.

The maximum capacity is 450 passengers and approximately 480 people working, so the service is personalized, warm and friendly.


Portillo info card

LocationAndes mountains,
Valparaíso Region, Chile
Nearest cityLos Andes
CoordinatesCoordinates: 32.836°S 70.129°W
Vertical   762 m (2,500 ft)
Top elevation3,310 m (10,860 ft)   (lift)
4,222 m (13,852 ft)   (summit)
Base elevation2,548 m (8,360 ft)   (lift)
2,880 m (9,450 ft)   (hotel)
Skiable area5.0 km2 (1,240 acres)
Runs35
Longest run2.5 km (1.6 mi)
Lift system5 chairlifts, 9 surface lifts
Snowfall8.3 m (27 ft 3 in)
Snowmakingyes
Night skiingnone
Websiteskiportillo.com


Ski Resort Facilities

There is no town or village at Portillo. The Portillo ski resort facilities are mainly housed within the hotel and considering it’s a very social atmosphere, the experience has been likened to a cruise ship. Guests eat together in the dining room, and other facilities include a bar, disco, gym, cinema, and the famous outdoor pool and jacuzzis. There are about as many staff as guests, so the service feels very personalised and attentive, particularly in the dining room.

Portillo is very family friendly and in addition to childcare and kids’ ski school (they provide group lessons in English), they run lots of activity programs for the kids.


Portillo Accommodation

Portillo has the ultimate ski in ski out accommodation at almost 10,000 feet. Lodging is limited to only 450 beds across three standards of Portillo accommodations. This includes shared dorms at the Inca Backpackers lodge, Octagon Lodge shared rooms, or hotel rooms at the Hotel Portillo. Accommodation arrangements generally consist of stays from Saturday to Saturday, and are full board which includes four meals a day and lift tickets. Here is some more information on the Portillo ski packages (Portillo ski weeks).

There are a few day trippers who stay in Los Andes, but most visitors make the most of the full Ski Portillo experience.


Portillo Snow

The average annual snowfall at Portillo ski resort is 7.4 metres (about 25 feet). The snow storms are typically short and intense, and are followed by bluebird days when the spectacular vistas can be fully appreciated. As a result of the location and elevation, the quality of the powder is sometimes dry and the riding is unbelievably fantastic. At other times the Portillo snow quality is second-rate, and various runs are either very sloppy or closed.


Families

The Ski School have their own specially designed childrens' programme. Kid's Camp is a weekly program for 3 to 6 year olds which will introduce first-timers to skiing and encourage kids to enjoy their time in the snow. Childrens' lessons have been conveniently timed to fit in with parents' participation in their own Ski School group. Complimentary daycare is available for children up to 6 years old, and private night time babysitting is available for a small charge.

At certain times of the season there are Free Kids' Weeks when each parent may bring one of his or her children of 12 or under completely free (this includes room, skiing and meals). An entertainment team creates a schedule of activities for young children and teens for the after skiing hours, both in the afternoons and evenings.

Kids are safe in Portillo as all the activities and entertainment are contained within the one large hotel complex. Facilities include the giant Games Room where kids have a choice of pool and ping pong tables and electronic games, the high school style gymnasium with scheduled tourneys of soccer, basketball and volleyball, the heated outdoor pool, the cinema, and a variety of other activities.

Kids should not miss out on participating in the Sol de Portillo Guest Race which is held on a Thursday with the prize giving ceremony later on in the hotel's Living Room.


Eating Out

The main Dining Room at Portillo dominates the second floor and seats about 500 people. It is rich with tradition and maintains an air of respectable formality where smart but casual dress is very much the order of the day. Dinner jackets are no longer required for men but nice casual clothing is requested for dinners. South America being a more formal society than North America means that baseball caps and T-shirts in the Dining Room can be offensive to many of the other guests who may hail from Argentina, Chile, Peru or Brazil. The best tables sit up next to the huge picture windows with an amazing view of the Inca Lake. Do try the tap water, its among the best tasting in South America. Chile's incredibly long coastline means that Chileans enjoy an enviable variety of seafood, from delicious salmon and sea bass to king crab, shrimp and scallops. Cooks prepare shellfish, including locos (abalone), the world's only edible barnacle, the also unique machas (similar to razor clams), mussels and "shoe-sized" mussels, with a variety of recipes, soups hot and cold being among the most common. Another Chilean pride is their wine and Portillo offers over 50 different wines on its menu. Four meals per day are served with dinner served late in the Chilean custom. Guest accustomed to eating early are advised to eat something during the tea hour and dine again later. Guests from the Inca Lodge, day visitors and ski staff eat in the self service cafeteria located on the first floor. The self-service menu features homestyle foods with 4 meals daily. Tio Bob's (Uncle Bob's) is the slopeside restaurant at the top of Garganta. The views are spectacular and its rarely crowded at lunchtime because hotel guests eat in the Dining Room. The menu consists of meats broiled over an open flame, an appetising salad bar and fresh fruit all washed down with Chilean wine. Tio Bob's is also a popular night time private party spot with a starlit chairlift ride adding another unforgettable dimension to the experience. La Posada, a small pub just across the highway from the hotel is where Portillo's staff tend to socialise and its said to be the place to go for a "down n' dirty dancing bash". The parties rock in La Posada especially in mid-September when the Chileans celebrate their independence with chicha, a homemade wine, and the cueca dance which the men practice amongst themselves or with any lady bold enough to join them. One drink everyone should try during their stay in Portillo is Pisco Sours, a delicious Chilean wine made from moscatel grapes.

Apres

Portillo has been designed for easy socializing and fun with all kinds of entertainment, activities and facilities to keep guests entertained after a day on the snow. The emphasis is very much on relaxation and well-being with aerobic and yoga classes happening regularly. The fitness centre includes gymnasium with weights and theres an outdoor heated pool. A sauna and massage are an excellent therapy to relax tired muscles and the beauty parlour is the perfect place for extreme self indulgence. The Living Room's comfy old couches make a great place to hang out, whether reading, playing chess or just enjoying a lazy afternoon by the fireside. The cinema has videos for most tastes and The Bar features live music and bands every night, the sun deck is a social centre and theres the cyber café, equipped with 9 computers, so you can check out your photos, surf the net or send a few e-mails. Letters and postcards to North America and Europe take from 5 days to a week by airmail. The swimming pool is an afternoon must while the Games Room attracts those who enjoy pool, ping pong and electronic games. Afternoon kids' games are organised and led by entertainment staff. The weekly torchligt parade is followed by dinner, live music in the Bar and a Goodbye Disco Party which is sometimes fancy dress so its worth packing a fun costume.

Boarding

With 100% of the area above the tree-line Portillo is a snowboarders playground. Every year more and more riders appear in Portillo. Surfers from Peru and Brazil, Extreme Team Visitors from the U.S. All of them help make Portillo a place to push your limits amongst an interesting group of riders. Helicopter adventures snowboarding arranged by request. The beginner area is conveniently close to the hotel and Canarios seems to be a favourite with most learners while Juncalillo is preferred by cruisers and intermediates for its rolling slopes through valleys. The lower section, Los Tuneles passes over 2 long tunnels which the government had to build over the road because the ski run was there first! Nightly grooming keeps the pistes in top condition while the more extreme terrain is left with its natural snowpack. The recommended way to ski or board Portillo is to start on the Juncalillo side in the morning. Its possible to watch the sunrise from a bunk in the Inca Lodge as the light descends the east-facing slope and eventually reaches the Roca Jack, the first run to soften in the early morning sun. Another recommended advanced run is Garganta just to the north of the Plateau chairlift, it starts off in a narrow steep chute then opens out into a wide bowl. There are usually good moguls on Plateau and free timed courses and Guest races every Thursday with the prize ceremony held later that night in the Hotel's Living Room.

Transportation - Get In

The road to Mendoza in Argentina runs past the resort. Try to flag down a bus or hitchhike. The hotel will organize a shuttle back to Santiago for a reasonable price.


By bus

Hotel Portillo will pick you up in Santiago and shuttle you to the mountain, it's about a two to three hour trip. Also, any bus heading to Mendoza will drop you off at the resort. However be cautious because if they shut down the road due to weather they will not let a bus through, they do let the shuttles through most of the time.


By car

The resort is easily reached from Santiago in a few hours by car. An excellent but expensive highway (CLP$2200 total one-way for a small vehicle, possible to bypass a tunnel on the way back, saving CLP$1600) takes you to Los Andes, where you make to turnoff and start the climb to Portillo. The road from here is decent but often carry heavy traffic. Have chains with you in winter, when there is frequent heavy snow fall. The road is sometimes blocked by trucks failing to do the ascent to the border.


Hitchhiking

Getting a lift on a truck is an easy prospect, as there are a constant trickle of them slowly making their way to and from Argentina. But the smaller car the faster. You'll save hours (or even days!) if picked up by private vehicle.

Transportation - Get Around

If put off by the steeply priced ski passes, you can ride the lower slopes and hitchhike back up with trucks. Bring your own gear or rent in Santiago and try to look as if you actually do have a pass. Although very possible for adventurous travelers, it's not generally recommended. Critics of this money saving activity argue that the tickets are less expensive than in the US and on par with Europe. They also call skiing without a ticket "stealing", a description budget travelers find preposterous and wrong in every important way. What ever is your belief, you will not get to take full advantage of the higher mountain terrain without utilizing the lifts. And consequently will be rather bored - if you're not a decent skier don't come here and if you are you need a lift pass and want the helicopter.

Accommodation & Hotels


Hotel Portillo

The iconic Hotel Portillo is the main accommodation center at Portillo with 123 hotel-style rooms boasting spectacular lake & mountain views.

The yellow and blue hotel sits on the edge of Inca Lake and is ski-in/ski-out. One of the highlights of the hotel is its huge heated pool and hot tubs which is a focal point of socialization after a day on the slopes.

With only 450 guests and 450 staff at Portillo, you can be assured of incredible service.

Room Options

There are a few different options for rooms based on the number of guests in a group and the aspect / view.

  • Double Valley rooms have views of the valley below Portillo.
  • Double Lake rooms have a magnificent view of Laguna del Inca, the Tres Hermanos peaks and the slopes.
  • 6th floor doubles have larger bathrooms and windows, and have balconies. All have lake views.
  • Family Apartments with one bathroom have 2 bedrooms (one with a queen bed and one with bunks) and accommodate a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 6 guests. Children and teens from 4-17 years of age staying in family apartments pay the children or teen rate. Adults pay the adult family apartment rate. Family Apartments (1BA) require a minimum of 2 guests paying the adult rate and a minimum of 4 guests paying the normal listed rates.
  • Family Apartments with 2 bathrooms have 2 bedrooms (one with a queen bed and one with bunks) and accommodate a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 6 guests. Children and teens from 4-17 years of age staying in family apartments pay the children or teen rate. Adults pay the adult family apartment rate. Family Apartments (2BA) require a minimum of 2 guests paying the adult rate and a minimum of 5 guests paying the normal listed rates.
  • Due to size limitations of the rooms, the hotel does not recommend adult extra beds in the rooms.

Dining & Bars

The main dining area is a focal hub of the hotel where all guests congregate several times a day for amazing food and the extra special service provided by the staff. The views from the dining room are spectacular looking over the outdoor swimming pool, across the laguna (lake) to the spectacular mountain peaks in the distance.

The hotel has its very own bar and discotheque which is open until the wee hours of the morning for those that want to party all night.

Facilities

The list of facilities in this charming hotel is endless. The outdoor heated swimming pool and jacuzzi is the main apres meeting place and is a great way to relax those tired ski muscles. There are plenty of activities to keep the kids entertained including a huge games room which also has a rock climbing wall and a full-size basketball court.

Other Information

Portillo’s rooms do not have television; however television may be watched at certain hours in the cinema or the disco. This is intended to encourage guests to enjoy the many services, entertainment and activities available, and to get to know the other guests.

Portillo asks that all guests wear nice clothing and shoes to the dining room for the evening meal. Ski clothes are fine at breakfast and lunch. Guests who enjoy getting dressed more elegantly for dinner are welcomed and encouraged to do so.

Portillo (and all of Chile) uses 220-volt electricity, so guests might need to bring transformers.

Internet access is available free of charge through wireless service in the rooms. There are also computers with internet access available in The Portillo Cyber café for an additional charge.

Ski Area

Skiing at Portillo Chile can be absolutely awesome! With no crowds and a mix of fast groomed runs and big mountain skiing, the only thing missing at Portillo is tree skiing!

The Portillo ski resort is reasonably compact with only 500 hectares of ski terrain. In-bounds there is an even spread of terrain to suit all levels, but for each ability level there’s not much variety. For advanced and expert riders there is an array of backcountry areas that can be accessed, although the extent of out-of-bounds areas (and in-bounds runs) that can be accessed is dependent upon the conditions. Runs may be closed due to avalanche risk. So sometimes Portillo feels like it’s a huge ski resort and at other times it feels rather small. Portillo is really about quality not quantity.

The treeless terrain at Portillo is divided into two halves that are separated by the hotel. It’s really easy to orient yourself to the ski area because the hotel acts as a major landmark. It’s often good to start on the Juncalillo side in the morning where the sun warms Roca Jack and other runs. The west facing slopes on the Plateau side are better in the afternoon after the crunchy snow has softened.

There is greater bias towards skiers at Portillo. Snowboarding is definitely permitted; it’s just that the terrain isn’t ideal for boarders, particularly for advanced and expert riders. There are various flat spots near the hotel, and a lot of traversing is required on the black and double black runs to get to the freshies. Riding a va et vient lift and keeping the disc between the legs is also a little tricky on a snowboard, but it’s a great spectator sport!


Portillo Snow and Weather Conditions

Portillo typically has short intense storms followed by blue sky days, with not many days finding a compromise in weather. The Portillo ski resort prides themself on the statistic of an 80% chance of a sunny day. This is great for fair weather skiers and for getting a goggle tan (or full body tan!). You’d think that at such high altitude the temperatures would always be cool, but sometimes Portillo has hot spells during winter where you can sunbake by the pool!

Like elsewhere in South America, the Portillo snow conditions can be very inconsistent. Sometimes Portillo suffers from melt-freeze issues whilst at other times the resort has deep dry powder. To supplement the annual snowfall of 7.4 metres, Portillo has snowmaking on a few of the groomed runs.

Avalanche risk is ever present because of the incredibly steep rocky peaks that sit above the Portillo ski area. Blasting is difficult in many of these areas due to the rocks, and whilst the patrollers can use cannons to control some areas, in others all they can do is monitor the situation and close runs as necessary. La Traversia area, Primavera and Lake Runs are examples of uncontrolled areas. The closing of runs is obviously necessary, but it can be very frustratingly limiting for advanced and expert skiers.


Ski Portillo Chile for the Beginner

The beginners’ areas are conveniently located next to Hotel Portillo. For complete novices the place to be is the magic carpet adjacent to the Ski Box kiosk. The next step is a small slope on the other side of the hotel.

The green rated areas are pretty small but some of the Intermedio (blue/green) runs are not too difficult. The Canarios runs and those off the Los Lomas chair are gentle and form the next progression for beginners.


Portillo Ski Terrain: Intermediates

There is not huge variety for intermediate riders at Portillo, but the groomers are of high quality and there is good progression from easy blues to a dark blue run. Juncalillo is a long run that passes over a couple of bridges over the road and has exciting rollers. Amateurs can have a go at attempting to smash the 200 kilometre per hour speed barrier, or you can leave it to the international racers to whizz down this run.

Confident intermediates can enjoy a fang on an even better slope, the dark blue Plateau run that feeds into Las Lomas. This is an awesome fall line steep groomer and often timed race gates are set up for the public to use. If you want your ego quashed, compare your times to the Austrian ski team!


For the Family/Kids

The Portillo ski terrain set up is ideal to be able to keep an eye on the kids. The compactness of the ski area means the kids are never too far away, and the beginners’ areas are within a stone’s throw of the hotel or the Ski Box kiosk.


Parks & Pipes

There is no terrain park or pipe at Portillo. The only fun for terrain park junkies is around the rocks under the Plateau chair or with self-built kickers. Luckily they’ve got an orthopaedic expert on hand at the hotel for when you break something!


Portillo Ski and Snowboard Terrain - Advanced

All the runs at Portillo ski resort serviced by the va et vients are suitable for advanced riders. The pistes often form small moguls quickly, and if the melt-freeze cycle is underway, some of these runs are not particularly enjoyable until the sun has warmed the slopes. However when the powder is in good condition these runs can be legendary, with Roca Jack the common favourite.

The Garganta run is a good one in the afternoon, especially after a few beers at Tio Bob’s. At the top is a wide chute (the throat) that is commonly bumped up. This opens up into a wide bowl and the long run suits the show-ponies who love to put on a display to those sitting on El Plateau lift. To really impress the audience, there are various rocks near the bottom of the run for hucking off.

The Lake Run next door is also good and the new egress track means that the lake doesn’t need to be frozen to get back to the main part of the hotel. However the track is not for the faint of heart because there’s only a little fence (knee high in places depending on how long your legs are and the snow depth!) that separates you from the cliffs below.

Another good run if the snow isn’t sun-baked is the Cancha del Tren which starts from the old railway tunnel. It is accessed from a traverse from the Condor lift. You’ll need to take the skis or board off a couple of times to cross the road.


Expert Skiing Portillo

The steeps and chutes of Portillo Chile are the major drawcard for many expert skiers. Freshies last at least a day, although not in the really obvious areas.

There are various in-bounds chutes to the left of Garganta. The degree of difficulty varies from very tricky to suicidal depending upon how much snow is covering the rocks. Otherwise most of the expert terrain is accessed via tough high traverses from the va et vients, so these are not always popular with snowboarders. From Roca Jack the Traversia leads to chutes of varying widths. You could try to reach speeds of 200km/hour on the Kilometro Lanzado, but further across, El Estadio is even better.

From the sling shot lifts there are also multiple options if you hike up or traverse out-of-bounds. It’s possible to get a guiding service from the ski school if you don’t want to do your own backcountry experimentation. Many of the runs go down to the lake and the feasibility of egress can be dependent upon the lake being frozen. Otherwise don’t end up in the lake!

Ski lifts & pass


Ski Portillo Chile: Lifts

Famous all round the world, Portillo's 34 runs are the favorite of advanced and expert skiers, who have the 70 and the 20% of the resort surface available, respectively. For those who have some experience, El Conejo, Las Lomas, Canarios and Bajada del Tren are runs which offer enough doses of adrenaline.

Beginners, who have 10% of the area available, may make their first steps at El Puma, El Corralito and La Princesa. These runs are upkept daily with machines, unlike the highest difficulty runs, which are kept naturally.

LIFTS (12)
Double Chairlifts2
Triple Chairlifts1
Quad Chairlifts1
Teleski poma5
Vat et vient2

Juncalillo offers the longest tour (3.2 km), chosen by the United States and Austria teams, among others. And Plateau is the most famous, where Jean Claude Killy won his first gold medal.

Exclusive for connoisseurs: the steep Roca Jack slope, which is accessed by a special lift, the famous Cóndor, the upper El Plateau and Garganta, among others. A special mention for Kilómetro Lanzado, base of speed test and ski records.

In order to practice snowboarding, Portillo offers fresh powder, narrow and sheer passes, rolled flat runs and large off-piste areas. The Roca Jack and Cóndor are the access doors to this ski modality, provided that the weather allows so and there are no risks of avalanche on the day chosen. Heli-ski and touring, guided by instructors, may also be practiced in all categories.

Portillo receives short but intense snowfalls, which cumulate a 7-meter-snow average and its highest ski point is located at 3,322 meters over sea level. If the weather conditions are good, the resort has a system to produce artificial snow and guarantee the practice of sports during the whole season.


Ski pass

High SeasonLow season
Day adult (18-64 years)$ 44.000$ 32.000
Day Minor (5-11 years)$ 28.000$ 22.000
Day senior (65 + years)$15.000$ 13.000
Day child (up to 4 years)$ 9.500$ 7.500
Day young (12-17 years)$ 33.000$25.000
Day students (18-24 years) *$ 34.500$26.000
Ticket menuHigh SeasonLow season
Adult day + menu$ 54.100$ 42.100
Low day + menu$ 38.100$ 32.100
Young day + menu$ 43.100$ 350100
Senior day + menu$ 25.100$ 23.100
Season Ticket
Adult$ 730.000
Lower$ 450.000
Senior$ 200.000
Child (up to 4 years)$ 140.000

Activities & Things to do

Portillo Activities

The main attraction at the Portillo ski resort is the skiing and snowboarding, but the hotel has other things to do during après ski, or in the event of a storm that closes the lifts.

The hotel has a daily program of activities that are generally in the late afternoon and evening. Examples of Portillo activities include card games, aerobics and yoga classes, wine tasting, children’s games, torch light parades, and special events such as fashion shows. They also have a timetable of DVDs in the cinema. Get there early to score a comfie beanbag.


Portillo Heli Skiing

Portillo heli skiing or heli-boarding will definitely be the highlight of your trip. Depending upon conditions, the runs can vary from 700 metres to 1,200 metres of vertical powder bliss. Unlike expensive multi-day heliski operators in Chile, Portillo has the major advantage of providing the flexibility to ski or board as much as your wallet or thighs will allow. The flight alone in the Andes is worth the cost, but the investment includes the joy of riding down all the virgin snow.

Portillo heli skiing is popular and can be difficult to get into, so register your interest as soon as you arrive at Portillo.


Other Ski Activities

Cross country skiing is generally not possible at Portillo unless the lake is frozen.

The Ski Arpa snowcat skiing operation is not too far from Portillo (close to Los Andes). You’re not likely to score chest deep powder (as you sometimes do with Canada cat skiing), but it’s a very magical experience and lots of fun! You can add a cat skiing tour onto the end of your Portillo ski week. This Arpa cat skiing extension tourincludes one night accommodation, one day cat skiing, and ground transportation.


Leisure Activities

During après many people hang out in the lounge area playing on their computers or playing card games. A leisurely alternative is snowshoeing. Snowshoes can be rented at the ski and snowboard rental shop.


Relaxation

The outdoor swimming pool is the centre of rest and relaxation (and apres partying) at Portillo. On sunny days some guests lounge beside the pool working on their impressive tans. Later in the afternoon the heated swimming pool and jacuzzis become a very social place to relax and soak the tired muscles.

The hotel also offers hairdressing and spa services such as massages.


Other Portillo Activities

In the basement there is a large gymnasium with a basketball court, indoor rock climbing wall, foosball, ping pong and billiard tables. The area is huge so there’s plenty of space to use up any excess energy if it’s not possible to go skiing.

Facilities & Services

Portillo Chile has high quality resort services and facilities, most of which are located in Hotel Portillo. In addition to the standard amenities such as ski rentals, child care, ski school and lockers, they also have other special touches to make the ski vacation experience a bit easier.

The communication at Portillo Hotel is exceptional, and verbal communiqué is supplemented with other mechanisms. One example is a large electronic board near the ski locker area that outlines the current weather conditions and the forecast, as well as the status of the runs and lifts.

General service is also of a high standard and the staff to guest ratio is close to 1:1.


Portillo Ski and Boot Storage

Another highlight of Portillo Chile is the ski, snowboard and boot storage service for overnight guests. You only have to walk a few metres with your equipment before you’re on the snow to click in – absolute luxury! Enrique, one of the boot valet men, has the most amazing memory. Even though there are hundreds of guests, he remembers your face and which boots are yours from the first day. His memory combined with a cheeky grin warrant a huge tip. And considering some of the bad smells he must have to put up with, give him a ginormous tip!

For day trippers there is also a ski and boot storage area outside the hotel.


Eating On Mountain

Portillo Hotel and Octagon Lodge guests have meals in the formal hotel dining room, whilst Inca Backpacker guests have lunch in the cafeteria on the lobby level of the hotel. When purchasing a lift ticket, day trippers can pay for a lunch ticket for the cafeteria.

There are a couple of other dining options on-mountain at Portillo ski resort. Tio Bob’s is perched up high in the ski area near the top of the Plateau lift. From the deck of the restaurant, the views across Inca Laguna and the surrounding Andes are absolutely spectacular. The beers and food are great, but they pale into insignificance in the presence of such vistas.

The Ski Box kiosk is not far from the hotel. It’s located adjacent to the magic carpet and learners area, so it’s a great place to watch the kids or have a chuckle at wet-bottomed adults learning to snowboard. The kiosk sells soft drinks, beers, and a few snacks.


Facilities for Children

Portillo is very family oriented and is the best ski resort in South America for children who don’t speak fluent Spanish.

Childcare facilities are located on the reception level of the hotel. The crèche is open daily from 9am to 8pm. It doesn’t really need to be open any later as kids are welcome at the first dinner sitting. There is a fee for child care for ages 0-3. Children over 3 are free of charge for hotel guests. A private nanny service is also available.

In addition to Kids Camp ski school for kids, the hotel runs various programs for children such as treasure hunts, games and baking classes. In the gymnasium there is also a games area with table tennis, billiards and a rock climbing wall.

Parents should keep an eye out for the Kid’s Ski Free Weeks at Portillo as they offer great value for money, and the little ones are guaranteed to make lots of new friends.


Portillo Ski and Snowboard School

The Portillo ski school has a good international reputation with a history of very high profile ski school directors. The school has high quality instructors who are multi-lingual so there are no problems booking a group lesson in English.

Kids Camp is ski and snowboard tuition for children aged 4-6 and it operates twice daily (except Saturdays). Classes are only for 1.5 hours, so parents wanting some child-free time will need to combine ski school with child care. Children ages 7 and above can join in with the regular group and private lesson formats.


Portillo Ski Rentals and Snowboard Rental

The Portillo ski and snowboard rental department is the best of the Chile ski resorts. In addition to standard ski and board sets, they also have some powder skis and performance gear. Prices are comparable with those at “middle of the road” US ski resorts, and hotel guests can charge rental costs to their hotel bill so that it doesn’t attract the Value Added Tax (19%).

The Portillo rental shop also has a high quality tune and repair workshop.


Banking and Internet Facilities

Portillo now has an ATM located next to reception, although you won’t need that much cash whilst staying at Portillo because drinks, equipment rental, and shopping can be charged to your room and paid by credit card. A small amount of cash is required for incidentals at any of the non-hotel restaurants and for tips. For the latter, the staff will gladly accept US dollars if you don’t have pesos.

At the reception there is a cambio (money exchange) where they exchange US bills and traveller’s checks, although the rates aren’t fantastic.

The hotel has wireless internet access in the lounge and throughout the rooms. As to be expected, it’s a little slow during peak times. There is also a library that has computers and internet access for a small charge.

Restaurants & Nightlife

In line with South American culture, dinner at Portillo is late, the nightlife can be festive and there’s no pressure to get up early in the morning – unless of course it’s a powder day.


Portillo Dining

The guests of Hotel Portillo and Octagon Lodge have four meals a day (breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner) in the dining room included in the full board package.

The décor of the dining room is dominated by the leather panelled walls that give the feel of historic elegance, and the views across the lake and the ski area are stunning.

The Portillo dining room is generally abuzz with conversation and is a major social centre of the hotel. The tables come in a variety of configurations so you can form groups (after consultation with Quan, the head honcho of the dining room) or if you want to have a romantic dinner for two that’s also fine.

Lunch and dinner are 3-course affairs with set menus that change daily. There are a few choices for each course, and in the unlikely event that these choices don’t take your fancy, they also have a few simple options such as cheeseburgers available. Alcoholic beverages are an extra charge and they have a huge wine list including a small selection of vina de copa.

At dinner time there are two sittings. The first sitting is generally reserved for families, as the kids not used to staying up late are already yawning. The second sitting is at 9:45pm which can be a killer if you’re used to eating much earlier, or you normally ski hard and go to bed early. Dinner is an amazing production, especially at the cross-over time between sittings. There is a flurry of red and white uniforms as the waiters go pronto pronto around the dining room. It’s not a relaxed environment in which to dine, but you get used to the fast pace of the organised chaos.

There is supposedly a dress code for dinner of trousers and collared shirts for men, but it’s commonly not adhered to. Some gringoes dress in jeans, t-shirts, or singlets, and some are even cheeky enough to wear shorts, thongs and a beanie to the dinner table. Sacrilege!

For guests of the Inca Lodge, four meals a day are served in the self-service cafeteria. The food is good; it’s just simpler than the fare in the dining room. Dinner here also starts at 8:30pm.

The bar at Portillo Hotel also serves meals in case you’re too hungry to wait for your dinner sitting.

The Posada Restaurant is a few minutes walk from the hotel over the road from the entrance to the Portillo ski resort. It’s a very economical dinner choice for day trippers or those that want an alternative to the dining room.

The hotel usually organises a dinner at Tio Bob’s on Friday nights. This is normally a very big party occasion, so sign up early to get a spot. They take dinner guests up to the restaurant via the combination of the chair lift and a snowcat, and thankfully you don’t have to ski down after dinner (and mucho drinks) considering it’s a double black diamond run to get down!


Portillo Nightlife

The degree of Portillo nightlife and party action varies depending on the crowd there at the time. In family weeks the nightlife can be pretty mellow, whilst during friends week it can go off!

Tio Bob’s is an incredibly picturesque spot to perch for après drinks, although it’s only open until 4:30pm so après can’t get too festive.

From there guests usually head to afternoon tea, the pool, or the Portillo bar although the bar doesn’t really fire up until about 7:30pm when guests arrive for pre-dinner drinks. The Portillo bar has a good range of beers, Chilean wines and a very lovely version of the pisco sour. Every round of drinks arrives with snacks which we devoured due to pre-dinner hunger pangs!

The bar has live music that can be incredibly entertaining. Earlier in the week the entertainment might be a fraction dodgy, but as the week progresses the quality of the bands improves and the place absolutely rocks.

The discotheque down in the basement is open for drinks from après time, but the DJ doesn’t start until about 11:30pm. There is plenty of seating around the dance floor which is great for watching the dance moves after too many pisco sours.

The Posada Restaurant also doubles as a bar, and the parties and nightlife here can be very vibrant with a young crowd.

Shopping

Hotel Portillo has a shop with lots of Portillo souvenirs, a small range of ski gear, and some basic sundries.


Portillo Ski Shop

The Portillo shop sells a range of inner wear and mid-layers including quality thermals and polar fleeces. They also sell a moderate range of ski and snowboard accessories such as socks, helmets, goggles and beanies.

The shop also sells a small range of outerwear such as ski jackets, shell jackets and ski pants. The quality and prices range from basic up to very fancy high end ski clothing.

Hardwear is limited to only a few pairs of skis and various snowboard boots.

Prices for ski equipment, clothing and accessories are somewhat expensive relative to North America.


Souvenir Shopping at Portillo

The shop sells an array of clothing souvenirs so you can boast about your visit to Portillo Chile. They have caps, adult t-shirts galore, and lots of hoodies. There are also lots of kids clothing souvenirs including cute tees and hoodies.

Lots of other Portillo souvenirs are available such as mouse pads, mugs, CD cases, baby bibs, handicrafts and jewellery pieces. They also sell St Bernard dog soft-toys, the mascot of Portillo. The real St Bernard dogs are commonly found dozing out in the sun near the hotel, and sometimes they even hang out in the discotheque. Party dogs!


General Shopping

The shop has a little bit of general clothing for sale, and considering that the hotel is often so hot inside, you might need to purchase a t-shirt if you haven’t packed one. They also sell a few pairs of walking and fashion boots.

A few toiletries and sundries are sold in the shop. Thankfully they sell sunscreen as this is definitely required for the sunny Portillo conditions. And in case the hang-over from excess pisco sours is getting to you, they sell paracetamol.

Food groceries or alcohol shopping is not available at Portillo.

And don’t forget to charge any goods to your room to avoid the tax.

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