In the Andes
Après-ski in Chile: Partying, pampering and passing time
The reputation of Chile's ski slopes is on the up and up, and its premier ski resorts are coming of age with a spectacular array of après-ski options. Here’s our guide.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
The Termas de Chillán resort in Central Chile. (Photo: Turismo Chile)
When you’re not on the slopes, there are plenty of things to see and do at Chile's ski resorts. From mountain treks and adventures to fine food and massages, there is something for everybody. And when the day is over, the range of accommodation, from luxury hotels to comfy apartments, is impressive.
Here we profile some of Chile's top Andean destinations.
Just 29 miles (46 km) east of Santiago this modern ski resort is modeled on Europe's finest and is a favorite with international visitors. The popular destination boasts the biggest collection of bars and pubs in Chile's mountains, a highlight being the recently opened Bar Valle Nevado which combines fine wines with a warm atmosphere. After a long day on the slopes, Bar Valle Lounge is also a good option with an impressive selection of cocktails, an incredible terrace and a cosey fireplace that keeps visitors coming back for more. The lively Bar Puerta de Sol has a good range of live music and is well known for its Japanese food but if you want to hit the dance floor, Pub Tres Puntas is your best bet.
Guests at Valle Nevado are also spoiled for choice when it comes to eating. Some of the standouts are the a la carte menu at Sur, the French cuisine on offer at La Fourchette restaurant, and the international family buffet at Mirador del Plomo. While you're enjoying the breathtaking views over a relaxing meal you can let the kids burn off some steam at Valle Nevado's playground where you will find swings, slides and rope games.
Open all year round, the Valle Nevado store has a wide range of souvenirs and all the essential ski wear and equipment. The resort's shopping Boulevard is also first class with plenty of outlets from the world's best ski brands including North Face, Burton, Columbia, Top Ski, Three Monkey Eye Wear, Billabong and Havanna.
Valle Nevado has a choice of three comfortable hotels and four serviced apartment complexes with all sorts of amenities, including a heated pool, a movie theater, a children's day care service, a games area and a fitness center. While you're staying at Valle Nevado, it's also worth checking out the spectacular nightly torchlight parade, led by the resort's ski instructors.
Farellones resort is only 45 minutes from Chile's capital city and is home to the famous Posada de Farellones Hotel. Opened in 1936, this Swiss-inspired wood and stone lodge is one of the oldest in the region. Other noteworthy accommodation options include the La Cornisa Hotel, which has earned a strong reputation for its fusion cooking and high-quality Chilean wine collection, the Lodge Mirador, with its stunning views over the El Embudo ski runs, and the Power Lodge, which is a great place for relaxing. Farellones also has a broad range of apartments that can be rented out for a weekend getaway or the entire season.
A standout dining experience at Farellones is the lofty Olimpico restaurant which offers everything from sandwiches and salads to exotic seafood and tapas dishes. Set almost two miles above sea level, it provides the most elevated dining experience in Chile. For an international food experience, the El Alambique restaurant has a menu that draws inspiration from all corners of the globe and a relaxing bar with a good mix of beverages. The playful Montañés restaurant is a great dining destination for families with children.
Also worth exploring is Farellones' high altitude trail that is made up of a series of suspension bridges and zip lines high up in the clouds. The adventure course is perfect for snow trekking, mountaineering, snowboarding and photography.
Tucked away in the mountains bordering Santiago, La Parva ski resort includes a cozy mountain village with numerous private condominiums and homes. Popular with families, this resort has a nice selection of friendly dining locations including the breezy Café Olímpico and the French-inspired Saint Tropez Restaurant. For the young and the young at heart, the best places to head when the sun goes down are La Marmita de Pericles which has a nightly happy hour, El Piquén, with its warm chimney, or La Huella, which has a toasty fireplace.
Accommodation options at La Parva are more limited than most of Chile's ski destinations. The resort's flagship accommodation offering is a series of luxury private apartments which are equipped with all the latest appliances and modern conveniences. Guests can also stay at the Nueva Parva condominium which has 38 three-star apartments that house up to eight people. Each apartment has an ample living room, a fully equipped open plan kitchen and easy access to the shared heated pool.
A major attraction at La Parva is heli-skiing, where guests are flown by helicopter to remote peaks that are inaccessible by conventional ski lifts. La Parva offers heli-skiing programs to all levels of skiers in a rugged landscape that resembles the Himalayas.
Located high up in the Andes close to the Argentinian border, Portillo is a small resort that is loaded with extras, including an entire underground floor devoted to fun and relaxation. It includes a fitness centre, yoga room, disco, and fully equipped games room. On the first floor, you can find a movie theater, a day care center for children and a travel agency. The resort also has a popular sauna – book in advance to be sure you can find space. The highlight of Portillo is the heated outdoor pool and hot tub where you can relax while taking in the beautiful Andean sunsets.
Guests who want to be pampered can visit the on-site hair and beauty salon which provides hair styling, manicures and pedicures, while those with families can take full advantage of the resort’s spacious living area. Portillo also has a computer room with full internet access and every Sunday evening, the hotel hosts a welcome cocktail event to help new guests meet one another.
Termas de Chillán
There are plenty of opportunities to relax and kick back at the Termas de Chillán resort in central Chile. As well as a first class spa, it boasts a number of outdoor and indoor jacuzzis, massage rooms and a sauna. The resort also offers reiki and thermotherapy sessions.
The food on offer at Termas de Chillán is another impressive feature. If it's meat or traditional Chilean meals you're after, the place to go is Oliva's Restaurante, while the nearby Chil'in Restaurante mixes French cuisine with hearty pizzas and empanadas.
But it's not just about kicking back. There are plenty of outdoor activities here as well, that take advantage of the resort's beautiful scenery. As well as conventional mountain treks, Termas de Chillán offers dog-sledding tours through the soaring Andean peaks.