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Skiing in Summer in Chile
An old-world resort where you can beat the crowds, and the heat.
If you see a lift line in Portillo, take a picture. Otherwise, nobody will believe you. The slopes are largely the domain of the resort's 450 guests, supplemented by a smattering of local day skiers and perhaps a few Chilean army mountain troops engaged in "training" that looks suspiciously like R&R. You may also encounter—on the slopes or horsing around on the sundeck—members of the various national ski teams who actually do train at Portillo, or perhaps a ski-film star preparing to jump cliffs for the cameras. You probably shouldn't attempt that yourself, though experts interested in exploring beyond the resort's defined boundaries may hire an experienced guide, and anyone looking to brush up on technique will find a top-notch multilingual ski school.
Portillo's underpopulated slopes have a lot to do with the resort's uncommonly relaxed atmosphere, which may require an adjustment for many American skiers, who are notorious for their harried and often competitive pursuit of maximum mountain plunder. Why rush in the morning? Why not take a break to bask in the sun? Why not spend an hour (or three) watching condors circle as you enjoy a lunch of grilled meats and chilled wine at on-mountain eatery Tio Bob's? Take a dip in the outdoor pool, soak in one of the pond-size hot tubs, grab a nap, get a massage, read a book. The snow isn't going anywhere, you're not going anywhere-and Portillo isn't changing anytime soon.
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Make It Happen!
Budget at least $700 for the round-trip, eight-and-a-half hour flight between Miami and Santiago, Chile. From there, shuttles for the two-hour drive to Portillo run $120 round trip (800/829-5325).
WHEN TO GO
The best ski conditions are in July and August.
WHAT TO PACK
Other than cold-weather gear, smart-casual wear will suffice for evening. If you don't BYO, ski rentals run about $240 per week.
Seven-night packages at the Octagon Lodge, including lodging, all meals, and skiing, run $1,100 per person