Lonely Planet review
About 12km from Farellones is Valle Nevado . Modeled on European setups, Valle Nevado boasts almost 3000 hectares of skiable domain – the largest in South America. It's also the best-maintained of Santiago's resorts and has the most challenging runs. A variety of beginner runs make it good for kids, too. Thirteen chairlifts and surface lifts take you to the 27 pistes' high-altitude start points, which range from 2860m to 3670m. At the time of writing, construction on an eight-person gondola – the first of its kind in Chile – was underway. Adrenaline levels also run high here: there's a snow park, good off-piste action and heli-skiing.
In summer, the Mirador chairlift (round-trip ticket CH$10,000), transporting hikers and picnic-toting families to a 3300m peak, is open daily. Check the website for more on horseback riding excursions, rock climbing, guided trekking, children's activities and lunch with panoramic views at the mountaintop restaurant.
Valle Nevado's three hotels are expensive, yet the quality of both accommodations and service can be hit or miss. Rates at all include a ski pass and half-board. During July, only weeklong stays are available; for more flexibility, come in June, August or September.
You can ski right onto your balcony at Hotel Valle Nevado The best-appointed option, it has a heated outdoor pool, spa, and piano bar with a huge open fire. Dinner at the hotel's Fourchette D'or restaurant goes some way to offsetting the rates. The 'budget' option skimps on luxury but not on prices: at Hotel Tres Puntas there's a mix of regular and dorm-style rooms, all of which are cramped but functional. Alternatively, the resort offers pleasant condo-style apartments;lift tickets and meals are not included in the room price.
The most distinguished of the resort's six restaurants is La Fourchette D'or . For a quick sandwich or snack, try the fast-food joint adjacent to the ski area at Hotel Puerta del Sol. Note that the resorts don't have supermarkets – you'll want to stock up on groceries and supplies before leaving Santiago.