Skiing in South America at Valle Nevado - My Family Travels

North American families have historically overlooked skiing in South America, as the ski season in countries like Chile begins when beach vacations tend to be top of mind.

Now, however, more eyes are looking South in summer as the region has gotten more press. One of the most interesting mountains at the moment is Valle Nevado, which reopens June 17, 2022 after nearly two years of closure due to the pandemic.

Woman enjoying the slopeside views from ski-in ski-out Hotel Valle Nevado in Chile. Photo c. Valle Nevado
Enjoying the slopeside views from ski-in ski-out Hotel Valle Nevado in Chile. Photo c. Valle Nevado

In 2018, Valle Nevado became the first resort in South America to join the Ikon Pass issued by the Alterra Mountain Company. The resort is also part of the Mountain Collective, whose pass includes two days of lift tickets at Valle Nevado, no blackout dates, or 15% off hotel packages (cannot be combined with any other offer). 

Why does Valle Nevado Attracts Foreigners? Reverse Seasonality!

A few thousand miles south of the Northern Hemisphere, June marks the beginning of the ski season at most South American resorts. The natural phenomenon of reverse seasonality which allows elite athletes to train year-round is available to all snow sports fans.

Valle Nevado is one of the top places to ski in the heart of the Andes. The deluxe winter resort is relatively convenient, too, because it’s just 37 miles from Chile’s capital airport.

Family Discounts Make Skiing in South America Affordable

Thanks to its safe base village, Valle Nevado allows parents with kids to have run of the resort. That makes for a very relaxing vacation. June and September are the usual value seasons. Ask about the discounted kids rates and how families can save on the 19% IVA (VAT) tax by charging expenses to their guest room.

Note that passholders of the premium IKON Pass can enjoy skiing in South American free of charge for any seven days of the season. Lower level passes get up to five days at the resort outside July blackout dates (July 2, 2022 – Jul 17, 2022 and July 1, 2023 – July 16, 2023.)

Because Valle Nevado’s hotel packages include lift tickets, IKON Pass guests receive a 10% discount on the total package price. That IKON Pass discount can be used in combination with any other promotional offer or discount. All packages include use of all facilities, such as the outdoor heated pool, children’s daycare, Games Room, movie theater, fitness center, ski lockers and planned activities.

March Madness Skiing in South America Deal

Modern base village of Valle Nevado ski resort in Chile.
Several contemporary hotels and lodges cluster around the ski resort base village of Valle Nevado. Photo c. Valle Nevado

Plus, throughout March and April, Valle Nevado is offering hotel package discounts for 20% to 40% off for bookings during select weeks. Save the most on packages that include hotel, half board and tickets.

Do look into the new Ikon Travel service, a one-stop site for booking ski packages, flights and ground transportation which may save you money on skiing in South America.

Getting to Valle Nevado in Chile

While South America is certainly further than most families are used to traveling to ski, Chile is amongst the easiest destinations to get to. There are non-stop flights from Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York to Santiago, Chile’s capital.

Valle Nevado is only a 90-minute drive from Santiago airport and can be done for less than $100 in an Uber. Families, however, prefer the airport or Santiago hotel ground transfer arranged through Valle Nevado or through your travel agent. And posh families may opt for the helicopter transport which seats up to four people.

While Argentina offers world-class skiing, almost all of the big Argentinian mounts require a flight from Buenos Aires. (Read our review of Bariloche and top South American ski resorts.)

Skiing in South America at Valle Nevado Mountain

The mountain, which stands at 10,000 feet, is said to cover 7,000 acres, which makes it one of the largest ski areas in South America. Conditions are well maintained thanks to a vertical drop of 2,658′ and an average snowfall of 240″. The terrain is especially good for families, with many cruisers suitable for all levels.

For children who want to learn to snowboard, Valle Nevado is the only resort in Chile that offers Burton’s Learn to Ride program. More than 150 certified ski pro’s work from the modern ski and snowboard school, a facility that is especially convenient to Magic Carpet lifts for beginners. The groomed “snow garden” for younger kids ages 4-11 provides a winter playground for lessons. (Note that there is free daycare for kids ages 3 to 7-years old during ski hours.

For more advanced skiers, the resort’s back bowl offers more challenging terrain. The owners have invested a lot in making for an enjoyable ski day, including building Chile’s first ski gondola. There is also a new lift that connects Valle Nevado to La Parva and El Colorado enabling skiers to access more than 7,000 acres of terrain.

Hotels in the Valle Nevado Base Village

King bed in hotel suite with balcony overlooking the ski slopes at Valle Nevado, Chile
Hotel Valle Nevado has family suites with balconies overlooking the slopes at Valle Nevado Resort in Chile. Photo c. Valle Nevado.

Valle Nevado has a thriving base village with several options for lodging. The three hotels are contemporary resorts with varying degrees of luxury in terms of guest rooms and facilities. Laundry rooms, WiFi access, hot tubs, saunas, bars and restaurants are among the facilities.

The plush Hotel Valle Nevado is the most deluxe, and all 47 rooms and the six suites have large mountain-view terraces. Packages include use of the heated pool, entertainment, half board meals daily, a lift ticket, ski storage, WiFi and a children’s play area for ages 7 and older.

The larger Hotel Puerta del Sol is considered four-star and the most family-friendly. It’s where I stayed, and it’s ideal for families with apartment-like units and connecting rooms. Puerta del Sol has 124 rooms sleeping two to four guests, some suites, as well as a heated, open-air swimming pool.

At the casual, hostel-style and cost-efficient Hotel Tres Puntas — only about 200 feet from the slopes — all 88 rooms have three or four beds and village views. At all, children ages 4 and under stay free when sharing an adult’s room. There are furnished apartments to let in the town, while the last two mentioned hotels often have the best family deals.

Valle Nevado Rocks the Après Scene

The ski-in ski-out Hotel Valle Nevado in Chile is the most deluxe hotel in the base village. Photo c. Valle Nevado
The ski-in ski-out Hotel Valle Nevado in Chile is the most deluxe hotel in the base village. Photo c. Valle Nevado

Sample the Chilean and international cuisine at the half a dozen restaurants in the base village.

There is a great après-ski scene that starts each afternoon at Valle Nevado’s famous hot tub (which overlooks the mountain) and goes until the wee hours at the local bars and night clubs.

Tempted to try skiing in South America this summer? I’ll see you on the slopes.

Ron Bozman, part of the Family Travel Forum family, has enjoyed sampling and covering ski resorts in both hemispheres.

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