By Charlie Holland
Located in the picturesque Southern Andes of Chile, this ski resort caters for Latin Americans and also for those from further afield. It is one of the biggest ski resorts in South America and boasts the longest ski slope in the whole continent; Las Tres Marias is 13km in length. Easy to get to and a compact, family-friendly resort, Termas de Chillán offers excellent Nordic and Alpine skiing, as well as a host of other snow-orientated activities. As it is built on the slopes of the Chillan volcano, it has a unique character that sets it apart from many other resorts. Firstly, there are several hot springs dotted around the area, which create great spa facilities for après-ski relaxation. Secondly, the history of Chillán, with its volcanic eruptions and lava flow, has added to the physical landscape in the form of natural bowl and pipe formations. These have created a challenge set by Mother Nature herself and add a wild, vibrant element to this expertly managed snowsports location.
Transport to the resort can be either by train from the capital, Santiago or by air, to Carriel Sur International Airport, Concepción, then a bus connection. A rental car from Las Trancas is also a good way to access the resort. The Pan American highway runs from Santiago to the area and this provides excellent road links to the region. On arrival at the resort it will be clear to see why it has won national awards for the quality of its snow and also the dining facilities it offers; this adds to its reputation as the best ski resort in Chile and South America respectively. The area is ideal for group ski holidays as theres a varied selection of self catering accommodation and nightlife entertainment.
The resort itself is large, with 10,000 hectares of terrain and it has a lift capacity of 6,500 skiers/boarders per hour. The Alpine skiing facilities are of a high standard, with 28 groomed runs of mixed ability skiing. Nordic skiing is also high on the agenda here, with a scenic trail weaving through the frosty forests around the volcano. Snowboarders have access to their own snowboard park, complete with professional jumps, half and quarter pipes and a fun box.
Young visitors to Termas de Chillán enjoy their own snowpark and fun ski-related activities, to ensure that their stay is one that will encourage a life-long love of snowsports. There are seldom any crowds in this resort and this makes it relaxing for families and also professionals. The accommodation at the resort is top quality and includes a five-star hotel, The Gran Hotel Termas de Chillán. This has a hot, outdoor spring pool and a day spa and fitness centre, so guests can stay healthy on and off the slopes. For more cosmopolitan entertainment a casino and nightclub provide a change of scene in the evenings. Prices at this hotel start from USD $1,870, based on 2 guests sharing, taking a 7 day, full board holiday; this includes a beginner’s lift pass. Ski-in and ski-out accommodation is the usual standard in the small resort village and there are options to suit every type of budget.
There is a ski school located at The Gran Hotel, which provides lessons for guests there and these are generally suited to beginners. More advanced skiers will enjoy the challenges of the higher slopes and the 13 black pistes which make up nearly half of the runs. All in all, the resort is great for all levels and ages and offers luxury, as well as more reasonably priced accommodation. The spa facilities in the resort are enhanced by the thermal springs and there are breathtaking views of the Andes from many vantage points. This is a stylish and unique resort that showcases the natural beauty of the Southern Chilean Andes.