Valle Nevado is the ski resort to go to when you want to have it all – loads of varied terrain, shops, a spa, bars, 7 restaurants, hotels and condos, heliskiing, snowpark, and so on. It is a French-designed resort that straddles an isolated steep ridge high in the Andes, at the end of a narrow road with more than 40 hairpin turns (legend says that the road construction company was paid by the kilometer, and so they squeezed as many turns in as possible). You hear Valle boast a lot about its 60kms distance from Santiago, but after a major storm (especially on a weekend) it is not unusual to take 3 hours to get here due to accidents and people pulling over to put on / take off chains.
Valle is part of the Three Valleys region – if you spend a little extra cash you can buy an interconnect ticket and ski La Parva and El Colorado too, but I only recommend you do this if you’re staying here for several days. Valle is one of the largest ski resorts in South America and the terrain is just phenomenal, so day skiers are more than content to stay within Valle’s boundaries. Because of its altitude, the powder here is deep and dry, and powder lasts for days, not hours, because most Chileans stick to groomed runs. Some of my best powder days ever have been here at Valle Nevado.
In all the years I’ve snowboarded at this resort I’ve found that weekends can be extremely busy on sunny days, but then after lunch you look around and realize there’s no one on the slopes and hardly a single person in the chairlift line. But even on a packed day the wait in line is no more than 5 minutes. Because it’s a self-contained resort, on weekdays the slopes are practically empty given the resort’s size and distribution of skiers, who are pretty much just guests lodging in their hotels.
Valle is the most snowboard-friendly resort in Chile -- there is a snowpark and a half-pipe, they host the FIS Snowboard World Cup, and the backcountry terrain such as Valle de la Inca offers long rides through powder bowls and narrow canyons that act like a natural half-pipe.
If you’re wondering about lodging, the cheapest is Tres Puntas, which is much higher quality than Portillo's cheap option, but always book the double room because quads are bunks -- unless that appeals to you. The Puerta del Sol is more family-oriented, and their Hotel Valle Nevado is very nice, but when they say 5-star don’t expect Aspen 5-star. The secret lodging deal is their condos with kitchens, but be sure to stock up on food in Santiago.