Chile's ski resorts emerged totally unscathed from the February's earthquake and have never looked better for the 2010 season.
The epicentre of the earthquake was more than 300 miles from Santiago, the country's capital and gateway to the ski areas. Ski resorts have carried out exhaustive checks to ensure the safety of visitors, despite the safe distance.
Valle Nevado, Portillo, and El Colorado enlisted the help of engineers who scrupulously checked the lifts and hotels. Henry Purcell, owner of Ski Portillo, says the resort has escaped without damage, "We have some superficial cracks and some painting to do, but the roads to Portillo and all the lifts made it though the earthquake without incident."
Despite the minimal to non-existent damage to ski areas, Kristina Schreck, head of marketing for Valle Nevado, says millions of dollars have been lost in Chile due to trip cancellations. She explains, "It has been terribly frustrating for us as even in Santiago there was minimal damage and it's as if nothing happened here. To give you an idea, it's as if an earthquake hit Los Angeles and then visitors were told not to visit Lake Tahoe." So, there's absolutely no need for anyone to change their plans.
The vast majority of damage in Chile occurred to old buildings from the 1800s and early 1900s. Since the 1960s, Chile has added very tough anti-seismic legislation that requires all buildings to meet strict codes.
Schreck says, "The Valle Nevado complex and the entire ski resort was built with an anti-seismic infrastructure. Not only were we not affected by the quake, but we've been working during the entire off-season to add two new lifts, resurface the majority of the road, and renovate our five-star hotel and restaurant, so the resort looks better than ever."
Similarly, El Colorado's improvements for this year include a new lift to serve the snow tubing in Farellones; 10 new boxes for El Colorado's snowpark; and the introduction of night skiing in Farellones.