Chile’s Valle Nevado ski resort rolls out early-bird special

chile skiingDedicated pow hounds tend to hightail it to the Southern Hemisphere once summer rears its sunny head. Chile is justly famous for its snow, as well as its lack of crowds, above-timberline terrain, and epic backcountry and vertical accessible via heli-skiing.

Valle Nevado, located 20 miles east of Santiago, is already the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere. This year, during its June 22-October 2nd winter season, it has even more enticements to offer.

North American and UK guests who book and pay before March 31st, 2012, will receive up to 50% off a season-long package that includes a seven-night stay at any of Valle Nevado’s three hotels (which range from high-end to budget), and two interconnect tickets for the neighboring resorts of La Parva and El Colorado, which opens 7,400 acres of skiable terrain (that’s more than Vail, for you ski and snowboard die-hards).

The promotion also includes 25% off equipment rental, a complimentary 30-minute massage, and free attendance at the weekly Thursday Wine Festival. Look for forthcoming announcements on heli-skiing packages, as well. To book, call 1-800-669-0554 from the U.S., or email reservas@vallenevado.com.

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Wine lovers can win ski trip to Chile this summer with “Sips & Slopes” contest

Chile wineIf wine and schussing are your thang, unleash your inner poet and enter the Wines of Chile “Sips & Slopes” contest. The rules are simple: compose and tweet an original haiku about Chile, using the hashtag #SipsSlopes. The lucky winner and a guest will win a five–night stay at Chile’s largest ski resort, Valle Nevado, including two round-trip tickets on LAN airlines. As you might expect, being wined and dined is included.

Chile is well-known for its stellar skiing and other outdoor recreational pursuits (both winter and summer), as well as for being “un pais de poetas,” a country of poets. Literary greats such as Pablo Neruda and Isabel Allende are the inspiration behind the “Sips & Slopes” contest, which is to showcase Chile’s reputation as a rising star of South American wine production.

The country’s diverse landscapes and topography provide ideal microclimates for the production of a wide range of varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Carmenere, Chardonnay, and Viognier. Where Chile was once merely a mass producer of low- to mid-range wines, today it’s a serious contender against the high-end wines of Argentina’s famed Mendoza Valley across the border.

Chilean wine regions such as the Maipo, Aconcagua, and Colchagua Valleys are drawing visitors from all over the world, who come for the Mediterranean climate, rural pastimes such as biking, horseback riding, and hiking, and excellent (and affordable) dining, wine tasting, and accommodation options.

Applicants to “Sips & Slopes” will be judged on “creativity, originality, and adherence to haiku format.” Entries will be accepted until June 30th (only one per person and Twitter account, please); the winner will be announced on or around July 7th. Buena suerte!

[Photo credit: Flickr user wharman]

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Summer Skiing Way Down South

Here we are reaching the end of a lovely summer, lots of vacations taken, a few scares here and there, but so far rather sedate for most. But perhaps you’re one of those skier types who did not get enough out of our last winter’s snowfall. Then what can you do about it now? Well, as most of you probably know, it is wintertime in the Southern hemisphere and that means that there is skiiing to be done in places like Chile.

Way down south, there are several excellent resorts to choose from, including Portillo, Valle Nevado, and Termas de Chillán. The snowfall in Chile is said to be excellent, with as much as 280 inches at Portillo and much “corn snow” to be shredded. I’ve skied Chile myself and consider it excellent terrain. And one of the best parts is topping off the day with a nice Pisco Sour. Yum.

Budget Travel is talking about decent package deals to get down there just you and your boards starting at about $1200 for a week.