By Chad Fleischer
Are you one of those skiers or riders who just cannot get enough of the fluffy white? If so, there are two specific destinations that can never be overlooked for the adventurous and avid skier. I have visited both these destinations 15 years straight as a member of the men’s U.S. Alpine Ski Team.
Portillo and Chile
Portillo is just two hours from Santiago, and there are direct flights leaving from Miami every day of the year. Winter is our summer and the Andes are prime time on all accounts. Whether you crave the steepest and deepest chutes or long groomers, the grandeur and mystique of the Andes are the best chairlift-accessible mountains I have encountered anywhere on the planet.
The Hotel Portillo also offers five-star dining, a disco, a bar, medical center, spa and workout facility. It is the only hotel, but you won’t be missing anything. My best advice is to avoid drinking too many Pisco Sours on any given night and to make sure you hit Tio Bob’s for the best beer and view you will ever encounter.
Wanaka, New Zealand
Skiing here is not the glitz and glamour of the Andes but it is very comfortable, relaxed and has great skiing with awesome views. The people of New Zealand are the friendliest you will find anywhere in the world, and when you are done skiing you can drive down to green grass and partake in any number of activities: fly fishing, boating, biking, golf, tennis, soccer or, for the brave at heart, jet boating, bungee jumping or shooting red stags while tethered to the skags of a helicopter.
The two best spots are Queenstown and Wanaka. Both ski areas are about equally as good. The primary skiing is groomers, but I have hit some amazing powder sessions in this region, as well. Skip Mt. Hutt altogether and remember Treble Cone Ski Area and Coronet Peak for your voyage.
For a skier looking to bolster his or her ski area visit portfolio, these are the “must dos” in the Southern Hemisphere. When you are in Fleischer Sport, feel free to ask me any questions you might have about either destination, and I may even see you down there!