The star attraction in the Chillán area is Termas de Chillán, a full-season resort 80km (50 miles) from the city that is principally known for skiing, although the resort is open year-round and offers excellent hiking, biking, and horseback riding opportunities in the summer. Visitors to Chile normally head to Pucón, Puerto Varas, or even Patagonia for those kinds of summer-season activities because they offer more uniquely beautiful landscapes than Chillán. However, you might find a world-class spa and the 5-hour drive from Santiago to be an appealing factor.
Termas de Chillán is nestled in a forested valley under the shadow of the 3,212m (10,535-ft.) Chillán Volcano, and unlike ski resorts in the north, this resort has a fair amount of tree skiing. The mountain feels monumental in size and the terrain is more suited to intermediates with trails winding along the volcano's ridge. There is also ample off-piste terrain, around the rolling terrain. The resort is notoriously anti-snowboarding, and will not allow snowboarders on certain Poma lifts. It can often snow more here than in the north; however, snow conditions change quickly throughout the day given its lower altitude. The resort has 29 runs, including the longest run in South America, and there's dog sledding, too.
Another huge bonus with this resort is its state-of-the-art spa and outdoor hot springs produced by the natural geothermal fissures in the area. The spa offers hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, mud baths, and massages, and is open to the general public during the ski season until 2pm, and to Gran Hotel guests only in the afternoon. Termas also has a new casino, significantly boosting what once was a rather tame nightlife scene.
There are two hotels at the base of the resort: the luxury Gran Hotel Termas de Chillán with 120 rooms, and the basic Hotel Pirigallo with 48 rooms. Closer to Las Trancas is the midrange Hotel Pirimahuida, with free -- but scheduled -- transportation to and from the resort. The Hotel Pirimahuida is an attractive option for its low cost and proximity to the restaurants and bars in tiny Las Trancas. Rates include breakfast and dinner, lift tickets, and access to the resort's outdoor hot springs. The Pirigallo has an outdoor thermal pool; otherwise, guests must pay extra to use the Gran Hotel's facilities. Seven-night stays receive 6 hours of free group ski or snowboard instruction. Prices are per person, based on 7 nights and double occupancy: Gran Hotel $1,250 to $2,200 (£833-£1,467); Hotel Pirigallo $850 to $1,500 (£567-£1,000). The Hotel Pirimahuida is an excellent value at $650 to $980 (£433-£653), given that its interiors and guest rooms are far more attractive than the dated Hotel Pirigallo.
You might try one of the condominium units at the resort base for four to six guests; they cost $1,100 to $1,800 (£733-£1,200) per week, per condo, with meals and lift tickets costing extra. There is a small grocery store (bring specialty items with you from Santiago) in Las Trancas, or you can dine a la carte in the resort's restaurant or buy an additional meal plan. Lift tickets cost, per week, $230 (£153) for adults, and $155 (£103) for children.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.