Based on my online research, I chose to stay at Hotel Alto Nevados for it being a ski-in/ski-out property on the Nevados de Chillan mountain resort and thermal spa. The rates for a 3 night stay costs me $765 inclusive of taxes and that includes half board with buffet breakfast and dinner for 3 days, along with lift tickets too! Not a bad deal in my opinion.
With the paid airport transfer I was picked up by the driver at Concepción airport and dropped off at the hotel’s porch. The first sign I knew the hotel was still a work-in-progress came when the van approached the porch. The laneway was actually only built for one vehicle and the car park below was a lot of steps down so it was not feasible to drop me off at the bottom with my ski gear. That meant a little bit of wait since a car was occupying the front porch too!
Fortunately check-in went without a hitch but the staff in the property speaks mainly Spanish, and that meant a bit of a problem in communicating. Other than that, I was provided with my room key and would only be able to collect my ski pass the next morning. The staff in the lobby also offered to bring my ski gear and luggage to the second floor where my room was situated but since there was an elevator, I brought my bags myself.
Room No: 202 Category: Standard Twin without View
The room I was provided with was quite close to the elevators and main staircase which means I do not need to walk far from the dining room, so I did like the location.
However the room has a funny smell on entering, which could be due to the proximity to the natural hot springs pool from a volcanic source as the sulphur smell are felt even in the mountains while skiing. Aside from that there was a large closet with lots of shelving compartments in the foyer which makes it convenient to store all the ski gear like gloves, headscarves and helmets.
On the right side of the room is the bathroom which is also very spacious. There is a compartmentalized shower area at the end of the corner with a toilet on its left.
While the bathroom was comfortable, the amenities are limited with no shower gel provided. Once again I expected that from the positioning of this hotel as a more economical choice compared to the Hotel Nevados. Quality of the amenities provided are probably on par with the average Best Western and Holiday Inn properties, so it’s not bad, really.
Though the bathroom was nice and adequate, the bedroom was somewhat small and while I was occupying the room myself, it was 2 twin size beds that was positioned together to form a large King size bed.
There was a small side table on both sides of the bed with a table lamp on each one. On the edge by the wall was a heater that was also useful in drying my snowboard gloves and pants after a powder day! The rest of the room is quite sparse in comparison to the usual hotels.
Across from the room, there is a chair by the window, a flatscreen TV hung by the wall and a small ornamental desk with a wall mirror. No working desk or adequate chairs should the rooms be occupied by more than one person. The other useful feature was the hangers for the jackets and pants which I have come to expect from ski-focused hotel rooms.
One thing I also noted while in the room was the lack of sound proofing. The low quality walls meant it was easy to hear noises from the ground floor and the lobby. Fortunately the bar was down the hallway so it did not really disturb me, but it showed the dorm-like construction of this hotel. My room, though faces the mountain and chairlifts and I thought it was the nicer view compared to the valley view.
During my stay, another disappointment was the wifi which is awfully slow and suffers from dropped signals quite frequently even inside the room. The communication barrier in Spanish made it difficult to convey the message thus I did not really know the reason but I surmise it is due to the relatively remote location of this resort.
In terms of facilities, I was most excited for the hot springs thermal spa and I was provided with a waterproof arm band for the duration of my stay to access the outdoor thermal pool. This facility meant walking across the rear parking lot, and trekking across a makeshift bridge. While not the best hot springs I have been to, the outdoor thermal pool was not bad in soothing the leg muscles after a day of snowboarding. Furthermore the lack of guests taking advantage of this facility meant it made the space feel like a private spa.
Included in my room rate was daily breakfast and dinner buffet and this was served in the main restaurant in a large separate building connected with a corridor to the cafeteria that serves lunch. The space has been built to ensure that there will be enough space for all occupants of the hotel during meal times. For my first night’s dinner, the spread was actually not bad. There was a lot of variety in the appetizers with dishes like calamari rings, octopus salad, ceviches, tomatoes and eggs.
For the main course, there was roasted pork ribs (costillar de cerdo asado), marinated chicken (pollo escabechado) and crab pastry (pastelera de jaiba) and these were changed every night with usually a chicken, a beef or pork and a seafood choice. On one of the days, there was also a pasta or lasagna choice.
There is also a dessert component to the buffet with various tarts, pies, cakes, puddings and numerous fruit plates. While the selection was good on the first night, the quality and quantity seems to decrease by the day as the number of diners dwindled. Furthermore I did notice some dishes like the cakes that were not finished were placed once again for breakfast. Not that I am complaining since the cakes were quite tasty and makes for a sugar rush during the day that is much needed for skiing!
On top of the fruits and cakes the breakfast spread usually involves some bread and buns, cold cuts, cheese and a hot egg dish as the main course. There are also oatmeal, cereals and yogurt so the spread was fine for a continental breakfast.
While the restaurant tries to make some variety day to day, the lack of hotel guests make it somewhat difficult to justify the budget for such a spread so the meal variety is somewhat constrained for sure. However I still managed to make do, and I was also able to make a ham and cheese sandwich for a light lunch to complement my energy bar since I did not really fancy the lunch menu at the cafeteria.
Besides the thermal spa and the dining venues, the hotel has several lounge areas in the lobby level. This is expected and where most of the hotel guests hang out in since the rooms have limited seating space.
The hotel also has a working computer and working desk area for guests requiring a desk to work upon. Or maybe the wifi in this area would just function better as well! Then there is also a neat bar complete with a Chilean flag and decorated really nicely for that after dinner drinks since drinks are not included with the buffet dinner.
Other facilities for skiers includes a storage shed for guests to place their ski gear though it was not manned by any staff. Speaking of them, the staff at the hotel was really friendly for sure and tried their best to help guests out even with their limited English skills. On the last day I was quite late for the hotel shuttle back to the airport by nearly an hour and they still managed to accommodate me and help me out with my luggage so that was very much appreciated. In fact the friendly smiles and attitudes of the staff was something that drew me to fancy Chile as a vacation spot!
In the end, while the hotel was not luxurious, I liked the simple decor and the thought put into some of the design. Also considering that I did not pay that much for the accomodation, I would rate this hotel somewhat above average for the sincerity of the staff and it really shows that their people are putting in their best effort. For that, I would support this establishment and urge potential skiers and snowboarders to stay here when visiting Nevados de Chillan.