After two bad snow winters (well, one bad and one absolutely horrible), this winter is shaping up very nicely. The snow is nice and deep and just keeps coming. I've been practicing for retirement this week, went skiing twice during the week. I went to Valle Nevado on Monday and La Parva today. The conditions at both were outstanding, and there wasn't anybody else there. Both areas are about an hour and fifteen to thirty minutes from Santiago. I plan to ski twice more this weekend, again at Valle Nevado and then to Portillo, and depart Chile for good on the 30th. Portillo is about an hour and 45 minutes from Santiago. These areas are all above the treeline. Well, if there were trees around Santiago, they would be above the treeline. I think all three have bases above 2800 meters.
If anyone was thinking of taking a Chile ski vacation, this would be the time. Snow-wise, that is. I don't know about airline ticket or resort deals. And there is no guarantee that the snow will stay good all winter, but it certainly is deep early, which is a great sign.
Generally, people go to Portillo on ski week vacations from the States, Europe, or Brazil. Valle Nevado also gets "destination" vacationers, as there is a large hotel complex at the ski area. La Parva has mostly condos.
For your info, the websites for each of the areas are getting better each year.
Valle Nevado: www.vallenevado.com
La Parva: www.skilaparva.cl
The other area within reach of Santiago is Termas de Chillan, about a five hour drive to the south. Most of the skiing is in the trees. www.skichillan.cl
Were I going to to ski in Chile for, say, a week, I would base myself at a decent hotel in Santiago and either rent a car or get transportation to the slopes and try Portillo, Valle Nevado, and La Parva. If I had more than a week, I'd do the same and add a three-day trip to Chillan. It's fairly easy to get a van to the slopes; there are services that run vans daily, rent gear, and will pick you up at your hotel. None of these areas are large enough to keep an intermediate/expert skier interested for more than two days, IMHO.
The other ski area to consider is San Carlos de Bariloche, better known simply as Bariloche, in the lake district of Argentina. I have not skiied there, but have climbed in the summer. Bariloche will remind you of a charming European ski town, with all the amenities, shopping, restaurants, etc., and the slopes only a short ways away. None of the Chilean resorts will remind you of a charming European ski town.