• Parlay Vacay

Level Up On Vacation: Summer Snow Skiing in Chile

by Chelsea La Near

Skill sharing vacations, a growing trend in educational travel, are experiences designed to help you develop a new or existing skill during your vacation - a dual purpose that may just be the motivation you need to start planning your next trip. Parlay Vacay is part of this growing travel trend featuring hands-on learning experiences for travelers.

This week, we talked to Lee Shapiro, whose company Alpine Ski Club & Adventure Tours offers ski trips and other adventures all year round in both hemispheres.

What inspired you to create skill sharing experiences for others?

I was looking for something that could help people, something fun and adventurous, something to create memories which would last a lifetime, and something to be tailored to the desires of our guests.

For many of our tour participants, since we are a wholesaler and can provide wholesale prices, these are the only trip(s) that they will take as their vacations. It's good to offer options that people can afford, especially in this day and age. We have heard from many who go on our trips that if it wasn’t for our trips, they would not be able to partake in vacations of such a high caliber.

What is your personal background, and how does it relate to your business?

When I was in college I taught skiing. Our classes were on a golf course covered with snow! I did my master thesis on teaching blind individuals to ski. All my career I had positions helping other people. Fifteen years ago, I met my partner John Henson on an Alpine Ski Club trip. We were both looking for a career where we could incorporate our passions. We both love skiing, adventure, trying new things, and helping people.

John worked for Alpine Ski Club Shop. We told the owner we would be interested in buying his travel business when he retired. Two years later, we were the proud owners of Alpine Ski Club & Adventure Tours. It was a dream job come true! We were able to offer packages to our members incorporating our passions and the passions of those who came on our trips.

Our goal is to provide trips that can be tailored to our guests’ expectations and that are fun, affordable, hassle-free. When we say hassle-free, we mean hassle-free. We take care of lodging, lift tickets and transportation. We do all the work. You just have to show up. The package can be customized to your desire. If you were interested in a trip, you would call us and let us know what you would like in the package.

Can you describe a typical experience you offer your clients?

Our special summer trip to Chile is a “bucket list trip.” This is a trip participants will never forget since it combines fun, adventures, learning or improving the skills of skiing or snowboarding, practicing different languages, and enjoying additional activities such as wine tours.

Each trip has a trip captain who is the contact throughout the trip and lets guests know what to expect and answers any questions. Once we arrive in Chile, we shuttle to our hotel for the first night of this exotic adventure. The day is then spent exploring the wonderful ambiance of Santiago. The next day, we go south and inland towards the mountain ranges of Termas and Nevados de Chillan. We are picked up in Chillan and taken to our lodging in Las Trancas where we spend the next week. At the lodge we meet people from all over the world and our guests get to practice Spanish, Portuguese or French primarily.

The package includes 5 days of skiing/snowboarding at Termas and Nevados de Chillan. Guides and ski instructors are available for the whole week or for daily guiding and instructing. It's s an opportunity to learn or improve skills in skiing or snowboarding and to explore the culture of Chile as well.

Our additional options are flexible, and we often add activities such as zip lining or snowshoeing in the Ecco Parque, horseback riding, snowmobiling, visiting the hot springs or touring the wine country.

When we return to Santiago, we have two days to go exploring. We may visit Valparaiso and Vina del Mar or ski for another day in another resort such as La Parva or Valle Nevado. The last day our group usually opts for a sightseeing tour of Santiago. Then we head back to the airport for our return flight home.