Ski Resort insiders agree, early fall is the time to start planning your winter ski vacation for the best deals. Read on for tips on how to get the best deal on a ski vacation.
How to Get the Best Deal on a Ski Vacation
It’s no secret that a ski vacation can be expensive, especially from Atlanta where flights for an entire family can add up before you even get to the slopes. But there are ways to ensure you’re getting the best deal on a ski vacation, and more importantly, the best experience for your family. Recently I sat down with several public relations folks from a number of Colorado ski resorts. Here are seven things they recommend when planning so you get the best deal on a ski vacation.
- Do some research: Visit the websites of the resorts you are considering and get a general lay of the land. Not sure where you want to go? Visit sites like ColoradoSki.com or Snow.com where you can get info on a number of resorts at once, as well as hot deals. Planning a trip to Copper Mountain, CO, visit our post with tips on what to expect. Never skied before? Here are some tips for first time skiers from our friends at Breckenridge Ski Patrol.
- Discuss Your Trip with Central Reservations: Most ski resorts have a central reservations staff that can book your trip. In addition to giving them dates of travel and budget, spend a little time telling them about your family. These folks are locals, know the ski towns pretty well, and can book everything from flights to dinner reservations, and even have the fridge in your condo stocked when you get there. In addition, they can recommend packages that give you want you need, without paying for what you don’t. It’s like having your own personal travel agent.
- Do More, Pay Less: As with most things, the more you buy, the better the deals. Consider what you’d like to do at the resort beyond skiing and ask about packages that include those activities. For instance, Cooper Mountain offers lots to do off the slopes as well as on. Just want to ski? Then consider core resorts like Arapahoe Basin that don’t offer a lot of extracurricular activities.
- Consider Timing with Local Festivals: For those not planning to ski every day, try scheduling a trip around a local festival or event. It’s a great way to get a real feel for the community, and you can usually find excitement for free or cheap. Breckenridge, CO hosts the International Snow Sculpture Championships in January, a Race of the Santa’s and Spring Fever in late March, early April.
Make Friends: Friend and follow your favorite ski resorts on social media. Often resorts post the latest deals here. In addition, it’s a great place to get recommendations and reviews from loyal fans for restaurants or other activities, as well as see snapshots that depict the real resort, rather than the glossy publicity shots from the website.
- When to Book Your Trip for the Best Deal: Resorts offer the best deals before the ski season even starts. August is when savvy skiers begin booking their winter trip. As it gets closer to the season, deals can still be found, but generally the lowest prices are offered in the summer and early fall. Booking early also helps you get the right type of accommodations, whether it’s a base area hotel or an in-town condo. This is especially important if you plan to travel during school breaks or national holidays.
- Get Lift Tickets Before You Go: All resort representatives agree, Don’t Ever, Never Ever, buy your lift ticket at the window.
- Book at Off Times: It can be hard for families with school aged kids, but if you can travel outside of the school breaks and national holidays, you’ll find cheaper rates and a more mellow atmosphere. Late spring (April) can be a great time to ski in Colorado towns like Breckenridge due to the late season snow and warmer temperatures.
- Look for freebies: Many resorts, like Keystone, offer kids ski free programs, as well as off slope activities. Copper Mountain offers free Tucker Mountain Snow Cat rides, free snowshoe tours and even free childcare services (as long as parents spend at least $30 per child dining or shopping). Don’t forget to save some time to just play in the snow. My southern born boys had a blast just rolling, jumping, throwing and generally playing in more snow then they had ever seen in their lives.