If you want to save on your ski trip this winter you better book your vacay ASAP. Alex Pasquariello outlines five strategies for getting the best deals on your lift tickets, hotel stays and après ski entertainment.
Go to Canada
At press time the Canadian Loonie was at $0.75 on the US Dollar, meaning your buck goes about 25 percent farther north of the border. Spend it wisely. This winter it’s easier than ever for East Coasters to zip north to Quebec for French-infused ski escape at Tremblant with Air Canada, which is adding direct winter flights from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. For ski-in, ski-out suites, a relaxing spa, and crisp ski valet check in at Fairmont Mont Tremblant. For a more Quebecois vibe, book a suite at Hotel Quintessence, a 30-key lakeside manor with one of the top wine cellars in Les Laurentian.
Over on the West Coast, Whistler-Blackcomb was just bought by Vail Resorts for north of $1 billion. The resort will honor all Mountain Collective passes, and Vail Resorts has tacked on five ski days at Whistler to its Epic Pass. Consider a stay at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, set at the base of Blackcomb Mountain, with a swish spa and complementary morning yoga classes. Or upgrade to the Four Seasons Whistler. Don't think you can swing it? Smart skiers know you can find the hotel’s absolute best prices during the hotel’s “Value Days,” now through December 23, and then starting again on April 1, 2017 through the end of the ski season.
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Take the Train
Colorado’s legendary Ski Train connecting Denver with Winter Park Resort is back on the tracks. Starting January 7, 2016, Amtrak’s Winter Park Express will haul schussers from Downtown Denver’s Union Station up a scenic canyon to the snowy 3,000-acre Winter Park Resort at the base of the Continental Divide. One-way tickets start at $39 with prices going up to $49 and then $59 as the train fills up. Keep it cosmopolitan and book your stay in a Pullman Suite at Denver’s Crawford Hotel, a boutique sleep set in the shell of the former Union Station steps from the new train depot. The hotel complex includes some 10 restaurants and bars, including hotspot Terminal Bar mixing a retro, cocktail-focused happy hour and pouring more than 40 local microbrews, including Good River Beer Co. Class V IPA.
Ski Salt Lake City
It’s no secret that Utah offer’s the easiest access to big mountains and deep pow, with 10 superb ski resorts within an one-hour drive of Salt Lake International Airport. But why even drive that far to pay resort-lodging prices? When you stay in Salt Lake City, a.k.a. Ski City, you don’t just save on pricey slopeside hotels—you also can save on lift tickets and transportation. The Beehive State’s buzzy capital is just a 30 minute bus ride to four of the top resorts in North America: Alta (2,200 acres), Brighton (1,050 acres), Snowbird (2,500 acres), and Solitude (1,200 acres). Buy the Ski City Super Pass for a discount on lift tickets to any of those four resorts ($246 for three day pass) including transportation on the Utah Transit Authority’s Ski Bus connecting Downtown Salt Lake City to Cottonwood Canyon. Your hotel options in this city are myriad, but we’re keen on Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco Salt Lake, which is located steps from city’s best restaurants and the sleek new Eccles Theater where the Winter 2017 schedule includes Matilda, Mama Mia, and The Lion King.
Gamble on Stateline
If you’re craving snowy adventure and a hot après party—and if you’re not into that whole mountain lodge vibe—plan your ski vacay at Heavenly Mountain Resort, a 4,800-acre powder playground straddling the Nevada-California border above Lake Tahoe. On the California side you have your pick of charming mountain motels and resorts—check out Base Camp Hotel—with prices (and state taxes) to match. Stay on the Nevada side of the resort at one of Stateline’s top casino towers and you can save big on lodging—prices are as low as $100 per night when you book in advance and taxes are significantly lower than in California. The closest casino resort hotel to the Heavenly Gondola is Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, an 18-story tower packing 512 guestrooms and suites. Across the boulevard, Harvey’s Lake Tahoe is the lake’s original casino-resort with 740 refreshed rooms and stunning lake views. Indulge your inner rock star at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, a 539-key casino resort packed with music memorabilia and hosting the best live music in Tahoe. This winter, the freshest casino resort rooms on the lake can be found at Montbleu Resort and Casino, which just emerged from a $25 million facelift.
Bring the Kids (for free)
Big mountain thrills, kid-centric programing, and a price that won’t break the bank? It’s a combo perfected high in the Rockies at Keystone Resort. Kids ski free at Keystone when you book your two night stay or longer through the resort’s lodging portal. Enroll your kid in Keystone’s award-winning ski school; even if they stink at skiing they’ll have tons of fun with daily Kidtopia activities such as the world’s largest snow fort, snow tub hill, teens-only après ski parties, and nighttime stargazing seminars. Don’t be fooled by the family focus, though, because this 3,150-acre ski resort is no bunny hill. Keystone packs plenty of terrain for advanced skiers, including The Outback’s epic North and South Bowls, and you can even hitch a ride on the resort’s snowcat for backcountry turns in pristine pow. Keystone also offers the best night skiing in Colorado with some 243 acres and 15 trails lit until 8 p.m.