Take Offs: Sun and Savings

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The snow may be fluffier and more reliable in February, but the fun runs deeper come spring. Starting in late March and stretching well into April, the sun shines brightly on corn snow, and resorts entice skiers with great deals. In fact, there is no better time for frugal skiers to hit the slopes. Discounting begins the third week of March, and by mid-April there are reductions of up to 50 percent. When researching options, look to resort central reservations and tour operators; both pull together comprehensive packages with prices that are hard to beat. For example, if you have the itch to ski Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C., consider the week of April 5-11. Skican (888-475-4226) will get you from New York City to the mountain for $870, including round-trip airfare, seven nights' lodging, a six-day lift ticket, ground transfers and taxes. From Chicago the cost goes down to $730, and from the West Coast, $675. Go a week later, and you can get an even better deal.

Top 10 Beaches in Ski Country

Warm spring sunshine can often mean slushy snow by 3 pm. That's when seasoned skiers hit happy hour. They know there's no better party to be found than on a snowy beach. Here are our picks for some of best high-country spring scenes:

The Beach, Arapahoe Basin, Colo.

Merlin's at the base of Blackcomb, B.C.

High Camp, Squaw Valley USA, Calif.

Ho Jo's, Tuckerman Ravine, N.H.

Rendezvous Saddle, Steamboat, Colo.

Canyon Beach, Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

Bear Mountain base lodge, Killington, Vt.

Los Amigos, Vail, Colo.

Warm Springs deck, Sun Valley, Idaho

Sky Deck, Heavenly, Calif.
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American ski resorts give an average of 19,301 alpine ski lessons a year, but percentages vary widely from one resort to another. Source: National Ski Areas Association.