Snow Storms Create Surge in Ski Vacation Bookings

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Denver, CO Dec 12, 2001 (SKITOPS Press Release)--With several ski areas reporting record or near-record snowfall in recent days, skiing in December will be among the finest in years. And adding to the excellent snowpack is a bonus that Santa Claus almost never delivers: the opportunity to book last-minute holiday vacations to some of North America's top resorts, in some cases without paying a premium rate and without the usual minimum stay requirements.

According to the Ski Tour Operators Association, a trade group that represents 25 specialty travel companies throughout North America, there are still rooms available at premier resorts during the normally sold-out, high-season period of mid-December to New Year's, along with airline seats to major hub cities. Details on late-breaking ski packages are available on the association's Web site, at http://www.skitops.com .

And while it's not too late to grab a quick getaway to the mountains for the holidays, it's also not too early to book some of the best deals in years during the normally slow period of January. "This is shaping up to be a bigger-than-usual ski travel month, because savvy skiers are picking up on extra discounts that lodges are offering this year," says SKITOPS President David Tanner, co-owner of Rocky Mountain Vacations in Glenwood Springs, Colo. "Our call volume and e-mail requests are at record levels."

It's rare to see a surplus of lodging this close to the holidays, adds Bruce Rosard, president of Moguls Mountain Travel in Boulder, Colo. "If people can be flexible with their flights, they will find space available, even at resorts such as Whistler, Vail and Aspen. Also, resorts that historically required seven-night stays during the holiday period are now accepting five-, four- and even three-night stays."

For example, skiers can book a three-night stay in Breckenridge over Christmas for as little as $869 per person, quad occupancy, including air and lodging. Or a four-night package at Big Sky that includes lodging at the new Holiday Inn Express/Mountain Inn and three days of skiing for at little as $474 per person, double occupancy.

Skier bookings picked up considerably after a series of major storms swept through the West. "Snowfall during Thanksgiving weekend really jumpstarted our sales, which for the last week of November were 52 percent higher than for the previous week," says Rosard.

Resorts and skiers have plenty to be thankful for. In Utah, where ski areas were bone-dry prior to the holiday, storms dropped 100 inches of snow in 100 hours at Snowbird, breaking the resort's record for November. Near-record snow fell in parts of Lake Tahoe and the Pacific Northwest, and abundant coverage was reported along the Rocky Mountains from Montana to southern Colorado.

One of the advantages of booking a vacation through a SKITOPS company is that consumers can get discounted bulk-rate airfares, which usually don't have the advance purchase restrictions or stayover requirements of published fares. Plus, bulk fares are an even better deal this season because United, a major ski country airline, has discontinued its fuel surcharge, thereby saving passengers about $40 on a round-trip ticket.

Although the sudden and sustained snowfall was the major catalyst in reviving ski vacation bookings, another factor may be the public's perception that the mountains are a safe haven from international tensions. A study just completed by SnowSports Industries America (SIA) showed that 57 percent of respondents would feel "very safe" at a mountain resort this winter. By contrast, only 37 percent said they felt secure in cities. The study also indicated that people planned to ski and snowboard a lot more this season—an average of 10 instead of the usual six days.

How good are the deals for late December and beyond? Here are some examples:

Ski Vacation Planneris offering a package to Copper Mountain that includes a free night of lodging and a free day of skiing. The only blackout periods are weekends involving Martin Luther King Day in January and President's Day in February. The land-only portion provides ground shuttle from Denver International Airport, five nights' lodging in a standard hotel room, and a four-day lift pass ($699 per person, double occupancy). Discounted airfare can be added from your departure city.
Information: http://www.skivacationplanners (or 800-U-CAN-SKI).

Rocky Mountain Vacations has a three-night Christmas getaway, Dec. 23-26, for two couples or a family of four at Breckenridge, for $869 per person, quad occupancy. Lodging is in a two-bedroom Mountainwood condo, which is within a three-minute walk of the high-speed six-pack chairlift. There is heated underground parking for your rental car. Included are round-trip flights from Chicago, Detroit, Dallas or Cleveland.
Information: http://www.colorado-ski-vacations.com (or 800-733-4028).

Colorado Ski Holidays has a super deal to Sun Valley, good between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2002, that starts at just $533 per person, double occupancy, for seven nights' lodging in a hotel room at Elkhorn Resort, a five-day interchangeable lift ticket/activity pass, and all taxes. Recently renovated, this modern, Alpine chalet-style resort has three on-site restaurants, 24-hour front desk service, fitness center, sauna and a general store. Discounted airfares are available.
Information: http://www.colo-ski.com (or 800-729-5807).

Coleman Ski Tours is offering a week of skiing in Innsbruck, Austria, for $849 per person, double occupancy, with departures in January and March. Included in the package are Delta flights from most cities in the southeastern U.S. to/from the gateway of Munich, Germany, ground transfers, seven nights' lodging in a 4-star hotel, daily breakfast and dinner, and service charges.
Information: http://www.skitour.com (or 877-245-8575).

Mountain Vacations has special "Kids Fly and Ski Free" packages on United Airlines to Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail and Beaver Creek resorts. These deals, which must be booked by Dec. 14, represent a savings of up to $289 per child. Travel must be made during midweek, and is valid from Jan. 2-Feb. 13 and Feb. 19-April 23, 2002. Also, the "fly free" component on United is for select airports: Houston, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington Dulles and Newark. Promotion applies to one child 12 and under per paying adult. Complete packages with lodging and lift tickets start at $533 per person.
Information: http://www.mountainvacations.com (or 800-775-7995).

Lynx Ski and Golf Vacations offers a "Winter Park Free 4 All" package that includes the fourth night of lodging and fourth day of skiing for free. The program consists of four nights' lodging in a two-bedroom condo at the Iron Horse Resort (with ski-in/ski-out access), four days of lift tickets, a mid-size rental car, and round-trip air from Chicago to Denver on United, for $695 per person, based on quad occupancy. Valid for midweek travel during January. Airport taxes on the rental car are not included. Discounted airfare is available from other cities.
Information: http://www.lynxskivacations.com (or 800-422-5969).

Target Sport Adventures, which sells both packages and event tickets for the 2002 Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City, is offering newly discounted "preview" tours in January. One five-night package, priced at $699 per person, includes roundtrip flights from Boston (discounted airfare from other cities available), lodging at Carrington Square Apartments, which are 20 minutes from downtown Salt Lake, a full-size rental car with ski racks, a commemorative backpack, and three lift tickets to Alta, Snowbird and Solitude. A similar seven-night package with additional lift tickets is available for $799 per person. All stays must fall within the period of Jan. 5-28, 2002.
Information: http://www.skiparkcity2001-2002.com (or 800-832-4242).

Sportours offers a January special to Telluride that includes ski-in/ski-out lodging at the Blue Mesa Lodge in the Mountain Village. Prices for a three-night, two-day trip (longer stays also are available) begin at $375 per person, double occupancy, and include ground transfers from Montrose Airport. Discounted non-stop flights to Montrose are available from Dallas, Chicago, Newark, Houston and Phoenix. Travel period is Jan. 4-31, 2002. Ski area lift tickets are just $39 a day, and Telluride this season has opened its new Prospect Bowl with 733 more acres of skiing.
Information: http://www.sportours.com (or 800-660-2754).

Moguls Mountain Travel has a value-priced land-only package to Big Sky, Montana, that includes five nights in a studio unit (guaranteed Murphy bed) at Stillwater Condominiums and four days of lift tickets. Price of $489 per person is based on double occupancy and travel between Jan. 3 and Feb. 15, 2002. Discounted airfare can be added from any city in the country.
Information: http://www.moguls.com (or 800-666-4857).

Any Mountain Tours has a bargain land-only package to Steamboat that includes five nights' lodging in a two-bedroom condo at Rockies, ground transfers to/from Hayden Airport, and four days of lift tickets for two adults and two children. Prices begin at $369 per person, quad occupancy, and the package is valid Jan. 4-Feb. 8 and after March 29, 2002.
Information: http://www.anymountain.com (or 800-468-3455).

Ski the Rockies has a Crested Butte package that includes five nights of lodging at the slopeside Sheraton Crested Butte, four days of lift tickets, round-trip airfare, and round-trip airport shuttles. Prices begin at $599 per person, double occupancy, for Chicago departures (many other cities are available). Valid for Sunday arrivals from Jan. 5 to Feb. 1, and March 17 until close. The Sheraton offers amenities such as two king beds, indoor/outdoor pool, outdoor hot tub, and exercise facility.
Information: http://www.skitherockies.com (or 800-291-2588).

Daman-Nelson Travel has a value-priced pre-Olympics package to The Canyons in Utah that includes two free days of skiing, four nights' lodging at the deluxe Grand Summit Resort in a parlor suite, and discount meal coupons. Prices start at $389 per person, double occupancy, and travel must be made Jan. 6-16, 2002. Discounted airfare is available from most U.S. cities.
Information: http://www.skirun.com (or 800-343-2626).

Rocky Mountain Tours has a value-season, air-inclusive package to Jackson Hole that includes round-trip airfare from most East Coast cities, five nights of lodging at the Jackson Hole 49'er Inn (with daily Continental breakfast), three days of lift and tram passes, roundtrip ground transportation, and free Mountain Shuttle Service. The price is just $659 per person, double occupancy, and is valid for travel between Jan. 3 and Feb. 13, 2002.
Information: http://www.skithewest.com (or 800-525-7547).

Bay Point Travel is offering a land-only package to Club Med at Copper Mountain, Jan. 12-19, that includes seven nights of lodging; daily breakfast, lunch and dinner (at Club Med); six days of lift tickets; and five days of ski lessons, all for just $595 per person. Discount airfare is available.
Information: http://www.baypointtravel.com (or 800-747-2422).ailable for $799 per person. All stays must fall within the period of Jan. 5-28, 2002.
Information: http://www.skiparkcity2001-2002.com (or 800-832-4242).

Sportours offers a January special to Telluride that includes ski-in/ski-out lodging at the Blue Mesa Lodge in the Mountain Village. Prices for a three-night, two-day trip (longer stays also are available) begin at $375 per person, double occupancy, and include ground transfers from Montrose Airport. Discounted non-stop flights to Montrose are available from Dallas, Chicago, Newark, Houston and Phoenix. Travel period is Jan. 4-31, 2002. Ski area lift tickets are just $39 a day, and Telluride this season has opened its new Prospect Bowl with 733 more acres of skiing.
Information: http://www.sportours.com (or 800-660-2754).

Moguls Mountain Travel has a value-priced land-only package to Big Sky, Montana, that includes five nights in a studio unit (guaranteed Murphy bed) at Stillwater Condominiums and four days of lift tickets. Price of $489 per person is based on double occupancy and travel between Jan. 3 and Feb. 15, 2002. Discounted airfare can be added from any city in the country.
Information: http://www.moguls.com (or 800-666-4857).

Any Mountain Tours has a bargain land-only package to Steamboat that includes five nights' lodging in a two-bedroom condo at Rockies, ground transfers to/from Hayden Airport, and four days of lift tickets for two adults and two children. Prices begin at $369 per person, quad occupancy, and the package is valid Jan. 4-Feb. 8 and after March 29, 2002.
Information: http://www.anymountain.com (or 800-468-3455).

Ski the Rockies has a Crested Butte package that includes five nights of lodging at the slopeside Sheraton Crested Butte, four days of lift tickets, round-trip airfare, and round-trip airport shuttles. Prices begin at $599 per person, double occupancy, for Chicago departures (many other cities are available). Valid for Sunday arrivals from Jan. 5 to Feb. 1, and March 17 until close. The Sheraton offers amenities such as two king beds, indoor/outdoor pool, outdoor hot tub, and exercise facility.
Information: http://www.skitherockies.com (or 800-291-2588).

Daman-Nelson Travel has a value-priced pre-Olympics package to The Canyons in Utah that includes two free days of skiing, four nights' lodging at the deluxe Grand Summit Resort in a parlor suite, and discount meal coupons. Prices start at $389 per person, double occupancy, and travel must be made Jan. 6-16, 2002. Discounted airfare is available from most U.S. cities.
Information: http://www.skirun.com (or 800-343-2626).

Rocky Mountain Tours has a value-season, air-inclusive package to Jackson Hole that includes round-trip airfare from most East Coast cities, five nights of lodging at the Jackson Hole 49'er Inn (with daily Continental breakfast), three days of lift and tram passes, roundtrip ground transportation, and free Mountain Shuttle Service. The price is just $659 per person, double occupancy, and is valid for travel between Jan. 3 and Feb. 13, 2002.
Information: http://www.skithewest.com (or 800-525-7547).

Bay Point Travel is offering a land-only package to Club Med at Copper Mountain, Jan. 12-19, that includes seven nights of lodging; daily breakfast, lunch and dinner (at Club Med); six days of lift tickets; and five days of ski lessons, all for just $595 per person. Discount airfare is available.
Information: http://www.baypointtravel.com (or 800-747-2422).