Now is the time for all smart skiers to head for the Rocky Mountains. January is traditionally a slow month on the slopes. In fact, it's a hidden low-season within high-season, a time of discounts and deals you can always count on.
But this year, because of late snowfall and millennium hoopla, it's even more of a deal. There are rooms and deals galore. Better yet, there's snow. Lots of it. Forget yesterday's doom and gloom headlines. As of today, Jackson's got more than 238 inches, Steamboat is powder city, and Big Mountain is covered with snow ghosts. There's still more snow falling in the Rockies and the headlines have yet to catch up with it.
Here are nine deals in the Rockies that are hard to pass up even if your backyard is green. Note that prices are based upon double occupancy, airfare is extra unless noted, and some are restrictions apply.
One of the biggest deals around is at Beaver Creek, where lodging and lift ticket packages start at $55 per person, per night throughout January. For example, the Borders Lodge is $55 per person, per night for a two-bedroom condominium, based on four people. The Pines Lodge is $69 per person, per night for a hotel room, based on double occupancy. Call 888-283-4547 for reservations at either property.
The Charter, a luxury property in the heart of the village, has a deal for $89 package per person, per night for a lodge room. Call 800-525-6660. The Beaver Creek Lodge has hotel suites available for $99 per person, per night. Call 800-525-7280 for reservations.
If you live in San Francisco, there's a $509 package that includes round-trip airfare on American Airlines from San Francisco to the Vail/Eagle Airport, ground transfers, three nights of lodging, and three days of lift tickets. The price is per person, and you'll be staying at either The Pines Lodge and the Inn at Beaver Creek. Call 888-284-9455.
Boasting 100 percent open terrain, Big Mountain has big powder stashes and big January savings. The Inns of Whitefish (www.wtp.net/go/innsofwhitefish) have a deal for $155 for that includes a bed & breakfast, lift tickets for two, breakfast, and a free ski shuttle. The properties include Hidden Moose Lodge, Good Medicine Lodge, and The Garden Wall Inn. From January 2 to February 17, it's $85 per person for lifts and lodging at the Hibernation House, which is slopeside. Or call Big Mountain Central Reservations: 800-858-3930.
COPPER MOUNTAIN, CO
Copper's been getting snow but they're still offering a "Stay and Ski the Fourth Day Free" deal. Just buy three nights lodging and a three-daylift ticket, and get the fourth day and night free. Prices start at $268per person, based on quad occupancy in a standard two bedroom. Call 800-458-8386 or book online at www.skicopper.com/Travel/Travel_Packages_Subindex.html.
JACKSON HOLE, WY
Jackson Hole is awash in powder, with more than eight feet of snow in the first 12 days of January. Right now, there's a "January White Sale" at Spring Creek. It includes four nights accommodation in a fireplace room with Teton views, daily breakfast for two, a three-day ski pass for two people, complimentary shuttle service to Teton Village and the town of Jackson. The price is $1,082 for two people and it's available through the end of January. Call 800-443-6139.
The Snow King Resort Hotel (800-522-KING) has one of the most tempting deals around. The "Ski All 3 Package" starts at $169.00 per person and includes three nights accommodation at Snow King Resort, and your choice of lift tickets for two days at either Jackson Hole, Grand Targhee, or Snow King Ski Resorts. You also get buffet breakfast daily, roundtrip airport transfers, as well as transfers to and from the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Grand Targhee ski areas.
Fly here on the "2-for-1 Air Special." If you purchase any four-night or longer lift-lodging-air package for two, one person will fly for free. What this meeans is that the prices start as low as $370 per person for a five-night, four-day package. It's good only on certain dates in January. Contact Durango Central Reservations 800-525-0892
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO
Earlier this week, Steamboat received 37 inches of snow in two days. They've had five feet of new snow since the New Year and they're reporting the deepest snow depths in Colorado. Through Feb. 18, the "White Sale" package. includes four nights' motel accommodations and a three-day lift ticket starting at $290 per person. Contact Steamboat Central Reservations at 800-922-2722 or www.steamboat-ski.com/lodging/snowsaver.html.
Telluride is offering 30 percent off all lodging in town and in Mountain Village if you call Telluride Resort Accommodations (800-LETS-SKI; http://www.telluridelodging.com). At the Bear Creek Bed & Breakfast (800-338-7064/www.bearcreektelluride.com), a European-style inn with great views, book one night at regular price and receive 50 percent off the second night's stay, good now thru Jan. 31. The Camel's Garden Hotel and Condominiums (888-772-2635/ www.camelsgarden.com) is a ski-in/ski-out luxury condo next to the Gondola in town. Book a five-night, four-day package, at rates that start at $155 per person per night, including breakfast.
The good news is that Vail has been hit with three feet of snow in the first 11 days of January. What makes it better is that if you go now, you can be among the first to ski Blue Sky Basin. Start with airfare. There are $298 round-trip deals from Atlanta; $338-$386 fares from Boston, Newark, New York and Washington, DC; and $198 seats from San Francisco.
You can grab lodging at Lions Square Lodge for $175, at Chateau Vail for $159, and at Evergreen Lodge for $150. Rates are per room, per night, and restrictions apply. Call 800-404-3535/ or check out the "Cool Deals" at www.vail.com/cooldeals.asp.
WINTER PARK, COWinter Park reports that snow fall has been average to above-average since December, with about 32 inches so far this month. So go for a three-night package that includes airfare, lodging, and two days of lift tickets. It will cost you $405 from Dallas, $455 from Houston, and $433 from Orlando, Tampa, New Orleans, Boston or Detroit. From NY/La Guardia, you'll pay $504, and from Chicago, $404. Call 800-729-5813; www.skiwinterpark.com /vacation/index.html.