Skiing doesn't have to be a rich man's sport. Armed with the right information, you can save yourself enough money to buy a few more days on the slopes. Once the word was out that we were putting together our annual "Best Bargains" piece, SKI Magazine was bombarded with great deals. From free lessons and low-priced lift-and-lodging packages to cheap eats and deeply discounted helicopter skiing, the deals abound—you just have to know how to sniff them out. Our goal was to find bargains that squeeze more skiing out of fewer dollars. We found so many that we decided to limit the pool to 100 and put the rest on the web. Check out additional savings at www.skimag.com.
Tips to Ski for Less This Winter
Many resorts are making concerted efforts to move travelers to websites for booking. In fact, some of the very best deals—such as last-minute airfares—can be booked only on the Web. Bookmark www.myskitrip.com.
Think off-peak. Most resorts are hungry for vacationers early- and late- season, so prices are heavily discounted at those times. Midweek skiing deals have long been a staple in the East, but now they're popping up in the Rockies, too.
Auction fever is heating up. Head to sites such as www.bid4vacation.com, www.skyauction.com, www.ebay.com, www.auctions.tripod.com, www.priceline.com, www.auctions.lycos.com, and others for cheap vacation packages, airfare and gear. Search carefully to get up to 85 percent off new skis and more than 50 percent off lodging.
Buy pre-packaged trips from tour operators who specialize in skiing. They can purchase airfare, lodging and lift passes in bulk, then create a package price you probably can't beat. Call 800-475-4867 or visit www.skitops.com for a member list of the Ski Tour Operators Association (SKITOPS), an association of the largest and most reputable tour operators in North America.
Peruse newspapers from major cities (such as Denver and Boston) for package deals. In the Denverpapers, for example, you will often find ads for last-minute slashed rates to fill empty rooms in the Rockies.
Many locals—anyone who lives within a few hours of a ski area or resort—have frequent-skier cards for favorite resorts, which allow them to purchase lift tickets at bargain prices. If you're going to ski at a resort for more than a long weekend, prowl around online to see if it makes sense to get a frequent-skier card. If you're planning a longer trip out West, it may even be less expensive to buy a season pass during the price wars than to buy individual tickets.
Join a ski club. Find (or organize) a city-based group, a school club, a company-organized or affinity group. Contact local ski shops for information about clubs in your area.
Look into discount coupon books, such as the Entertainment Books or Gold C books, for resort discounts. The Fine Print
Unless otherwise specified, packages listed are per person, based on double-occupancy and do not include taxes or gratuities. Before you book any trip, ask about the terms and conditions. You can add days to many packages, but refund and cancellation policies vary, so ask for specifics before putting down a deposit. Canadian prices here are listed in U.S. dollars at a .6474 conversion rate, but are subject to change. We recommend you call to confirm the details of any bargain that might grab your attention.