A Ski Rental Solution

Traveling with your skis is not only a drag, it can be pricey. But renting is no picnic, either. Black Tie Rentals offers an easy alternative.
Skis in front of view over Grindelwald, Switzerland

A common question: To schlep your skis or to rent once you get there? As editors, we travel a lot, so it’s a dilemma we’re faced with a dozen times throughout the ski season. Quick weekend jaunts, business trips with a side of skiing: Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense to take your skis along. But renting and demoing comes with its own set of hassles—hassles of the form-filling, line-waiting variety.  So on a recent, very brief (read: less than 48 hours on the ground) trip to Lake Tahoe, I decided to try Black Tie Rentals. These are the guys who come to your hotel room or condo to fit you with boots, skis, even a helmet if needed. No hightailing it to the rental shop 10 minutes before it closes or missing slope time in the morning to get your equipment.

The morning after I arrived, two technicians showed up at my hotel room door promptly at 8 a.m. hauling a huge bag containing 6 sets of skis. (I had brought my own boots.) We talked briefly about the conditions on the hill, about the type of skier I am, about the terrain I planned to ski. If I didn’t like any of these options, one of the techs told me, they had several more sets down in the truck. I settled on a pair of mid-fat women’s K2s with the promise that if these weren’t to my liking, I'd call the number on the card and they’d meet me at the base of the slopes with more skis. A signature here, an initial there, and within 15 minutes of arriving, they were gone. And off I went to catch first chair. It couldn’t have been easier.

Surely service such as this must cost a pretty penny, right? Not so. Black Tie is comparable to resort high-performance rentals—cheaper in some cases ($54 for premium/demo skis, $44 for performance skis; prices vary by location), and they stock all the leading brands, including Dynastar, Head, Volkl, K2, Rossignol and Solomon. With locations serving almost all of the Western Rockies and Lake Tahoe ski resorts, it’s a no-brainer. Unless, of course, you like forms, lines and hanging out at the rental shop when you could be, I don't know, skiing.