The "Vacancy" light is on this Christmas at ski resorts across the country. Maybe it's due to the inordinate amount of attention that the Millennium has been getting, or maybe it's the late start of the snowfall, but Christmas has really taken a back seat this year.
The proof is that even though it's late in the game, there are many properties that still have room. There are even airfares that remain unsold although they're harder to find and relatively expensive at this late date. And, yes, there are still last-minute cancellations to come.
"In the last few days, I've gotten people up to Whistler/Blackcomb, Breckenridge, and Park City," says Gary Nicoll, general manager of Ski Vacation Planners (800-822-6754/http://www.skivacationplanners.com). "In some cases, they're reducing the rates to move inventory. I just got someone into Park City for low-season rates during the high season."
The reason is excess space. Nicoll says that while Vail is tough, some condo management companies have started calling him to reduce their minimum night stay and even their prices. "There's still space out there," he adds. "Sure, air space is tight but if people are flexible, we can probably get you somewhere."
Nicoll is not the only optimist out there touting room at the proverbial inn. Sarah Pitcher, director of marketing for Moguls Ski & Snowboard Tours, which operates the SkiNet Travel Desk(800-666-4857/ http://www.skinet.com/traveldesk/), has space available from December 21-December 26 at the venerable Cliff Lodge at Snowbird. The tab is just $619 per person, based on double occupancy, for room and lift tickets for five nights. "There's plenty of air availability into Salt Lake City," adds Pitcher. Moguls also runs ski trips to Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Vermont, and Europe.
It seems there's also plenty of air availablity into Colorado, if you know the where to look. Coloradoskiing.com (888-SKI-COLO/http://coloradoskiing.com)has a wealth of complete online packages for both Christmas and New Year's holiday.
"It's amazing what there really is still out there that's not that expensive," Nick Polumbus, in the marketing department at Coloradoskiing.com.
Heads up for great holiday specials to Colorado from all around the country, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Diego, and San Francisco. The company offers special Wed.-Sun. logding-lift-air packages all-season long, listed on their discount specials page, at: https://www.coloradoskiing.com/Frameset.asp?Section=DiscountPkgs
"People have realized that it's started to snow in Colorado, and orders are rolling in" he said. "You would think people would make these holiday plans well in advance, but the more we get into December, the more December requests we get."
Finally, Aspen Ski Tours (800-778-8589/http://www.skitours.com)is offering trips to 21 resorts around the including their namesake, Aspen. Most of these deals are outlined on their last-minute deals page, which spotlights packages that are available in the next three weeks. Check it out, at: http://www.skitours.com/resorts/specialdeals.cfm?lmb=yes
Of course, you can also browse a variety of internet specials, at SkiNet's own online booking site, Mountain Resorts and Travel ( http://www.mtnresorts.com/rdbase/index.cfm?sc=ski). You can browse all of the online listings available by resort name or region. Or choose from internet-only ski packages from the US, Canada, and Europe listed, at: httpp://travel.skinet.com/promotions/search_ski/offerdest.asp?n=1748
But when you finish reading this, don't dally. Get clicking and hunt down a deal on the web as fast as you can.