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Q: I’m planning a family ski vacation for my family of four and my brother’s family of six for this winter, and we can’t agree on whether the added cost of ski-in/ski-out accommodations is worth it. What are the pros and cons of staying on the slopes vs. in town? —Alex T., Ann Arbor, Mich.
Ah, the ski-in/ski-out debate, one of the longest-running discussion points in the ski-travel books. There are people staunchly on each side of the issue, but what it really comes down to is personal preference, combined with a good-sized serving of common sense. Below, I’ll run through some things to think about, so you and your brother can make the most informed decision for your upcoming trip.
Pros to Booking Ski-In/Ski-Out Lodging
Convenience to the slopes. This is an obvious one, and an important one if skiing bell-to-bell is your crew’s top priority. Staying on the slopes gives you easy access to the lifts, and you don’t have to deal with the hassle that is ski-resort parking.
Negates the need for a car. You won’t have to drive to the mountain, as mentioned above, but by staying slopeside, you might be able to bypass the expense of even renting a car in the first place. Take a shuttle to and from the airport, have groceries delivered, and be within walking distance to attractions at the resort’s base village.
Come and go as you please. You didn’t mention if your group of 10 includes children, but even if it doesn’t, the ability to swing by the condo or hotel room for lunch, a snack, a nap, or just downtime can be a game changer on a ski vacation. Ski-in/ski-out lodging makes that doable.
First tracks! Roll out of bed and onto the lift just as it’s starting to spin. ’Nuff said.
Access to a ski valet. The ski valet is one of those nice-to-haves that is most often available at ski-in/ski-out hotels, where they can set camp on the nearest ski beach and lay out guests’ skis each morning. Don’t knock it ’til you try it.
You can sleep in. Hey, it’s a vacation, right? Without having to worry about ski traffic or getting a parking spot, you can catch a few more zzz’s.
Easy access to the base village and its amenities. Ski-in/ski-out lodgings are often situated on the fringes of the base village, so if a lively après or dinners out are your jam, it’ll all be a short stroll away.
At the same time, it’s a more remote vibe. Because you’re not right in the middle of the village, ski-in/ski-out accommodations, being right on the slopes, tend to be a little quieter. So if you enjoy the sounds of overnight grooming, especially, then this is for you.
Cons to Ski-In/Ski-Out Lodgings
More expensive. Convenience comes at a price, and ski-in/ski-out lodging is thought to be about 15 percent more expensive per night than accommodations in the village, and as much as 25 to 30 percent pricier than places to stay located farther from the ski resort.
If traveling with kids going to ski school or daycare, beware. We got ourselves into situations with young kids where ski-in/ski-out hotels made our lives significantly more complicated, as we had to drive or shuttle non- or new skiers down into the village to access ski school or daycare. In those cases, staying in the village would have been much easier.
Non-skiers in the group might feel isolated. Because the point of ski-in/ski-out lodging is easy access to skiing, it bears to reason that non-skiers don’t benefit in the same way. Groups with several non- or occasional skiers might enjoy a downtown location with more access to off-slope diversions.
Lodging might not be truly ski-in/ski-out in early- or late-season conditions. Some runs don’t have enough coverage to open early in the season, or might close before the resort does in the late season, rendering a hotel’s access useless. If you’ll be traveling in November/December or late March/April, it’s worth inquiring about whether the runs that access the hotel will be open.
As you can see, the choice to book ski-in/ski-out lodging is entirely dependent on the type of vacation you’re wanting to take and what your top priorities are. Hopefully by going through this list, you and your group can make the best decision to suit everyone’s needs this winter.
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