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Ski resolutions? Why not? There’s so much terrain to be experienced, yet most skiers return to the same resort, at the same time, year after year. The dawning of the new millennium is a perfect time to jazz up your ski life. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 10 resolutions. Don’t let another ski season go by without crossing off at least one. (Prices are per person, based on double occupancy.)
Go To An Unsung Resort Uncrowded slopes, lower lift-ticket prices and the chance to taste terrain that feels fresh and unexplored are just three of the best reasons to ski an unsung resort in 2000—not to mention low-key atmospheres and lodging deals that are like dinner tabs in better known resorts. For powder, trees and more powder, check out Red Mountain in B.C. (800-663-0105; www.ski-red.com ), which is about a two-hour drive north of Spokane, Wash. Spend five nights at the Ram’s Head Inn, with lift ticket and breakfast included, for $373. Or, in Colorado, avoid the maddening Summit County crowds and prices and head to Monarch (888-996-7669), three hours southwest of Denver. You’re looking at 700 acres of bowls, glades and chutes for $69, per night for weekend ski-and-lodging deals. On the East Coast, try Saddleback, Maine (207-864-5671), two and a half hours from Portland. Saddleback’s 1,830-foot vertical makes it one of the last vestiges of uncrowded, big-mountain Eastern skiing. Lift tickets are $45 a day on weekends ($29 weekdays), and double rooms at the Victorian-era Rangeley Inn (800-666-3687; www.rangeleyinn.com ) start at an affordable $84 per night.
Book It Now! When should you book next winter’s holiday ski vacation? The short answer is “today,” because Christmas week is sellout time at every major ski resort. Even though you won’t get much of a price break on lodging, which is fully priced in late December, you will get first dibs on selection. Except for the toniest hotels, such as Aspen’s Little Nell and Deer Valley’s Stein Eriksen Lodge, you should be able to get a room almost anywhere by booking now. If you’re looking for a deal, pre-Christmas lodging can be slightly less expensive, so consider traveling before Christmas Day and arriving on December 22 or 23. This will also give you a better shot at getting an airline seat on the day and at the time you prefer. In fact, you may even score a deal on airfare, because the cheapest airfares are generally offered January through March for the following December.
Free Your Heels A decade ago, Nordic sports were the neglected stepchildren of Alpine resorts. Now it’s a rare resort that doesn’t offer enough Nordic activity to keep you busy for days. Morning snowshoe tours, such as the one at McCoy Park at Beaver Creek, Colo., are a given, and the cognoscenti know that Steamboat’s Rabbit Ear’s Pass is reason for snowshoers and cross-country skiers to rejoice. At Telluride, Colo. (800-801-4832), a two-hour telemark clinic runs $38, and Sun Valley, Idaho (800-786-8259), has 25 miles of cross-country trails. At Okemo in Vermont (800-786-5366), the new Okemo Valley Nordic Center offers snowshoe or cross-country rentals perfect for exploring the Black River Valley.
Go, SnowCat, Go Heli-skiing may get the glory and the headlines, but snowcat skiing is far cheaper, safer and accessible. Best of all, it can be found at or near some of the most popular Western resorts. Most reputable snowcat operations guarantee about 15,000 vertical feet a day—enough to satisfy even the most voracious powder hounds. Because snowcats only accommodate a handful of skiers, now is the time to book your tour. Figure about $200 a day. Operators include: Aspen Mountain Powder Tours near Aspen, Colo. (800-525-6200); Irwin Lodge near Crested Butte, Colo. (888-464-7946); Island Lake Lodge near Fernie, B.C. (888-422-8754); Monarch Snowcat Tours at Monarch, Colo. (888-996-7669); Chica Ridge Snowcat Tours at Ski Cooper, Colo. (719-486-2277); Steamboat Powder Cats near Steamboat, Colo. (800-288-0543); Grand Targhee Powder Cats near Targhee, Wyo. (800-827-4433); Vail SnoTours near Vail, Colo. (970-845-5080).
Ski & Soak For some skiers, the best recipe for a ski vacation is to catch first chair, ski hard, and then knock off midafternoon to enjoy a Jacuzzi, a massage, a wrap or anything else on the spa menu. Skiing hard and fully relaxing go hand-in-hand, so it’s no accident that some of the best spas in the United States are located at ski resorts. In the East, Topnotch at Stowe Resort and Spa (800-451-8686) reigns supreme. In Colorado, stars such as the Sonnenalp in Vail (800-654-8312) and The Peaks in Telluride (800-789-2220) are standouts. In California, The Resort at Squaw Creek (800-327-3353) in Squaw Valley is a prime temptation. In Canada, Solace at The Banff Springs Hotel (800-404-1772) offers respite from the cold.
Point Your Skis South Done the Rockies and Europe? Then head south between June and October. From the chutes at Argentina’s Las Leñas to the sunny pistes of The Remarkables in New Zealand, skiing in the Southern Hemisphere offers new challenges, dramatic scenery and a chance to dive headfirst into a foreign culture. You can get air-inclusive deals from Los Angeles to New Zealand for less than $1,500 and South American packages from Miami for less than $2,000. For example, last summer Adventures on Skis (800-628-9655) packaged round-trip airfare on Lan Chile from Miami to Santiago, transfers to Portillo, seven nights’ lodging at Hotel Portillo, three meals daily plus afternoon tea, an eight-day lift ticket and local taxes for $1,847.
Go early—Or Late When mid-March hits, so do thoughts of golf, boating and baseball. Ski areas are stuck with tons of snow and vacant condos, so they discount like mad, starting about the third week of March. Prices dip around the end of March and then really fall off in April, culminating in 50-percent discounts. Can’t make it to the slopes this spring? Then cast your eyes to next winter, and keep an eye on the snowfall. The first three weeks of December promise the lowest lodging and lift ticket prices this side of March. For example, there’s a five-night deal at Jackson Hole (800-443-6931), including lift tickets and lodging, that starts at $275. It was good from Thanksgiving to Dec. 22, and it’s good again this spring from March 26 to April 2. Airfares are also lower from Thanksgiving through Christmas. To find the cheapest seats, look to hub cities such as Denver (United) or Salt Lake City (Delta).
Play HookyThe single best way to max out your ski day, save money and avoid liftlines is to ski midweek. You can forget Friday night gridlock, and count on saving big bucks, too, because you’ll pay up to 40 percent less for lift tickets and lodging midweek. If there is a downside, it’s the sacrifice of a few vacation days. But when you’re at the top of Stowe with the mountain all to yourself, you might agree that it’s a small price to pay. The best deals are lift-and-lodging packages reserved through resorts’ central reservations offices. At Vermont’s Stratton (800-787-2886), the weekday rates are $98 per couple, per night, including lodging and lift ticket, bringing the cost of a four-night stay for two to $392. Compare that to weekends, when a two-night stay costs $595 and two two-day lift tickets cost another $226, for a grand total of $821.
Dream Alpine Dreams You ski Europe because you can ski anywhere the eye can see, because no lunch compares with fondue and wine overlooking the Alps and because the villages have 300 years’ worth of charm. The fact that you can begin or end your trip in Paris, Venice or Zurich doesn’t hurt either. When the snow falls, as it did last year, Europe’s resorts have conditions as good as the West’s best. In addition, you can often ski the Alps for the same, or less, than you’d pay to ski the Rockies. For example, experience Zermatt, Switz., for as little as $1,160, including lodging, breakfast and dinner daily, round-trip airfare on Swissair from JFK and round-trip transfers; contact Adventures on Skis (800-628-9655; www.advonskis.com ). Or call Central Holidays (800-935-5000; www.centralholidays.com ), and head to Val d’Isère, France. A seven-night stay, including hotel, daily breakfast and dinner, round-trip airfare from New York on Swissair and transfers costs $1,152.
Cross the 49th Parallel Thanks to a U.S. dollar that’s worth about $1.45 up north, Canada is the ski bargain of a lifetime. The fact that SKI’s readers voted Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C., the No. 1 resort in North America and that Tremblant, Que., is once again ranked No. 1 in the East should tell you all you need to know about the quality you’ll find at bargain prices. And don’t forget gems such as Alberta’s Lake Louise, Sunshine Village and Norquay, or B.C.’s Red Mountain and Fernie, for those who want to ski where crowds don’t cram the slopes—ever. SkiCan (888-475-4226; www.skican.com ) packages five-night trips for $855, including transfers, accommodations at the Banff Springs Hotel, a five-day lift ticket for Norquay, Sunshine and Lake Louise and round-trip airfare to Calgary from Newark.ay to ski the Rockies. For example, experience Zermatt, Switz., for as little as $1,160, including lodging, breakfast and dinner daily, round-trip airfare on Swissair from JFK and round-trip transfers; contact Adventures on Skis (800-628-9655; www.advonskis.com ). Or call Central Holidays (800-935-5000; www.centralholidays.com ), and head to Val d’Isère, France. A seven-night stay, including hotel, daily breakfast and dinner, round-trip airfare from New York on Swissair and transfers costs $1,152.
Cross the 49th Parallel Thanks to a U.S. dollar that’s worth about $1.45 up north, Canada is the ski bargain of a lifetime. The fact that SKI’s readers voted Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C., the No. 1 resort in North America and that Tremblant, Que., is once again ranked No. 1 in the East should tell you all you need to know about the quality you’ll find at bargain prices. And don’t forget gems such as Alberta’s Lake Louise, Sunshine Village and Norquay, or B.C.’s Red Mountain and Fernie, for those who want to ski where crowds don’t cram the slopes—ever. SkiCan (888-475-4226; www.skican.com ) packages five-night trips for $855, including transfers, accommodations at the Banff Springs Hotel, a five-day lift ticket for Norquay, Sunshine and Lake Louise and round-trip airfare to Calgary from Newark.