When space is tight, think group travel. Tour operators know where to look and how to book the last-minute getaways. If you are open-minded about your final destination, these tour operators can get you skiing Presidents Week.
"It's spotty," says Gary Nicoll says of Ski Vacation Planners (800-UCANSKI/ www.skivacationplanner.com), a major tour operator. "We're not holding airfare or hotel space. It's being sold on a space-available basis. And we won't entertain requests to Whistler, which is booked. On the other hand, I just found something in Breckenridge and a three-bedroom in Deer Valley. The airfare's getting pretty tight, even to Denver and Salt Lake City. So you have to be flexible with dates."
When space is tight, think group travel. Moguls Ski and Snowboard Tours, who operate the SkiNet Travel Desk (800-6-MOGULS/www.skinet.com/traveldesk), specializes in top-shelf trips at reasonable prices. Moguls still has air/hotel/transfer deals for the big week. For example, you can get five nights in Keystone at a two-bedroom, two-bath condo, four-day lifts tickets good at Keystone, Breckenridge and A-Basin, ground transfers and round-trip airfare from Newark for $909 per person, based on quad occupancy. They can also send you to Breckenridge for seven nights with a five-day lift ticket good for those same resorts, as well as ground transfers and airfare from Newark for $1,299 per person, based on double occupancy. Moguls offers ski tours to all major resorts in the western US, as well as several key spots in Canada and in New England.
Another good outfitter, Any Mountain Tours (800-296-2000/ / www.anymountain.com) has Club Any Mountain Tours packages from February 19 to 26. These are group tours with a difference. There's an escort and even a wine and cheese reception party. But if you're the type who merely wants the group rates without the group experience, that's fine too. The rates alone are worth pursuing. For example, you can go to Big Mountain, Montana and get round-trip airfare, transfers, seven-nights lodging and lift tickets for $1,099 from Washington, DC, Atlanta, New York or Boston. From the same cities and a similar deal to Heavenly, with an interchangeable lift ticket thrown in, you're looking at $1,179. Call them if you're flying from a different city.
Or contact other tour operators for last-minute offerings:
ColoradoSkiing.com, 1630 Welton Street Suite 245, Denver CO 80202; 888-754-2656/ www.coloradoskiing.com
Daman-Nelson Travel, 2 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94105; 800-343-2626/ www.skirun.com.