We asked central reservations at each resort to price a hypothetical vacation for the week of Feb. 3-10, 2001. We specified two people for six nights, seven days, double occupancy in a mid-range hotel room in the Whistler and Vail villages (new or renovated construction within the last five years). We also asked for five-of-six-day lift tickets; a one-day lesson; full equipment rentals (shaped downhill skis, boots and poles); round-trip coach with a two-week advance purchase airfare from Chicago; van or similar transfer between the airport and the resort. Whistler's great advantage for U.S. travelers is the strength of the U.S. dollar, which accounts for the bulk of the savings on a Whistler versus Vail vacation package. It's also a major reason that SKI readers ranked Whistler 13th in North America for Value, while Vail checks in at 80th out of 87 resorts. We calculated these costs at an exchange rate of $1 U.S. to $1.45 CDN. This may, of course, change-and Canadian visitors would need to multiply these prices by 145 percent to get the Canadian dollar costs.
Notes: The Vail Village property was remodeled in 1998 and is 200 yards from the Vista Bahn. The Whistler accommodation is a studio at the Town Plaza Suites. The Vail pass is also good at Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin; the Whistler pass is also good at Blackcomb. The Vail ski rentals include a 20 percent discount because they were booked more than three days prior to arrival. Airfare can fluctuate depending on day of travel; includes ground transportation.