The New York Times: Deep Powder Without Deep Pockets
12/7/2012 by Stephanie Rosenbloom
IF you are willing to travel, you can ski all year long, be it at Vail Mountain in Colorado or Treble Cone in New Zealand. And with a little planning, you can do it for less than you might think. Here are deals on some of the ski destinations included in the Dec. 9 issue of the Travel section, as well as a package for New Yorkers who want to hit the slopes upstate but who lack a car (or a license) to get there.
Wherever you want to go, a quick Web search can make lift tickets more affordable. Liftopia.com bills itself as the largest online and mobile platform for ski lift tickets (and some other related costs like ski rentals and lessons). The site offers deals at nearly 250 ski areas including Aspen/Snowmass in Colorado, Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia and Park City, Utah, as well as at mountains in international destinations like Chile, Austria, France, Switzerland, Russia and Canada.
The Whistler Blackcomb Web site lists deals on hotels, lift tickets and lessons. Under the “plan your trip” tab you’ll find package deals, like that at the Summit Lodge and Spa in Whistler Village North, a 10-minute walk to the lifts. For midweek getaways January through March, suites are $159. Another recent deal on WhistlerBlackcomb.com: the Hilton Whistler Resort and Spa, a five-minute walk from the lifts, offered discounts of 18 to 30 percent on select dates for nonrefundable rooms. The Web site also lists “discover Whistler days,” when you can get 30 percent off group ski lessons (simply select your lesson date as one of the “Whistler days” and the savings will automatically be calculated into your booking). But some deals, according to the site, are simply too hot for the Web; call (888) 403-4727 for details.
The Portillo resort, on the Lake of the Incas and in the shadow of the Andes, is offering a “ski-in-summer” deal on its all-inclusive ski weeks, which include accommodations, lift tickets for up to eight days, transfers from Santiago International Airport, four meals a day in the Hotel Portillo dining room and access to resort amenities like daily yoga classes and hot tubs overlooking the lake. (During special theme weeks, like Wine Week from Aug. 3 to 10, programs like wine tastings are no extra charge.)
There are three hotels on the property. Prices for Saturday-to-Saturday ski weeks start at $1,790 a person at Hotel Portillo; $1,190 at Octagon Lodge; and $800 at the “hostel-style” Inca Lodge. Book by Feb. 28 for travel from June 22 to Oct. 5: (800) 829-5325 or SkiPortillo.com.
For hotel reservations within 21 days, the Vail Valley Partnership, a collaboration of the Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Bureau, has a “last-minute” lodging deals page on its Web site, Visitvailvalley.com. There is also a “deals” page where you can search for accommodations in Vail and Beaver Creek. A recent search turned up a “get the third night free” promotion at Four Seasons Resort Vail (through Dec. 31), and up to 33 percent off at Vail Resorts Legendary Lodging collection at the Ritz-Carlton Residences through Dec. 21.
For those who want to broaden their trip, Liftopia’s $379 Mountain Collective pass — a collaboration among Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson Hole in Wyoming, Alta in Utah and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows in California — allows skiers and snowboarders two days at each ski area, unlimited 50-percent-off lift tickets and lodging deals at participating hotels. Available until Dec. 17.
No car? No problem. Gray Line New York and CitySights NY, the double-decker bus and motor coach companies, are offering ski package transportation deals to Hunter and Windham mountains. The “full” ski or snowboard package includes round-trip transportation (about a two and a half-hour ride), lift passes and ski or snowboard rentals for $149. A “learn to ski or snowboard” package includes round-trip transportation, a limited-use lift pass, ski or snowboard rentals, and a group lesson for the same price. Buses depart from Times Square on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 6:30 a.m. and return at 7:15 p.m. Reservations are required and must be made before 3 p.m. the day before departure: Newyorksightseeing.com or Citysightsny.com.
If you want to ski the Treble Cone ski field near Wanaka for an extended period next year, now is the time to buy the “super early bird season pass,” on sale through Dec. 14. A 10-day pass for an adult is $669 (including the bonus pack; see below). An unlimited season pass for adults is $1,089, and an unlimited family pass is $1,819 (both include a bonus pack). The bonus pack, new this season, includes money to spend on the mountain, access to a preseason bonus day of skiing and a Treble Cone 2013 T-shirt: Treblecone.com.
The town of Killington’s “ski & stay” package enables children age 6 and younger to ski free each day when accompanied by an adult. Also, with the purchase of an adult five-day or longer lift ticket, one child (age 7 to 12) will receive a complimentary lift ticket for the same dates and number of days as the adult lift ticket (there are blackout dates). The “ski & stay” package requires a minimum of one-night’s lodging and a two-day lift ticket. Packages must be booked at least one day before arrival and are available through April 14: (800) 621-6867.
The “bring a friend, ski free” promotion will enable you to receive a free lift ticket if you bring a first-time skier 18 and older who buys a “learn to ski & ride” package. Reservations required: (800) 923-9444, Killington.com.
At Stevens Pass, “4-day powder packs” are on sale through Dec. 24. That’s $159 for any four days of skiing or snowboarding for one person, any day of the winter season. The pack includes direct-to-lift access (no need to stop at the ticket window). There is also a “pay as you go” program called PNW Advantage. For $10, those who sign up receive up to $10 off weekend ticket prices and $15 off weekday ticket prices (the discount is applied based on age category and session time).
And, if you visit three times, the fourth visit is free. The PNW Advantage program is free for Stevens Renewal pass holders, REI members, other area pass holders and members of the military. Passes available at Stevenspass.com.