When we arrived back at our condo after a fun day on Winter Park’s slopes, I stopped and marveled. Our front entryway looked like a bomb had gone off and the carnage was an onslaught of gloves, boots, helmets and jackets.
Winter Park_Brad Torchia
I’ll be the first to admit that planning a ski vacation isn’t a bed of roses but snow-lovers know it is worth it. Be sure to check-out my essentials packing guide (link) and here are a few of my tried and true practices.
Check the Resort’s Website. Even if I’ve been to a ski area a number of times or we’re going for the first time, I always check the website. Not only is there where you’ll find the biggest wealth of information but you can track down timely events, deals, closures, base depth and many of them have web cams for you to see the current conditions. If the resort is in a town, the local chamber and visitor’s bureau always provide fantastic information. Also, many resorts have their own apps so be sure to download them as well.
Deals. “The majority of people don’t pay full-price for tickets these days.” This sage advice was recently given to me by an instructor. Some of the best savings you’ll find are early-season passes. If you’re late to the game, always check the resort’s site for deals or http://www.coloradoski.com/deals. You can buy discounted lift passes at companies like liftopia.com, some supermarkets like King Soopers and those annoying Entertainment Books you’re roped into buying from kids every year have some of the best two-for-one deals around. Just be sure to note back-out dates.
Lodging. I grew up in Calgary with the nearest resorts a couple of hours away so we always woke up at unearthly hours for our day trips. Now, I love to stay and play when I can and most resorts offer lodging packages. While hotels are often a cheap option for a quick overnighter, I’m a convert to condos when we’re staying a couple of days. By preparing our own food in the kitchen, we often save money instead of going out to eat. Other things to consider are the proximity to the resort, ski lockers for your gear, cancelation policy and shuttle options if you don’t want the hassle of parking at the resort.
Social Media. How did we survive trip planning before social media came along? I’m heading to Copper Mountain in a couple of weeks and tweeted for snowshoeing suggestions got so much great advice that my trip was practically planned for me (the resort offers complimentary snowshoe tours twice a day). Facebook is not only great for posing questions but be sure to “like” the resort for updates and deals. One of my favorite resorts to follow is Crested Butte Mountain Resort because they’re frequently posting inspiring mountain photos and contests.
Crested Butte_Chris Segal
Ski & Ride School. If you’re new to the sport, I’d highly recommend researching your options and the resort’s website is a great place to start. In addition to pricing, find out if there are any new-skier specials, if the rental cost is included with the lesson, what is the class ratio of instructor to students, how much time is spent on the slopes, and teaching philosophies. My kids spent their formative years in ski school and we’re just now skiing as a family after they’ve been trained by some of the best.
Extra, Extra. A ski/ride vacation isn’t just about spending time on the mountain. Look into off-mountain activities your family will love. Winter Park debuted a new Coca-Cola Tubing Hill and we had a blast at the town’s Foundry Cinema & Bowl. My kids still rave about snowshoeing to a beaver pond and studying their habitat with a naturalist through Telluride’s Eco Adventures. Aspen/Snowmass has a number of options for skating, not to mention The Sweet Life (one of our favorite kid-friendly dining places ever). If you’re skiing Wolf Creek, nearby Pagosa Springs has some of the best hot springs in Colorado. Listen. Don’t be a tourist, become a local. Every resort has a different culture so tap into that. Talk to the locals about their favorite places to ski as you’re riding the lift. Take a complimentary mountain tour. At Loveland Ski Area’s Wedge Bar a few years ago, we had the most engaging conversation s with longtime Loveland frequenters and they helped us appreciate what made the resort so special.
And remember, plan, plan, plan. And then plan to just go with the flow, change up your itinerary if necessary and have FUN!
Bio: Jennifer Randolph keeps the blog going for Coloradoski.com with the latest stories and snow information. The blog is part of the marketing efforts of Colorado Ski Country USA, created in the 1960s by the state’s ski industry to promote the sport in the state and western United States.