Stimulating the Slopes

As the economy continues its perilous downward slide, ski resorts across the States ramp up incentives to keep the dedicated on the piste.
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family on skis
IN STEP, UNDER BUDGET: Family-friendly, cost-efficient skiing made real (Adie Bush/Cultura/Getty.)

Skiers and snowboarders are cult-like in their passion for winter sports, and their do-or-die attitude will likely weather the current economic downturn. National Ski Areas Association President Michael Berry says that history shows that skiers simply refuse to sacrifice slope-time. If there's anything that affects the number of days an enthusiastic skier or boarder gets, he says, it'd be a lack of snow. "If it snows, we won't be off as much as the economy would lead people to believe…if it doesn't snow, for sure our business will be down."

Savannah Cowley, a PR rep with California's Squaw Valley, echoes Berry's optimism. "Studies show that passion-driven activities are somewhat recession proof," she explains. "Those who spend their winter ski days at Squaw are likely to make other sacrifices to continue partaking in an activity that is good for health and frame of mind."

The good news is snow has been falling in the west periodically since August, something that is already getting skiers and riders primed. But most resorts aren't taking any chances. Instead, they're creating their own economic stimulus packages, which include early booking incentives and season-long deals. Here, we present some of the best. And, we also share a few universal tips on keeping the costs down, regardless of where you want to go this season.

COST-SAVING TIPS:

Plan Early
Researching before Thanksgiving will let you lock in the best offers before the season gets underway, while pre-season snowfall and annual snowfall stats should help you guestimate what conditions you'll find months down the line.

Play it Close
Ski areas within close proximity to a major airport like Denver or Salt Lake City mean more competitive airfares, and likely more competitive resort incentives. You also increase your chances of inexpensive—or free—shuttle service to/from the resort, reducing the need (and cost) of a car rental. And don't forget to consider some of the closer-to-home, lesser-visited resorts that might've flown under the radar in past years, back when the economy wouldn't exclude the western all-stars.

Be Flexible and Avoid the Holidays
Peak holiday seasons always bring peak crowds, and peak costs. Travel pre-Christmas or the week after New Years Eve, and you'll find shorter lift lines and better prices on both lift tickets and lodging. Same goes for late spring (especially if you keep tabs on the resort snowfall: think big base and big late-season dumps). And whenever you can, call in sick—mid-week lift tickets are almost always less expensive than the weekends.

Checked-Luggage Incentives
In the nickel-and-dime world of modern air travel, carrying your own gear could add $100 to your airfare due to excess baggage fees. And while some resorts offer good rental discounts that might encourage you to keep your gear at home for a long-weekend jaunt, other resorts, like Vail, are offering a $50 baggage credit based on a four-night minimum stay.


Published: 23 Oct 2008 | Last Updated: 19 Oct 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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