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Getting The Most For Your Skiing Dollar

Winter sports vacations often get a chilly reception from the budget-minded traveler. Ski resorts are, well, resorts, with the high prices that go along with trendy restaurants and rooms with hot tubs and fireplaces.

But don’t let your dream of a wintry wonderland melt. Even the most fancy resort touts a value season or bargain package. Here are some money-saving ideas:

Ask about package deals, which can include air fare, ground transportation, lodging, equipment rental and lift tickets.

If you can find a package with lodging and lift tickets for under $100 per day, you’ve got a good deal, says Mike Shimkonis of Telluride Ski Co.

Telluride’s version is the Bargain Blitz, a five-nights’ lodging, four-day lift ticket combo for $383 per person. This deal is good Jan. 2 through Feb. 9 and again March 23-30.

When looking at packages, compare prices and amenities. Condominium accommodations may cost more than a hotel room, but access to a kitchen can save a bundle on meals.

Ask questions about the location of lodging, shuttle availability and distance from nightlife.

Check newspaper ads, or see if your travel agent has some deals. Most resorts have a reservations line (usually an 800 number), and operators can describe a number of package options.

Vail and Telluride aren’t the only resorts in the United States. Budget travelers should eschew Vail with its $48 lift ticket, and for that matter Northstar-at-Tahoe ($42), Sun Valley ($47), Deer Valley ($49), Killington ($46) and Aspen ($52).

Small ski areas offer terrific terrain without busting your budget.

When doing research, you’ll often find good deals at areas referred to as “family” resorts or a “skiers”’ mountain. Consider resorts such as Sierra Summit ($26) in California; Loveland ($32), SilverCreek ($32) and Monarch ($31) in Colorado; Butternut ($30) in Massachusetts; Angel Fire ($32) and Ski Rio ($31) in New Mexico; Alta ($25) and Wolf Mountain ($28) in Utah; Haystack ($29) in Vermont; and Crystal Mountain ($20) in Washington.

You’ll also save money by purchasing multiday lift tickets. If you’re under age 14 or over 60, bargains abound.

Skiers pay a premium price for those ski-in, ski-out, slope-side accommodations. Savvy travelers can save a bundle by looking for lodging away from the resorts.