November 23, 1997

Do A Little Research, Save Bucks

Syd Kearney Houston Chronicle
 

You don’t have to spend a mountain of moola for a ski or snowboard vacation. Even the toniest resorts cut deals for folks who are flexible and do their homework.

Ski areas, hotels and even airlines have their own version of the white sale. It is just a matter of finding the vacation package that best suits your needs.

A few questions to consider first:

How much vacation can you afford? And what are you willing to skimp on? Aspen’s $59-a-day lift ticket is steep, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of reach for the budget traveler. Plan to ski one day with the stars at Aspen, then high-tail it to one of Colorado’s many small resorts such as Sunlight in Glenwood Springs, where lift prices are $28.

How much do you plan to ski? Multiday lift tickets may save you money, but not if a day goes unused.

The same is true for packages that include a multiday ticket. If you plan to try other winter sports, look for packages where your lift ticket can be exchanged for a day of snowmobiling or dog-sledding. Ask about rates that provide for fewer skiing days.

How far is the lodging from the lifts? Salt Lake City hotel packages look great if you look at the bottom line, but only if you’re willing to commute two hours each day.

The best-priced deals typically are found early in the season, from first snow until mid-December, and late in the season, mid-March to closing day in April.

Unless otherwise specified, all prices are per person based on double occupancy, and air fare is not included.

Here are some deals we liked:

An early/late-season value package is available at Whistler/Blackcomb in British Columbia. Three-day deals start at $210 for lift and lodging and are good Nov. 21-Dec. 18 and April 5-25. Call (800) 944-7853.

The “First Tracks” program at Steamboat in Colorado offers a three-day lift ticket and four nights’ lodging starting at $225. The package is available Nov. 21-Dec. 12. Call (800) 922-2722.

Winter Park, the closest ski area to Denver, wants you to be a better skier. Three nights’ lodging, a two-day lift ticket, breakfast, shaped ski rental and admission to a carve clinic costs $214 Nov. 8-Dec. 19. Call (800) 729-5813.

In Nevada, Harrah’s on Lake Tahoe promises greens and the white stuff with its “Tee and Ski” package. Starting at $249, the deal features three nights’ lodging, one day of golf at Dayton Valley Golf Course and one day of skiing at Heavenly. Included are a show ticket, $35 in Harrah’s Fun Money and transportation to and from the golf course and ski resort. The package is available Jan. 5-April 29. Call (800) 427-7247.

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